WASHINGTON • The Senate Judiciary Committee approved William Barr’s nomination for attorney general along party lines Thursday, with Republicans praising his credentials and Democrats questioning how transparent he’ll be once special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation concludes.
The vote now heads to the full Senate, where Barr is expected to be confirmed in a vote as soon as next week.
Barr, who previously served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993, would succeed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was pushed out by Trump last year over the president’s anger that he had recused himself from the Russia investigation. 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.
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is currently filling the position and said last week that he believed Mueller’s investigation was nearly complete.
“I appreciate what Mr. Whitaker has done, but I think the time has come for new leadership at the department,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and committee chairman, said at the outset of Thursday’s meeting.
Barr’s confirmation is expected in the Republican-controlled Senate, though his nomination encountered resistance Thursday from Democrats concerned by Barr’s expansive views of executive authority.