On December 7, 2018, President Donald Trump announced that he would nominate William “Bill” Barr to replace Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Mr. Barr served as the 77th U.S. Attorney General from 1991 to 1993, under George H.W. Bush.
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are demanding concessions and commitments from the nominee, even though the party has a decades-long history of supporting him.
In August 1991, Mr. Barr took over the Justice Department (DOJ) as Acting Attorney General after Richard Thornburgh resigned to campaign for the U.S. Senate.
Only 3 days later, 121 Cuban inmates awaiting deportation to Cuba seized 9 hostages at Talladega federal prison. He directed the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team to assault the prison and end the hostage crisis.
The result was a best-case scenario, with agents rescuing all hostages without loss of life. Mr. Barr cites this decision as his greatest accomplishment at DOJ, and it earned him bipartisan praise.
President H.W. Bush was impressed with his management of the hostage crisis and, a few weeks later, nominated him to be the nation’s top cop.
The LA Times called his two-day nomination “unusually placid” because he was supported by both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The committee, which is now led by Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., approved his nomination unanimously by a vote of 14 to 0.
Joe Biden, who chaired the committee at the time, said Mr. Barr showed a “commitment to the public interest above all else.”
“You’re going to be a good Attorney General,” then-Chairman Biden said at the hearing. “You’re sharp, you’re smart.”
He was confirmed by voice vote by the full U.S. Senate just 36 days after the nomination was announced, and was sworn in as Attorney General on November 26, 1991.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., then-chairman of the House Crime and Criminal Justice Subcommittee, also praised the man his members now want to back into a corner.
“Mr. Barr has proven to be a capable deputy attorney general. He did a good job of helping run the department in troubled times.”
Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., still a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, not only praised Mr. Barr but said he would be “an independent voice for all Americans – not just the President.”
Worth noting, that is precisely the issue Democrats are now raising, demanding he commit under oath and penalty of perjury.