Trump nom­i­nat­ing Wil­liam Barr for AG

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jill Colvin and Zeke Miller

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.” “Dur­ing his ten­ure, he demon­strated an un­wa­ver­ing ad­her­ence to the rule of law,” Trump

said of Barr, while ad­dress­ing a law en­force­ment con­fer­ence in Mis­souri. “There’s no one more ca­pa­ble or qual­i­fied for this role. He de­serves over­whelm­ing bi­par­ti­san sup­port.

“I sus­pect he’ll prob­a­bly get it.”

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.

Barr’s se­lec­tion “is a con­tin­u­a­tion of this law and or­der pres­i­dency,” Whi­taker said.

“Bill is supremely qual­i­fied, highly re­spected at the Depart­ment of Jus­tice and will con­tinue to sup­port the men and women in blue,” he said.

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 time 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.

He also said there was more rea­son to in­ves­ti­gate a ura­nium deal ap­proved while Clin­ton was sec­re­tary of state in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion than po­ten­tial col­lu­sion be­tween Rus­sia and the Trump cam­paign.

“To the ex­tent it is not pur­su­ing these mat­ters, the depart­ment is ab­di­cat­ing its re­spon­si­bil­ity,” Barr told the news­pa­per.

He also 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.

He was quoted two months later in a Post story ex­press­ing con­cern that mem­bers of Mueller’s team had given con­tri­bu­tions to Demo­cratic can­di­dates.

“In my view, pros­e­cu­tors who make po­lit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions are iden­ti­fy­ing fairly strongly with a po­lit­i­cal party,” Barr said. “I would have liked to see him have more bal­ance on this group.”

Barr had been on a White House short list of con­tenders for sev­eral weeks, said a per­son with knowl­edge of in­ter­nal dis­cus­sions who was not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly. But some in­side the White House were con­cerned that Barr was too aligned with es­tab­lish­ment GOP forces.

Trump said Fri­day Barr had been his “first choice from Day One.”

TIME WARNER VIA AP

Wil­liam Barr

SCOTT AP­PLE­WHITE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

In 1991, Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W Bush and Wil­liam Barr wave af­ter Barr was sworn in as the new At­tor­ney Gen­eral of the United States at a cer­e­mony in Wash­ing­ton.

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