Former US Attorney General William Barr is President Trump’s leading candidate to replace former AG Jeff Sessions as head of the Justice Department – a choice which may come within days according to the Washington Post.
If nominated, Barr would take over the Mueller Russia investigation for acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who has been in the position since Sessions’ ouster on November 7.
Barr was noted as “an outstanding choice” by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is likely to lead the Judiciary Committee next year where he would oversee Barr’s confirmation. “I think he could get confirmed very easily,” Graham added.
Senator John Cornyn of Texas – the #2 Republican in the Senate, agreed. “He’s the kind of person who could get confirmed. I think it’s going to be challenging in any event.”
Barr, who served as AG from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush, directed the investigation of the Pan Am Lockerbie bombing, and led counter-terrorism efforts under the first Gulf War according to his biography at law firm Kirkland Ellis, reports Bloomberg. He also served as general counsel and executive Vice President at Verizon from 2000 to 2008, and was with the CIA from 1973 to 1977.
From 1989 to 1991 he was a political appointee at the Justice Department before assuming the top position within the agency.
George Terwilliger, who served as the No. 2 official in the Justice Department when Barr was attorney general, said Barr would bring “40 years of high level experience, both in government and in business, which gives him a perspective that fits many of this administration’s priorities.”
“I have no way of knowing if the report that he’s a leading candidate is accurate, but if he was, because of both his government and corporate background, he would enjoy widespread support — both in and outside the legal community,” Terwilliger said. –WaPo
While Barr won’t suffer the same criticisms Democrats have levied at Whitaker – who has openly criticized the legitimacy of the Mueller probe, Barr has dinged the special counsel’s office for hiring attorneys who have contributed to Hillary Clinton.
“In my view, prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with a political party,” Barr said in a July statement to the Washington Post. “I would have liked to see him have more balance on this group.”
That said, Democrats may be waiting a while before Whitaker is no longer in charge of the Mueller investigation.
Even if Barr were announced as the president’s choice this week, it could take months for a confirmation vote, given the congressional schedule. In the meantime, acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker would still serve as head of the Justice Department — a decision that has angered Democrats who question both his résumé and the legal justification for his ascension to that job, given that he was not serving in a Senate-confirmed position when Trump selected him as the temporary successor to Jeff Sessions, whom Trump forced out in early November after the midterm elections. –WaPo
And while Barr defended former FBI Director James Comey’s decision to publicly announce the re-opening of the Hillary Clinton email investigation right before the 2016 election, he has also said that Trump was right to fire Comey and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates.
Barr’s daughter, Mary Daly, is a senior official within the Justice Department and oversees the agency’s efforts to combat opioid abuse and addiction.