William Barr, shown in 2003, was attorney general under President George H.W. Bush. Bloomberg photo by Chris Kleponis
Photo: Chris Kleponis
Photo: Chris Kleponis

Rob Portman says Trump pick for Attorney General is a ‘smart guy,’ will likely get confirmed

Portman on Mueller investigation: ‘It’s time for us to wrap this up’

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, told the Dayton Daily News Friday that he believes the Senate will confirm William Barr as attorney general, replacing Jeff Sessions who was fired last month by President Donald Trump.

Portman met with reporters for the paper a short time after Trump announced that he would appoint Barr to replace Sessions.

The announcement immediately triggered speculation about what Barr’s role would be in overseeing the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

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In the Daily News interview, Portman said of the Mueller probe: “You’ve got to let Mueller finish his work. And he also ought to finish his work. It’s been a couple years, so it’s time for us to wrap this up. And it should be without political interference. He should follow the facts where they lead.”

Portman said what’s been lost in the noise over the Mueller investigation is what it is about.

“Well, it’s all about Russia influencing our election,” he said. “That’s the basis of it and so the American people are interested to know in a comprehensive report what happened: How did Russia influence our elections, what have we done about it and then going forward, how do we keep it from happening again? And so I think we should allow him without political interference to get his work done, submit the report. But he also shouldn’t drag it out. It’s time for us to get the doggone report and be able to analyze it and learn from it.”

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Portman, who was a colleague of Barr’s in the administration of President George H.W. Bush, called him a “smart guy.”

“He’s got a good reputation as being a good strong lawyer and a manager,” he said.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said he planned to “fully review Mr. Barr’s record, particularly when it comes to the criminal justice issues that impact the lives of people across the country each day.”

“The American people deserve to have an attorney general who will recognize past injustices of the department and provide the public with answers on how they’d act on issues like the addiction crisis moving forward,” said Brown.

Trump fired Sessions last month and replaced him with Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. Confirmation hearings on Barr likely won’t take place until January.

Jack Torry of the Washington Bureau contributed to this report.

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