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Attorney General nominee William Barr (center) chats with then-Sen. Joe Biden and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., before Barr’s hearing on Nov. 12, 1991. John Duricka/AP hide caption
Updated at 10:44 a.m. ET
President Trump said Friday that he intends to nominate William Barr, a prominent Republican lawyer and former attorney general, to return and lead the Justice Department.
Barr, who served as George H.W. Bush’s attorney general from 1991 to 1993 and holds sweeping views of executive power, would take over a department that has come under frequent attack by the president.
Trump has repeatedly lashed out at the DOJ and the FBI, accusing them of harboring anti-Trump elements who seek to torpedo his administration.
If confirmed, Barr would replace Matthew Whitaker, who stepped in as acting attorney general after Jeff Sessions resigned in November under pressure from the White House.
The largest source of friction in Sessions’ relationship with Trump was his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation — a move that Trump viewed as a betrayal.
Depending on how long his Senate confirmation takes, Barr would likely oversee special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian intervention in the 2016 election.
Long history with Mueller
During Barr’s first stint as attorney general, Mueller served as the head of the department’s criminal division, which pursued several high-profile investigations at the time.
It is unclear how Barr views Mueller’s ongoing Russia investigation.
But Barr has expressed concerns about political donations made by members of Mueller’s team. In 2017, he told The Washington Post that “prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with a political party.”
Barr added that he “would have liked to see him have more balance on this group.”
He also has suggested that Trump’s calls for the Justice Department to investigate his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, weren’t improper.
“There’s nothing inherently wrong about a president calling for an investigation,” Barr told the New York Times. “Although an investigation shouldn’t be launched just because a president wants it, the ultimate question is whether the matter warrants investigation.”
He went on to say that a 2010 uranium deal that was approved when Clinton was secretary of state merits further investigation.
“To the extent it is not pursuing these matters, the department is abdicating its responsibility,” Barr said.
Trump, meanwhile, has kept up his attacks on Mueller and the Justice Department. He said on Twitter on Friday, for example, that his legal team is already preparing a rebuttal to the report that Trump expects from the special counsel’s office.
It has been incorrectly reported that Rudy Giuliani and others will not be doing a counter to the Mueller Report. That is Fake News. Already 87 pages done, but obviously cannot complete until we see the final Witch Hunt Report.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2018
Justice Department veteran
Barr, 68, has extensive experience in government, particularly the upper echelons of the Justice Department.
In addition to his stint as attorney general, he also served as deputy attorney general from 1990 to 1991, and as assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel for two years before that.
After leaving government, Barr returned to the private sector, where he held several senior executive positions, including with GTE Corporation and Verizon Communications.
His daughter, Mary Daly, currently leads the Justice Department response to the opioid crisis.
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sources: Business news from npr.org