Trump’s pick of barr for AG stirs con­tro­versy

Dems can­not block nom­i­na­tion un­less GOP breaks rank

Albany Times Union - - FRONT PAGE -

Barr would suc­ceed for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions, whom Trump forced out af­ter con­stant heck­ling.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day picked for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr to serve as Amer­ica’s top law en­force­ment of­fi­cial. But Democrats raised alarms about his com­ments on the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Barr called for a probe into a ura­nium deal ap­proved while Hil­lary Clin­ton was sec­re­tary of state, a pet is­sue of Trump sup­port­ers.

It’s not clear whether Barr, if con­firmed, would take of­fice in time to shape the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which has shown signs of be­ing in its fi­nal stage.

Barr, 68, would suc­ceed for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions, whom Trump forced out af­ter con­stant heck­ling be­cause Ses­sions re­cused him­self from the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Ses­sions’ chief of staff, Matthew Whi­taker, was el­e­vated to act­ing at­tor­ney gen­eral. Ques­tions were raised about Whi­taker’s cre­den­tials, crit­i­cal com­ments he had made about the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­fore join­ing the Jus­tice Depart­ment and his in­volve­ment with a com­pany that was ac­cused of mis­lead­ing con­sumers and is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the FBI.”

Con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings are un­likely be­fore Jan­uary, when Repub­li­cans will have a 53-47 ma­jor­ity, leav­ing Democrats pow­er­less to block the nom­i­na­tion un­less four Repub­li­cans break ranks.

The next chair­man of the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., called Barr’s pick an “out­stand­ing de­ci­sion” and pledged to “do ev­ery­thing in my power” to quickly push the nom­i­na­tion through the com­mit­tee and onto the Se­nate floor.

Se­nate top Demo­crat, Chuck Schumer, said Barr must prom­ise that Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion can pro­ceed unim­peded and Mueller’s fi­nal re­port will be made avail­able to Congress and the pub­lic im­me­di­ately af­ter it is com­pleted.


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