On Thursday, the Senate voted to confirm Trump nominee William Barr as the next head of the Justice Department. Barr was nominated to replace former Attorney General Jeff Sessions who fell out of favor with the Trump administration and resigned last year.
Barr will step in for acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who controversially stepped into the role in December amidst criticism over his view of the Robert Mueller investigation. Barr isn’t a new name to the DOJ, having served in the nation’s top law enforcement role under George H. W. Bush’s administration in the early nineties.
While overseeing the Mueller investigation is the main topic that has anyone at the top of the Justice Department in the hot seat with Congress, Barr’s nomination has faced other criticisms. Some privacy advocates are fearful that the new attorney general will expand the federal government’s surveillance practices.
“Based on his own testimony, it is clear that Mr. Barr has fundamental problems with the Fourth Amendment, or at least its application to anything that the president might unilaterally decide involves national security,” Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said. “He believes that if the government determines that there is a threat, there’s no need to ask a judge for a warrant.”
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul also cited privacy in his decision to vote against the nomination.
Other members of Congress, comfortable with Barr from his prior time heading the DOJ, endorsed Barr’s confirmation.
“He is one of the most experienced nominees in history, having already served as attorney general under President George H. W. Bush, with a career spanning various positions at the Justice Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the private sector,” North Carolina Senator Richard Burr said. “I look forward to working with the new attorney general and feel confident he will serve the country faithfully.”
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