The vote was 54-45, primarily on a party-line basis with most Republicans backing President Donald Trump’s nominee and most Democrats opposed.
This will be Barr’s second tour as attorney general; he led the Justice Department during the George H.W. Bush administration. He takes over a department that Trump has repeatedly criticized for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
When Mueller’s investigation does wrap up, the decisions around how much information should be disclosed to the public will likely fall to Barr, a noted proponent of strong executive authority.
Barr’s deference to the presidency — he has referred to the role of attorney general as “the President’s lawyer” — is in line with a school of legal thought that draws a vision of uncompromising executive power from the Constitution.
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, Barr refused to commit to release Mueller’s final report unchanged, but pledged transparency and said he would put out “as much as I can.”
He also said he would not let Trump make corrections to the report before a possible publication, and promised to protect the investigation until its finish.
William Barr was born in New York City, the son of Columbia University faculty members Mary Margaret (Ahern) and Donald Barr. His father was born Jewish, and had converted to Catholicism. Barr was raised Catholic.
He grew up on the Upper West Side, and attended the Corpus Christi School and Horace Mann School. He received his B.A. degree in government in 1971 and his M.A. degree in government and Chinese studies in 1973, both from Columbia University. He received his J.D. degree with highest honors in 1977 from the George Washington University Law School.