Attorney general: William Barr, who served in the same position in the 1990s, is selected to succeed Jeff Sessions as the nation’s top law-enforcement official.
WASHINGTON — President 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 called Barr “a terrific man” and “one of the most respected jurists in the country.”
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 fury 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 the Justice Department. He sometimes puts the word “Justice” in quotes when referring to the department in tweets and has railed against its leaders for failing to investigate his 2016 campaign rival, Hillary Clinton, as extensively as he would like.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, DCalif., a member of the Judiciary Committee, said Barr, who as attorney general would be in a position to oversee Mueller’s investigation, must not do anything to interfere with the probe.
“Barr must commit to supporting Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation,” Feinstein said.
The investigation appears to be showing signs of entering 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. He currently is of counsel at a prominent international law firm, Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
While in private practice, Barr has occasionally weighed in on hot-button investigative matters in ways that could prompt concerns among Democrats. He wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post in May 2017 defending Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey, one of the actions Mueller has been examining for possible obstruction of justice.
William Barr (left) joins President George H.W. Bush in 1991 in Washington after Barr was sworn in as Attorney General.