Now Reading
US Senate confirms William Barr as new Attorney General

US Senate confirms William Barr as new Attorney General

William Barr at his Senate Hearing last week

The United States Senate confirmed Donald Trump’s new pick for Attorney General, William Barr, on Thursday (14 February).

The vote happened mostly along party lines, with Republicans voting to confirm, helping him past the 51-vote threshold he needed to clear, and Democrats voting against.

At the time of writing, only three Democrats voted in favor of Barr. The Democrats are Kyrsten Sinema, a new senator from Arizona and the first openly bisexual senator; Doug Jones of Alabama, who famously defeated Roy Moore in 2017; and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Manchin was the lone Democrat who voted to confirm Jeff Sessions as AG at the start of Trump’s presidency.

Once everything is made official, Barr will step up as the head of the Justice Department. Most notably, this means overseeing Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe into the 2016 election and possible collusion with Russia.

It is understood that Mueller is nearing the end of his investigation.

Past positions make him a worrying fit

Though Mueller’s investigation is the most pressing issue, the Attorney General’s powers are broad and Barr’s job entails much more than overseeing the investigation.

The Attorney General is the highest-ranking lawyer of the United States, serving the federal government.

Eric Holder, Barack Obama’s Attorney General, for example, made the decision to have the Justice Department no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in legal cases. He argued that DOMA was unconstitutional.

Barr, the former AG under President George H.W. Bush, is not a champion for LGBTI issues.

Throughout his career, he advocated for numerous discriminatory practices against people living with HIV. He previously wanted to prevent people with HIV from claiming asylum in the US.

In 1995, he wrote the ‘homosexual movement’ is ‘one of the movements that is causing the erosion of morality in America’.

During his Senate confirmation hearing, he deflected most questions about LGBTI rights and equality.

Adamant opposition

Various LGBTI groups released statements condemning Barr’s confirmation.

‘William Barr has made clear that as Attorney General he would not defend and uphold civil rights laws for all Americans — including LGBTQ people,’ said Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs Director David Stacy.

He also called for a rejection of his confirmation: ‘The Senate must reject Barr’s confirmation, and Senators must make clear to the Trump-Pence White House that they will only confirm a nominee who will treat all Americans equally and with the dignity and fairness they deserve.’

GLAAD also decried the vote.

‘It’s alarming and upsetting that a person citing LGBTQ people as a reason for the decline of the United States will now serve as the nation’s top law enforcement official,’ said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD.

‘This confirmation today reminds us once again that the Trump Administration is no friend to us.’

The ACLU tweeted they’d be monitoring Barr:

See also

The extreme worldview of Bill Barr – Trump’s choice for Attorney General

US politicians hit back against Trump’s trans military ban

Senator allegedly compared homosexuality to bestiality while meeting LGBTI youth