Who is William Pelham Barr: 5 things to know


Former U.S. attorney general William Pelham Barr was the 77th attorney general of the United States from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush.

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Barr, a well-respected Republican lawyer, is emerging as the potential nominee to replace President Donald Trump’s former attorney general Jeff Sessions, who was forced out last month, following the midterm elections. 

Here are five things to know about Barr:

1 – Barr, a Republican, is potentially the leading candidate to become Trump’s next attorney general, according to The Washington Post. He’s a “favorite” among a number of White House officials, including those in the White House Counsel’s Office, the Post reported. He is “a really serious contender and possibly the front-runner,” a source told the newspaper.

2 – Barr served two years as attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush until Bush lost his re-election campaign to former President Bill Clinton. Barr served as the deputy attorney general, before becoming the Justice Department’s top lawyer and prior to that he served as assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel from 1989 to 1990. 

The Washington Post wrote of Barr in 1991 as having “tempered candor with discretion, a strong will with a tolerance for the personalities and views of others.”

3 – Barr led the Justice Department’s response to the Savings & Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 90s; he oversaw the investigation of the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland; he handled the Talladega prison uprising and hostage situation; and coordinated counter-terrorist activities during the first Gulf War, according to his biography.

Barr’s former deputy, George Terwilliger, told the Post that Barr possesses “40 years of high-level experience, both in government and in business, which gives him a perspective that fits many of this administration’s priorities.”

4 – After leaving politics, Barr spent almost 15 years working for large corporations, according to his biography. He served as general counsel and executive president of Verizon Communications from 2000 until he retired in 2008. Before that he served in a similar capacity for GTE Corporation until it merged with Bell Atlantic to become Verizon in 2000.

5 – Barr was born on May 23, 1950, in New York City to Mary and Donald Barr, faculty members at Columbia University, and was one of four brothers raised on the city’s Upper West Side, according to his biography

He married Christine Barr in 1973 when he also graduated from Columbia University with a master’s degree in government and Chinese studies. He worked at the Central Intelligence Agency from 1973 until 1977 when he graduated from George Washington University with a law degree.

Barr also served on the White House domestic policy staff under former President Ronald Reagan.


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