US administration shake-up: William Barr nominated as new US attorney general
US President Donald Trump on Friday nominated William Barr as his new attorney general, replacing Jeff Sessions with the prominent conservative lawyer who will take charge of the sensitive probe into the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential polls.
Barr, 68, served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 during the administration of President George H W Bush. He will replace Sessions who was fired by Trump last month.
"I want to confirm that Bill Barr, one of the most respected jurists in the country, a highly respected lawyer, former attorney general under the Bush administration, a terrific man, a terrific person, a brilliant man," Trump told reporters at the White House.
"I did not know him until recently when I went through the process of looking through people, and he was my first choice from day one, respected by respected by Republicans, respected by Democrats. He will be nominated for US Attorney General and hopefully, that process will go very quickly," he said.
If Barr is confirmed by the Senate after his official nomination, he will replace the current acting attorney general Matt Whitaker. Currently, Barr is counsel at the Kirkland & Ellis law firm in Washington DC.
Whitaker had been a controversial pick from the start due to his views on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry.
"I've seen very good things about him even over the last day or so when people thought it might be Bill Barr, so Bill Barr for the US attorney general position. I think he will serve with great distinction," Trump said.
A furious President Trump sacked Sessions last month after he recused himself from investigations into Russia's possible meddling in US elections and collusion with the Trump campaign, paving the way for the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Sessions was one of Trump's earliest supporters. He backed the President despite the barrage of attacks.
Barr holds degrees in government and Chinese studies from Columbia University. While studying law at George Washington University, he worked at the CIA from 1973-1977.
In 1989, he was appointed by former President Bush to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. He was promoted to deputy attorney general next, and then to the top role.
Barr retired from his position as counsel and executive vice-president of Verizon in 2008.
(With inputs from agencies.)