AG Nominee Barr Clears Committee Ahead of Final Senate Vote

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The vote was along party lines, with all 12 Republican committee members voting to advance Barr's nomination and all 10 Democrats voting against the nomination.

He would replace acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker as the nation's top law enforcement official, who has been in the spot since Jeff Sessions was forced to resign in November.

But Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said that, the "central issue for us, on the Attorney General of the United States, is will he be the people's lawyer or the president's?"

"I appreciate what Mr. Whitaker has done, but I think it's time for new leadership at the department", Sen.

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Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said before the vote that he begged Barr to get back into public service because he has the kind of experience the country needs at this time. "I voted against Mr. Barr's nomination because I have little confidence in his willingness and ability to meet this challenge".

Republicans said they were confident Barr would make as much of the report public as possible.

Barr promised he would "not allow" Trump's legal counsel's Rudy Giuliani's expressed desire to "edit" the Mueller report before being released.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said that Barr, as attorney general, would have the authority to change policies that now might prohibit him from revealing information about Mueller's work and that his nomination must be considered in the context of the historic moment in which the Justice Department finds itself. "In fact, as part of our oversight responsibilities, Congress routinely requests, and receives, confidential information related to closed investigations".

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Barr would succeed Jeff Sessions, whom Trump sacked in November amid rising pressure on the White House from the Russian Federation investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. In the memo, Barr wrote that Trump could not have obstructed justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey since it was act the president was constitutionally entitled to take.

That view has alarmed Democrats, especially since the obstruction inquiry has been central to Mueller's overall investigation.

Democrats on the U.S. House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee on Thursday prepared a subpoena to compel Whitaker to testify on Friday, prompting him to say he will not appear unless the subpoena threat is lifted.

Sen. Dick Durbin of IL, meanwhile, said in meeting with Barr, he thought Barr was a "good person" who reminded him of former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Trump calls the probe a "witch hunt".

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Doug Collins , R-Ga., tried to adjourn the hearing before it started, saying it was an attempt at assassinating Trump's character. Whitaker said that he understood that the issues discussed were important to Cohen and would try to answer the best he could.

"I hope I'm wrong" about Barr, he said.