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Dianne Feinstein Accuses AG Nominee Barr of an ‘Effort to Undermine Bob Mueller’

Senate Judiciary Committee ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein used her opening statement in Attorney General nominee William Barr‘s confirmation hearing to signal her intent to press him on his criticisms of special counsel Robert Mueller.

Feinstein began by emphasizing that the role of the attorney general “is to serve as the people’s lawyer, not the president’s lawyer.” From there, Feinstein pivoted by bringing up a memo Barr wrote last year when he criticized Mueller for his “fatally misconceived” and “grossly irresponsible” investigation of President Donald Trump‘s possible obstruction of justice in connection to Russia’s election-meddling.

Barr later noted that he did not call Mueller’s probe “grossly irresponsible,” but said the consequences of it might be so.

“Your memo shows a large sweeping view of presidential authority and a determined effort, I thought, to undermine Bob Mueller even though you state you have been friends and are in the dark about many of the facts of the investigation,” Feinstein said. “So it does raise questions about your willingness to reach conclusions before knowing the facts and whether you pre-judged the Mueller investigation. I hope you will make that clear today.”

Feinstein also used part of her opener to give Barr credit for his written testimony that Mueller’s investigation should be allowed to finish and have its findings made public. Nonetheless, she questioned Barr’s views on executive authority and whether he thinks Trump can use the Justice Department to launched targeted investigations against his enemies.

“I believe its important that the next attorney general be able to strongly resist pressure, whether from the administration or Congress, to conduct investigations for political purposes,” Feinstein said. “So my questions will be do you have that strength and commitment to be independent of the White House pressures you will undoubtedly face? Will you protect the integrity of the Justice Department above all else?”

Feinstein will have the chance to question Barr later in the hearing.

Watch above, via CNN.

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