Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley expects a swift confirmation process for President Trump’s nominee for U.S. Attorney General.
Grassley calls William Barr a “talented, well-respected lawyer” who has served in that post before — from 1991 to ’93 under President George H.W. Bush. “I think he had an outstanding reputation as attorney general in the past,” Grassley says. “I would expect him to be confirmed unless there’s something that’s really bad about something that he’s done in the last 20 years but I can’t think of anything.”
Grassley is now chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee but will step down from the position in a few weeks to become chair of the Finance Committee. Still, Grassley will remain a member of the Judiciary Committee in the new Congress and will participate in Barr’s confirmation hearings. “I would assume that it’s going to be early January,” Grassley says, “and I would assume that it’s not going to take a long time for the FBI to get through vetting him since he’s been vetted for several other government positions.”
An Iowa native is now the acting U.S. Attorney General. Matt Whitaker was appointed to that post by the president after the resignation of Jeff Sessions last month. Whitaker had been Sessions’ chief of staff. Grassley is unsure what will become of Whitaker once Barr is confirmed. “It probably would be unusual if he’d stay on as the chief of staff for the next attorney general. That would be up to the attorney general,” Grassley says. “If he wants public service, I’m sure that he could have some comparable position within the administration but I have not talked to him.”
Whitaker is an Ankeny native who played football at the University of Iowa under Coach Hayden Fry. He was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa for more than five years before heading to Washington.