WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, William Barr, says Vice President Mike Pence is among the officials with whom he has discussed the special counsel’s Russia investigation.
Barr said in written responses to Senate questions made available Monday that he and Pence have had occasional conversations since the spring of 2017 on matters including policy and personnel. Some of those conversations included “general discussion of the Special Counsel’s investigation in which I gave my views on such matters as Bob Mueller’s high integrity and various media reports.”
“In these conversations, I did not provide legal advice, nor, to the best of my recollection, did he provide confidential information,” Barr told Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat.
In his role as special counsel, Mueller is investigating potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign to sway the 2016 presidential election. If confirmed by the Senate, Barr would inherit oversight of Mueller’s investigation. The Senate Judiciary Committee is prepared to vote on Barr’s nomination to be attorney general this week or next.
Barr described the Pence conversations in response to a question from Whitehouse about whether he had ever discussed Mueller’s investigation with anyone at the White House. He has also acknowledged that he discussed Mueller with Trump himself when he turned down an opportunity to represent the president in the special counsel’s investigation.
“During the meeting, the President reiterated his public statements denying collusion and describing the allegations as politically motivated. I did not respond to those comments,” Barr said.
He also reiterated how he shared with lawyers for the White House and for Trump a June 2018 memo he had written in which he disputed the idea that the president could have obstructed justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey.
Barr’s responses to the senators’ written questions largely matched his testimony from earlier this month. He repeated his intention to release as much of Mueller’s findings as possible, though he said he did not know what form a report from the special counsel would take.
Barr also said he would resign if Trump claimed executive privilege to cover up evidence of a crime, and if he were asked to fire Mueller without good reason.
“I would resign rather than follow an order to terminate the Special Counsel without good cause,” Barr wrote in response to a question from New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker.