Doug Jones to support Trump AG nominee ‘to ensure that special counsel Mueller’s investigation continues unimpeded’
Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) plans to vote to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, William Barr, citing Barr’s commitment to protecting special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
In a statement Thursday, Jones announced his intentions and explained his reasoning. This came shortly before the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on party lines 12-10 to advance Barr’s nomination to the full chamber.
Jones said, “In my own conversation with Mr. Barr, he reiterated that no one, including the President of the United States, is above the law. He assured me that he would tolerate no level of interference with the [Mueller] investigation and reaffirmed unequivocally his commitment to the Justice Department’s independence.”
The junior senator from Alabama further cited ensuring “that special Counsel Mueller’s investigation continues unimpeded” as a continued priority for him moving forward.
Jones’ full statement as follows:
I have spent nearly two months examining Mr. Barr’s record. I watched his hearings last month, during which he answered difficult but important questions from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I have listened to and considered the concerns of my constituents and leaders in the justice community. I have also spoken personally with Mr. Barr and asked him some tough questions of my own, informed by my own experience as a U.S. Attorney. After thorough consideration, I have concluded that Mr. Barr is qualified for the position of Attorney General and his record strongly suggests he will exercise independent judgment and uphold the best interests of the Department of Justice. Should the Judiciary Committee move forward with his nomination, I will vote to confirm Mr. Barr as Attorney General of the United States.
As a former U.S. Attorney, I believe the most important responsibility of an Attorney General is to uphold the rule of law and to do so with a commitment to transparency. While we often talk about the rights and freedoms guaranteed to us under the United States Constitution, the rule of law is what ensures those rights and freedoms are protected. We live in deeply divided times, but it is in precisely this kind of environment that this principle is so important. In addition, I believe that Mr. Barr shares my commitment to the institutional independence of the Department of Justice and that he will bring stabilizing leadership that is badly needed.
Many have expressed concerns that Mr. Barr’s views of executive power, which frankly are much more expansive than my own, would place the Special Counsel’s investigation in jeopardy and that he would not commit to publicly release any Special Counsel report. However, during his confirmation hearing last month, Mr. Barr said that nothing could be more destructive to the rule of law than tolerating political interference in applying the law. Mr. Barr said that the rule of law is what enables us to ensure that justice is not arbitrary; that laws must be universally applied, including to our highest officials. In my own conversation with Mr. Barr, he reiterated that no one, including the President of the United States, is above the law. He assured me that he would tolerate no level of interference with the investigation and reaffirmed unequivocally his commitment to the Justice Department’s independence. Further, while I fully support making the Special Counsel’s reports available to the public and will support legislation to that effect, Mr. Barr’s position is grounded in current Department of Justice policy. Given my background with the Department of Justice, my personal view is that it would be inappropriate for any Attorney General nominee to commit to releasing a report in its entirety without knowing its contents, especially when portions of it may contain sensitive intelligence and national security issues. That said, Mr. Barr has stated unequivocally to both the Judiciary Committee and to me that he believes there is a strong public interest in being as transparent as possible with the results of the Special Counsel’s investigation, and I take him at his word.
Finally, in my conversations with Mr. Barr I stressed how important the Justice Department’s civil rights functions are to me and to the people of Alabama. In response to my concerns, Mr. Barr assured me of his commitment to protecting civil rights, including the vigorous enforcement of voting rights protections.
If Mr. Barr is confirmed, I look forward to working with him and with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation continues unimpeded and that the rule of law is consistently upheld.
Barr previously served as attorney general under the late President George H.W. Bush’s administration from 1991-1993. Trump announced Barr’s nomination on December 7 to replace former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn