Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Former Attorney General William Barr contender for old job

President George H.W. Bush and William Barr wave after Barr was sworn in as Attorney General in 1991 Scott Applewhite Associated Press File/1991 President George H.W. Bush and William Barr wave after Barr was sworn in as Attorney General in 1991
Melinda Barton | 07 December, 2018, 18:24

President Trump announced Friday his intention to nominate William Barr to be attorney general, according to the White House pool. Since Sessions was forced to resign from the top cabinet position shortly after the midterm elections, the role has been filled by acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, whose temporary appointment has been met with criticism. With the current session of Congress set to soon end, anyone Trump nominates may have to wait until well into 2019 for confirmation.

Barr was George H.W. Bush's attorney general between 1991 and 1993.

Before that, he also served as deputy attorney general and assistant attorney general overseeing the Office of Legal Counsel.

In a 2017 interview with The Washington Post, Barr had a critique for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is spearheading the Russian Federation investigation. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), a former Judiciary chairman who remains on the committee suggested Wednesday that Barr would get bipartisan support in the Senate.

Mr Barr has voiced disapproval over some aspects of the inquiry but his views on the investigation's legitimacy remain unknown.

When leading the Justice Department, Barr oversaw the agency's response to the country's savings and loan crisis, the investigation of the Pan Am 103 bombing and America's counter-terrorism strategy during the first Gulf War.

He told The New York Times in November 2017, in a story about Sessions directing his prosecutors to look into actions related to Trump rival Hillary Clinton, that "there is nothing inherently wrong about a president calling for an investigation" - though Barr also said one should not be launched just because a president wants it.

And if they argue that Barr will be Trump's stooge, they better have more evidence than the two statements discussed above. "I would have liked to see him have more balance on this group".

Barr's comments on Mueller and Clinton could stir opposition from Senate Democrats, but the nomination will nearly certainly not come up for a vote until next year. Barr was one tough lawyer.

Administration officials expect Barr's nomination would be received positively by Republicans who respect his experience, and Democrats who would likely view him as an old-school Republican lawyer with no particular personal loyalty to the president.