Attorney General William Barr was confirmed on February 14, 2019, after U.S. President Donald J. Trump nominated Barr to lead the federal Justice Department. Immediately, Trump put Barr charge of the multi-month Russia investigation initiated by Democrats unhappy with the Republican president’s stunning 2016 election triumph.
Attorney Barr (68) had served previously as the U.S. attorney general (AG) under President George H. W. Bush. from 1991 to 1993.
In late March 2019, Barr received the Mueller report which numbered almost 400 pages long. The GOP attorney general condensed all of that evidence into a sparse four-page summary.
In mid-April 2019, Barr was tasked with deciding whether or not to release all or parts of the Mueller report to the general public. The new AG caught major flak from critics unhappy that he approved an edited version of the Mueller report for the Department of Justice to release.
Barr’s redacted version concluded that, after almost two years of scrutiny and millions of dollars spent by special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump had not, in fact, colluded with Russian agents with an eye toward throwing the 2016 presidential election.
Neither was Trump guilty of obstructing justice, according to the Mueller report. The bottom line was that AG Barr found insufficient evidence to file a conspiracy charge against Trump or his campaign associates because Trump had no corrupt intent behind his actions. Thus, the current U.S. Commander-in-Chief was innocent of obstruction.
That said, Barr also fell short of completely exonerating Trump from all wrong-doing.
House Speaker and Democrat Nancy Pelosi has proclaimed loudly that she doesn’t trust Barr. Furthermore, the AG’s public statements about Trump’s innocence regarding Russian collusion erode his street cred with the rest of us Americans.
The Mueller report proved that Trump, his closest associates, and political supporters were victims of illegal activities that included wiretapping, unauthorized surveillance. When Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz asked Barr to clarify what he meant by “spying,” the AG replied:
“I’m not sure of all the connotations of that word that you’re referring to, but you know, unauthorized surveillance.”
Barr’s past is intriguing: he is a native of New York City and raised as a Roman Catholic. He earned his bachelor’s degree in government in 1971 from his home town’s Columbia University, followed by a masters degree in government and Chinese studies in 1973.
Barr worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as an analyst and assistant legislative counsel. In 1977, he graduated from George Washington University in the nation’s capital with a law degree.
Barr then took employment as a clerk for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. After that, he joined a D.C. law firm as an associate but left this position to work with President Ronald Reagan’s domestic policy team from 1982 to 1983.
After that, he was re-employed by the D.C. law firm he had quit where he worked until his appointment as assistant attorney general in 1989. From there, he became deputy attorney general and then acting attorney general in 1991 after then-AG Richard Thornburgh stepped down from that role in order to run for the U.S. Senate.
Within days after assuming his new duties as acting AG, Barr fell under the public gaze after he successfully negotiated a revolt led by a group of Cuban prisoners in Talladega, Alabama. Upset by their impending deportation, the inmates took hostages.
Barr ordered a federal assault team to enter the Alabama prison and rescue the hostages, which they accomplished without firing a single shot. It was this incident that prompted then-President Bush to nominate Barr to be AG.
During Barr’s confirmation hearings, he admitted to the U.S. Senate that he thought Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case ruling which legalized abortion, should be reversed. The Republican lawyer was confirmed as AG and sworn in on November 26, 1991.
In his role as the head of the U.S. Justice Department, Barr squared off against crime, targeting what he called “gangs, drugs, and guns.”
In 1992, Barr stated that he is pro-police:
“I believe deeply that the first duty of government is providing for the personal security of its citizens. Therefore I would naturally place the highest priority on strengthening law enforcement.”
After his tenure as Bush’s AG, Barr entered the corporate arena where he worked for Verizon and other private companies. Since 2009, he has been an associate with Kirkland & Ellis law firm.
In 2017, Barr told the New York Times that allegations of Trump campaign collusion had a weaker legal basis to justify launching an official investigation than the infamous Uranium One deal-cum-scandal which Hillary Clinton sponsored as former President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State:
“The 2010 deal allowed Rosatom, the Russian nuclear energy agency, to acquire a controlling stake in Uranium One, a Canadian-based company with mining stakes in the Western United States.”
Barr succeeded AG Jeff Sessions who resigned, at Trump’s “request,” after Sessions recused himself from the Russian election interference inquiry.