President Trump confirmed he will nominate former attorney general William P. Barr to lead the Justice Department again, telling reporters Friday that Barr was “my first choice since day one.”
He also said he would nominate Heather Nauert as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, saying the State Department spokeswoman, a relative novice on foreign policy, is “very talented, very smart, very quick.”
The Washington Post reported a day earlier that Barr, 68, a well-respected Republican lawyer who served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush, had emerged as the leading contender, and Trump told associates he planned to nominate him as attorney general.
In a brief phone conversation Friday, Barr confirmed he had accepted the president’s offer.
Barr is likely to face tough questions at his confirmation hearing about how he will handle the ongoing special counsel investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
The president has railed against the probe and his Justice Department’s supervision of it. His relationship with his previous attorney general, Jeff Sessions, was severed in large part because Sessions had recused himself from the matter before Mueller’s appointment, leaving Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein in charge.
Speaking to reporters as he left the White House, Trump called Barr “one of the most respected jurists in the country” and “a terrific man, a terrific person, a brilliant man.”
Nauert, 48, joined the State Department last year with no government experience after a career as an anchor and correspondent at Fox News. She would replace Nikki Haley, who was twice elected governor of South Carolina but also lacked foreign policy experience.
In her new role, Nauert would be responsible for maintaining international support for economic sanctions against North Korea and continuing the Trump administration’s unflinching support for Israel in the face of mounting scrutiny at the United Nations.
Her expected appointment was reported by The Post on Thursday.
Both positions require Senate confirmation.
John Wagner contributed to this report.