Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat, said Wednesday attorney general nominee William Barr was unable to reassure him during a private meeting that special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe would be free from interference.
Mr. Schumer told reporters after the meeting he pressed Mr. Barr on a number of issues, including whether he would release Mr. Mueller’s eventual findings.
“He would not give that assurance,” Mr. Schumer said. “Very disappointing.”
Mr. Schumer joins a number of top Democrats, including Sen. Dianne Fienstein of California and Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, who criticized the nominee for what they perceived as “hedging” on whether or not he would release Mueller’s report on Russian election meddling and whether Trump campaign associates were involved.
During his confirmation hearing Tuesday, Mr. Barr said he would release as much of the report as possible and pledged to be transparent with the Congress and public. But he also declined to give a firm commitment that he would release the Mueller report and at one point suggested he might write his own report based on the special counsel’s findings.
Mr. Schumer said he needed a stronger vow from the man who could assume control of the Mueller investigation.
“That’s not good enough, especially with someone like Donald Trump who has treated the Justice Department as if it’s his own fiefdom,” he said.
Mr. Schumer said he also disappointed with Mr. Barr’s unwillingness to accept the Justice Department ethics officials’ decision on whether he should recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe.
He added that Mr. Barr would not pledge to let Mr. Mueller proceed unfettered and would be willing to block the special counsel form issuing a subpoena or call witnesses if he deemed it inappropriate.
“He believes in transparency, but you should accept his judgment and let him make his decisions,” Mr. Schumer said. “That’s not good enough with Donald Trump.”