The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings later this month on the confirmation of President Trump’s attorney general nominee, William P. Barr, the panel’s incoming and outgoing chairmen announced Wednesday.
The hearings will take place Jan. 15 and 16, according to a joint statement by the current Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), and his successor, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).
“The hearings for the five most recent Attorneys General lasted one to two days each,” Grassley and Graham said in the statement. “Mr. Barr will receive the same fair and thorough vetting process as the last five nominees to be Attorney General.”
Trump announced last month that he was nominating Barr, a former attorney general, to lead the Justice Department again. The move assuaged fears among some that Trump might tap a less conventional choice to lead the department; Barr served in the position from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush and before that was deputy attorney general.
Even so, several Republican senators have said that their support for Barr depends on whether he will allow the continuation of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Barr last year wrote a memo criticizing Mueller for a “fatally misconceived” legal theory of how Trump may have obstructed justice.
“Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the president submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction,” Barr wrote. “Apart from whether Mueller [has] a strong enough factual basis for doing so, Mueller’s obstruction theory is fatally misconceived.”
The Justice Department is currently being led by acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker, who has drawn fierce criticism for his past business dealings and his public criticism of Mueller’s investigation. Trump forced out Jeff Sessions as attorney general in November; the president had repeatedly fumed over Sessions’s recusal of himself from oversight of the Russia probe.
Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.