On December 7, 2018, President Donald Trump nominated William Barr to succeed Jeff Sessions as attorney general.
Because Barr, unlike Sessions, had not recused himself from matters related to the 2016 election, Barr assumed oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation upon taking office on February 14, 2019. Barr, who previously served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, drew criticism for the role he played in ending the Iran-Contra investigation in 1992 and for an unsolicited memo he had written to the Department of Justice in June 2019 calling Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice “fatally misconceived.” On March 24, 2019, less than two days after receiving Mueller’s report ending his investigation, Barr submitted a four-page letter to Congress summarizing his takeaways from Mueller’s report, revealing that Barr had declined to prosecute Trump for obstruction of justice despite Mueller having reached no conclusion on the subject. (Photo credit: Nicholas Kamm / Getty Images)