Senate committee puts off vote on Barr
Dems want to know how nominee plans to oversee Russia inquiry
WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats delayed a Judiciary Committee vote Tuesday until next week on William Barr’s nomination to become attorney general, so they could gather more information about how he planned to oversee the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The committee chairman, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Democrats’ had legitimate questions about whether
Barr’s broad views of presidential power would lead to his keeping parts of special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report secret.
The delay is relatively routine for nominees, and Graham still expects Barr to be confirmed. The committee scheduled the vote for Feb. 7.
“I urged this president to pick (Barr) because I think he’s a steady hand when we need one,” Graham said.
Barr told senators he would release as much detail as possible about Mueller’s findings. But he also cited a Justice Department policy to avoid publishing derogatory information about people who aren’t charged criminally. The department’s Office of Legal Counsel has an opinion that a sitting president can’t be indicted, and Democrats worried that the combination of those two things could lead Barr to keep confidential parts of the report dealing with President Donald Trump.
“We’re both lawyers, and we know there are weasel words that can be put into sentences,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. “The question of what transparency is consistent with the law is a ginormous loophole in his transparency pledge.”
Graham said Whitehouse raised good points and said he would ask Barr about those issues.