Senators will want to know whether Mr. Barr supports initiatives by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions that prompted condemnation from Democrats and immigration advocates, like family separations and a “zero tolerance” policy for illegal border crossings.
“In order to ensure that our immigration system works properly, we must secure our nation’s borders, and we must ensure that our laws allow us to process, hold, and remove those who unlawfully enter,” Mr. Barr will say, according to his prepared testimony.
Mr. Barr also planned to say that he would prioritize election integrity as well as fight violent crime and gangs, long a Trump administration concern. He also pledged to “diligently implement” a criminal justice overhaul that drew bipartisan support and that Mr. Trump signed into law late year. Mr. Sessions had opposed the legislation.
Though Mr. Barr also said he would fight hate crime, it was not clear whether he supported Mr. Sessions’s decisions to limit civil rights protections for people who identify as gay, lesbian and transgender.
— Katie Benner
Even with a divided Senate, Barr’s confirmation odds look good.
When Mr. Barr was nominated to serve as attorney general the first time in 1991, the Democratic Senate unanimously confirmed him by voice vote. He should not expect such a smooth ride this time around, but with Republicans in control of the chamber by a 53-to-47 majority, his confirmation appears to be on track.
Two wild cards could scramble the usual partisan divide.
A handful of moderate Republicans facing re-election fights in 2020 or simply skeptical of Mr. Trump’s intentions could theoretically swing against Mr. Barr if he fails to convince them that he would stand up for the special counsel. If these senators — Cory Gardner of Colorado, Susan Collins of Maine, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Mitt Romney of Utah and others — banded together with a united Democratic caucus, they could kill the confirmation.
But Democrats may also be motivated to quickly move Mr. Barr through confirmation. They have been highly critical of the acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, a Trump loyalist whom they view as a direct threat to Mr. Mueller, and want him out of office as quickly as possible. If they view Mr. Barr as sincere in his public assurances about the investigation, it is a swap many Democrats might eagerly make.