Senate approves William Barr as Donald Trump's new attorney general

15 Février, 2019, 08:37 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Senate approves William Barr as Donald Trump's new attorney general

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.

Almost every Republican and three Democrats voted to confirm Mr Barr, who will head the politically independent US Justice Department.

"Barr becomes the second full-fledged attorney general of the Trump administration: the president, upset over his recusal in the Russian Federation investigation, fired former Attorney General Jeff Sessions from running the Justice Department the day after the 2018 midterm elections".

Barr has also set his sights on American technology companies, and told senators at his confirmation hearing that he would use the Justice Department's antitrust division to explore questions around competition in Silicon Valley.

Barr has said he will not let himself be bullied by Trump and will protect the integrity of Mueller's investigation and make public as many of its findings as he can.

He wrote a 19-page memo in June, 2017, that criticized Mueller's apparent pursuit of an obstruction of justice investigation. Democrats fear Trump installed Whitaker to undermine Mueller's probe because Whitaker had criticized it when he was a conservative pundit.

Barr is scheduled to be sworn-in Thursday afternoon during a White House ceremony. Trump has repeatedly accused the special counsel team of being a biased "witch hunt" against him.

Trump responded to the McCabe interview with a tweet: "Disgraced FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe pretends to be a "poor little Angel" when in fact he was a big part of the Crooked Hillary Scandal & the Russia Hoax - a puppet for Leakin' James Comey". Barr said at the hearings that he would allow the investigation to be completed.

But it is unclear how much of Mr Mueller's final report Mr Barr will see fit to release.

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When Trump nominated Barr, he called him "a terrific man" and "one of the most respected jurists in the country".

"I think he will serve with great distinction", Trump said.

Barr's deference to the presidency - he has referred to the role of attorney general as "the President's lawyer" - is in line with a school of legal thought that draws a vision of uncompromising executive power from the Constitution. Whitaker said last month that he believed Mueller's investigation was almost complete - a departure for the Justice Department, which rarely comments on the state of the investigation.

Lawmakers in both parties have said a permanent replacement for Sessions was urgently needed.

He also said he would recuse himself from the Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit against AT&T and Time Warner over their proposed merger. Josh Hawley, R-Miss., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in Hawley's office in Washington.

Since Sessions was sacked, his former chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, a controversial choice, has been serving as acting attorney general.

Barr agreed to return to the Justice Department out of a sense of "patriotism" and he will likely aim to helm the department in a way that restores some normalcy after a period of criticism from the President and his allies, his friends say.

Barr was confirmed by a 54-45 vote with Democratic Senators Kysten Sinema, Doug Jones, and Joe Manchin backing Trump's nominee.

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