Trump's Pick For Attorney General Faces Tough Questions From Senators

President Trump's nominee for attorney general, William Barr, testified during a Senate panel confirmation hearing Tuesday.
Posted at 4:16 PM, Jan 15, 2019

President Donald Trump's pick for attorney general, William Barr, underwent some tough questioning at his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday. 

"You will be challenged. You should be challenged. The memo, there will be a lot of talk about it, as there should be," said Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Since Republicans control the Senate, it's likely that Barr will ultimately be confirmed. But that doesn't mean lawmakers will make it easy for him. 

Democratic leadership is interested in learning more about Barr's ability to be impartial while leading the Justice Department. 

The nominee says he'll be able to withstand political pressure. 

"I am not going do anything that I think is wrong, and I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong by anybody, whether it be editorial boards or Congress or the president. I'm going to do what I think is right." Barr said.

Senators also questioned Barr extensively about his views on special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation

Despite having condemned Mueller's work in the past, the nominee said he won't interfere with the probe and thinks its results should be made public. 

"My goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can, consistent with the law. I can assure you that where judgments are to be made, I will make those judgments based solely on the law and I will not let personal, political or other improper interests influence my decision," he said.

Then senators raised the topic of "the memo."

Barr wrote a long legal memorandum to DOJ officials last year, calling a probe into potential obstruction of justice by the president "fatally misconceived."

Some Democrats questioned why Barr would pen an unsolicited opinion, with one senator suggesting it was more of a job application

"That's ludicrous. If I wanted the job and was going after the job, there are many more direct ways of me bringing myself to the president's attention than writing an 18-page legal memorandum," Barr said.

Along with answering the panel's questions, the nominee also pledged to continue enforcing some of the DOJ's priorities, including protecting the right to vote and the integrity of elections

If confirmed, Barr would take over for acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who replaced former AG Jeff Sessions last year. 

Barr previously led the Justice Department in the 1990s under former President George H.W. Bush. 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.