WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal emerged Monday afternoon from a private meeting with William Barr saying he will vote against confirming Barr as the next attorney general.
The announcement from the Connecticut Democrat was expected given his concerns over how the Trump nominee would handle Robert Mueller’s ongoing special counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote this week on the nomination with a full Senate vote to follow. While Barr has indicated he would allow Mueller to complete his investigation, Blumenthal said Barr would not commit to a public release of the special counsel’s final report.
Without such a commitment, Blumenthal said that Barr had demonstrated that he would put President Trump’s interests ahead of the public interest — a disqualifying position for the senator.
“The Attorney General of the United States must be the people’s lawyer, not the president’s. He must serve the public’s interest and not do the bidding of the president,” he said.
Blumenthal said the “findings, evidence and facts” must be made public, suggesting that otherwise there would be “in effect, a cover-up.”
“He (Barr) has chosen not to make a commitment that I think is paramount in importance,” Blumenthal said. “The public has a right to know. They need it and deserve it.”
Barr previously appeared at a confirmation hearing before the Judiciary Committee where Blumenthal questioned him about indicting a sitting president. Barr suggested he would not change a 40-year precedent at the Department of Justice that presidents cannot be indicted while in office.