Senate panel approves Trump's attorney general nominee

Democrats eager to press Whitaker on Mueller and Trump

Democrats eager to press Whitaker on Mueller and Trump

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to advance President Donald Trump's nominee for Attorney General, William Barr, to a final vote on the Senate floor.

For the time being, Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker will remain in charge of the department - and the Mueller investigation.

"I appreciate what Mr. Whitaker has done, but I think it's time for new leadership at the department", Sen.

To date, the committee has interviewed more than 200 witnesses and reviewed more than 300,000 pages of documents; it has held more than a dozen public hearings and released two interim reports, CBS News reported.

Meanwhile, Barr pledged during his hearing to release "as much as I can" of the special counsel findings.

"I believe it is in the best interest of everyone the President, Congress, and, most importantly, the American people - that this matter be resolved by allowing the Special Counsel to complete his work", Barr said.

Barr came under scrutiny for sending an unsolicited 20-page memo to the Department of Justice criticizing special counsel Robert Mueller probe's line of investigation into possible obstruction of justice.

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A year ago he sent an unsolicited legal opinion to the Justice Department and White House arguing that Mueller had no grounds to investigate Trump for obstruction of justice based on the firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey in May 2017. On Thursday, Sen. John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, said that he would vote for it even though he said the "only question" is whether the Mueller report is going to leak "in toto" or in part.

The Judiciary Committee late last week postponed its vote on advancing Barr's nomination amid concerns from Democrats - which is customary for high-profile nominations.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said he felt Barr was a "good person" and likened him to Jim Mattis - Trump's former defense secretary, who had a reputation for being independent and resigned from the administration amid disagreements with the president.

"I believe the memo is disqualifying", said Senator Dianne Feinstein, the committee's top Democrat.

The Republican president has repeatedly criticized the investigation as a "witch hunt" and denies any collusion with Moscow.

If he wins the job, Barr's independence could be put to the test when Mueller wraps up his investigation into the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russian Federation during the 2016 election. But Grassley said he would support Barr's nomination, despite his reluctance to commit to releasing Mueller's findings.

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