WASHINGTON — The White House appears unfazed by attorney general nominee William Barr’s assertion that Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is not a “witch hunt.”
“The president has been clear about what his feelings are,” Sanders told reporters outside the West Wing Wednesday. “The president knows that there was no collusion, he knows that he didn’t do anything wrong and we’re firm on that principle.”
Trump and many in his orbit have repeatedly labeled the investigation as a “witch hunt” in a prolonged effort to accuse Mueller of overreach.
During his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Barr said he doesn’t “believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt.”
The nominee later stated that it was “understandable” for Trump to feel like it was one.
“If someone felt they were falsely accused, they would view an investigation as something like a witch hunt,” Barr explained.
Barr’s appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which continues Wednesday, featured numerous moments in which the nominee put himself at odds with Trump’s statements.
When asked about former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Mueller probe, Barr said it was an appropriate decision, a contrast to Trump’s frequent criticisms over the move.
Barr also declined to shy away from his long relationship with the special counsel, instead touting what he described as a “good” friendship.
The statements were likely aimed at easing critics’ concerns that Barr would take a heavy hand to the investigation, fears that grew out of an unsolicited memo he penned last December critiquing the probe.
Sanders said Trump continues to stand by his nominee.
“The president has a great deal of respect for Bill Barr and think he’s going to make a great attorney general.”