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National Govt & Politics
Senate confirms William Barr as new U.S. Attorney General
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Senate confirms William Barr as new U.S. Attorney General

Senate confirms William Barr as new U.S. Attorney General
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Senate confirms William Barr as new U.S. Attorney General

After a debate clouded by how the Justice Department will handle the results of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, the Senate voted mainly along party lines Thursday to confirm William Barr for the post of Attorney General, as Barr returns to the Justice Department almost 28 years after holding the same position. The Senate vote was 54-45.

"The President made an outstanding choice with Mr. Barr," said Sen. John Thune (R-SD). "He was unanimously confirmed as Attorney General under George H.W. Bush in a Democrat-controlled Senate."

"We know that he can faithfully execute the duties of the office because he has done it before," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

Only one GOP Senator voted against Barr's nomination - Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), while three Democrats voted for Barr.

President Trump forced out his original Attorney General, former Sen. Jeff Sessions, just after the November 2018 elections, after months of expressing frustration that Sessions did not do enough to shield Mr. Trump from the Russia probe.

At the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the vote a 'major victory for justice and the rule of law in America."

In debate on the Senate floor, Democratic Senators repeatedly said that Barr was certainly qualified to again take the job of Attorney General, but most of them focused on Barr's unsolicited memo to the White House which was critical of the Mueller investigation, as reason enough to oppose the nomination.

"I find Mr. Barr’s actions in the months leading up to his nomination to be deeply disturbing," said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA).

"The President believes William Barr will be an Attorney General who will protect him," said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

"Barr’s record shows that he is not the Attorney General America desperately needs," added Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

The Senate vote to confirm Barr filled one Cabinet vacancy for the President - but other major posts in the Trump administration remain unfilled, occupied by officials in an 'acting' capacity:

+ Patrick Shanahan is the Acting Secretary of Defense.

+ David Bernhardt is the Acting Secretary of Interior.

+ Andrew Wheeler is the Acting head of the EPA.

+ Jonathan Cohen is the Acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

+ Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is Acting White House Chief of Staff.

The vote on Barr Thursday was much different than his first confirmation for Attorney General in November of 1991 - then, the Senate approved him on a voice vote, with no opposition.

Barr joins a very short list of people who have served twice as U.S. Attorney General.

John Crittenden was Attorney General twice in the first half of the 19th century. Richard Thornburgh served one very short stint as an Acting Attorney General, and then later was the Attorney General before Barr for the first President Bush.

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

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  • The Florida man accused of sending pipe bombs last year to several high-profile critics of President Donald Trump is expected to plead guilty Thursday in a Manhattan federal court. >> Read more trending news Cesar Sayoc is scheduled to appear at 4 p.m. for a change of plea hearing before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.  Sayoc pleaded not guilty in November to a slew of charges after he was identified as the man suspected of mailing pipe bombs to targets including CNN, former President Barack Obama and actor Robert De Niro. >> Cesar Sayoc Jr.: What we know about the man arrested for sending package bombs Sayoc has been held without bail since his late-October arrest outside a South Florida auto parts store. He had been living in a van covered with stickers of Trump and showing images of some Trump opponents with crosshairs over their faces. Authorities launched an investigation in October after pipe bombs were mailed to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and philanthropist George Soros. In the subsequent days, similar devices were mailed to several other prominent Trump critics, including U.S. Rep Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Democratic donor Tom Steyer. >> 2nd mail bomb to Tom Steyer recovered; suspect agrees to remain jailed, face charges in New York Authorities said Sayoc was linked to the packages after investigators found his fingerprints and DNA on some of them. Without a plea deal, Sayoc faced charges carrying a potential penalty of mandatory life in prison. A court filing last Friday didn't indicate which charge or charges the plea would involve. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A Florida woman faced a judge Wednesday in connection with the death of a 4-year-old boy. >> Watch the news report here On Tuesday night, the Orange County Sheriff's Office arrested Mariah Butler of Orlando on charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child and neglect of a child. >> On WFTV.com: Boy, 4, dies after being found in SUV parked outside school Investigators said Logan Starling, the son of Butler's boyfriend, was left inside a hot SUV in the parking lot of the Elite Preparatory Academy in October 2018. Detectives said four other children got out of the SUV and went into the school at about 8:20 a.m., but Starling didn’t exit the car.  Court documents show Butler, who worked at the school, was asked during the day where her stepson, Logan, was. The documents also stated that it wasn't until she was asked again at the end of the day that she realized the child was still in the car. >> On WFTV.com: Stepmother of boy who died in hot SUV quits job after receiving death threats Authorities said Butler found Starling in the third row of the SUV, leaning against the window with his eyes closed.  The school's director carried Starling to a nearby fire station, authorities said. Starling was then taken to a hospital, where his body temperature was recorded at 108 degrees. For perspective, doctors say a fever above 104 degrees can cause brain damage. The investigation also showed the inside temperature of the car was 121 degrees when the boy was removed. Investigators believe he was in the car for six hours.  Butler claimed she remembered Starling getting out of the SUV and that she locked the doors when they were walking into the school. >> Read more trending news  Documents said Butler believed Starling got into the SUV later, but she wasn’t sure how. She said during an interview that Starling suffered from autism and was known for wandering around. But arrest documents show Starling’s teacher disputed that claim, and video showed the child never left the SUV. 'You were arrested pursuant to a probable cause capias, where probable cause was previously found for the offense of aggravated manslaughter of a child and neglect of a child,” the judge said in court. Butler was ordered to remain in the Orange County Jail on $15,000 bail. Logan's family believes the bond was set too low. Butler was later able to bond out of jail Wednesday evening. 'Six months of no punishment for Mariah seemed like six years,' said Logan's great grandfather Roy Werner. 'But six months of Logan being gone seems like six days.
  • Orlando city leaders are preparing two new hubs in downtown Orlando for Uber and Lyft drivers waiting for people who need a ride home.  The hubs could not only keep area roads safer by helping people find a ride after drinking, they could also help relieve some of the congestion that takes place downtown around 2 a.m., when bars close.   The two hubs will be in places easy to access by those enjoying the downtown nightlife.   The first is on Magnolia Avenue near the Orange County Regional History Center and Heritage Square Park, close to a cluster of bars.   The second will be located further west, closer to I-4. That hub is planned for Gertrude Street, near Washington and Jefferson.   The hubs will only operate late at night on Fridays and Saturdays, from midnight to 3 a.m. This is a trial run for the ride-sharing plan, which will run for 6 months.

Washington Insider

  • Apart from a few GOP voices in the U.S. House and Senate, most Republican lawmakers in Congress had little to say in recent days about President Donald Trump's continuing attacks on the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), as the President used a speech in Ohio on Wednesday to launch an extended series of jabs as the former POW. 'I have to be honest - I've never liked him much,' Mr. Trump said at a speech at a tank production plant in Lima, Ohio. With Congress on break this week, many Republicans stayed away from the tide of remarks by the President, as only a handful of GOP officials stood up to tell Mr. Trump to back off, and leave the dead U.S. Senator alone. 'It’s deplorable what he said,” Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said of President Trump in a Wednesday radio interview with Georgia Public Broadcasting.  “That’s what I called it from the floor of the Senate seven months ago. It will be deplorable seven months from now if he says it again, and I will continue to speak out,' said Isakson, who has been one of McCain's few public defenders in the GOP to push back directly at Mr. Trump. 'John McCain is an American hero and I am thankful for his life of service and legacy to our country and Arizona,' said Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), who now holds his seat in Congress - though McSally did not directly mention the President in her statement. But Rep. Peter King R-NY, and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) were outliers, as some supporters said the President was needlessly picking a fight - with a dead man - which he will never win. 'President 0. Dead Man 1,' wrote conservative talk radio host Erick Erickson. 'Let's be a little less coo-coo,' said Anthony Scaramucci on CNN Thursday morning, who served in the White House for a very short period of time in 2017, but remains a strong supporter of the President. Here's the President's full remarks about McCain from the Wednesday event: In a late night email sent to reporters on Wednesday, the McCain Institute pushed back - without mentioning the President by name - as the group defended the late GOP Senator, and one time Republican nominee for President in 2008. 'John McCain was held for 5 years in a Vietnamese prison and brutally tortured,' the group wrote, offering a laundry list of supportive items from his resume in the military and in Congress. 'John McCain always called on America to stand up for its values of freedom and democracy,' the group added, as even in death, McCain was still embroiled in battles with President Trump.