William Barr, 68, who served as President George H. W. Bush’s attorney general, is President Trump’s leading candidate to replace Jeff Sessions. Any nominee will face tough questions from Senate Democrats.
Former Attorney General William Barr is President Trump’s leading candidate to be nominated to lead the Justice Department, the Washington Post reports. Barr, 68, a well-respected Republican lawyer who served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush, has emerged as a favorite among a number of Trump administration officials, including senior lawyers in the White House Counsel’s Office. Administration officials are preparing for the likelihood that Barr’s nomination will be announced in the coming days. Given the political fights enveloping the Justice Department, any attorney general nominee is likely to face tough questions at a Senate confirmation hearing.
The president has repeatedly accused the department of launching a biased investigation into his campaign and claimed that special counsel Robert Mueller is conducting a “witch hunt” targeting him and his aides. Democrats want assurances the department’s next leader will resist political pressure from the White House; Republicans want assurances the department will operate investigations in an evenhanded fashion toward members of both parties. Barr’s past statements about the Russia probe, in which he has questioned the political tilt of Mueller’s team, could give some Democrats fodder to attack Barr’s nomination. Republican operatives who support Barr noted he once worked alongside Mueller in the Justice Department and said his track record should ease any Democratic concerns that the department would see its independence eroded. One source said Barr has a bluntness that is likely to resonate with the president. “The president is very, very focused on [a candidate] looking the part and having credentials consistent with the part,” the person said. Barr’s daughter, Mary Daly, is a senior Justice Department official overseeing the agency’s efforts against opioid abuse and addiction. During Barr’s earlier stint as AG, DOJ issued a “Case for More Incarceration.”