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Trump Says He'll Nominate William Barr To Return As Attorney General

Attorney General nominee William Barr with then-Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, left, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., before Barr's hearing on Nov. 12, 1991.
Attorney General nominee William Barr with then-Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, left, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., before Barr's hearing on Nov. 12, 1991.
John Duricka/AP

Updated at 9:50 a.m. ET

President Trump said on Friday he intends to nominate William Barr, a prominent Republican lawyer and former attorney general, to lead the Justice Department.

Barr, who served as George H.W. Bush's attorney general from 1991 to 1993, would take over a department that has come under frequent attack by the president.

Trump has repeatedly lashed out at the DOJ and the FBI, accusing them of harboring anti-Trump elements who seek to torpedo his administration.

If confirmed, Barr would replace Matthew Whitaker, who stepped in as acting attorney general after Jeff Sessions resigned in November under pressure from the White House.

The largest source of friction in Sessions' relationship with Trump was his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation — a move that Trump viewed as a betrayal.

Depending on how long his Senate confirmation takes, Barr would likely oversee special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

It is unclear how Barr views that investigation. But he has expressed concerns about political donations made by members of Mueller's team. In 2017, he told The Washington Post that "prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with a political party."

Barr added that he "would have liked to see him have more balance on this group."

Trump, meanwhile, has kept up his attacks on Mueller and the Justice Department. He said on Twitter on Friday, for example, that his legal team is already preparing a rebuttal to the report that Trump expects from the special counsel's office.

Justice Department veteran

Barr, 68, has extensive experience in government, particularly the upper echelons of the Justice Department. In addition to his stint as attorney general, he also served as deputy attorney general from 1990 to 1991, and as assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel for two years before that.

After leaving government, Barr returned to the private sector, where he held several senior executive positions, including with GTE Corporation and Verizon Communications.

His daughter, Mary Daly, currently serves as the Justice Department's leader coordinating its response to the opioid crisis.

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