The U.S. Senate has confirmed William Barr as attorney general, placing the veteran government official and lawyer atop the Justice Department as special counsel Robert Mueller investigates Russian interference in the 2016 election.
William Barr, pictured during a meeting on Capitol Hill on January 9, has been confirmed as the next attorney general of the United States.
The Senate voted 54 to 45 on Thursday to confirm William Barr as attorney general, returning him to a post he first occupied in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.
His plans to build a barrier along the US-Mexico border in 1992 will ring familiar in an administration now engaged in a funding fight for a wall to stop an influx of illegal immigration, and in his confirmation hearing last month, Barr aligned himself with the President's views on border security.
Barr was confirmed despite his refusal to commit to making Mueller's report public, something which has bothered many Democrats.
Some pro-choice Democrats also were concerned about statements he made in the early 1990s that the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion ruling did not have "constitutional underpinnings".
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That view has alarmed Democrats, especially since the obstruction inquiry has been central to Mueller's investigation.
Trump denies any collusion. Nobody knows for sure when it will wrap. Barr promised to be as transparent as possible, but said he takes seriously the Justice Department regulations that dictate Mueller's report should be treated as confidential. Mr. Barr joins John Crittenden (1841 and 1850-1853) as one of only two people in USA history to serve twice as Attorney General. Barr wrote that Trump could not have obstructed justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey since it was an action the president was constitutionally entitled to take. "By anybody, whether it's editorial boards, Congress or the president", he said.
When Barr is sworn into office this week, he will be tasked with restoring some stability after nearly two years of open tension between Trump and Justice officials.
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. Rand Paul of Kentucky voted no, citing Barr's record on privacy and surveillance issues.
Alabama Sen. Doug Jones had said definitively before the fact that he would vote for Barr and he was as good as his word.