The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-10 along party lines on Thursday to advance to the Senate floor the nomination of William Barr for attorney general.
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham (SC) called Barr, an attorney general during the George H.W. Bush administration, the right person for the job.
“I think we need a steady hand at the department, and I think he provides a steady hand,” he said at a business meeting to vote on Barr’s nomination, as well as judicial nominations.
The meeting did not get contentious, though Democrats expressed their firm opposition to Barr.
Several Democrats on the committee cited Barr’s unwillingness to release special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report to Congress and the public.
“This report must be made public,” one Democrat said. “Unfortunately, Mr. Barr would not commit to providing special counsel Mueller’s findings and the final report to the Congress. … This is particularly concerning, as nothing in existing law or regulations prevent the attorney general from providing the report.”
They also cited a memo he wrote five months before being nominated that argued that President Trump’s actions in firing former FBI Director James Comey would not be obstruction of justice.
“I believe the memo is disqualifying,” Feinstein said.
“Mr. Barr believes the president gets to supervise an investigation into his own conduct,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). “This is not a time of history where Congress should be abdicating our responsibilities.”
Some Republican members of the committee agreed the report should be made public and will eventually become public anyway. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has cosponsored a bill with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) that would make the report public.
Graham called for a spirit of bipartisanship during the meeting and reminded the committee members that one day they could be president.
“One day, you’ll be in charge; it’s just a matter of time. And one of you may be president on this committee. The odds are pretty good, like half the people on the committee are running for president,” he joked.
“If you get to be president, and I’m still around, I’ll try to work with you the best I know how, but sometimes, we just can’t agree.”