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Senate confirms William Barr as US attorney general

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The US Senate has voted 54-45 confirming President Donald Trump’s attorney general pick William Barr to serve in the role for a second time.

Nearly every Republican and three Democrats voted to confirm Mr Barr, who will head the politically independent US Justice Department.

As the nation’s top law official, Mr Barr will oversee the special counsel’s Russia investigation.

Democrats were angered by his previous criticism of the Russia inquiry.

Mr Barr, 68, previously held the attorney general title from 1991 to 1993 under Republican President George H W Bush.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called Mr Barr’s confirmation “a major victory for justice and the rule of law in America”.

Democrats Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona voted in favour of Mr Barr – all three representing more conservative-leaning states.

Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky voted against Mr Trump’s pick, while North Carolina Republican Richard Burr did not vote.

As the new overseer of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry, Mr Barr will take the role back from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was appointed when Mr Barr’s predecessor Jeff Sessions recused himself.

Mr Mueller’s investigation is looking into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

US media has reported that Mr Rosenstein plans to resign following Mr Barr’s confirmation.

During his confirmation hearings, Mr Barr called Mr Mueller a friend and rejected the president’s label of the inquiry as a “witch hunt”.

“I don’t believe Mr Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt,” he said.

When grilled by senators over whether he would protect the investigation, Mr Barr said Mr Mueller must be allowed to complete the probe and that he believes Russians “interfered or attempted to interfere in the election and we have to get to the bottom of it”.

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