William Barr nominated by Donald Trump to be US attorney general

William BarrImage copyright

President Donald Trump has nominated William Barr to be the new attorney general, a post he held in the 1990s.

By replacing Jeff Sessions, who was fired by Mr Trump last month, the 68-year-old will take charge of the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

US media report he has been critical of some aspects of that inquiry.

A well-known conservative lawyer, Mr Barr held the role under President George H W Bush from 1991 to 1993.

The president called him a “highly respected lawyer” by both Republicans and Democrats and “a terrific man” while speaking to reporters on the White House South Lawn.

“I did not know him until recently, when I was going through the process of looking at people,” Mr Trump said. “He was my first choice from day one.”

Currently, Mr Barr is counsel at the Kirkland & Ellis law firm in Washington DC.

If Mr Barr is confirmed by the senate after his official nomination, he will replace the current acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker.

Mr Whitaker had been a controversial pick from the start due to his views on the special counsel’s inquiry.

As Mr Barr held the top justice position before – and was unanimously confirmed by the senate at the time – the president seems to be more hopeful about his bipartisan appeal.

Who is William Barr?

The 68-year-old Republican lawyer has an impressive political resume, spanning the CIA, White House and Department of Justice.

Mr Barr holds degrees in government and Chinese studies from Columbia University.

While studying law at George Washington University, he worked at the CIA from 1973-1977.

As a young lawyer, he clerked for the DC appeals court.

Will Democrats derail his appointment?

Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

On paper William Barr looks like a safe pick for US attorney general. Since serving under George HW Bush, he’s spent most of his career as a corporate lawyer, so he’s more than familiar with Washington’s corridors of power.

Mr Barr is the kind of nominee Senate Republicans – whose votes will be needed for confirmation – know and are comfortable with. He’s not exactly a drain-the-Washington-swamp choice, but that has never been a priority in the gilded halls of the upper chamber of Congress.

This, of course, is no normal time – and it didn’t take long for interested parties to scour Mr Barr’s recent comments and writings in search of any meaningful hints on how he would oversee Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Democrats won’t be encouraged to learn that he expressed support for Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey and recommended further investigation of Democrat Hillary Clinton.

It’s going to be months before Mr Barr receives a Senate vote, and the scouring will surely continue. Contentious confirmation hearings are all but a given. This, however, is a nomination that will be difficult for Democrats to derail.

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