For­mer AG Wil­liam Barr con­tender for old job

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - REMEMBERING -

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.

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