That is the question before the Senate Judiciary Committee starting Tuesday as members quiz William Barr, president Trump’s attorney general nominee. Barr will be “challenged for sure, hopefully respectfully,” says chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation tore the Senate Judiciary Committee apart. The panel is trying to put itself back together before a contentious fight over William Barr’s nomination for attorney general. It has a new chairman, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), whose fiery denunciation of Democrats in Kavanaugh’s hearing on sex assault allegations cemented his role as one of President Trump’s most aggressive allies. It has three Democrats mulling a 2020 presidential run who played central roles in cross-examining Kavanaugh, Politico reports. Barr will come under fierce questioning this week over his views of presidential power and his oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. Graham must set the tone, and he’s not making promises. “I’m going to let it be up to [Democrats]. You pick these fights at your own peril. [Barr will] be challenged for sure. Hopefully respectfully,” he said. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) said he hoped the chairman “can be the Lindsey Graham that I worked on immigration reform with. And not the Lindsey Graham who yelled during the Kavanaugh hearing.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said, “I guess the question we all have is, ‘Is this going to be Kavanaugh 2.0?’ Where it’s really not about the search for the truth, it’s more about character assassination.” Barr will struggle to attract Democratic votes but can be confirmed without bipartisan support, perhaps lessening the drama of the outcome. Barr’s nomination is already off to a rough start, with several Democrats complaining that Barr did not reach out to their offices for a typical courtesy meeting before the hearing. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has called for Trump to withdraw the nomination, arguing Barr has disqualified himself because of his criticism of Mueller’s probe.