President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General will face questions Tuesday from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
William Barr is vying for his second term in the AG’s office after serving under President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s. Delaware U.S. Sen. Chris Coons who is on the judiciary committee applauded Barr’s written statement that the special counsel Robert Muller should be allowed to complete his investigation.
“Attorney General Barr has helped himself significantly with his prepared statement, it sets a good tone, it proactively answers a number of issues,” Coons said.
Coons is more concerned about how Barr will answer questions about presidential pardons and ethics reviews.
“I think it’s important that it be clear whether or not Bill Barr is willing to publicly commit that if directed to fire Mueller, he will refuse, and if directed even over his refusal to do so, he will resign,” Coons said.
Though Barr was confirmed 27 years ago when first nominated by President Bush, Coons said 2019 is a very different time.
“We have a president whose campaign manager, national security adviser and personal attorney have all either pled guilty to or charged with and been convicted of crimes related to their conduct either on the campaign or in support of President Trump and his business activities,” Coons said. “And that’s not a typical or common context in which to have the confirmation hearings of Attorney General.”
The Judiciary Committee was at the center of the firestorm surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court last fall. Coons said tensions still remain.
“The Kavanaugh confirmation hearing was one of the most divisive and charged hearings I’ve participated in,” Coons said. “It is my hope that everyone will conduct themselves in an appropriate and professional manner, and that the tensions that were evident in the last stages of the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing won’t impact or mar the confirmation hearing of Bill Barr.”
Coons said it’s “particularly concerning” to be conducting a confirmation hearing for a new Attorney General while tens of thousands of federal law enforcement personnel are being forced to work without pay because of the government shutdown.
“Today’s the first day that I’m getting unsolicited texts and calls from Delawareans who are traveling and are really struck at the delay and the uncertainty around TSA, FAA and aviation security,” Coons said.