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PoliZette

Trump Nominates William Barr as His Next Attorney General

President picks 'one of the most respected jurists in the country ... He was my first choice from day one'

President Donald Trump announced Friday that he has nominated William P. Barr as his next attorney general weeks after dismissing Jeff Sessions from that role.

Sessions was pushed to resign just a day after the results of a fierce midterm election split congressional control across the two parties.

He and the president had maintained a friendly public persona, but reports and rumors indicated some tension between the two. Trump has now picked Barr, 68, to be his replacement.

“[He’s] one of the most respected jurists in the country,” Trump told reporters outside the White House, as Politico noted.

“I did not know him until recently, when I went through the process of looking at people, and he was my first choice from day one.”

Related: Sessions Steps Down as Trump’s Attorney General

Trump added that he expects the confirmation process to go quickly and that Barr, a New York City native, is respected by both sides.

Barr previously served as attorney general for a few years when former President George H.W. Bush was in office.

Former Virginia Gov. George Allen later appointed Barr to co-chair a commission to reform the criminal justice system in 1994.

Barr was also tasked with abolishing parole when he was selected to co-chair the commission. He would later work as the executive vice president and general counsel for Verizon Communications before retiring in 2008.

He also joined the law firm Kirkland & Ellis in 2017.

“Barr is highly capable, highly respected and will provide new and much-needed leadership for the Department of Justice,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement provided to LifeZette. “Barr is a known quantity, a man of the highest integrity and character, and has an impeccable reputation. He will provide a strong and steady hand to the fine men and women at the Department of Justice.”

Sessions had had a tough relationship with the president ever since he recused himself of all matters related to the Russian election interference allegations.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has been leading the investigation for some 18 months, which has been looking at whether Trump or his associates colluded with Russian interests during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Related: DOJ Legal Counsel Backs Trump’s Pick for Acting Attorney General

Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein appointed the special counsel investigation last year after the recusal.

Sessions decided to recuse himself because of conversations he’d had with high-profile Russian officials around the campaign. But the decision earned continuous scorn from the president.

“William Barr’s record suggests that he will follow Jeff Sessions’ legacy of hostility to civil rights and civil liberties,” Faiz Shakir, American Civil Liberties Union national political director, said in a statement. “If confirmed, Trump will have a partner in one of the most powerful roles of the administration, and someone who defended the president’s decision to fire James Comey.”

Matthew Whitaker was serving as chief of staff for Sessions before being picked to hold the position temporarily after he left.

But his placement in the role raised a red flag among critics because of his past comments related to the investigation.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and others have called for Whitaker to recuse himself from handling the Mueller investigation

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Connor D. Wolf covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at [email protected].