William Pelham Barr (born May 23, 1950) is an American lawyer and government official serving as the 85th United States Attorney General, in the Donald Trump administration since February 14, 2019. He also served as the 77th Attorney General from 1991 to 1993, in the George H. W. Bush administration.
|77th and 85th |
United States Attorney General
|Assumed office |
February 14, 2019
|Deputy||Rod Rosenstein |
Ed O'Callaghan (acting)
Jeffrey A. Rosen
|Preceded by||Jeff Sessions|
November 26, 1991 – January 20, 1993
|President||George H. W. Bush|
|Deputy||George J. Terwilliger III|
|Preceded by||Dick Thornburgh|
|Succeeded by||Janet Reno|
|25th United States Deputy Attorney General|
May 26, 1990 – November 26, 1991
|President||George H. W. Bush|
|Preceded by||Donald B. Ayer|
|Succeeded by||George J. Terwilliger III|
|United States Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel|
January 20, 1989 – May 26, 1990
|President||George H. W. Bush|
|Preceded by||Douglas Kmiec|
|Succeeded by||J. Michael Luttig|
William Pelham Barr
May 23, 1950
New York City, U.S.
Christine Moynihan (m. 1973)
|Relatives||Donald Barr (Father)|
|Education||Columbia University (BA, MA) |
George Washington University (JD)
From 1973 to 1977, Barr was employed by the Central Intelligence Agency during his schooling years. He then served as a law clerk to judge Malcolm Richard Wilkey. In the 1980s, Barr worked for the law firm Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge, sandwiching a year's work in the White House of the Ronald Reagan administration dealing with legal policies. Before becoming Attorney General in 1991, Barr held numerous other posts within the Department of Justice, including leading the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and serving as Deputy Attorney General. From 1994 to 2008, Barr did corporate legal work for GTE and its successor company Verizon Communications, which made him a multimillionaire. From 2009 to 2018, Barr served on the board of directors for Time Warner.
Barr is a longtime proponent of the unitary executive theory of nearly unfettered presidential authority over the executive branch of the U.S. government. In 1989, Barr, as the head of the OLC, justified the U.S. invasion of Panama to arrest Manuel Noriega. As deputy attorney general, Barr authorized an FBI operation in 1991 which freed hostages at the Talladega federal prison. An influential advocate for tougher criminal justice policies, Barr as attorney general in 1992 authored the report The Case for More Incarceration, where he argued for an increase in the United States incarceration rate. Under Barr's advice, President George H. W. Bush in 1992 pardoned six officials involved in the Iran–Contra affair.
Barr became attorney general for the second time in 2019. Under his leadership the Justice Department has argued to nullify the Affordable Care Act and reinstated the death penalty for federal crimes. Having criticized the Mueller investigation before taking office, Barr did not recuse himself from overseeing the investigation as attorney general. After receiving Mueller's report he issued a four page letter to Congress, describing what he said were its principal conclusions, and adding his opinion that the evidence presented did not establish obstruction of justice by Trump. Special counsel Mueller privately responded that Barr's letter had misrepresented the report. After a redacted version of the actual report was released, fact-checkers and news organizations also stated that Barr's letter mischaracterized the report.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Career
- 2.1 Early career
- 2.2 U.S. Department of Justice
- 2.3 U.S. Deputy Attorney General (1990–1991)
- 2.4 U.S. Attorney General (1991–1993)
- 2.5 Post-DOJ career
- 2.6 U.S. Attorney General (2019–present)
- 2.7 Spying claims
- 2.8 Origins of the Russia investigation
- 3 Political positions
- 4 Personal life
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Early life and education
Barr was born in New York City in 1950. His father, Donald Barr, taught English literature at Columbia University before becoming headmaster of the Dalton School in Manhattan and later the Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York, both members of the Ivy Preparatory School League. Barr's mother, Mary Margaret (née Ahern), also taught at Columbia. Barr's father was born Jewish, and later converted to Catholicism. His mother is of Irish ancestry. Barr was raised Catholic.
The second of four sons, he grew up on the Upper West Side, and attended a Catholic grammar school, Corpus Christi School, and then the non-sectarian Horace Mann School. After high school, Barr attended Columbia University, where he majored in government and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1971. He did two additional years of graduate study at Columbia, receiving an Master of Arts in government and Chinese studies in 1973. Barr then moved to Washington, D.C., to work as an intelligence analyst while taking evening classes at the George Washington University Law School, graduating in 1977 with a Juris Doctor with highest honors.
While attending graduate school and law school, Barr worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 1971 to 1977. He was first hired as a summer intern for two years. During his law school years he was an analyst in the Intelligence Directorate division from 1973 to 1975, and then transitioning to an assistant in the Office of Legislative Counsel and "agency liaison" to Congress from 1975-1977.
After graduating from law school, Barr spent one year as a law clerk to Judge Malcolm Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He then joined the law firm of Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge from 1978 to 1982 and again from 1983 to 1989, after serving as Deputy Assistant Director for Legal Policy on the domestic policy staff at the Reagan White House from May 1982 to September 1983.
U.S. Department of Justice
In 1989, at the beginning of his administration, President George H. W. Bush appointed Barr to the U.S. Department of Justice as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), an office which functions as the legal advisor for the President and executive agencies. Barr was known as a strong defender of presidential power. He wrote an advisory opinion justifying the U.S. invasion of Panama and arrest of Manuel Noriega. He wrote legal justifications for the practice of rendition, so that the FBI could enter onto foreign soil without the consent of the host government to apprehend fugitives wanted by the United States government for terrorism or drug-trafficking. Barr declined a congressional request for the full 1989 opinion, but instead provided a document that "summarizes the principal conclusions". Congress subpoenaed the opinion, and its public release after Barr's departure from the Justice Department showed he had omitted significant findings in the opinion from his summary document.
U.S. Deputy Attorney General (1990–1991)
In May 1990, Barr was appointed Deputy Attorney General, the official responsible for day-to-day management of the Department. According to media reports, Barr was generally praised for his professional management of the Department.
During August 1991, when then-Attorney General Richard Thornburgh resigned to campaign for the Senate, Barr was named Acting Attorney General. Three days after Barr accepted that position, 121 Cuban inmates, awaiting deportation to Cuba, seized nine hostages at the Talladega federal prison. He directed the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team to assault the prison, which resulted in rescuing all hostages without loss of life.
U.S. Attorney General (1991–1993)
First nomination and confirmation
It was reported that President Bush was impressed with Barr's management of the hostage crisis; weeks later, Bush nominated him as Attorney General.
Barr enjoyed a "sterling reputation" among Republican and Democratic politicians alike. His two-day confirmation hearing was "unusually placid", and he was received well by both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Asked whether he thought a constitutional right to privacy included the right to an abortion, Barr responded that he believed the Constitution was not originally intended to create a right to abortion; that Roe v. Wade was thus wrongly decided; and that abortion should be a "legitimate issue for state legislators". "Barr also said at the hearings that Roe v. Wade was 'the law of the land' and claimed he did not have 'fixed or settled views' on abortion." Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Joe Biden, though disagreeing with Barr, responded that it was the "first candid answer" he had heard from a nominee on a question that witnesses would normally evade; Biden hailed Barr as "a throwback to the days when we actually had attorneys general that would talk to you." Barr was approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee, was confirmed by voice vote by the full Senate, and was sworn in as Attorney General on November 26, 1991.
During his first tenure as AG, media characterized Barr as "a staunch conservative who rarely hesitates to put his hardline views into action." He was described as affable with a dry, self-deprecating wit. The New York Times described the "central theme" of his tenure to be "his contention that violent crime can be reduced only by expanding Federal and state prisons to jail habitual violent offenders." In an effort to prioritize violent crime, Barr reassigned three hundred FBI agents from counterintelligence work to investigations of gang violence. The New York Times called this move "the largest single manpower shift in the bureau's history."
The Case for More Incarceration
In 1992, Barr authored a report, The Case for More Incarceration, which argued for an increase in the United States incarceration rate, the creation of a national program to construct more prisons, and the abolition of parole release. Barr argued that incarceration reduced crime, pointing to crime and incarceration rates in 1960, 1970, 1980 and 1990; a 1999 criminology study criticized Barr's analysis, saying "so complex an issue as the relationship between crime and punishment cannot be addressed through so simplistic an analysis as a negative correlation between the two very aggregated time series of crime rates and incarceration rates." University of Minnesota criminologist Michael Tonry said the data in Barr's report was deceptively presented; if Barr had chosen five-year intervals, then the data would not have supported Barr's argument, and if Barr had chosen to look at violent crime specifically (as opposed to all crimes as a category), then the data would not have supported his argument.
Barr said in the report, "The benefits of increased incarceration would be enjoyed disproportionately by black Americans". In the report, Barr approvingly quoted New Mexico Attorney General Hal Stratton, "I don't know anyone [who] goes to prison on their first crime. By the time you go to prison, you are a pretty bad guy." Barr's report influenced the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which aimed to increase the incarceration rate.
In October 1991, Barr appointed then retired Democratic Chicago judge Nicholas Bua as special counsel in the Inslaw scandal. Bua's 1993 report found the Department of Justice guilty of no wrongdoing in the matter.
In October 1992, Barr appointed then retired New Jersey federal judge Frederick B. Lacey to investigate the Department of Justice and the Central Intelligence Agency handling of the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL) Iraqgate scandal. The appointment came after Democrats called for a special prosecutor during the scandal fearing a "cover-up" by the administration. House Banking Committee Chairman Henry B. González called for Barr's resignation, citing "repeated, clear failures and obstruction" by the Department of Justice in allegedly delaying an investigation of the BNL-Iraqgate case. González also called for an independent special counsel investigation.
Phone surveillance program
In 1992, Barr launched a surveillance program to gather records of innocent Americans' international phone calls. The DOJ Inspector General concluded that this program had been launched without a review of its legality. According to USA Today, the program "provided a blueprint for far broader phone-data surveillance the government launched after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001."
On December 5, 2019, Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Patrick J. Leahy asked the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate Barr for approving an illegal surveillance program without legal analysis.
In late 1992, Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh, who had been chosen to investigate the Iran–Contra affair, found documents in the possession of Reagan's former defense secretary, Caspar Weinberger, which Walsh said was "evidence of a conspiracy among the highest-ranking Reagan Administration officials to lie to Congress and the American public." Weinberger was set to stand trial on felony charges on January 5, 1993. His "indictment said Mr. Weinberger's notes contradicted Mr. Bush's assertions that he had only a fragmentary knowledge of the arms secretly sold to Iran in 1985 and 1986 in exchange for American hostages in Lebanon." According to Walsh, then-president Bush might have been called as a witness.
On December 24, 1992, during his final month in office, Bush, on the advice of Barr, pardoned Weinberger, along with five other administration officials who had been found guilty on charges relating to the Iran–Contra affair. Barr was consulted extensively regarding the pardons, and especially advocated for pardoning Weinberger.
Walsh complained about the move insinuating that Bush on Barr's advice had used the pardons to avoid testifying and stating that: "The Iran-contra cover-up, which has continued for more than six years, has now been completed." In 2003, he wrote an account of the investigation in his book, Firewall: The Iran-Contra Conspiracy and Cover-Up.
Because of this and Barr's unwillingness to appoint an independent counsel to look into a second scandal known as Iraqgate, New York Times writer William Safire began to refer to Barr as "Coverup-General Barr." Barr, however, responded that he believed Bush had made the right decision regarding that and he felt people in the case had been treated unfairly. Barr said Walsh was a "head-hunter" who "had completely lost perspective."
Upon leaving the DOJ in 1993, Barr was appointed by Virginia Governor George Allen to co-chair a commission to implement tougher criminal justice policies and abolish parole in the state. Barr has been described as a "leader of the parole-abolition campaign" in Virginia.
In 1994, Barr became Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the telecommunications company GTE Corporation, where he served for 14 years. During his corporate tenure, Barr directed a successful litigation campaign by the local telephone industry to achieve deregulation by scuttling a series of FCC rules, personally arguing several cases in the federal courts of appeals and the Supreme Court. In 2000, when GTE merged with Bell Atlantic to become Verizon Communications, Barr became the general counsel and executive vice president of Verizon until he retired in 2008. Barr became a multimillionaire from working in GTE and Verizon.
In 2009, Barr was briefly of counsel to the firm Kirkland & Ellis. From 2010 until 2017, he advised corporations on government enforcement matters and regulatory litigation; he rejoined Kirkland and Ellis in 2017.
Comments about the Starr investigation of President Clinton
In March 1998, Barr lambasted the Clinton administration for criticizing Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr's investigation of the Whitewater controversy, which had shifted towards an investigation of an alleged affair between Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Barr said the criticism appeared "to have the improper purpose of influencing and impeding an ongoing criminal investigation and intimidating possible jurors, witnesses and even investigators."
Comments about the Trump administration
In 2017, Barr said there was "nothing inherently wrong" with Donald Trump's calls for investigating Hillary Clinton while the two were both running for president. Barr added that an investigation into an alleged Uranium One controversy was more warranted than looking into whether Trump conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 elections. Barr also said in 2017 that he didn't think "all this stuff" about incarcerating or prosecuting Hillary Clinton was appropriate to say, but added that "there are things that should be investigated that haven't been investigated," although the FBI began investigating the Clinton Foundation and the related Uranium One matter in 2015, followed by investigations by Republican congressional committees.
Barr was publicly critical of the special counsel investigation. In 2017, he faulted Mueller for hiring prosecutors who have contributed to Democratic politicians, saying that his team should have had more "balance," and characterized the obstruction of justice investigation as "asinine" and that it was "taking on the look of an entirely political operation to overthrow the president."
In June 2018, Barr sent an unsolicited 20-page memo to senior Justice Department officials. He also provided copies to members of Trump's legal team and discussed it with some of them. In his memo, Barr argued that the Special Counsel should not be investigating Trump for obstruction of justice because Trump's actions, such as firing FBI Director James Comey, were within his powers as head of the executive branch. He characterized the obstruction investigation as "fatally misconceived" and "grossly irresponsible" and "potentially disastrous" to the executive branch. The day after the existence of the memo became known, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said "our decisions are informed by our knowledge of the actual facts of the case, which Mr. Barr didn't have." Democrats later characterized the memo as Barr's "job application" for the Attorney General position.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) financially assists Republicans in their Senate election contests; in the seven years from 2009 to 2016, Barr gave six donations to the NRSC totaling $85,400. In a five month period from October 2018 to February 2019, Barr donated five times (around $10,000 every month) for a total of $51,000. When Barr started donating more frequently to the NRSC, it was uncertain whether then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions would remain in his job. Barr continued donating even after Sessions resigned, and after Trump nominated Barr for Attorney General. The donations stopped after Barr was confirmed by the Senate as Attorney General. NRSC refunded Barr $30,000 before his confirmation. Previously in 2017, Barr had said he felt "prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with a political party".
U.S. Attorney General (2019–present)
Second nomination and confirmation
On December 7, 2018, President Donald Trump announced Barr's nomination to succeed Jeff Sessions. Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman reported that Trump had sought Barr as chief defense lawyer for Trump regarding the special counsel investigation headed by Robert Mueller after Barr made three positions known. First, Barr supported Trump's firing of Comey on May 9, 2017. Second, he questioned the appointments of some of Mueller's prosecutors due to political donations they had made to the Clinton campaign. Third, he alleged there were conflicts of interest of two appointees to the Special Counsel Team, Jennie Rhee and Bruce Ohr.
Barr was confirmed as Attorney General on February 14, 2019, by a 54–45 near party-line vote, with Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) as the three Democrats to vote Yea. Republicans Rand Paul (R-KY) voted No and Richard Burr (R-NC) did not vote. Later that day, Barr was sworn-in as the nation's 85th Attorney General by Chief Justice John Roberts in a ceremony at the White House. He is the first person to be appointed to a second non-consecutive term as Attorney General since John J. Crittenden in 1850.
In May 2019, three months into his tenure as Attorney General, the Associated Press characterized Barr as a champion and advocate for Trump. Barr had enthusiastically supported Trump's political agenda, misrepresented aspects of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, repeated Trump's talking point that those investigating Trump had engaged in "spying", defied congressional subpoenas, and refused to give Congress an unredacted version of the Mueller report.
Under Barr's leadership, the Justice Department changed its position on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Previously the department took the position that the individual mandate provision was unconstitutional, but could be severed from the whole healthcare law. On March 25, the department updated its position to argue that the entire law is unconstitutional. On May 2, the department conducted a filing with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to nullify the entire law, arguing that the removal of the provision on individual mandate results in the entire law becoming unconstitutional. As of that day, President Donald Trump has promised to produce a replacement health insurance plan only after he wins reelection in 2020.
On May 1, 2019, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd told the House Oversight Committee that Barr had instructed Justice Department official John Gore to refuse a subpoena to testify in front of the committee because it is a Justice Department requirement to ensure "the confidentiality interests of the Executive Branch". Gore announced he is leaving the DoJ August 2019.
In early June the House Oversight Committee moved to hold Barr in contempt of congress for defying a subpoena regarding information about efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 US Census. Two days after the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Barr likened his own experience at the Justice Department to the experience of the paratroopers who landed in Sainte-Mère-Église on D-Day.
Mueller investigation and report
On January 14, 2019, a day before Barr's confirmation hearing for Attorney General, Barr sent written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the eventual final Mueller report, saying "it is very important that the public and Congress be informed of the results of the special counsel's work ... For that reason, my goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law."
Upon taking office Barr refused calls to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation, despite his June 2018 memo arguing that the special counsel had no right to investigate Trump.
On March 22, 2019, Mueller concluded his special counsel investigation and gave the final report to Barr. On March 24, Barr wrote a four-page letter to Congress describing what he said were the report's principal conclusions: first, that the Special Counsel did not establish conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia's efforts to interfere with the 2016 election; and second, that the Special Counsel made no decision as to whether to prosecute Trump for obstruction of justice, quoting "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein themselves concluded that the evidence did not establish obstruction of justice beyond reasonable doubt, and made the decision not to press the charge; "Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense."
On March 25, Mueller reportedly wrote a letter to Barr, as described in the New York Times as "expressing his and his team's concerns that the attorney general had inadequately portrayed their conclusions". In USA Today it was described that Mueller "expressed his differences with Barr".
On March 27, Mueller sent Barr another letter describing his concerns of Barr's letter to Congress and the public on March 24. In it, Mueller complained that the summary "did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance" of the Special Counsel's probe, adding, "There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations". Both before and after the release of Barr's summary, Mueller repeatedly tried to get Barr to release the report's introductions and executive summaries. Mueller's March 27 letter also stated that he had earlier sent a March 25 letter to Barr.
Mueller's March 27 letter prompted Barr to call Mueller on March 28. Barr clarified on the intention of his letter both in his phone call with Mueller and in another letter to Congress that his letter had not been intended to be a summary of the report, but rather a description of the principal findings of the report.
On April 9, Barr appeared in a congressional hearing before the House. There, Representative Charlie Crist described media reports that "members of the special counsel's team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24 letter, that it does not adequately or accurately portray the [Mueller] report's findings". Crist asked Barr: "Do you know what they are referencing with that?" Barr replied: "No, I don't. I think – I think – I suspect that they probably wanted more put out, but in my view, I was not interested in putting out summaries." On April 10, Attorney General Barr appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senator Chris Van Hollen asked Barr regarding obstruction: "Did Bob Mueller support your conclusion?" Barr replied: "I don't know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion."
The Department of Justice released a redacted version of the special counsel's report in the morning of April 18, 2019. After the release of the full report, fact-checkers and news outlets characterized Barr's initial letter as a deliberate mischaracterization of the Mueller Report and its conclusions. The New York Times reported instances in which the Barr letter omitted information and quoted sentence fragments out of context in ways that significantly altered the Mueller findings, including:
- A sentence fragment described only one possible motive for Trump to obstruct justice, while the Mueller report listed other possible motives
- Omission of words and a full sentence that twice suggested there was knowing and complicit behavior between the Trump campaign and Russians that stopped short of coordination
- Omission of language that indicated Trump could be subject to indictment after leaving office, to suggest that Trump was cleared in full
According to the Associated Press, Barr misrepresented the report in several ways, saying the report gave no indication that Congress could make a determination on obstruction of justice (the report specifically stated "that Congress may apply obstruction laws") and that "these reports are not supposed to be made public" (when DOJ regulations give the AG wide authority in releasing reports such as this one). Barr falsely claimed in his summary of the report that "the White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel's investigation." The Washington Post fact-checker described Barr's claim as "astonishing" and PolitiFact said it was "false." In actuality, Trump declined to grant the Special Counsel an in-person interview, and the Special Counsel report characterized Trump's written responses to interview questions as "inadequate". The report also documented numerous instances where Trump tried to either impede or end the Special Counsel investigation, analyzing each in terms of the three factors necessary for a criminal charge of obstruction.[not in citations given]
During a press conference, Barr said Mueller's report contained "substantial evidence" that Trump was "frustrated and angered" because of his belief that the "investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks"; however, the report gave no indication that Trump's frustrations with the investigation would mitigate obstructing behavior. Barr also said it would not be criminal obstruction of justice for a president to instruct a staffer to lie to investigators about the president's actions, and suggested a president could legally terminate an investigation into himself if he was being "falsely accused".
On May 8, 2019, the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to hold Barr in contempt of congress for failing to comply with a subpoena which requested the full and unredacted Mueller Report. The matter now falls to the House of Representatives at-large for a contempt of congress vote. The Justice Department took the position that disclosure of the unredacted Mueller Report would require the department to violate "the law, court rules and court orders" as well as grand jury secrecy rules.
During May 1, 2019 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr stated he accepted Mueller's interpretation of the law that was applied in the Report. However, in a May 30 CBS News interview, Barr said he had applied his own interpretation of the law and took the position that obstruction laws cannot apply to presidents who abuse their official powers to impede an investigation for a corrupt reason. Barr elaborated: "As a matter of law ... we didn't agree with the legal analysis - a lot of the legal analysis in the report. It did not reflect the views of the department".
In April 2019, Barr stirred controversy by saying he thought "spying did occur" against the Trump 2016 presidential campaign. The remark echoed unsubstantiated claims made by Trump and his supporters that the Trump campaign had been unfairly targeted or spied on by the FBI; Trump described it as an "attempted coup." There is no evidence that government officials engaged in "spying" on the Trump campaign. Barr later said he was not sure what spying had occurred and he did clarify what he meant by "spying". He also said he had no evidence of wrong-doing. Democrats criticized Barr's statement as "incendiary", saying the statement was intended to please Trump and that the statement lacked credibility following Barr's misrepresentation of the Mueller report in March 2019. Barr said he thought there was not "any pejorative connotation at all" to the term spying. At the time, Barr said he would not launch an investigation into the origins of the FBI probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
FBI officials denied Barr's claims about spying. FBI Director Christopher Wray said he was unaware of any illegal surveillance, abuse of powers or "spying" by the FBI. Subsequently Trump retweeted a far-right pundit who said the FBI had "no leadership" and that Wray was "protecting the same gang that tried to overthrow the president in an illegal coup". Trump said Wray's statement was "ridiculous." Former FBI Director James Comey rebutted Barr, saying "The FBI doesn't spy. The FBI investigates."
In May 2019, Barr asserted, "Government power was used to spy on American citizens". Barr did not identify the specific actions prior to the 2016 election that he considered spying. After broadcasting some of Barr's remarks, Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy, a Trump loyalist, falsely asserted that FISA was designed "so that the United States could surveil people in other countries and it's very disturbing if they use the laws that are supposed to apply to people from other countries to spy on Americans illegally." The same day, Trump said his campaign was "conclusively spied on", characterized the purported spying as "treason", and called for "long jail sentences."
Origins of the Russia investigation
Also in May 2019, Barr appointed John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to oversee a DOJ probe into the origins of the FBI investigation into Russian interference. The origins of the probe were already being investigated by the Justice Department's inspector general and by U.S. attorney John Huber, who was appointed in 2018 by Jeff Sessions. Democrats criticized the decision, with Sen. Patrick Leahy saying, "Ordering a 3rd meritless investigation at the request of Trump is beneath the office he holds." Trump ordered the intelligence community to cooperate with Barr's inquiry and granted Barr unprecedented full authority to declassify any intelligence information related to the matter.
In September 2019, Barr was reported to have been contacting foreign governments to ask for help in this inquiry, including personally traveling to the United Kingdom and Italy to seek information. At Barr's request Trump phoned the prime minister of Australia to request his cooperation. Barr sought information related to a conspiracy theory that had circulated among Trump allies in conservative media asserting Joseph Mifsud was a Western intelligence operative who was allegedly directed to entrap Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos in order to establish a false predicate for the FBI to open an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. On October 2, 2019, Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch Trump supporter and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to the leaders of Britain, Australia and Italy, asserting as fact that both Mifsud and Australian diplomat Alexander Downer had been directed to contact Papadopoulos. Joe Hockey, the Australian ambassador to the United States, sharply rejected Graham's characterization of Downer. A former Italian government official told The Washington Post in October 2019 that during a meeting the previous month, Italian intelligence services told Barr they had "no connections, no activities, no interference" in the matter; Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte later affirmed this. One British official with knowledge of Barr's requests observed, "it is like nothing we have come across before, they are basically asking, in quite robust terms, for help in doing a hatchet job on their own intelligence services." The Washington Post reported on November 22, 2019 that the Justice Department inspector general had aggressively investigated the allegation that Mifsud had been directed to entrap Papadopoulos, but found it was without merit. The Post also reported the inspector general found the opening of the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane investigation was legally and factually predicated. The Post subsequently reported in December 2019 that Barr disagreed with the inspector general's conclusion that there was adequate evidence for the FBI to open its investigation. The Post also reported in December 2019 that the inspector general asked Durham and several American intelligence agencies if there was evidence of a setup by American intelligence, but they replied there was none.
On October 24, 2019, two sources told The New York Times that the Durham inquiry had been elevated to a criminal investigation. The Times reported on November 22 that the Justice Department inspector general had made a criminal referral to Durham regarding Kevin Clinesmith, a low-level FBI attorney who had altered an email during the process of acquiring a wiretap warrant renewal on Carter Page, and that referral appeared to be at least part of the reason Durham's investigation was elevated to criminal status. Barr rejected criticism by Democrats in Congress that the transitioned investigation was designed to provide support to Trump during his impeachment inquiry in the Trump-Ukraine scandal.
In November 2019, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded his investigation into the origins of the 2016 Russia probe, concluding that the investigation was not tainted. Barr rejected the conclusions of the report.
As Deputy Attorney General, Barr – together with others at the Department of Justice – successfully led the effort for the withdrawal of a proposed Department of Health and Human Services rule that would have allowed people with HIV/AIDS into the United States. He also advocated the use of Guantanamo Bay to prevent Haitian refugees and HIV infected individuals from claiming asylum in the United States. According to Vox in December 2018, Barr supported an aggressive "law and order" agenda on immigration as Attorney General in the Bush Administration.
Barr supports the death penalty, arguing that it reduces crime. He advocated a Bush-backed bill that would have expanded the types of crime that could be punished by execution. In a 1991 op-ed in The New York Times, Barr argued that death row inmates' ability to challenge their sentences should be limited to avoid cases dragging on for years: "This lack of finality devastates the criminal justice system. It diminishes the deterrent effect of state criminal laws, saps state prosecutorial resources and continually reopens the wounds of victims and survivors."
On July 25, 2019, Barr announced that the United States federal government would resume its use of capital punishment under his leadership, after nearly two decades without an execution. Barr ordered the Department of Justice to adopt a new lethal injection protocol, consisting of a single drug (pentobarbital), and ordered execution dates to be set for five inmates in December 2019 and January 2020.
In 1991, Barr said he believed the framers of the Constitution did not originally intend to create a right to abortion, that Roe v. Wade was thus wrongly decided, and that abortion should be a "legitimate issue for state legislators". In contrast, Barr said during his 1991 confirmation hearings that Roe was "the law of the land" and that he did not have "fixed or settled views" on the subject.
In a 1995 article for The Catholic Lawyer, Barr said the American government is "predicated precisely" on the Judeo-Christian system.:3 Barr grapples with the challenge of representing Catholicism "in an increasingly militant, secular age.":1 Barr asserts that there are three ways secularists use "law as a legal weapon.":8 The first method is through elimination of traditional moral norms through legislation and litigation; Barr cites the elimination of the barriers to divorce and the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade as examples of this method.:8 The second is the promotion of moral relativism through the passage of laws that dissolve moral consensus and enforce neutrality.:8 Barr draws attention to a 1987 case, Gay Rights Coalition v. Georgetown University, which "compel[s] Georgetown University to treat homosexual activist groups like any other student group.":9 The third method is the use of law directly against religion; as an example of this method, Barr cites efforts to use the Establishment Clause to exclude religiously motivated citizens from the public square.:9 Concluding, Barr states the need to "restructure education and take advantage of existing tax deductions for charitable institutions to promote Catholic education.":12
Barr supports a federal ban on marijuana. However, he has stated that the discrepancy between federal and state law is suboptimal, and that if a uniform federal ban on marijuana could not be achieved, then he would support the STATES Act on marijuana legalization. "I think it's a mistake to back off on marijuana ... However, if we want a federal approach, if we want states to have their own laws, then let's get there and let's get there the right way." Barr also said DOJ policy should align with congressional legislation.
Barr is proponent of the unitary executive theory, which holds that the President has broad executive powers. Prior to joining the Trump administration, he argued that the president has "complete authority to start or stop a law enforcement proceeding."
Barr has been married to Christine Moynihan Barr since 1973. She holds a master's degree in library science, and together they have three daughters: Mary Barr Daly, Patricia Barr Straughn, and Margaret (Meg) Barr. Their eldest daughter, Mary, born 1977/1978, was a senior Justice Department official who oversaw the department's anti-opioid and addiction efforts; Patricia, born 1981/1982, was counsel for the House Agriculture Committee; and Meg, born 1984/1985, is a former Washington prosecutor and cancer survivor (of recurrent Hodgkin's lymphoma), was counsel for Republican Senator Mike Braun of Indiana.
In February 2019, as their father awaited Senate confirmation for his appointment as Attorney General, Mary left her post at the Department of Justice as the Trump Administration's point woman on the opioid crisis. Her husband, however, continued to work in the Justice Department's National Security Division. Around the same time Mary left the Department of Justice, Tyler McGaughey, the husband of her youngest sister, left the U.S. Attorney's office in Alexandria, Virginia, to join the White House Counsel's office.
Barr is an avid bagpiper. He began playing at age eight and has performed competitively in Scotland with a major American pipe band. At one time, Barr was a member of the City of Washington Pipe Band.
Barr and Robert Mueller have known each other since the 1980s and are said to be good friends. Mueller attended the weddings of two of Barr's daughters, and their wives attend Bible study together.
- Savage, Charlie (January 14, 2019). "Trump Says He Alone Can Do It. His Attorney General Nominee Usually Agrees". The New York Times. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Hamburger, Tom (May 16, 2019). "How William Barr, now serving as a powerful ally for Trump, has championed presidential powers". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Johnson, Eliana (May 1, 2019). "The real reason Bill Barr is defending Trump". Politico. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Tonry, Michael (February 18, 2016). Sentencing Fragments: Penal Reform in America, 1975-2025. Studies in Crime and Public Policy. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 79. ISBN 9780190204686.
- Saxon, Wolfgang (February 10, 2004). "Donald Barr, 82, Headmaster And Science Honors Educator". The New York Times. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
- Haltiwanger, John (December 7, 2019). "Meet William Barr: What you need to know about the possible once and future attorney general". Business Insider. Archived from the original on December 9, 2018. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
- Miller, Judith (January 11, 2019). "Stepping Into the Fire". City Journal. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- LaFraniere, Sharon; Savage, Charlie; Benner, Katie (June 9, 2019). "People Are Trying to Figure Out William Barr. He's Busy Stockpiling Power". The New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2019.
- "Two-Time Columbia Graduate William Barr Confirmed as U.S. Attorney General | Columbia News". news.columbia.edu. February 14, 2019. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
- Barr, William P. (February 14, 2019). "William Barr Senate Questionnaire Answers" (PDF). Nominations | United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
- "Bio William Barr". United States Department of Justice. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
- "Attorney General: William Pelham Barr". United States Department of Justice. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
- Tau, Byron; Gurman, Sadie (February 19, 2019). "Attorney General Nominee Barr Helped Navigate CIA Through Rocky Times With Congress". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
- Graham 1992, p. 52.
- Barr, William P.: Files, 1982-1983 – REAGAN LIBRARY COLLECTIONS (pdf). Ronald Reagan Presidential Library (Report). December 14, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- LaFraniere, Sharon (November 12, 1991). "For Nominee Barr, an Unusual Path to Attorney General's Office". The Washington Post. p. A6. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- Boys, James D. (February 7, 2018). "The Clinton Administration's Development and Implementation of Rendition (1993–2001)". Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. 42 (12): 1090–1102. doi:10.1080/1057610X.2018.1438062. ISSN 1057-610X.
- Goodman, Ryan (April 15, 2019). "Barr's Playbook: He Misled Congress When Omitting Parts of Justice Dep't Memo in 1989". Just Security. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Johnston, David (August 30, 1990). "Political Lifeguard at the Department of Justice". The New York Times. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- Santini, Maureen (October 17, 1991). "New Yorker Tapped". Daily News. p. C12.
- Jehl, Douglas (October 17, 1991). "Acting Justice Dept. Chief Named Attorney General". Los Angeles Times. p. 1. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- Johnston, David (August 10, 1991). "Attorney General Makes it Official". The New York Times. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- Mothers, Ronald (August 31, 1991). "U.S. Agents Storm Prison in Alabama, Freeing 9 Hostages". The New York Times. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- Klaidman, Daniel (September 9, 1991). "Barr's Star Rises After Hostage Rescue". Legal Times. p. 6.
- Barrett, Paul (October 17, 1991). "Bush Picks Barr for Attorney General Post". The Wall Street Journal. p. A25.
- Erickson, Bo (June 11, 2019). "In the 1990s, Joe Biden said William Barr was "one of the best" attorneys general". CBS News. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
- Ostrow, Ronald J. (November 14, 1991). "Barr Opposed to Roe vs. Wade Decision: Justice Dept.: The attorney general-designate tells Senate panel right to privacy does not extend to obtaining an abortion". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Frazee, Gretchen (December 7, 2018). "William Barr's record on 4 key issues". PBS. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
- Ostrow, Ronald J. (November 16, 1991). "Judiciary Panel Approves Barr for Attorney General". Los Angeles Times.
- "Who is William Barr, Trump's pick to be the next attorney general?". CBS News. December 7, 2018. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
- Johnston, David (November 21, 1991). "Barr Is Confirmed on Voice Vote As 77th Attorney General of U.S." The New York Times. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
- Colvin, Jill; Miller, Zeke (December 7, 2018). "Trump Says He's Nominating Barr for Attorney General". U.S. News & World Report. AP. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
- Ostrow, Ron (October 17, 1991). "Barr: Conservative With 'Political Savvy' Is on Fast Track". Los Angeles Times. p. A20. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- Johnston, David (March 3, 1992). "New Attorney General Shifts Department's Focus". The New York Times. p. A17. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- LaFraniere, Sharon (March 5, 1992). "Barr Takes Center Stage at Justice Department With New Script". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- Barrett, Paul (June 11, 1990). "At Justice Department, New No. 2 Man Brings Humor, Humility to Difficult Job". The Wall Street Journal.
- Barr, William P. (October 28, 1992). The Case for More Incarceration (PDF). Office of Legal Policy, United States Department of Justice (Report). Retrieved April 5, 2019.
- Blumstein, Alfred; Beck, Allen J. (1999). "Population Growth in U. S. Prisons, 1980–1996". Crime and Justice. 26 (1): 17–61. doi:10.1086/449294. ISSN 0192-3234.
- Tonry, Michael (April 11, 1996). Malign Neglect: Race, Crime, and Punishment in America. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 19–24, 36. ISBN 9780195104691.
- Kelly, Erin I. (November 12, 2018). The Limits of Blame: Rethinking Punishment and Responsibility. p. 45. ISBN 9780674980778.
- Bua, Nicholas (September 30, 2013). Report of Special Counsel Nicholas J. Bua to the Attorney General of the United States Regarding the Allegations of INSLAW, Inc (PDF). United States Department of Justice (Report). Retrieved December 8, 2018 – via governmentattic.org.
- Denniston, Lyle (October 17, 1992). "Ex-judge to probe Iraq-loan scandal Barr's appointee assailed as 'fig leaf'". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
- Smith, R. Jeffery (October 14, 1992). "Boren Critices Plans for Justice–FBI Probe of Alleged Misconduct in BNL Case". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
- "Barr names special counsel in BNL case, his resignation still demanded". UPI. October 16, 1992. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
- Heath, Brad (March 28, 2019). "Justice under AG Barr began vast surveillance program without legal review – in 1992, inspector general finds". USA TODAY. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- Savage, Charlie (December 5, 2019). "27 Years Later, Senators Want Inquiry Into Barr's Blessing of Call Logs Collection". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
- Cummings, William (May 21, 2019). "The president is not 'an errand boy for Congress': Barr says he's protecting presidency, not Trump". USA TODAY. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
- Welna, David (December 6, 2018). "George H.W. Bush's Mixed Legacy In A Reagan-Era Scandal". NPR. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
- Johnston, David (December 25, 1992). "The Pardons; Bush Pardons 6 in Iran Affair, Aborting a Weinberger Trial; Prosecutor Assails 'Cover-Up'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
- "Chapter 28 George Bush". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
- Johnston, David (February 9, 1993). "Walsh Implies Bush Used Pardons to Avoid Testifying". The New York Times. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
- Doppler, Jack (January 1993). "No Longer News: The Trial of the Century That Wasn't". ABA Journal. 79 (1): 56–59. JSTOR 27832773.
- Bush, George H. W. (December 24, 1992). "Proclamation 6518 – Grant of Executive Clemency". The American Presidency Project. Retrieved April 23, 2008.
- "William P. Barr Oral History, Assistant Attorney General; Deputy Attorney General; Attorney General". Miller Center. April 5, 2001. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
- Johnston, David (December 25, 1992). "Bush Pardons 6 in Iran Affair, Aborting a Weinberger Trial; Prosecutor Assails 'Cover-Up'". The New York Times. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
- Johnston, David (February 9, 1993). "Walsh Implies Bush Used Pardons to Avoid Testifying". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
- Hartmann, Thom (March 26, 2019). "Cover-up Attorney General Bill Barr strikes again". Salon.com. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
- Johnson, Carrie (January 14, 2019). "William Barr Supported Pardons In An Earlier D.C. 'Witch Hunt': Iran-Contra". NPR.org. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
- Green, Frank (August 1994). "Parole, Sentencing Reform Plan Clears First Hurdle". Richmond Times Dispatch. p. A1, A10.
- Baker, Peter (August 17, 1994). "Allen Offers Plan to Abolish Parole". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
- Atkinson, Frank B. (2006). Virginia in the Vanguard: Political Leadership in the 400-Year-Old Cradle of American Democracy, 1981-2006. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 231–232. ISBN 9780742552104.
- Landler, Mark (January 20, 1997). "The Lawyer Leading the Charge Against the FCC's Regulations". The New York Times. p. D1. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- Barrett, Paul (December 5, 1996). "GTE Lawyer Shapes Strategy for Telecommunications". The Wall Street Journal.
- "Verizon General Counsel William P. Barr Announces Retirement". Verizon Communications. September 29, 2008. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
- "Board of Visitors". Special Collections Research Center Wiki. College of William & Mary. August 3, 2010. Retrieved October 8, 2010.
- "William P. Barr profile". kirkland.com. Archived from the original on December 6, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
- Laird, Lorelei (December 7, 2018). "Who is William Barr, Trump's pick to replace Sessions as AG?". ABA Journal. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
- Gurman, Sadie (May 20, 2019). "Barr, Under Fire, Says He's Fighting for the Presidency, Not Trump". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
- Haberkorn, Del Quentin Wilber, Jennifer (January 14, 2019). "William Barr to face tough Senate hearing on attorney general nomination". latimes.com. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
- Baker, Peter (November 14, 2017). "'Lock Her Up' Becomes More Than a Slogan". The New York Times. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
- Kiely, Eugene (October 26, 2017). "The Facts on Uranium One".
- Zapotosky, Matt; Barrett, Devlin (January 5, 2018). "FBI has been investigating the Clinton Foundation for months". Washington Post.
- Blake, Aaron (December 6, 2018). "The red flags on Trump's new attorney general pick". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
- Barr, William (February 1, 2017). "Former attorney general: Trump was right to fire Sally Yates". The Washington Post.
- Zapotosky, Matt (July 5, 2017). "As Mueller builds his Russia special-counsel team, every hire is under scrutiny". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 16, 2019.
- Sommer, Will (June 17, 2017). "Trump allies hit Mueller on relationship with Comey". The Hill. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
- de Vogue, Ariane (January 15, 2019). "Barr sent or discussed controversial memo with Trump lawyers". CNN. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Watkins, Eli (March 26, 2019). "Barr authored memo last year ruling out obstruction of justice". CNN. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
- Gurman, Sadie; Viswanatha, Aruna (December 20, 2018). "Trump's Attorney General Pick Criticized an Aspect of Mueller Probe in Memo to Justice Department". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
- Blake, Aaron (January 15, 2019). "Barr confirms he shared his Mueller memo with lots of people around Trump". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Watkins, Eli (March 26, 2019). "Barr authored memo last year ruling out obstruction of justice". CNN. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Sadie Gurman and Aruna Viswanatha (December 19, 2018). "Trump's Attorney General Pick Criticized an Aspect of Mueller Probe in Memo to Justice Department". The Wall Street Journal.
- Morin, Rebecca (December 20, 2018). "Rosenstein: AG nominee's memo had 'no impact' on Mueller probe". Politico. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
- Samuelsohn, Darren (April 4, 2019). "Barr's legacy on the line as Mueller team fumes". Politico. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
- Livni, Ephrat; Yanofsky, David (July 18, 2019). "William Barr's donations to Senate Republicans spiked just before they confirmed him as attorney general". Quartz. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
- Faulders, Katherine; Karl, Jonathan; Turner, Trish (December 7, 2018). "Trump announces he'll nominate William Barr as next attorney general". ABC News. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
- Byrnes, Jesse (February 14, 2019). "Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general". TheHill. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
- Isikoff, Michael; Klaidman, Daniel (December 8, 2018). "Trump first wanted his attorney general pick William Barr for another job: Defense lawyer". news.yahoo.com. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
- Berenson, Tessa; Gajanan, Mahita (December 7, 2018). "Here's What Trump's New Pick for Attorney General Has Said About the Mueller Investigation". Time. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
- Balsamo, Michael; Tucker, Eric; Day, Chad (December 7, 2018). "Trump Justice pick likely to be queried on Mueller comments". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Archived from the original on December 15, 2018.
- Daniel, Annie; Lee, Jasmine C. (February 14, 2019). "How Every Senator Voted on Barr's Confirmation as Attorney General". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
- "U.S. Senate: U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 116th Congress - 1st Session". www.senate.gov. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
- Ewing, Philip (February 14, 2019). "Attorney General William Barr Swears Oath Of Office After Senate Confirmation". NPR. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
- Sale, Jon A. (February 7, 2019). "William Barr is right man for the times". The Hill. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
- Balsamo, Michael; Lemire, Jonathan (May 17, 2019). "In Barr, Trump has found his champion and advocate". AP NEWS. Retrieved May 18, 2019.
- Robson, Nate (March 25, 2019). "In Reversal, DOJ Now Says Whole ACA Unconstitutional". The National Law Journal. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
- Robson, Nate (May 1, 2019). "US Justice Dept. Goes All In, Embracing Texas Judge's Obamacare Takedown". The National Law Journal. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
- McGill, Kevin; Alonso-Zaldivar, Ricardo (May 2, 2019). "Trump, GOP states ask appeals court to kill 'Obamacare'". Associated Press. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
- Touchberry, Ramsey (May 24, 2019). "William Barr directs DOJ official to defy congressional subpoena to testify about 2020 census". Newsweek. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
- Hansi Lo Wang (August 8, 2019). "DOJ Official Behind Failed Census Citizenship Question To Leave Department". npr.org. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
- Andrew Desiderio (June 3, 2019). "House Dems to hold Barr, Ross in contempt over census question; The Oversight Committee wants key documents by Thursday". Politico.com. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
- Bowden, John (June 8, 2019). "Barr compares his return to DOJ to D-Day invasion". TheHill. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
- Shortell, David (July 16, 2019). "Barr sides against civil rights officials in declining to bring charges against NYPD officer in Garner case". CNN. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
- Kupperman, Tammy; de Vogue, Ariane; Stracqualursi, Vernocia (July 25, 2019). "Barr directs federal government to reinstate death penalty, schedule the execution of 5 death row inmates". CNN. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
- Williams, Pete; Arkin, Daniel (July 25, 2019). "AG Barr orders reinstatement of the federal death penalty". NBC News. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Brownlee, Chip (July 25, 2019). "The Federal Government Plans to Revive the Death Penalty After 16 Years". Slate.com. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Smith, David (July 25, 2019). "US justice department resumes use of death penalty and schedules five executions". The Guardian. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Shabad, Rebecca (January 14, 2019). "William Barr: 'Vitally important' for Mueller to complete Russia probe". NBC News. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
- Tucker, Eric (January 14, 2019). "Trump's AG nominee to tell Senate panel it is 'vitally important' Mueller finish work". Boston Globe. Associated Press. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
- Breuninger, Kevin (March 22, 2019). "Mueller Probe is Over: Special counsel submits Russia report to Attorney General William Barr". CNBC. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
- Attorney General's Letter to House and Senate Judiciary Committee; March 24th, 2019, p. 3: After reviewing the Special Counsel's final report on these issues; consulting with Department officials, including the Office of Legal Counsel; and applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.
- Montoya-Galvez, Camilo (March 24, 2019). "The key findings from the Justice Department summary of Mueller's report". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- Barr, William (March 24, 2019). "Letter to Lindsey Graham, Jerrold Nadler, Dianne Feinstein, and Doug Collins" (PDF). Retrieved April 1, 2019.
- Pramuk, Jacob; Kimball, Spencer (March 24, 2019). "Attorney General Barr to release Mueller Russia probe report findings". CNBC. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
- Mazzetti, Mark; Schmidt, Michael (May 1, 2019). "When the Mueller Investigation Ended, the Battle Over Its Conclusions Began". The New York Times. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
- Johnson, Kevin; Phillips, Kristine (May 1, 2019). "Mueller: Barr's summary of report did not capture 'context, nature, and substance' of Russia probe". USA Today. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
- Barrett, Zapotosky, Delvin, Matt (April 30, 2019). "Mueller complained that Barr's letter did not capture 'context' of Trump probe". The Washington Post.
- Rizzo, Salvador (May 3, 2019). "Did Attorney General Barr mislead Congress?". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Jarrett, Laura; Sullivan, Kate (April 30, 2019). "Mueller expressed misgivings to Barr about 4-page letter". CNN. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
- Cillizza, Chris (May 1, 2019). "William Barr is in deep trouble". CNN. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
- Bump, Philip (May 1, 2019). "The evolution of the obstruction of justice dispute between Barr and Mueller". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
- Benner, Katie (April 15, 2019). "Mueller Report Will Be Released Thursday, Justice Dept. Says". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
- Breuninger, Dan Mangan, Kevin (April 15, 2019). "Mueller report expected to be released Thursday morning". CNBC. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
- Savage, Charlie (April 20, 2019). "How Barr's Excerpts Compare to the Mueller Report's Findings". The New York Times. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
- Rizzo, Salvador (April 19, 2019). "What Attorney General Barr said vs. what the Mueller report said". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
- Guray, Geoffrey Lou (April 19, 2019). "3 times Mueller and Barr gave different pictures of Trump obstruction probe". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
- Eliason, Randall D. (April 19, 2019). "William Barr's incredibly misleading words". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
- Chait, Jonathan (April 18, 2019). "Congress Should Impeach William Barr". Intelligencer. New York. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
- Kiely, Eugene (May 29, 2019). "What Mueller, Barr Say About Obstruction of Justice". FactCheck.org. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
- Yen, Hope; Woodward, Calvin (April 22, 2019). "AP fact check: Trump, AG Barr spread untruths about Mueller report". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
- Kruzel, John (April 22, 2019). "Did Trump 'fully' cooperate with Mueller investigation? No". PolitiFact. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
- Homan, Timothy R. (April 18, 2019). "Here are the 10 'episodes' Mueller probed for potential obstruction by Trump". TheHill. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- Lynch, Sarah N.; Sullivan, Andy (April 19, 2019). "In unflattering detail, Mueller report reveals Trump actions to impede inquiry". Reuters. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- Mazzetti, Mark (April 18, 2019). "Mueller Reveals Trump's Efforts to Thwart Russian Inquiry in Highly Anticipated Report". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- Johnson, Carrie (April 30, 2019). "Attorney General Barr, Only Weeks Into Job, Makes A Mark Under The Spotlight". NPR.org. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- Levin, Bess (May 1, 2019). "Barr: "It's not a crime" for Trump to demand staffers lie to investigators". Vanity Fair. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
- Cheney, Kyle; Desiderio, Andrew (May 1, 2019). "The Barr-Mueller breakup: AG works to discredit special counsel". Politico. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
- Fandos, Nicholas (May 8, 2019). "House Panel Approves Contempt for Barr After Trump Claims Privilege Over Full Mueller Report". The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
- Nilsen, Ella (May 8, 2019). "The House Judiciary vote on contempt of Congress and what it means for William Barr, explained". Vox. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- Benner, Katie (May 31, 2019). "Barr Escalates Criticism of Mueller Team and Defends Trump". The New York Times. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- "William Barr interview: Read the full transcript". CBSNews.com. May 31, 2019. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Tucker, Eric; Jalonick, Mary Clare (April 11, 2019). "Barr says 'I think spying did occur' against Trump campaign". AP NEWS. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- Hermani, Jordyn (May 8, 2019). "Comey: 'The FBI doesn't spy. The FBI investigates'". POLITICO. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- Desiderio, Andrew (April 10, 2019). "Barr's FBI 'spying' claim amps up fight over Mueller probe". Politico. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- Fandos, Nicholas; Goldman, Adam (April 10, 2019). "Barr Asserts Intelligence Agencies Spied on the Trump Campaign". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- Durkin, Erin; Walters, Joanna -GB (April 10, 2019). "William Barr says 'spying did occur' on Trump campaign during Obama era". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- Stracqualursi, Veronica (May 17, 2019). "Barr says review of Russia probe origins could lead to FBI rule changes". CNN. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- Tillett, Emily (May 17, 2019). "Attorney General William Barr doubles down on spying claims, questions origins of Russia probe". CBS News. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- Goldman, Adam (May 7, 2019). "F.B.I. Director Defends Bureau Against Spying Accusations: 'That's Not the Term I Would Use'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- Balsamo, Michael (May 14, 2019). "AP source: Barr launches new look at origins of Russia probe". Associated Press. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Morrow, Brendan (March 4, 2019). "Trump reportedly ranks reporters' loyalty on a scale of 1 to 10. Steve Doocy is a 12". theweek.com. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Savage, Charlie (May 17, 2019). "Barr Again Casts Doubt on Russia Inquiry's Origins, Aligning With Trump's Attacks". The New York Times.
- Dopp, Terrence. "'Treason!' Trump Says His Campaign Was Spied On and Threatens Long Jail Sentences". Fortune. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- Baragona, Justin (May 17, 2019). "Fox News' Chris Wallace: Bill Barr 'Clearly Is Protecting' Trump". Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- Haberman, Maggie; Schmidt, Michael S. (May 23, 2019). "Trump Gives Attorney General Sweeping Power in Review of 2016 Campaign Inquiry". The New York Times. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Riechmann, Deb (May 24, 2019). "Critics worry AG will reveal Russia probe info to help Trump". Associated Press. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Bertr, Natasha (May 24, 2019). "Trump puts DOJ on crash course with intelligence agencies". Politico. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Harris, Shane (May 24, 2019). "Barr could expose secrets, politicize intelligence with review of Russia probe, current and former officials fear". Washington Post.
- Barnes, Julian E.; Benner, Katie; Goldman, Adam; Schmidt, Michael S. (June 12, 2019). "Justice Dept. Seeks to Question C.I.A. in Its Own Russia Investigation". The New York Times.
- Prokop, Andrew (September 30, 2019). "Trump and Barr have been urging foreign governments to help them investigate the Mueller probe's origins". Vox. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
- Viswanatha, Aruna; Gurman, Sadie; Legorano, Giovanni. "Barr's Requests for Foreign Help Prompt Backlash in Australia, Italy, U.K." The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
- Mazzetti, Mark; Goldman, Adam; Benner, Katie (October 6, 2019). "Barr and a Top Prosecutor Cast a Wide Net in Reviewing the Russia Inquiry". NYTimes.com.
- Graham, Lindsey (October 2, 2019). "Letter from Senate Committe on the Judiciary to prime ministers of Australia, Italy and UK" (PDF). Retrieved October 22, 2019.
- Zapotosky, Matt; Dawsey, Josh; Harris, Shane; Helderman, Rosalind S. (October 6, 2019). "Barr's review of Russia investigation wins Trump's favor. Those facing scrutiny suspect he's chasing conspiracy theories". Washington Post.
- Momigliano, Anna (October 23, 2019). "Italy Did Not Fuel U.S. Suspicion of Russian Meddling, Prime Minister Says". The New York Times.
- "UK intelligence officials shaken by Trump administration's requests for help with counter-impeachment inquiry". The Independent. November 1, 2019.
- Nakashima, Ellen. "Justice Dept. watchdog finds political bias did not taint top officials running the FBI's Russia probe but documents errors". Washington Post.
- Barrett, Devlin; Demirjian, Karoun. "Barr disputes key inspector general finding about FBI's Russia investigation". Washington Post.
- Zapotosky, Matt. "Barr's handpicked prosecutor tells inspector general he can't back right-wing theory that Russia case was U.S. intelligence setup". Washington Post.
- Katie Benner and Adam Goldman. "Justice Dept. Is Said to Open Criminal Inquiry Into Its Own Russia Investigation". New York Times. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
- Goldman, Adam; Savage, Charlie (November 22, 2019). "Russia Inquiry Review Is Said to Criticize F.B.I. but Rebuff Claims of Biased Acts" – via NYTimes.com.
- Benner, Katie (October 29, 2019). "Barr Rejects Complaints That He Is Bolstering Trump's Personal Agenda". The New York Times. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- Bice, Allie (October 28, 2019). "William Barr: 'I act on behalf of the United States'". Politico. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- "Justice Department inspector general concludes Russia probe was justified". Axios. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
- Pear, Robert (May 28, 1991). "Health Dept. Loses in AIDS Rule Dispute". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
- Lind, Dara (December 7, 2018). "Attorney general nominee William Barr will fit right in with Trump's immigration agenda". Vox. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
- Timmons, Heather; Timmons, Heather (December 7, 2018). "Trump nominee William Barr pushed for the death penalty to "send a message to drug dealers"". Quartz.
- Barr, William (September 24, 1991). "Bush's Crime Bill: This Time, Pass It". The New York Times. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- "Federal Government to Resume Capital Punishment After Nearly Two Decade Lapse". United States Department of Justice (Press release). July 25, 2019. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Barr, William P. (1995). "Legal Issues in a New Political Order". The Catholic Lawyer. 36: 1–12. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Wingerter, Justin (April 10, 2019). "New Trump attorney general endorses Gardner's marijuana legalization bill". The Denver Post. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
- Kellam, Brandi (January 18, 2019). "Trump's attorney general nominee may shift policy on marijuana enforcement". cbsnews.com. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- Boburg, Shawn; Narayanswamy, Anu (December 11, 2018). "Trump has blasted Mueller's team for political donations. But attorney general nominee William P. Barr has given more than $500,000". Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- Zelizer, Julian, ed. (September 13, 2010). The Presidency of George W. Bush. Princeton University Press. p. 29. ISBN 9781400836307. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
- CNN, Tammy Kupperman, David Shortell and Katelyn Polantz. "Barr slams Democrats and courts: Avalanche of subpoenas is designed to 'incapacitate the executive branch'". CNN. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
- Dwilson, Stephanie Dube (January 15, 2019). "Christine Moynihan Barr, William Barr's Wife: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy.com. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
- "Patricia Barr, Pelham Straughn". The New York Times. July 29, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
- Shortell, David; Jarrett, Laura; Brown, Pamela (February 14, 2019). "Daughter and son-in-law of AG nominee leaving the Justice Department". CNN. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
- Itkowitz, Colby (December 6, 2018). "Trump's new top AG pick would be his daughter's boss at Justice". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
- Levin, Bess (February 14, 2019). "William Barr's Son-in-law Just Landed a Job Advising Trump on "Legal Issues"". Vanity Fair. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
- Samuelsohn, Darren (January 15, 2019). "New Trump-Russia subplot: Mueller and Barr are 'good friends'". Politico. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to William Pelham Barr.|
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:|
| United States Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel
J. Michael Luttig
Donald B. Ayer
| United States Deputy Attorney General
George J. Terwilliger III
| United States Attorney General
| United States Attorney General
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
as Secretary of Defense
| Order of Precedence of the United States
as Attorney General
as Secretary of the Interior
|U.S. presidential line of succession|
as Secretary of Defense
| 7th in line
as Attorney General
as Secretary of the Interior