Washington, DC, Feb. 12, 2019 – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today delivered a speech on the Senate floor in which she spoke out against the nomination of William Barr for United States Attorney General. In her remarks, Senator Warren expressed concern that as Attorney General, Mr. Barr would put his loyalty to President Trump ahead of his duty to stand up for the rights of all Americans. Senator Warren also criticized Mr. Barr’s history on women’s rights, criminal justice reform, immigration, health care, and LGBTQ equality, and urged her colleagues to reject his confirmation.
The full text of her remarks, as prepared for delivery, is available below.
Remarks by Senator Elizabeth Warren
**As Prepared for Delivery**
February 12, 2019
I join my colleagues on the Senate floor to discuss William Barr, President Trump’s nominee to serve as America’s next attorney general. The Attorney General’s job is to defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic. To stand up for the rights of all Americans.
But President Trump has a different view of an Attorney General’s role. He has made it quite clear that he’s not interested in an Attorney General who is committed to working for the American people. For President Trump, only two criteria matter when it comes to picking an Attorney General. Number one: loyalty to President Trump.
William Barr easily checks that box. Just look at the Mueller investigation. As Special Counsel Mueller’s team investigates whether there are connections between Russia’s meddling in U.S. elections and the Trump campaign and indicts more and more people with close ties to the President, President Trump has viciously attacked the investigation, calling it a witch hunt.
Trump was not pleased that his first pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from the Mueller investigation. He doesn’t want to make the same mistake twice. In Barr, the President has found someone he believes will put the President’s interests above those of the country. It’s not hard to see why. Barr has taken extraordinary steps to undermine the Mueller investigation, even voluntarily submitting an unsolicited memo to the Justice Department arguing that the Special Counsel doesn’t have the power to investigate Trump for obstruction of justice. That’s quite the cover letter for a job application when the job is overseeing the very investigation you don’t think should exist in the first place.
Loyalty to President Trump. Check.
The second criterion for President Trump when picking an Attorney General–or any nominee to serve in the highest levels of the federal government–is whether the nominee will continue to tilt our government further in favor of the powerful few over everyone else.
Once again, Barr checks the box. Barr’s record on women’s rights, criminal justice reform, immigration, and so many more issues shows that he will promote the interests of the powerful few instead of defending the rights of all.
Take women’s rights.
Barr believes that Roe v. Wade–the Supreme Court case establishing the right to abortion care–was wrongly decided and should be overturned. He also joined an amicus brief arguing that employers should be allowed to deny women access to contraceptive care based on the employers’ religious beliefs.
On criminal justice reform, Barr has endorsed harmful policies that have perpetuated America’s broken criminal justice system. While serving as Attorney General in the early 1990s, the Justice Department issued a report arguing that the U.S. had an under-incarceration problem–that we put too few people in jail in this country–and Barr has personally made many statements in line with that misguided approach. He’s argued that children should be prosecuted as adults. And despite the fact that Black people are arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and more harshly sentenced than their white counterparts, Barr has denied that racial disparities exist in the criminal justice system and has championed discriminatory sentencing policies.
On immigration, Barr supported the first–and harshest–iteration of President Trump’s unconstitutional and immoral Muslim ban. In his stint as Attorney General in the 90s, he advocated for denying political asylum to Haitian asylum seekers who happened to be HIV-positive.
On health care, Barr has argued that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. On LGBTQ equality, he’s opposed efforts to promote LGBTQ equality. The list goes on and on.
There’s no doubt that, if confirmed, Barr would continue the same broken system that protects the wealthy and well-connected but leaves everyone else behind.
The President doesn’t hide what he wants from an Attorney General. Someone who will put protecting the President ahead of protecting our constitution. And someone who will help maintain America’s two very different justice systems–one that protects and coddles the wealthy and the powerful, and another harsh, unjust system for everyone else.
Barr’s record shows that he is not the Attorney General that America desperately needs–an Attorney General who will stand up for the rule of law and for the rights of all Americans. That is why I will vote no on Barr’s nomination, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.