President Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, William Barr, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, which voted to send his nomination to the full Senate next week.
Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H. W. Bush, was voted qualified for the position, but his confirmation will nonetheless underline the deep partisan divide existing over his nomination, especially since Democrats have insisted that he be scrutinized as part of the process.
However, as Republicans hold control over the Senate, Democrats are unlikely to block his confirmation on their own. Should he be confirmed, Barr would be the first Senate-confirmed attorney general since his predecessor left in November, The Hill informs.
Lately, some have been calling for new attorney general as Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker refused to recuse himself from the special counsel’s investigation.
“I think we need a new attorney general. I appreciate what Mr. Whitaker has done, but I think the time has come for new leadership in the department,” Senator Lindsey Graham said ahead of the committee vote.
In voting against Barr, Democrats on the panel pointed to a memo he wrote last year to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein objecting to the obstruction aspect of Robert Mueller’s probe as “fatally misconceived.”
In the memo, he also said that “Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the president submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction,” as well as that his firing of former FBI director James Comey was within his legal power.
Senator Dianne Feinstein pushed back against his comments, saying that the memo was “disqualifying” and Barr’s theory would mean that the President is “above the law in most respects.”
However, there were also those Democrats who believe that Barr is qualified to be an attorney general who “will exercise independent judgment and uphold the best interests of the Department of Justice.”