Gra­ham to lead Barr AG hear­ing

The Beaufort Gazette - - Front Page - BY EMMA DUMAIN edu­[email protected]­clatchydc.com

When Lind­sey Gra­ham takes the gavel of the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, will he be a thought­ful col­lab­o­ra­tor or a hy­per-par­ti­san cru­sader?

Will he be a team player or a leg­is­la­tor intent on set­ting his own agenda?

The South Carolina Repub­li­can has shown he can be any or all of these per­sonas just in the last few weeks. Tues­day, newly-des­ig­nated Chairman Gra­ham will pre­side over one of Wash­ing­ton’s — and the na­tion’s — most ea­gerly awaited Se­nate hear­ings, a grilling of Wil­liam Barr, the nom­i­nee to be Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s new at­tor­ney gen­eral.

“I can’t fig­ure Lind­sey out,” said Sen. Chris Mur­phy, DCon­necti­cut, with a laugh. “But I think peo­ple have prob­a­bly said that about Lind­sey for decades. I think he prides him­self on keep­ing his friends and ad­ver­saries guess­ing.”

At the con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing Tues­day, Barr is ex­pected to get ques­tions about his com­mit­ment to al­low­ing White House special coun­sel Robert Mueller to com­plete the investigation into whether Trump’s 2016 cam­paign col­luded with Rus­sia. Mueller’s probe likely in­cludes an in­quiry into the cir­cum­stances sur­round Trump’s fir­ing of James Comey as FBI Di­rec­tor.

Mueller works for the at­tor­ney gen­eral.

Democrats will be work­ing

hard to poke holes in Barr’s ef­forts at im­par­tial­ity. They will point to an opin­ion piece Barr wrote in the Wash­ing­ton Post days af­ter Comey was fired, stat­ing Trump had the author­ity to fire po­lit­i­cal ap­pointees. Democrats are also con­cerned that Barr, a year later, re­it­er­ated his sup­port for Trump’s Comey ac­tions in a memo to out­go­ing Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein.

Gra­ham, who has plans to move leg­is­la­tion through his com­mit­tee soon that would pro­tect Mueller from be­ing fired by Trump, said Barr sup­ports Mueller’s investigation and would “err on the side of trans­parency” in shar­ing the find­ings of the special coun­sel’s fi­nal re­port with Con­gress and the pub­lic. Gra­ham also said Barr was en­ti­tled to write a memo, and ex­press opin­ions, as a pri­vate cit­i­zen.

“We’re gonna make sure our Demo­cratic friends have in­for­ma­tion rel­e­vant for or against Mr. Barr,” Gra­ham said. “I ex­pect him to be chal­lenged, and it would be ap­pro­pri­ate to chal­lenge him about this memo and other things. I just hope it’s done re­spect­fully.”

Whether Gra­ham thinks Democrats are be­ing “re­spect­ful” of Barr could be set the tone for the en­tire hear­ing, which is ex­pected to last two days.

Last fall, Gra­ham un­leashed a side of him­self few of his col­leagues had seen dur­ing the con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings for Brett Ka­vanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court. Con­vinced Ka­vanaugh was be­ing wrongly ac­cused of sex­ual assault, Gra­ham de­liv­ered a scathing cri­tique of Democrats’ at­tempts to “ruin a man’s life.”

The speech went vi­ral, with Gra­ham cat­a­pulted to con­ser­va­tive star­dom. Be­fore the midterm elec­tions, Gra­ham went on a two-week tour through the coun­try to boost Repub­li­can can­di­dates in com­pet­i­tive races, in­clud­ing those go­ing up against Demo­cratic in­cum­bents.

With many com­mit­tee mem­bers from the last Con­gress set to re­turn this year, hard feel­ings and a lack of trust could linger, es­pe­cially in­volv­ing ju­di­cial nom­i­nees.

Like Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ken­tucky, Gra­ham be­lieves part of the Re­pub- li­can legacy in the Se­nate ma­jor­ity should be con­firm­ing a record num­ber of con­ser­va­tive judges to life­time ap­point­ments on the fed­eral bench.

Ul­ti­mately, his pen­chant for mak­ing news could be what dic­tates the is­sues Gra­ham takes on and how he runs the com­mit­tee. The Barr con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings will be widely watched, with Gra­ham, who is known for his one-lin­ers and zingers, cen­ter stage.

Gra­ham “may have to have his own tele­vi­sion net­work,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mis­souri. “He’s smart and he’s quick and he’s funny, but he also feels strongly about what he feels strongly about.”

Brian Mur­phy of the Mc­Clatchy Wash­ing­ton bureau con­trib­uted to this re­port.

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE AP

Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., will pre­side over one of the na­tion’s most ea­gerly awaited Se­nate hear­ings.

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