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Barr, 70, was appointed by President Trump in December 2018 to succeed former Attorney General Jeff Sessions as the 85th person to lead the department. He was sworn in as America’s top law enforcement official on Feb. 14, 2019.
It’s the second time around for Barr, who was previously attorney general between 1991 and 1993 under President George H.W. Bush, at the same time Robert Mueller oversaw the department’s criminal division. He later worked as a corporate general counsel and left his role as counsel at a prominent international law firm, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, to take on the appointment.
Barr was acting attorney general at the time of the Talladega prison riots, when he overruled a Bureau of Prisons plan to respond and idirected the FBI to go in instead. He told officials there’d be no concessions and to prepare for a hostage rescue situation. He was later praised for the move.
Under the Trump administration, Barr oversaw the conclusion of Mueller’s investigation into whether the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election. Mueller concluded that Russia did interfere, but his investigation didn’t find sufficient evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
In April 2020, Barr told Fox News the FBI launched its counterintelligence investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia “without any basis.”
Barr has been a loyal supporter of Trump since becoming attorney general, though their positive relationship showed signs of fraying earlier this year when Barr said in a television interview that Trump’s tweets about ongoing Justice Department cases made it “impossible” for him to do his job.
Some Democrats have increasingly considered Barr as one of the most divisive figures in Trump’s administration, and some grew to deem him the president's protector. In May 2019, when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Trump's actions in the Russia probe were not criminal, some lawmakers even called for his resignation.
“You have been very adroit and agile in your responses to questions here,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. “But I think history will judge you harshly and maybe a bit unfairly because you seem to have been the designated fall guy for this report.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.