The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the Barr nomination earlier Thursday, as Republicans touted his qualifications and Democrats voiced concerns about how he would handle the special counsel investigation. The Washington Post, CNN and NPR have coverage.
Democrats also expressed concern about Barr's memo he sent to the Justice Department a year ago, unsolicited, that detailed presidential power and said Mueller had a "fatally misconceived" theory that Trump committed a crime when he fired a political appointee, FBI Director James B. Comey, because that was in his powers as president.
Barr previously was in several high-level DOJ positions, including as US attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration. He will now go to the full Senate, where he needs a simple majority to be confirmed. As the country's chief law enforcement officer, Barr would oversee the remaining work in Mueller's investigation into potential coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. "I voted against Mr. Barr's nomination because I have little confidence in his willingness and ability to meet this challenge".
"They paid for it", said Sen. On Thursday, Sen. John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, said that he would vote for it even though he said the "only question" is whether the Mueller report is going to leak "in toto" or in part. While Barr has vowed to be as transparent as he can be, Democratic lawmakers have said that is not adequate.
The nominee was attorney-general once before, under president George HW Bush.
Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Barr told him that with respect to the special counsel's eventual findings, Barr would "not allow executive privilege as a reason to cover up wrongdoing". But he said he could not understand the memo and would vote against Barr's nomination.
This is particularly concerning as nothing in existing law and regulations prevents the attorney general from sharing the report.
In his confirmation hearings, Barr said he had no criticisms of the Russian Federation probe "at all" despite his previous writings.
Barr would replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was pushed out by Trump past year.