William Barr is a former attorney general who served under President George H.W. Bush. He is under consideration to be President Donald Trump’s next attorney general.
Barr, 68, served at the head of the Department of Justice from 1991 to 1993. The Washington Post reports that he is the leading candidate to be Trump’s next pick for attorney general.
Matthew Whitaker currently serves as the acting attorney general. He was previously the chief of staff to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was forced out last month.
“He’d be an outstanding choice,” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said of Barr last week. “I think he could get confirmed very easily.”
“He’s the kind of person who could get confirmed,” Texas Sen. John Cornyn added. “I think it’s going to be challenging in any event.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. William Barr is The Leading Candidate to Be Trump’s New AG
The Washington Post reports that Barr is has emerged as the leading candidate to be Trump’s next attorney general. According to the report, the former Bush AG is a “favorite” candidate of numerous White House officials, including senior attorneys in the White House Counsel’s Office.
A source told the outlet that Barr is “a really serious contender and possibly the front-runner.”
“He’s a serious guy,” the source said. “The president is very, very focused on [a candidate] looking the part and having credentials consistent with the part.”
According to the report, the president has told advisers that he plans to nominate Barr. Officials are preparing for his nomination to be announced in the coming days.
His confirmation could take months.
2. William Barr Served as Attorney General Under George H.W. Bush
Barr, 68, served for two years as the attorney general under George H. W. Bush before Bush lost his re-election bid to Bill Clinton.
In 1991, The Washington Post described Barr as having “tempered candor with discretion, a strong will with a tolerance for the personalities and views of others.”
He previously served as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel where he was considered a strong defender of presidential power.
He also wrote advisory opinions justifying the US invasion of Panama and the arrest of its leader, Manuel Noriega.
George Terwilliger, who served as Barr’s deputy, told The Washington Post that Barr brings “40 years of high level experience, both in government and in business, which gives him a perspective that fits many of this administration’s priorities.”
“I have no way of knowing if the report that he’s a leading candidate is accurate, but if he was, because of both his government and corporate background, he would enjoy widespread support — both in and outside the legal community,” he added.
3. William Barr is a Longtime Public Servant
Barr was one of four boys born to a conservative academic couple on New York’s Upper West Side, The Washington Post reported. He studied Chinese studies as an undergraduate and graduate student at Columbia University and then enrolled in the CIA’s Chinese unit.
He worked for the CIA from 1973 to 1977.
Prior to joining the Bush administration, Barr worked on the domestic policy staff at the White House under Ronald Reagan from 1982 to 1983.
From 1988 to 1987, he served as a law clerk to Judge Malcolm Wilkey on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia after graduating from law school.
Barr has been described as a staunch conservative.
“The most radical period I had probably was when I was sort of a moderate Republican,” Barr was quoted as saying in a 1991 Washington Post profile.
4. William Barr Has Worked for Huge Companies Since Leaving The Public Sector
In his early years, Barr worked for nine years at the Washington DC law firm Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge.
After leaving the Department of Justice, Barr worked for the GTE Corporation which later became Verizon, where he retired as a senior executive in 2008, The Washington Post reported.
In 2009, he became an independent director of Time Waner and a counsel to Kirkland & Ellis, which he joined in 2017.
5. William Barr is a Critic of Clintons, Bob Mueller, James Comey
In November 2017, Barr told The New York Times that there was more basis to investigate the Clinton-Uranium One deal than whether Trump colluded with Russia.
“To the extent it is not pursuing these matters, the department is abdicating its responsibility,” he said.
That same month, he called for the Clintons to be investigated.
“I don’t think all this stuff about throwing [Clinton] in jail or … that she should be prosecuted is appropriate, but I do think that there are things that should be investigated that haven’t been investigated,” he said.
Barr also criticized special counsel Bob Mueller’s team in 2017 for making political donations.
Barr told The Washington Post at the time that “prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with a political party” and added “I would have liked to see [Mueller] have more balance on this group.”
Last year, Barr wrote in an op-ed that Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey was “quite understandable,” arguing that Comey overstepped his authority in publicly announcing his recommendation to not charge Hillary Clinton for using a private email server while serving as secretary of state.