US President Donald Trump's nominee for attorney general Bill Barr, who would have control over the Russian Federation collusion probe, passed his first confirmation hurdle Thursday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Barr, though, will be inheriting the Justice Department at one of the most politically charged periods in its history, as special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation seems to be nearing its end.
Barr previously was in several high-level DOJ positions, including as USA attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration.
Barr is expected to win confirmation in the Republican-controlled chamber as soon as next week, after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve him by a party-line vote of 12 to 10.
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During the hearing, Democrats on the Committee expressed concern about a memo that Barr wrote past year that called the Mueller investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 election "fatally misconceived". He will now go to the full Senate, where he needs a simple majority to be confirmed.
Attorney General nominee Bill Barr meets with Sen. Democratic Senators on the Judiciary Committee grilled Barr on issues relating to the Mueller probe and executive privilege, criminal justice policy, immigration, and more.
The top Democrat on the Judiciary panel, California Sen. In the memo, Barr wrote that Trump could not have obstructed justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey since it was act the president was constitutionally entitled to take.
Whitaker said late last month the Mueller-led investigation is "close to being completed", although there has been no confirmation of this from the special counsel's office.
Dianne Feinstein, said last week that she is anxious that Barr won't be a check on the president who appointed him. On Thursday, Sen. John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, said that he would vote for it even though he said the "only question" is whether the Mueller report is going to leak "in toto" or in part. Trump calls the probe a "witch hunt".