Trump's attorney general nominee Barr passes first hurdle

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham R-S.C. listens at left as Sen. Dianne Feinstein D-Calif. the ranking member objects to advancing the nomination of Bill Barr to be attorney general on Capitol Hill in Washington Thursday Feb. 7 2

A confirmation vote on Barr is expected some time this month. Among independents, 88 percent said the report should be released.

During the hearing, Democrats on the Committee expressed concern about a memo that Barr wrote previous year that called the Mueller investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 election "fatally misconceived".

But Democrats said Thursday that Barr, 68, has to be scrutinized under what Sen.

Catholic William Barr is expected to be approved by the full Senate next week.

Barr would succeed Jeff Sessions, whom Trump sacked in November amid rising pressure on the White House from the Russian Federation investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Updated 5:18 p.m. | William P. Barr is on track to be confirmed as the next attorney general next week.

Barr has declined to offer a firm guarantee that he would release Mueller's report in its entirety - noting that the regulations governing Mueller's appointment do not call for that.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the panel's chair, urged his colleagues to confirm Barr, allowing him to take the helm of the Department of Justice, which has been led by acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker since Jeff Sessions was ousted in November. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, introduced legislation requiring a special counsel to submit a report to Congress.

"I think he reveres the law and the rule of law", Kennedy said.

"I'm speaking to what I hope is the 60 percent in the middle that are saying, 'Give me the facts that I need to make a determination in this one particular instance - what happened.' And that's what our focus is", he said.

Other recent candidates before the Senate Judiciary Committee have faced questions about their religious beliefs, concepts of sin and membership in charitable and fraternal organizations.

But Durbin said Barr has "telegraphed his pitch" by writing an unsolicited memo to Justice Department and Trump lawyers previous year about parts of the special counsel probe.

"This is not the time to install an attorney general who has repeatedly espoused a view of unfettered executive power", Sen. "I voted against Mr. Barr's nomination because I have little confidence in his willingness and ability to meet this challenge".

"I don't believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt", Barr said.

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