Published: Fri, February 15, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

US Senate confirms William Barr as attorney general

US Senate confirms William Barr as attorney general

He previously served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, from November 1991 to January 1993.

As the new overseer of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation inquiry, Mr Barr will take the role back from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was appointed when Mr Barr's predecessor Jeff Sessions recused himself.

William Barr was confirmed Thursday as President Trump's attorney general by the Republican-controlled Senate, despite Democrats' concerns that he may limit the scope of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in US elections. Barr has won praise from lawmakers in both parties for his expertise and grasp of the workings of the Justice Department, which he will lead.

Barr was strongly critical of the Mueller investigation in 2017 while he was in the private sector.

Mr. Barr served as a law clerk under Judge Malcolm Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and from 1982 to 1983, served on the White House Domestic Policy Staff under President Ronald Reagan.

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"The Justice Department needs a leader who will be independent of the White House and who is able to stand up to President Trump", said Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a statement. Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath of office. Matt Whitaker had been taking over as acting attorney general for the time being, but Barr will now officially head the department. Democrats fear Trump installed Whitaker to undermine Mueller's probe because Whitaker had criticized it when he was a conservative pundit. Barr said at the hearings that he would allow the investigation to be completed.

Barr's stance on criminal justice, however, appear to have evolved since he endorsed a Justice Department publication titled "The Case for More Incarceration" in 1992, when violent crime rates hit record highs in the country.

Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein took to the Senate floor to oppose Barr's nomination.

The outcome of Thursday's vote on Barr had been expected; Republicans control a majority in the chamber and a few Democrats also had spoken generally in support of him.

Senator Joe Manchin, Senator Doug Jones and Senator Kyrsten Sinema all voted in favor of Barr.

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