President Donald Trump’s attorney general nominee has said the US inquiry into Russia’s alleged 2016 election meddling is not a witch hunt.
William Barr told his confirmation hearing that special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry must conclude.
“I think the Russians interfered or attempted to interfere in the election and we have to get to the bottom of it,” he said.
President Trump regularly refers to the Mueller inquiry as a witch hunt.
In Tuesday’s hearing, senators also asked why Mr Barr last year called the probe “fatally misconceived” in a legal memo.
Democrats on the Senate judiciary committee suggested that 20-page memo was a “job interview” to impress Mr Trump.
But the nominee, who was also attorney general under President George HW Bush, called that suggestion “ludicrous”.
“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,” Mr Barr said.
The nominee also told senators he and Mr Mueller had been “good friends” during their previous time working together for the US Department of Justice.
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During day one of two-day hearing, Democrats on the panel demanded to know if Mr Barr could say no to Mr Trump.
“I will not get bullied into doing anything I think is wrong,” he said.
Democratic Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy asked if a president was permitted to issue a pardon to someone on the condition that the person agree not to incriminate him.
“No, that would be a crime,” Mr Barr responded.
Mr Trump’s critics have speculated that he could offer clemency to Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, two former aides who were investigated by the Mueller inquiry and convicted of crimes including bank fraud and lying to federal agents.