During his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Attorney General nominee William Barr stated that he would not follow an order from the president to change the current special counsel regulations and then fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller or follow orders to fire Mueller without cause.
Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) asked, “So, the current regulations on the books right now prevent the attorney general from firing, without cause, the special counsel. They require misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict. Will you follow that standard?”
Barr responded, “Of course.”
Coons then asked, “What if the president asked you to rescind or change those special counsel regulations?”
Barr answered, “I think those special counsel regulations should stay in place for the duration of this investigation, and we can do a postmortem then. But I have no reason to think they’re not working.”
Coons then asked, “So, most famously, when directed by President Nixon to fire the special counsel, the prosecutor investigating Watergate, [Elliot] Richardson refused and resigned instead, as we all well know. If the president directed you to change those regulations and then fire Mueller, or simply directly fired Mueller, would you follow Richardson’s example and resign instead?”
After receiving clarification from Coons that the question was about a situation where there was no good cause, Barr responded, “I would not carry out that instruction.”
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett