Barr to meet with more Dems after Klobuchar says she was denied visit
Attorney general nominee William Barr will meet with Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who raised concerns that she was unable to meet with the nominee earlier.
The Justice Department confirmed that Barr would meet with Judiciary Committee Democrats Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
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“Mr. Barr is meeting with senators from both parties on the Senate Judiciary Committee, despite the holidays, reduced DOJ staff and resources due to the partial government shutdown, and the compressed timeline to prepare for the upcoming hearing,” Kerri Kupec, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, said in a statement, “He looks forward to continued meetings with both Republican and Democrat senators before and after the hearing.”
Klobuchar tweeted Wednesday night that she and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) tried to meet with Barr prior to his confirmation hearing but was told he couldn’t meet with her because of the shutdown. Blumenthal’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But not all Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee say they’ve gotten a meeting. Emily Hampsten, a spokesperson for Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in an e-mail that “the Senator’s interest in a meeting with Mr. Barr – prior to Tuesday’s hearing – is widely known. The ball is in his court.”
Jeff Giertz, a spokesperson for Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) also said that Barr did not reach out to Booker’s office about a meeting. “William Barr has not reached out to schedule a meeting with Senator Booker even though Presidential administrations typically arrange meetings between committee members and cabinet appointees prior to confirmation proceedings,” Giertz said in an e-mail.
Kupec, the Justice Department spokesperson, reiterated that Barr is working within his schedule to meet with senators who want to meet with him.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold confirmation hearings on Jan. 15 and 16 for Barr. Senate Democrats are expected to grill Barr on a memorandum he wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last year criticizing special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. In the memo, Barr said that Mueller’s inquiry into possible obstruction of justice by the president was “fatally misconceived.”
Trump nominated Barr in December to replace former Attorney General Jeff Sessions after Sessions resigned in early November. Matthew Whitaker, who has been criticized for condemning Mueller’s probe, has served as acting attorney general in the interim. The president grew frustrated with Sessions for recusing himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation, a probe Trump has repeatedly called a “witch hunt.”