After months of existing under the dubious legal purview of a crooked urinal salesman, we finally have an actual, honest-to-god Attorney General: William Barr, who was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday afternoon.
Barr, who previously led the Justice Department under former President George H.W. Bush, will replace acting-AG Matthew Whitaker, who himself replaced Jeff Sessions, who was ignominiously ousted from the Trump administration this past November.
The final vote of 54-45 was mostly along party lines. GOP Sen. Rand Paul voted against Barr on the basis of privacy issues, citing him as the “chief advocate for warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens,” while Democratic Sens. Doug Jones, Kyrsten Sinema, and Joe Manchin all voted in favor of Barr’s nomination.
A fierce advocate of broad presidential powers, Barr has also established himself as an opponent of immigration, a criminal justice hardliner, and national security hawk who endorsed Trump’s firing of former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, and argued in favor of the president’s first iteration of the Muslim travel ban.
Notably, he once stated that a wall between the United States and Mexico such as Trump has long advocated would be “overkill.” He has since argued that “we need money right now for border security, including barriers and walls and slats and other things.”
During his nomination process, Barr was repeatedly pushed by senators about his views on Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections—a major concern among congressional Democrats who worry his appointment is an attempt by Trump to curtail the investigation—agreeing at one point that the “president persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction.”
He has promised to allow Mueller to finish his work, and stated that is is “very important” that the results of the investigation be presented to both congress and the public. It remains to be seen, however, how Barr will act now that he no longer has the constraints of the nomination process holding him back.