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Trump AG nominee William Barr faces serious scrutiny from left and right

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are picking through his record ahead of Senate Judiciary hearings next week

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Donald Trump nominated William Barr to replace former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares for next week's confirmation hearings, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are closely scrutinizing Barr's record.

What are the details?

Democrats and Republicans alike are keenly focused on how Barr views the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, which the appointee would oversee — but signals have been mixed.

Barr — who previously served as attorney general under George H. W. Bush from 1991 to 1993 — wrote an unsolicited 20-page memo to the Justice Department last year, slamming the special counsel's probe into potential obstruction of justice by President Trump.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Barr wrote that Mueller's approach was "grossly irresponsible," and could have "potentially disastrous implications" for the executive branch.

Barr went on to write that "Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction."

Last month, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that memo should disqualify Barr from serving as attorney general, Reuters reported. But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters Wednesday that Barr had assured him he would not interfere with Mueller's investigation, citing close ties between the two.

"Their wives are in a Bible study together. I think they are best friends," Graham said. "I think Mr. Mueller has been to two of [Barr's] daughters' weddings. So his opinion of Mr. Mueller is very, very high in terms of ethics, character and professionalism."

Graham went on to say that Barr's memo to the DOJ was "his opinion of the slippery slope of obstruction of justice charges against a president who wants to terminate a political appointee."

Anything else?

The Mueller probe isn't the only thing lawmakers are looking at.

House Liberty Caucus founder Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) tweeted Wednesday, "Every constitutional conservative in the Senate should oppose William Barr's confirmation as attorney general," and sent out a series of posts citing Barr's support of the Patriot Act, civil asset forfeiture, and retweeting a post from the American Civil Liberties Union naming Barr as "the godfather of the NSA's phone records collection program."

Amash also took aim at Senate Judiciary Committee member and fellow Republican John Cornyn of Texas over the senator's endorsement of Barr being "a 'traditional law and order' attorney general.'"

Countering Cornyn over Twitter, Amash wrote, "Bill Barr is more like a 'spy on Americans without warrants and take our property without due process' attorney general," which Cornyn called "Crazy talk."

"Yes, I know you think it's crazy to follow the Constitution," Amash quipped back.

One last thing…
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