Former AG William Barr contender for old job
WASHINGTON — William Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, has emerged as a top contender for that job in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, two people familiar with the president’s selection process said Thursday.
The appointment of a new attorney general would come at a precarious time as special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, which the department oversees, is showing signs of entering its final stages.
Trump is “very seriously considering” Barr, said one of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because no decision has been announced, adding that Barr is “someone very much on the president’s mind.” The other person characterized Barr as “the leading contender.”
Trump has been known to change his mind on personnel decisions before announcing them.
Barr was attorney general in 1991-93, 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.
The White House declined to comment.
If confirmed by the Senate, Barr would succeed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was forced out by Trump in November and who infuriated the president by stepping aside from the Russia investigation. Sessions’ decision helped set in motion Mueller’s appointment. Trump has elevated Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, to acting attorney general.
Democrats would presumably want reassurances that Barr, who would be in position to oversee Mueller’s investigation, would not do anything to interfere with the probe. It’s not clear how much of the investigation would remain by the time a new attorney general takes office.
Barr has been on a White House short list of contenders for several weeks, said a person with knowledge of discussions who was not authorized to speak publicly.