US Senate confirms William Barr as attorney-general; Democrats question how he will handle Mueller investigation

  • The Senate confirmed William P Barr as the new attorney general on Thursday

  • The vote was 54-45, with only a few Democrats voting in favor, and just one Republican opposed

  • Barr served as attorney general before, under President George HW Bush

The Senate confirmed William P Barr as the new attorney general on Thursday, giving President Trump a new top cop and special counsel Robert Mueller a new overseer.

The vote was 54-45, with only a few Democrats voting in favor, and just one Republican opposed. "A major victory for justice and the rule of law in America," said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

 US Senate confirms William Barr as attorney-general; Democrats question how he will handle Mueller investigation

File image of William Barr. Reuters

Barr will be sworn in on Thursday afternoon at the White House. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G Roberts Jr will administer the oath of office. Barr served as attorney general before, under President George HW Bush, and Republicans said he’s the perfect pick to take the helm again.

Senator Charles E Grassley, Iowa Republican, described Barr as "a straight shooter and an individual who is wiling to engage in a productive discussion with Congress."

Democrats, however, raised concerns about how he’ll handle the Mueller investigation. They fear he may prevent disclosure of the special counsel’s eventual conclusions. "When special counsel Mueller’s investigation concludes, the American people will deserve to know the facts, including information about the president’s conduct, Senator Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, said in a statement after the vote.

"Despite repeated questions and follow-up letters he failed to respond to, Bill Barr refused to commit to allowing the American people to see the full report submitted to him by special counsel Mueller. I consider that disqualifying."

During his confirmation hearing, Barr refused to make an ironclad guarantee he would release Mueller’s final report, but he did say he considers Mueller a friend and has pledged to let him finish his work.

Barr is the third man in less than six months to serve as attorney general. He is replacing acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who was named to the position after Trump axed former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in November.

Media reports say that Barr has visited the Justice Department and has had discussions about his choices to fill the second and third positions at the department.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is expected to step down shortly after Barr takes the reins. The Senate would need to confirm a replacement for Rosenstein, who made headlines Thursday when former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe alleged that Rosenstein offered to wear a wire during meetings with Trump.

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Updated Date: Feb 15, 2019 17:01:35 IST