Donald Trump Nominates William Barr As Next Attorney General
President Donald Trump announced Friday morning he would nominate William Barr to become the next permanent U.S. Attorney General.
Barr — who previously served in the same role under recently-deceased former President George H.W. Bush from 1991 to 1993, as well as Deputy Attorney General before that — will replace Matt Whitaker, whom Trump appointed to serve as acting attorney general after forcing out the embattled Jeff Sessions on Nov. 7, just one day after the midterm elections.
“He was my first choice since Day 1,” Trump told reporters of 68-year-old Barr on Friday before heading out for a trip to Kansas City, Mo.. “He’ll be nominated.”
Trump also called Barr “one of the most respected jurists in the country” and added he is confident his Senate confirmation process will be speedy. The president also claimed that Barr is “respected by Republicans and respected by Democrats.”
There had been much speculation in recent weeks as to who Trump would choose to next lead the Justice Department on a permanent basis. The president has made it clear since taking office that he hopes his attorney general can protect and defend him from special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 election. In March 2017, Sessions recused himself from the probe, a move that drew severe ire from Trump and heavily strained the former Alabama senator’s relationship with the president.
Since Whitaker replaced Sessions, many lawmakers — especially Democrats, who last month retook the majority in the House of Representatives — have expressed concern over the appearance Whitaker has given that he is determined to defend Trump at all costs and undermine Mueller’s inquiry.
Trump also revealed Friday that he would name State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Nauert will replace Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor who resigned in October, with Trump saying she would officially leave the White House “at the end of the year.”
According to The New York Times, multiple staff shifts are set to take place at the White House over the coming weeks. The newspaper reported that Chief of Staff John Kelly “is likely to leave his post in the next few days.” Kelly has been rumored to hold an increasingly tense rapport with Trump and other administration officials, like National Security Adviser John Bolton. Vice President Mike Pence‘s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, has been floated as a potential replacement for Kelly.