William Barr is leading candidate for Attorney General

President George H.W. Bush and William Barr wave after Barr was sworn in as Attorney General in 1991

Scott Applewhite Associated Press File/1991 President George H.W. Bush and William Barr wave after Barr was sworn in as Attorney General in 1991

President Trump said Friday he will nominate William Barr to replace Jeff Sessions as his attorney general, and State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert as the next USA ambassador to the UN.

Barr, a former attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, has been emerging this week as a consensus candidate to succeed Jeff Sessions as attorney general, two sources familiar with Trump's thinking told CNN on Thursday.

The controversial Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has been leading the Justice Department and overseeing Mueller's investigation since Mr. Trump announced he was replacing then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month.

In a May 2017 op-ed in The Washington Post, Barr argued President Trump made the right call in firing Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), a former Judiciary chairman who remains on the committee suggested Wednesday that Barr would get bipartisan support in the Senate. Trump praised Barr as a "highly respected lawyer" and "a brilliant man", and he offered similar compliments to the "very talented" Nauert as she presumably takes over for Nikki Haley. Did Trump ask these questions about Barr, or did he ask them about other potential nominees - like, say, Chris Christie, who did work on the campaign?

The presidents' aides had previously floated the idea of Barr retaking his post in the Justice Department, sources said, with an announcement expected next week.

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After passing his senate confirmation hearing unanimously, he served as the 77th United States attorney general from 1991-1993. He has also reportedly suggested that Hillary Clinton's role in the Uranium One scandal was more worthy of investigation than Russian collusion.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No 2 Republican leader, agreed.

Barr also at one point took issue with the political affiliations of those on Mueller's team, telling the Washington Post in July of 2017 that "prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with a political party". "I would have liked to see him have more balance on this group". Barr is now rumored to be Donald Trump's top contender to replace ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Barr also defended the firing of FBI Director James Comey, claiming that his public statement recommending no charges against Clinton for her private email use encroached on the responsibilities of the Attorney General.

Senate Democrats have sued the administration over the appointment, arguing it wasn't constitutional.

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