Confirmation Hearing of Attorney General Nominee Barr Occurs in Senate Committee
President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, William Barr, spent two days this week being questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee on his past legal actions and how he plans to head the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Much of the hearing revolved around Barr’s take on the current investigation into President Trump by DOJ special counsel Robert Mueller.
Barr spoke of Mueller as a friend and affirmed that he would allow the special counsel office to complete their investigations. When asked if President Trump had asked him to fire Mueller without cause, Barr answered that that had not occurred and he “would not carry out that instruction” if it had been asked.
Barr continually noted that he planned to act as an independent law enforcement official, unswayed by politics or people.
Democrats cited a 19-page memo Barr had written to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on the merits of the obstruction investigation as a reason Barr may need to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation.
Barr responded, “I will seek the advice of the career ethics personnel, but under the regulations, I make the decision as the head of the agency as to my own recusal.”
Barr was questioned by both Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA.) on the role he played implementing an agenda of “mass incarceration” with strict criminal penalties for repeat offenders and drug crimes.
Barr admitted the “war on drugs” did not go as planned. He explained that while it seemed like the right move at the time based on the advice received from local law enforcement groups, climates have changed. He now feels it is important to return to those groups to reassess the situation and move forward based on their recommendations.
When specifically asked about marijuana legalization on the federal level, Barr said that while he cautioned against it, it is important for the legislative branch to act to clarify conflicting laws. When asked about the recently passed First Step Act, Barr said he would “faithfully implement the law.”
Barr has a history of supporting strong border infrastructure and an increase in border patrol agents. Barr told lawmakers, “We need a barrier system on the border in order to get control of the border.”
Senator Harris attempted to clarify this statement by directly asking if Barr advocated for a border wall, to which he replied, “I am advocating a barrier system. In some places, it may not be necessary to have a wall.”
With a Republican majority on the Judiciary committee, Barr is expected to move forward onto the floor for a full Senate vote in the coming weeks.
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