Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, announced Wednesday that he planned to vote to confirm Trump appointee for attorney general, Bill Barr. Jones is the first Democratic Senator to announce that he is supporting Barr.
“As a former U.S. Attorney, I believe the most important responsibility of an Attorney General is to uphold the rule of law and to do so with a commitment to transparency,” Jones said in a statement. “I have spent nearly two months examining Mr. Barr’s record. I watched his hearings last month, during which he answered difficult but important questions from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I have listened to and considered the concerns of my constituents and leaders in the justice community. I have also spoken personally with Mr. Barr and asked him some tough questions of my own, informed by my own experience as a U.S. attorney. After thorough consideration, I have concluded that Mr. Barr is qualified for the position of attorney general, and his record strongly suggests he will exercise independent judgment and uphold the best interests of the Department of Justice. Should the Judiciary Committee move forward with his nomination, I will vote to confirm Mr. Barr as attorney general of the United States.”
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, is also supporting the confirmation of Barr.
“Today I met with the attorney general nominee William Barr, who previously served as AG under Bush 41,”. Shelby said on social media. “Barr has the right experience for the job and is a wise choice by President (Donald) Trump. I look forward to supporting his confirmation.”
“While we often talk about the rights and freedoms guaranteed to us under the United States Constitution, the rule of law is what ensures those rights and freedoms are protected,” Jones added. “We live in deeply divided times, but it is in precisely this kind of environment that this principle is so important. In addition, I believe that Mr. Barr shares my commitment to the institutional independence of the Department of Justice and that he will bring stabilizing leadership that is badly needed.”
The Hill is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, is planning to bring up Barr’s nomination next week.
“Before us is a nominee who remains imminently well qualified to discharge these duties,” McConnell said. “The Senate needs to act quickly to put Bill Barr back to work at the Justice Department. I hope and expect he’ll be confirmed next week.”
Barr served as the 77th attorney general of the United States from 1991 to 1993 when George H. W. Bush was president. Barr is 68.
Jones’ defection makes it very difficult for Democrats to block the confirmation. The Hill is reporting that if Jones votes to confirm, then Democrats would need five Republicans to vote to block and other moderate Democrats, including Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, have not said what they will do yet.
The position of attorney general became vacant when the president forced Jeff Sessions to resign. The president was critical of Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the investigation into allegations that the 2016 Trump campaign colluded with Russian intelligence. Jones was elected to fill the remainder of Sessions term in the Senate. Jones faces the voters in 2020.