William P. Barr (1991–1993)

William P. Barr (1991–1993)

William Pelham Barr was sworn in as the 85th Attorney General of the United States on February 14, 2019. He is only the second person in history to serve as U.S. Attorney General twice. Barr previously served as Attorney General from 1991 to 1993 during the administration of George H. W. Bush. (The other person to serve twice as Attorney General was John Crittenden who served from 1841 and then again from 1850-1853.)

Barr was born in New York City, New York, on May 23, 1950. He received his bachelor's degree in government (1971) and a master's degree in Chinese studies and government (1973) from Columbia University. He then attended George Washington University, earning his law degree in 1977. During his law school career, he worked in the Central Intelligence Agency as an analyst.

From 1977 to 1978, Barr clerked for Judge Malcolm Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. From 1978 to 1982, he was in private law practice with Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge. He then served on the White House domestic policy staff in the administration of President Ronald Reagan (1982-1983), returning to private practice from 1984 to 1989.

In 1989, Barr began his career with the Justice Department as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel and later served as Deputy Attorney General. In November 1991, he was sworn in as Attorney General in the administration of President George H. W. Bush; he remained in that post until 1993.

After leaving government, Barr worked as general counsel and executive vice president for GTE Corporation (1994-2000) and for Verizon (2000-2008). In 2009, Barr went to the law firm of Kirkland and Ellis. In 2018, President Donald Trump nominated Barr to serve as Attorney General to replace Jeff Sessions who had resigned after the November election.

Barr became Attorney General in the midst of the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the role of members of the Trump administration. After special investigator Robert Mueller released his report to the Justice Department, Barr summarized the report in a four-page memo that he released to the public. Many Democrats pressure Barr to release the full report. He agreed to release a redacted version of the report to Congress and the public.