WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday voted to advanced the nomination of President Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, William P. Barr.
The committee approved the nomination 12-10.
All Republicans voted yes. All Democrats voted no.
Barr, 68, served as attorney general during the final 14 months of the administration of the late President George H.W. Bush. Prior to that position, Barr had served as both deputy attorney general and assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel.
Barr has come under fire due to a December Wall Street Journal report related to an unsolicited memo he sent the Department of Justice last summer. In the memo Barr questioned the merits of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into potential collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
At his confirmation hearing last month, Barr downplayed the significance of the memo, saying it offered informal guidance and that such practice is common among former high-ranking DoJ officials.
Barr attempted to allay concerns about Mueller’s continuity in office, telling the committee: “I believe it is vitally important that the Special Counsel be allowed to complete his investigation.”
Barr also told the committee he disagreed with Trump’s characterization of the probe as a “witch hunt.”
If confirmed, Barr will succeed Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. Whitaker assumed office in November after Trump fired then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
A floor vote is expected sometime next week.