William Barr, President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney general, is set to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing Jan. 15.
Outgoing Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and his likely successor, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), announced the hearing date Wednesday, noting that confirmation hearings for the past five attorneys general have last two days each.
“Mr. Barr will receive the same fair and thorough vetting process as the last five nominees to be attorney general,” the statement announcing the hearing said.
If confirmed, Barr would replace acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, whose appointment to head the Justice Department in the interim has generated controversy and litigation challenges. Barr is likely to face questions about his June memo to Justice Department officials criticizing special counsel Robert Mueller III’s possible investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice. Barr addressed the letter as a “former official” to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Steven Engel, a former Dechert partner who now heads DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a top Democrat on the committee, described the memo in a statement last month as “very troubling.”
According to the questionnaire Barr completed for the committee, the nominee plans to follow Justice Department protocol when addressing potential conflicts of interest.
“In the event of a potential conflict of interest, l will consult with the appropriate Department of Justice ethics officials and act consistent with governing regulations,” Barr wrote.
Barr, who has served as of counsel at Kirkland & Ellis since 2017, previously served as U.S. attorney general under President George H.W. Bush. He has held a variety of positions in the private sector since he left the Justice Department in the early ‘90s.
According to the questionnaire, Barr has represented Caterpillar Inc. in connection with a federal grand jury investigation since 2017. He told the committee he rejoined Kirkland, a firm where he served a prior stint as of counsel in 2009, on a nonexclusive basis to accept the engagement. Barr also disclosed that he has been hired recently by Cerberus Capital Management “to advise on regulatory aspects of multiple potential private equity investments.”