Attorney General nominee William Barr said he will not follow an order to fire special counsel Robert Mueller unless there is good cause to terminate him during his testimony Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The remarks came as Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware pushed Barr as to whether he would obey President Donald Trump’s orders respecting the Mueller inquiry.
WATCH Barr’s testimony on terminating Mueller:
“Assuming there’s no good cause, I would not carry out that instruction,” Barr told the committee. (RELATED: Supreme Court Turns Down Challenge To Matthew Whitaker’s Appointment As Acting Attorney General)
“I want special counsel Mueller to discharge his responsibilities as a federal prosecutor, and exercise the judgment that he’s supposed to exercise under the rules,” he said elsewhere in his testimony.
Coons raised the issue while discussing the so-called 1973 “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which President Richard Nixon dismissed two senior Justice Department who refused to carry out his orders to terminate Archibald Cox. Eventually Solicitor General Robert Bork agreed to dismiss Cox to ensure stability among the senior leadership in the Department of Justice.
Throughout the day, Democrats pressed Barr on a memo he produced for the Trump administration arguing that the president’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey did not rise t0 the level of obstruction of justice.
The White House counsel’s office has retained 17 new attorneys in recent weeks, as speculation abounds that Mueller will soon release a comprehensive report summarizing his findings.
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