Trump says he’s nominating Barr for attorney general
President WASHINGTON —
Donald Trump said Friday he will nominate William Barr, the late President George H.W. Bush’s attorney general, to serve in the same role.
Trump made the announcement while departing the White House for a trip to Missouri. He called Barr “a terrific man” and “one of the most respected jurists in the country.”
“During his tenure, he demonstrated an unwavering adherence to the rule of law,” Trump said of Barr, while addressing a law enforce- ment conference in Missouri. “There’s no one more capa- ble or qualified for this role. He deserves overwhelming bipartisan support. I suspect he’ll probably get it.”
If confirmed by the Senate, Barr would succeed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was forced out by Trump in November following an acrimonious tenure. Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, is currently serving as acting attorney general.
Trump’s anger at Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation — which helped set in motion the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller — created deep tensions between Trump and his Justice Depart- ment. He sometimes puts the word “Justice” in quotes when referring to the depart- ment in tweets and has crit- icized its leaders for failing to investigate his 2016 campaign rival, Hillary Clinton, as extensively as he would like.
Barr’s selection “is a con- tinuation of this law and order presidency,” Whitaker said.
“Bill is supremely qual- ified, highly respected at the Department of Justice and will continue to sup- port the men and women in blue,” he said.
Democrats will presum- ably seek reassurances during confirmation proceedings that Barr, who as attorney general would be in a position to oversee Mueller’s investigation, would not do anything to interfere with the probe.
The investigation appears to be showing signs of enter- ing its final stages, prompting a flurry of tweets from the president Thursday and Friday. But an attorney general opposed to the investigation could theoretically move to cut funding or block certain investigative steps.
Barr was attorney general between 1991 and 1993, serving in the Justice Department at the same Mueller oversaw the department’s criminal division. Barr later worked as a corporate general counsel and is currently counsel at a prominent international law firm, Kirkland & Ellis LLP.