Senate panel approves William Barr, Trump's attorney general pick

The 12 Republicans on the committee voted for Barr, while all 10 Democrats opposed. American intelligence agencies and Mueller have said Russian Federation was the source of hacked material released by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks during the campaign that was damaging to Democrat Hillary Clinton's presidential effort.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), the committee's chair, said that Barr had to be talked into returning to the Justice Department and that he trusted him to be "fair to the public and true to the law".

Barr said he takes seriously the department regulations that say Mueller's report should be confidential.

Democrats have been critical of Barr, claiming they have concerns over his potential handling of the special counsel investigation.

Full Senate to vote on Trump attorney general...

Patrick Leahy of Vermont called the "extraordinary circumstances" of 2019, as special counsel Robert Mueller has obtained 37 indictments on various charges during his investigation.

Updated 5:18 p.m. | William P. Barr is on track to be confirmed as the next attorney general next week.

Barr, who served as attorney general between 1991 and 1993, would succeed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was pushed out by Trump previous year.

The top Democrat on the Judiciary panel, California Sen.

Opponents have also cited a memo Barr wrote to the Justice Department before his nomination in which he criticized Mueller's investigation for the way it was presumably looking into whether Trump had obstructed justice.

Barr's confirmation is expected in the Republican-controlled Senate, though his nomination encountered resistance Thursday from Democrats concerned by Barr's expansive views of executive authority and by his non-committal stance on making public Mueller's findings.

Barr was selected after former attorney general Jeff Sessions was pushed out in November 2018.

Barr, the architect behind many tough-on-crime policies that led to disproportionately high rates of incarceration in the African-American community, acknowledged the disparate impacts of those laws and committed to fully enforcing the First Step Act, a piece of landmark criminal justice reform legislation signed into law by Trump in December. "I don't know what Bob Mueller is writing", Barr said at his hearing last month. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, said Thursday.

The Republican president has repeatedly criticised the investigation as a "witch-hunt" and denies any collusion with Moscow.

  • Rogelio Becker