Senate panel votes to advance nomination of William Barr

Senate panel votes to advance nomination of William Barr, Trump's pick to be the next attorney general

The nomination will now be sent to the full Republican-controlled Senate, where Barr is also expected to have enough support to be confirmed in a vote that could come as early as next week. Barr has said he will be as transparent as possible under Justice Department regulations, but many Democrats are skeptical.

"I think we need a steady hand at the Department of Justice, and I believe he has that steady hand", Graham said.

But Democrats remained opposed to him after he refused to commit to releasing Mueller's eventual report on the investigation, which could potentially incriminate Trump.

William Barr, nominee to be US attorney general, testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington Jan. 15.

Barr came under scrutiny for sending an unsolicited 20-page memo to the Department of Justice criticizing special counsel Robert Mueller probe's line of investigation into possible obstruction of justice.

A practicing Catholic and a member of the Knights of Columbus, Barr said in his confirmation hearings that he did not believe his faith would hinder his ability to serve as an effective attorney general. Dianne Feinstein, said last week that she is anxious that Barr won't be a check on the president who appointed him.

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Barr would succeed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was pushed out by Trump past year over the president's anger that Sessions had stepped aside from overseeing the Russian Federation investigation. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said he was concerned Barr's previous testimony on the subject "could lay the groundwork for potentially no transparency at all". Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) noted at Thursday's hearing he had introduced the bill with Blumenthal that would require the special counsel to produce a report to Congress when his work was done.

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

"I'll hold him to that", Graham said.

Barr would replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was pushed out by Trump past year.

"Barr assured me of his commitment to protecting civil rights, including the vigorous enforcement of voting rights protections", Jones wrote in a tweet Thursday. The Judiciary panel is set to vote on Barr's nomination Tuesday.

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