• Attorney General William Barr is at the center of the Russia investigation and everyone is looking following the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
  • Barr, who was confirmed on February 14, previously served as attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush.
  • Democrats and even some Republicans have expressed concerns about Barr’s views on the scope of executive power.
  • Barr has faced criticism from Democrats for refusing to release an unredacted version of the Mueller report, and for his handling of the rollout of the redacted version.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

The spotlight has turned to Attorney General William Barr after the release of the redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference, which contains the findings of his nearly two-year investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

It was under Barr’s discretion whether the report was released publicly – and, if so, which parts.

President Donald Trump in early December nominated Barr to head the Justice Department.

The Senate on February 14 confirmed Barr as the new attorney general after a contentious process in which many Democrats, and even some Republicans, expressed concerns about Barr’s views on the scope of executive power.

After receiving Mueller’s report in late March, which is nearly 400 pages long, the attorney general published a four-page summary that said the special counsel did not find sufficient evidence to bring a conspiracy charge regarding allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

Barr also said Mueller did not conclude Trump committed a crime, including obstruction of justice, but did not fully “exonerate” the president, either.

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Since that time, Barr and congressional Democrats have sparred over the public release of the report. The attorney general has maintained that certain types of information need to be redacted as Democrats have pushed for a full, unredacted version of the report to be released.

The redacted report was released on April 18. Barr held a press conference ahead of its release, which led Democrats of accusing him of attempting to “spin” the report in the president’s favor.

Here’s what you need to know about the man everyone is watching on the release of the Mueller report.

Ellen Cranley contributed reporting.

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William Barr, 68, is a Republican lawyer who previously served as attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush from 1991 to 1993.

Foto: William Barr, who served as attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush, is reportedly President Donald Trump’s top choice to lead the Justice Department.sourceMarcy Nighswander/AP

Barr was born in New York City and is Roman Catholic. He attended Columbia University, receiving his bachelor’s degree in government in 1971 and a master’s degree in government and Chinese studies in 1973.

Foto: Columbia University in New York City.sourceFacebook/Columbia University

He worked at the CIA as an analyst and assistant legislative counsel and studied law at night at George Washington University in Washington, DC, graduating in 1977.

Foto: sourcePool / Getty Images

After graduation, Barr became a clerk for a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He then became an associate at a DC law firm, but left the job to go work in former President Ronald Reagan’s administration on the domestic policy staff.

Foto: President Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, and then-Vice President George H.W. Bush.sourceLederhandler/AP

Barr worked in the Reagan administration from 1982 to 1983, then returned to the DC law firm he left to serve in the White House. He worked at the firm until 1989, when he was appointed as assistant attorney general of the US.

Foto: U.S. President George H. Bush meets with Attorney General William Barr in the Oval Office, Thursday, April 30, 1992 at White House in Washington to discuss possible federal action in the aftermath of the Los Angeles beating case. The President called for “all citizens to be calm and to abide by the law” in Los Angeles.sourceBarry Thumma/AP

Barr quickly rose to the position of deputy attorney general, before being appointed acting attorney general in 1991 when then-Attorney General Richard Thornburgh resigned to campaign for the US Senate.

Foto: U.S. President George H. Bush meets with Vice President Dan Quayle and Attorney General William Barr in the Oval Office, Friday, May 2, 1992 at White House in Washington. The President ordered 1,000 federal law officers to riot-torn Los Angeles and mobilized 4,000 Army troops that could be put on the streets if needed to help restore order.sourceMarcy Nighswander/AP

Several days after Barr became acting attorney general, a group of Cuban inmates at a prison in Talladega, Alabama, staged a revolt over their imminent deportation and took hostages. Barr gave the order for a federal assault team to go in and rescue the hostages. The mission was successfully carried out without a single shot being fired.

Foto: Members of an FBI SWAT team carry their gear towards a waiting van at the Talladega Federal Correctional Institution in Talladega, Ala., Aug. 24, 1991. Cuban inmates had been holding ten hostages for three days.sourceDave Martin/AP

Source: The New York Times

Barr received national attention for his handling of the hostage situation and was nominated by Bush to be attorney general shortly thereafter.

Foto: President George H. Bush meets with Attorney General William Barr in the Oval Office at morning, Thursday, May 1, 1992 in White House at Washington. In a dramatic change of tone in just a few hours, Bush went from expressing “frustration and anguish” over the verdict in the Rodney King case to declaring “revulsion and pain” over the violent uprising that terrorized Los Angeles.sourceBarry Thumma/AP

Source: South Florida Sun Sentinel

During his confirmation hearings, Barr told the Senate he thought Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, should be overturned.

Foto: Attorney General nominee William Barr is flanked by Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, left, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., prior to Barr’s nomination hearing before the committee on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday, Nov. 12, 1991.sourceJohn Duricka/AP

Source: Los Angeles Times

Barr was confirmed as Attorney General of the US and sworn in on November 26, 1991.

Foto: U.S. President George H. Bush, right, and William Barr wave after Barr was sworn in as the new Attorney General of the United States, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 1991 at a Justice Department ceremony in Washington.sourceScott Applewhite/AP

As attorney general, Barr took a hardline stance on crime, issuing a series of measures aimed at addressing “gangs, drugs, and guns.”

Foto: Acting U.S. Attorney General William Barr points to a fragment of a circuit board during a news conference on Pan Am Flight 103 in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 14, 1991. The tiny fragment was described as part of the bomb inside a portable radio. Two Libyan intelligence officials were indicted in the bombing of the plane over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, which killed 270 people.sourceBarry Thumma/AP

Source: The New York Times

“I believe deeply that the first duty of government is providing for the personal security of its citizens,” Barr said in 1992. “Therefore I would naturally place the highest priority on strengthening law enforcement.”

Foto: President George H. Bush signs into law new civil rights guarantees for women and minorities at a Rose Garden ceremony, Thursday, Nov. 21, 1991 in Washington, as Vice President Dan Quayle, left, and Acting Attorney General William Barr look on. The bill signing capped a two-year struggle with congress over whether the legislation encouraged job quotas.sourceMarcy Nighswander/AP

Source: The New York Times

Barr in 2001 said he’d urged Bush to pardon a number of key figures involved in the Iran-Contra scandal, including former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger. The scandal involved the illegal sale of arms to Iran and anti-government guerrillas in Nicaragua. Bush’s decision to pardon Weinberger and others is often listed among the most controversial examples of the president exercising pardon power in US history.

Foto: U.S. President George H. Bush gestures during a speech to the Reserve Officers Association in Washington, Wednesday evening, Jan. 23, 1991.sourceAP/Ron Edmonds

Sources: Miller Center; The New York Times; The Guardian

Barr worked in the corporate world for many years after he served as attorney general under Bush, including at Verizon. He’s been associated with the DC-based Kirkland & Ellis law firm since 2009.

Source: Kirkland & Ellis

President Trump controversially elevated Matthew Whitaker, who’s been vocally critical of the Mueller probe, to acting attorney general. Whitaker’s promotion prompted concerns Trump was moving to squash the probe. Similar concerns are arising regarding Barr’s potential nomination.

Foto: President Donald Trump.sourceJim Young/Reuters

Source: The Washington Post

Barr in November 2017 told The New York Times there was more basis for investigating a uranium deal between the US and Russia from when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State than allegations the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin’s 2016 election interference. Trump has repeatedly made false claims about Clinton’s involvement in the uranium deal.

Foto: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.sourceMonica Schipper/Getty Images for Urban Zen Foundation

Sources: The New York Times; PolitiFact

Barr in 2017 also said he believed Clinton should be investigated on certain matters, echoing similar, controversial calls from Trump. “I don’t think all this stuff about throwing [Clinton] in jail or jumping to the conclusion that she should be prosecuted is appropriate,” Barr said at the time. He added. “But I do think that there are things that should be investigated that haven’t been investigated.”

Foto: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.sourceScott Olson/Getty Images

Source: The Washington Post

Additionally, Barr supported one of Trump’s most criticized moves as president — the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Barr wrote an op-ed in 2017 stating Trump “made the right call.” Trump has faced accusations of obstruction of justice over Comey’s ousting.

Foto: sourceCarsten Koall/Getty Images

Sources: The Washington Post

In a separate op-ed, Barr expressed approval of Trump’s firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she refused to enforce the president’s travel ban that targeted predominantly Muslim countries.

Source: The Washington Post

Barr has also been critical of Mueller’s team of prosecutors, questioning their political leanings. “I would have liked to see him have more balance on this group,” Barr said on the subject last year.

Foto: Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after briefing the US House Intelligence Committee on his investigation of potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.sourceAaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

Source: The Washington Post

As attorney general, Barr will have the authority to fire Mueller.

Foto: President George H. Bush gestures during an address in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Friday, April 24, 1992 honoring the National Crime Victims Rights Award winners. Attorney General William Barr looks on at right. Each year the Justice department awards those individuals who have worked on behalf of crime victims and honors the accomplishments of the Victims of Crime Act passed in 1984.sourceJ. Scott Applewhite/AP

The Senate voted 54-45 to confirm Barr on Thursday, February 14.

Foto: In this Jan. 29, 2019 photo, Attorney General nominee William Barr, right, meets with Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Miss., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in Hawley’s office in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)sourceAssociated Press


Barr succeeds Jeff Sessions, who resigned at the request of the president after facing ongoing criticism from Trump over his decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian election interference.

Foto: President Donald Trump and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.sourceAP Photo/Evan Vucci


Barr during his confirmation hearings said he’d seek the advice of Justice Department ethics officials on whether to recuse himself from Mueller’s probe, but didn’t make any commitments. He also did not commit to making Mueller’s final report publicly available, and said the public would see his own summary of the special counsel’s ultimate findings.

Foto: Attorney General nominee William Barr pauses while testifying during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019.sourceAP Photo/Andrew Harnik


Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democratic member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, after Barr’s confirmation said his “views about the power of the president are especially troubling in light of his refusal to commit to making the special counsel’s findings and the report publicly available.”

Foto: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).sourceZach Gibson/Getty Images

Source: The Associated Press

Barr also has a long history of supporting expansive government surveillance programs and related legislation, including the Patriot Act, which is part of the reason politicians like GOP Sen. Rand Paul voted against confirming him. Paul, among others in Congress, has expressed concerns about Barr’s views on the scope of executive power.

Foto: Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) walks from a Republican Senate caucus meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 26, 2018.sourceJoshua Roberts/Reuters


The American Civil Liberties Union has referred to Barr as the “godfather of the NSA’s bulk data collection programs.”

Foto: An undated aerial handout photo shows the National Security Agency headquarters building in Fort Meade, MarylandsourceThomson Reuters

Source: ACLU

After Barr was confirmed, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted, “A major victory for justice and the rule of law in America: the Senate just confirmed President @realDonaldTrump’s outstanding nominee William Barr as Attorney General.”

Foto: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.sourceMark Wilson/Getty Images

Source: Twitter

After Mueller turned in his highly anticipated final report in the Russia investigation, Barr was the center of attention as lawmakers urged him to release the report to Congress and make some version of it public.

Foto: FILE PHOTO: Special Counsel Mueller departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation in WashingtonsourceReuters

Source: Business Insider

Though investigators announced there would be no new indictments from the report, all eyes will remain on Barr as he releases what will inform next steps in the Russia investigation, which has already led to indictments against more than three dozen people, including top Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence figures.

Foto: Attorney General William Barr carries his briefcase as he arrives at home in McLean, Va., on Friday evening, March 22, 2019.sourceSait Serkan Gurbuz/AP

Source: Business Insider

Barr released a redacted version of the Mueller report on April 18. Meanwhile, congressional Democrats have been pushing for a full, unredacted version of the report.

Foto: Attorney General William Barr leaves his home in McLean, Va., on Wednesday morning, April 17, 2019. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report on Russian interference in the 2016 election is expected to be released publicly on Thursday and has said he is redacting four types of information from the report. Congressional Democrats are demanding to see the whole document and its evidence. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)sourceAssociated Press

Democrats have continued to spar with Barr over the rollout of the Mueller report, particularly after it was revealed the special counsel wrote the attorney general a letter criticizing his summary of it in late March.

Foto: FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: FBI Director Mueller testifies at a security threat hearing on Capitol Hill in WashingtonsourceReuters


Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 2 and faced tough, heated questioning from Democratic senators on the Mueller report. Subsequently, the Justice Department informed the House Judiciary Committee the attorney general would not testify before the committee.

Foto: FILE PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General Barr testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in WashingtonsourceReuters


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has accused Barr of criminally lying to Congress about Mueller’s dissatisfaction with the report.

Foto: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.sourceMark Wilson/Getty Images


Meanwhile, a number of Democratic lawmakers have called on Barr to resign or be impeached.

Foto: U.S. Attorney General Barr testifies at Senate Judiciary hearing on investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election on Capitol Hill in WashingtonsourceReuters