After spending much of his morning hysterically attacking Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation, President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he will nominate William Barr—a frequent critic of the Mueller probe who holds an expansive view of executive power—to be the next U.S. attorney general.
"As attorney general, Barr could defund or shut down Mueller's investigation," Public Citizen warned on Twitter. "That's what's at risk if we don't push the Senate to act. Call your senators and demand a vote on legislation to protect Mueller."
Indivisible echoed this warning in a tweet of its own following Trump's announcement:
William Barr has attacked the Mueller investigation and supported investigating Trump's political opponents. It's no wonder Trump nominated him to become the next Attorney General. #TrumpIsNotAboveTheLaw - and Congress must #ProtectMueller: https://t.co/v6uEX34E9H
— Indivisible Guide (@IndivisibleTeam) December 7, 2018
In a statement, Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn argued that Barr must not be confirmed by the Senate unless he makes "a public commitment not to interfere in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation."
"It's hard to imagine an attorney general as bad as Jeff Sessions when it comes to criminal justice and the drug war, but Trump seems to have found one."
—Michael Collins, Drug Policy Alliance
"Barr must commit to safeguarding the investigation as the president has not been shy about pressuring members of his administration to curb the probe," Flynn added. "Despite the president's constant criticisms, the investigation has led to a parade of convictions and indictments and must be allowed to proceed without interference."
Immediately following the president's announcement, reporters and commentators began pointing to Barr's record as attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush as a possible guide to how he will act as the nation's top law enforcement official under Trump.
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Barr, Scahill argued, is a "fanatic who believes in a dictatorship of executive power."
William Barr urged George HW Bush to pardon Iran-Contra criminals (he did), is a rabid Cheney-Rumsfeld “unitary executive” fanatic who believes in a dictatorship of executive power.
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) December 7, 2018
If confirmed, Barr would be the successor to Jeff Sessions, who Trump fired hours after November's midterm elections. Immediately after ousting Sessions, Trump installed loyalist Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, a move Democratic lawmakers and legal experts decried as illegal.
In addition to his sweeping view of executive power, the ACLU pointed out that Barr's "record suggests that he will follow Jeff Sessions' legacy of hostility to civil rights and civil liberties."
Michael Collins, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, added in a statement: "It's hard to imagine an attorney general as bad as Jeff Sessions when it comes to criminal justice and the drug war, but Trump seems to have found one."