Yeomans Work: Barr Hearing Disappoints - Alliance for Justice

Yeomans Work: Barr Hearing Disappoints

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Zack Ford

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 17, 2019 – In the latest edition of Yeomans Work, AFJ Senior Justice Fellow Bill Yeomans writes that President Trump’s latest nominee to be attorney general, William Barr, escaped strict scrutiny at his confirmation hearing. Yeomans writes in reference to Barr: “He is experienced, smart, and a committed proponent of virtually unlimited presidential power. While he sought to reassure critics by professing the importance of allowing Special Counsel Robert Mueller to complete his investigation and promising to be as transparent as the law allows when Mueller is done, he failed to commit on two of the largest issues facing his nomination: recusal from the Mueller probe and public release of Mueller’s findings.”

Zeroing in on whether Barr would recuse himself from any matters relating to the Mueller probe, Yeomans notes that Barr sent an unsolicited memo to the Justice Department in recent weeks, criticizing Mueller’s investigation of possible obstruction of justice by Trump. “In view of the appearance of prejudgment created by Barr’s memo and other comments on the Mueller investigation,” Yeomans notes, “senators needed a commitment from Barr that he would honor the determination of neutral, career ethics officials. He could not give it.”

Moreover, Yeomans writes, senators went a bit too easy on Barr. “Barr is a dramatic improvement over Matthew Whitaker and he brings measures of intelligence, legal sophistication, and institutional knowledge rarely seen in Trump cabinet picks,” says Yeomans. “But the times demand more, and senators on the committee could have pressed for it.”

Yeomans Work focuses on the challenges to the justice system in the era of Trump. Bill Yeomans is available for media interviews. Contact Laurie Kinney, Communications Director, at or 202-464-7367.