WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Friday he would nominate William Barr to be attorney general, a post he held under the late President George H.W. Bush, and State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to be ambassador to the United Nations.
Barr, 68, who served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 after working as a deputy attorney general and chief of the office of legal counsel, emerged this week as the permanent replacement for Jeff Sessions, fired by Trump the day after the November election.
“He was my first choice from day one,” Trump said — as he left the White House for a trip to Kansas City — about Barr, a Republican lawyer who has worked in corporate law, adding that Republicans and some Democrats have said positive things about him. “Hopefully that process will go very quickly.”
At the conference on safe neighborhoods in Kansas City, Trump praised Barr.
"During his tenure, he demonstrated an unwavering adherence to the rule of law, which the people in this room like to hear," he said. "There is no one more capable or more qualified for this role. He deserves overwhelming bipartisan support."
Trump also told reporters Friday morning he would nominate Nauert, 48, of Locust Valley, a former presenter on "Fox and Friends" and reporter and host of Fox News and ABC, to be UN ambassador. Trump said Nauert would work with the current ambassador, Nikki Haley, before she assumes the duties of the diplomatic post.
“She’s very talented. Very smart. Very quick,” Trump said of Nauert. “And I think she is going to be respected by all.”
Barr and Nauert won support from key Republicans, but top Democrats said both would face tough questioning in their confirmation hearings next year.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), likely the next chairman of the Judiciary Committee, praised Trump's choice of Barr and promised he would "do everything in my power to push him through" the committee's vetting and to confirm Barr "as soon as possible."
But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned in a tweet: "Given President @realDonaldTrump’s demonstrated lack of regard for the rule of law and the independence of the American justice system, his nominee for attorney general William Barr will have a steep hill to climb in order to be confirmed by the Senate."
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), a Judiciary Committee member, tweeted that he has known Barr a long time but that lawmakers must thoroughly vet his record, including about "recent, troubling comments about investigations of keen interest to the President who is nominating him.”
Shortly after the May 2017 firing of FBI Director James Comey, Barr defended Trump's action in a Washington Post op-ed.
After testifying on Capitol Hill Friday, Comey said he knows Barr and believes he will uphold the law. "I like him and respect him," Comey told reporters.
About Hillary Clinton, Barr told The Washington Post in an interview, “I don’t think all this stuff about throwing her in jail or jumping to the conclusion that she should be prosecuted is appropriate, But I do think that there are things that should be investigated that haven’t been investigated.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-Ct.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee that will vet Nauert, told CNN: "She has no meaningful experience in the government. She is clearly not qualified for this job."
Before her career in broadcast journalism, Nauert worked as a health insurance consultant in Washington, DC. She is earned degrees from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in New York and Mount Vernon College in Washington.
Haley, a former governor of South Carolina, also had no international experience.
In June, Nauert stirred up controversy when she said the invasion of Normandy in the war against the Nazi regime was evidence of a strong relationship between the United States and Germany on the anniversary of the D-Day invasion.