Senate panel approves William Barr, Trump's attorney general pick

A Senate panel voted on party lines Thursday to advance President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee William Barr, setting up a confirmation vote next week that will underscore the deep partisan divide over the nomination, particularly concerning how Barr would oversee the special counsel investigation.

Multiple legal and constitutional scholars have argued that Whitaker's appointment to acting attorney general was unconstitutional because he was not confirmed to the position by the US Senate.

Barr, who previously served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993, would succeed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was pushed out by Trump a year ago over the president's anger that he had recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation.

Barr previously served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush and is highly respected in the conservative legal world.

The vote now heads to the full Senate, where Barr is expected to be confirmed in a vote as soon as next week.

Almost nine in 10 Americans say special counsel Robert Mueller's eventual findings should be made public, according to a new CNN poll released Thursday.

But Democrats remained opposed to him after he refused to commit to releasing Mueller's eventual report on the investigation, which could potentially incriminate Trump.

In his written testimony to the committee, Barr did write that he believed Mueller was handling the investigation "properly", adding, "My goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law".

"This is not the time to install an attorney general who has repeatedly espoused a view of unfettered executive power", Sen. In the memo, Barr wrote that Trump could not have obstructed justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey since it was an act the president was constitutionally entitled to take.

Whitaker said late last month the Mueller-led investigation is "close to being completed", although there has been no confirmation of this from the special counsel's office.

But Durbin said Barr has "telegraphed his pitch" by writing an unsolicited memo to Justice Department and Trump lawyers previous year about parts of the special counsel probe. Trump calls the probe a "witch hunt". "And I think we have to get to the bottom of it", Barr said.

Vanessa Coleman