William Barr, nominated by President Donald Trump to grace U.S. attorney general, plans to recuse himself from a major antitrust case, according to people who spoke with him on Thursday, as he skippers possible conflicts of interest presented by about $37 million in assets he amassed as a private-sector lawyer.
Barr is outlined to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week for two days of confirmation hearings. Ahead of that, he has submitted fiscal disclosure forms, as required. Some of the forms, seen by Reuters, describe sizeable investments in stocks, bonds and actual estate.
Among his holdings are $1.2 million worth of shares in telecommunications and media company AT&T. He served on the board of All at once Warner, which was acquired by AT&T last year, from 2009 until 2018.
The Justice Department, which Barr resolution lead as attorney general, fought and lost a court battle to block the $85 billion deal and has appealed the firmness.
Barr told Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar he would recuse himself from that effort if he were corroborated, Klobuchar said.
“He told me he was going to recuse himself from the Time Warner-AT&T appeal because he was involved in that, the Heyday Warner side,” Klobuchar told reporters after meeting with Barr.
She added that she plans to survey his financial disclosures more carefully over the weekend.
A Justice Department official, familiar with Barr’s confirmation preparation, corroborated that he plans to recuse himself from the matter.
Barr is set to face tough questioning in the confirmation hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday from Democrats who contain raised concerns about his past criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian conflict in the 2016 election.
Senators who will vet his nomination will likely closely examine the disclosures, which trickled in later than workaday on Thursday due to a partial government shutdown which has furloughed many of the government’s ethics attorneys.
According to the documents, Barr owns beside $16 million worth of stocks and bonds, as well as another $8 million in private investments and $4.2 million in genuine estate.
As of December 14, he held $2.8 million worth of Dominion Energy stock, his largest holding. Barr served on Area’s board of directors, as well.
Under federal ethics rules, Barr will be required to divest certain holdings if they affray with particular matters he is working on at the Justice Department.
Presidential nominees also must sign an ethics surety that spells out how potential conflicts will be managed.
Other stocks in his portfolio include tobacco company Altria and drugmakers Merck and Pfizer.
Reuters could not directly determine which assets, if any, he may need to divest, but the same Justice Department official said government ethics member of the bars are working on a divestment plan.
Barr will also be required to disclose some details about which patients he or his law firm have recently represented in order to avoid potential conflicts.
In his questionnaire to the Senate, he disclosed he represented construction machinery and paraphernalia maker Caterpillar in 2017 in connection with a Justice Department grand jury probe and recently was retained to demand regulatory advice for the private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.
Other possible conflict questions that could turn out up include the fact that his daughter and both of his sons-in-law currently work at the Justice Department.