Senate panel approves Trump's attorney general nominee

Senate panel approves Trump's attorney general nominee

William Barr was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday in a party-line vote.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is now filling the position and said last week that he believed Mueller's investigation was almost complete.

If confirmed, Barr will be replacing Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who replaced Attorney General Jeff Sessions after President Donald Trump fired him.

Barr's nomination is being closely watched - and came under scrutiny at the committee level - in part because the Justice Department oversees the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into the 2016 Russian election interference.

Barr previously was in several high-level DOJ positions, including as US attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration.

The 12 Republicans on the committee voted for Barr, while all 10 Democrats opposed.

Nadler said he might need the "threat" of the subpoena to get answers during the Friday session. But he has also noted that he takes seriously department regulations that say the report Mueller submits to the Justice Department should be treated as confidential.

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In their opposition, Democrats cited a memo Barr wrote a year ago to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein before he was nominated objecting to the obstruction aspect of the Mueller probe as "fatally misconceived" and said, "Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction". It now heads to the Senate floor, where Barr is expected to be confirmed. She also criticized Barr for not committing to publicly releasing Mueller's findings.

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.

Previous year he sent an unsolicited legal opinion to the Justice Department and White House arguing that Mueller had no grounds to investigate Trump for obstruction of justice based on the firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey in May 2017.

The top Democrat on the Judiciary panel, California Sen.

Whitaker, who was appointed by Trump in November, said last week that the investigation "is close to being completed".

Barr broke with Trump in saying, "I don't believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt", a term Trump frequently used to decry the probe.

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