William Barr: AG Nominee
Analysis of William Barr's Confirmation Hearing
After firing Jeff Sessions, President Trump nominated William Barr as attorney general. During his confirmation hearing in mid-January, William Barr failed to provide clear assurances that he will protect the Mueller investigation from political interference by the White House or Justice Department officials, himself included. Combined with troublesome answers on civil rights, immigration, and racial justice, Barr’s nomination as the next attorney general is cause for concern.
Read analysis from the National Law Journal: Panel Questions if AG Candidate William Barr Would Snuff Robert Mueller’s Findings
The Barr Memo and the Imperial Presidency by Neil Kinkopf, ACS Faculty Advisor and Professor of Law, Georgia State University College of Law
Senators Need Assurances from Barr by Caroline Fredrickson, ACS President
Statements from ACS:
Barr Nomination Continues to Raise Questions About Whether Mueller Report Will Be Made Public by Caroline Fredrickson, ACS President
“We just don’t know how high up the chain the unethical and potentially illegal conduct goes. And that’s why we need Mueller’s final report on the Russia investigation to be made public and only William Barr, should he be confirmed, can ensure that will happen.”
“The nomination of William Barr to serve as U.S. Attorney General could make or break the Russia investigation. Barr could undermine or effectively end Robert Mueller’s work or block his final report from public release. Either path would leave the American people in the dark about whether a foreign adversary successfully corrupted our democratic process and, most importantly, whether they had inside help from the President and his campaign colleagues.
“It is absolutely vital that at Barr’s confirmation hearing, he provide clear assurances that he will let the Mueller investigation continue without political interference from the White House or Justice Department officials, himself included.
“Barr has in the past downplayed the charges against the President and his campaign. And even though the President has said that the Russia investigation influenced him when he fired the man originally overseeing it, James Comey, Barr said the President made ‘the right call’ with that decision Trump and Barr are even said to have talked about the hiring of Barr as Trump’s private defense attorney, leaving one to wonder what aspects of the Russia investigation were discussed in those meetings. And then there is Barr’s highly troublesome record on civil rights issues, especially when saddled with a presidential administration seemingly intent on rolling back many of the core freedoms and protections we’ve won over the past decades.
“President Trump is facing numerous legal threats. He obviously feels the walls closing in and is looking to his next Attorney General to serve as a get-out-of-jail-free card. But if the President has committed crimes, we need to be able to rely on the Department of Justice to independently investigate such activity. Any failure by Barr to clearly demonstrate his independence from the President and his willingness to allow the Mueller investigation to continue should disqualify him.”
Five Questions for Barr
After firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, President Trump has nominated William Barr to serve in the position full-time. Given the legal shroud hanging over this presidency—and the fate of those previously tasked with overseeing investigations into Trump’s conduct—it is vital that the Senate receive clear assurances from Barr that, if confirmed, he will remain independent of the President and allow the Mueller investigation to continue unimpeded.
1. Barr has spelled out numerous concerns with the Russia investigation; how can he impartially oversee Robert Mueller’s work? Will he recuse himself from such oversight if the Justice Department ethics office recommends it?
2. Will Barr commit to ensuring the investigation can continue without interference from Department of Justice officials, including himself? Will he resign if Trump demands he fire Mueller?
3. Will Barr commit to making public Mueller’s findings once the investigation is complete, so the American people can learn the truth?
4. Does Barr think presidential documents can be subpoenaed as the courts found when President Nixon tried to block subpoenas for his documents?
5. Legal scholars from both sides of the political aisle have said that a sitting President can be indicted. Does Barr agree?
The Senate should seek assurances that the next Attorney General will uphold the rule of law and put the interests of the American people before the President’s interests.