Trump se­lects new at­tor­ney gen­eral

With Se­nate ap­proval, Barr would re­place Ses­sions, who was forced out of of­fice last month

The Day - - WORLD & NATION -

Wash­ing­ton — Pres­i­dent 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.”

“I think he will serve with great dis­tinc­tion,” Trump said.

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 his 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.

Democrats will pre­sum­ably 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 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. Barr later worked as a cor­po­rate gen­eral coun­sel and is cur­rently of coun­sel at a prom­i­nent in­ter­na­tional law firm, Kirk­land & El­lis LLP.

Still, while in pri­vate prac­tice, Barr has oc­ca­sion­ally weighed in on hot-but­ton in­ves­tiga­tive mat­ters in ways that could prompt con­cerns among Democrats.

He told The New York Times in Novem­ber 2017, in a story about Ses­sions direct­ing his pros­e­cu­tors to look into ac­tions re­lated Clin­ton, that “there is noth­ing in­her­ently wrong about a pres­i­dent call­ing for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion” — though Barr also said one should not be launched just be­cause a pres­i­dent wants it.

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