William Barr, President Trump's nominee to be the next attorney general, not only survived his eight-hour Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday but left it with a strong chance of picking up Democratic votes.
Barr's assured performance on day one before the Senate Judiciary Committee was a welcome relief for President Trump after the ferocious battle last fall to get Brett Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court.
The smooth confirmation of a new attorney general seemed unimaginable last year, when Democrats warned that Trump's decision to fire Jeff Sessions had sparked a "constitutional crisis" amid fears that Trump was looking to take control of the ongoing investigation into whether he colluded with Russia to win the election in 2016.
But Barr told Democrats repeatedly that he wants special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation to continue and conclude without interference. He said he believes Russia tried to interfere with the election and that a final report is needed. And he said he wouldn't let Trump tweak the final report before a summary of it is made public.
Barr, who was George H.W. Bush's attorney general in the early 1990s, also pledged that he wouldn't be bossed around by Trump or anyone else.
"I am not going to do anything that I think is wrong, and I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong by anybody, whether it be editorial boards or Congress or the president,” Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "I'm going to do what I think is right."
His statements seemed to leave Democrats satisfied that the senior official from another era was about as good as they could do, and many left open the idea that they could vote for him.
Ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., offered praise for Barr during a break in the hearing and said she agreed that he'll have an “easy road” to confirmation.
“I think they’re going very well, as a matter of fact. I think the candidate is answering questions and, I think, doing well. And the questions cover a fairly wide range,” Feinstein said. “[H]e’s certainly been responsive to the questions. He hasn’t ducked them and he’s answered them as fully as he can … I think he’s hel