Trump AG pick likely to be queried on Mueller

Yuma Sun - - OPINION -

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day picked for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr to once again serve as Amer­ica’s top law en­force­ment of­fi­cial. But while his ex­pe­ri­ence and main­stream back­ground may boost his prospects for con­fir­ma­tion, Democrats are raising alarms about his com­ments on the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion and Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Barr has ex­pressed con­cerns about po­lit­i­cal do­na­tions made by pros­e­cu­tors on spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s team and has sup­ported calls for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a ura­nium deal ap­proved while Clin­ton was sec­re­tary of state, a pet is­sue of Trump sup­port­ers.

It’s not clear whether Barr, if con­firmed, would take of­fice in time to shape the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which has shown signs of be­ing in its fi­nal stages. But even if it wraps up be­fore he takes of­fice, Barr would be in a po­si­tion to in­flu­ence pros­e­cu­tions stem­ming from the probe, as well as deal with other po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive cases, such as re­spond­ing to re­fer­rals from the House’s new Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity.

Barr, 68, would suc­ceed for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions, whom Trump forced out af­ter con­stant heck­ling be­cause he had stepped aside from over­see­ing the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Ses­sions’ chief of staff, Matthew Whi­taker, was el­e­vated to act­ing at­tor­ney gen­eral and took control of Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Barr’s con­fir­ma­tion would cre­ate un­cer­tainty about the fu­ture of Rod Rosen­stein, the deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral who over­saw the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­fore Whi­taker’s ap­point­ment. Fre­quently, new deputies are also ap­pointed when there’s a new at­tor­ney gen­eral.

Barr’s ap­point­ment could bring more sta­bil­ity to the Jus­tice Depart­ment. Ses­sions’ ten­ure was marked by the in­ces­sant at­tacks from Trump, and Whi­taker’s el­e­va­tion was also con­tro­ver­sial. Ques­tions were raised about Whi­taker’s cre­den­tials, crit­i­cal com­ments he had made about the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­fore join­ing the Jus­tice Depart­ment and his in­volve­ment with a com­pany that was ac­cused of mis­lead­ing con­sumers and is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the FBI.

Barr was at­tor­ney gen­eral be­tween 1991 and 1993 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.

CHAR­LOTTESVILLE, Va. — A man who drove his car into coun­ter­protesters at a 2017 white na­tion­al­ist rally in Vir­ginia was con­victed Fri­day of first-de­gree mur­der, a ver­dict that lo­cal civil rights ac­tivists hope will help heal a com­mu­nity still scarred by the vi­o­lence and the racial ten­sions it in­flamed na­tion­wide.

A state jury re­jected de­fense ar­gu­ments that James Alex Fields Jr. acted in self-de­fense dur­ing a “Unite the Right” rally in Char­lottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. Ju­rors also con­victed Fields of eight other charges, in­clud­ing ag­gra­vated ma­li­cious wound­ing and hit and run.

Fields, 21, drove to Vir­ginia from his home in Maumee, Ohio, to sup­port the white na­tion­al­ists. As a large group of coun­ter­protesters marched through Char­lottesville singing and laugh­ing, he stopped his car, backed up, then sped into the crowd, ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony from wit­nesses and video sur­veil­lance shown to ju­rors.

Pros­e­cu­tors told the jury that Fields was an­gry af­ter wit­ness­ing violent clashes be­tween the two sides ear­lier in the day. The vi­o­lence prompted po­lice to shut down the rally be­fore it even of­fi­cially be­gan.

Heather Heyer, a 32-yearold para­le­gal and civil rights ac­tivist, was killed, and nearly three dozen oth­ers were in­jured. The trial fea­tured emo­tional tes­ti­mony from sur­vivors who de­scribed dev­as­tat­ing in­juries and long, com­pli­cated re­cov­er­ies.

Chi­nese ex­ec­u­tive fac­ing US ex­tra­di­tion ap­pears in court

VAN­COU­VER, Bri­tish Columbia — A Cana­dian prose­cu­tor urged a Van­cou­ver court to deny bail to a Chi­nese ex­ec­u­tive at the heart of a case that is shak­ing up U.S.-China re­la­tions and wor­ry­ing global fi­nan­cial mar­kets.

Meng Wanzhou, the chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions gi­ant Huawei and daugh­ter of its founder, was de­tained at the re­quest of the U.S. dur­ing a lay­over at the Van­cou­ver air­port last Satur­day — the same day that Pres­i­dents Don­ald Trump and Xi Jin­ping of China agreed over din­ner to a 90-day cease­fire in a trade dis­pute that threat­ens to dis­rupt global com­merce.

The U.S. al­leges that Huawei used a Hong Kong shell com­pany to sell equip­ment in Iran in vi­o­la­tion of U.S. sanc­tions. It also says that Meng and Huawei mis­led Amer­i­can

WIL­LIAM BARR

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