William Barr

William P. Barr has had a wide-ranging career at senior levels of the corporate and legal world and federal government. He is one of only two people in U.S. history to serve twice as U.S. Attorney General: the 77th Attorney General (1991-1993) under President George H. W. Bush; and the 85th Attorney General (2019-2020) under President Donald Trump.

A native New Yorker, William Barr received his A.B. and M.A. from Columbia University in government and Chinese studies, after which he served in the CIA from 1973 to 1977. He attended law school while working at the CIA, receiving his J.D. with highest honors from George Washington University Law School in 1977.

After clerking for Judge Malcolm Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Mr. Barr joined the Washington, D.C., office of the law firm of Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge as an associate. He left the firm to work in the White House under President Ronald Reagan from 1982 to 1983 on the domestic policy staff, then returned to the law firm and became a partner in 1985.

Under President George H. W. Bush, Mr. Barr served as the Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel from 1989 to 1990; the Deputy Attorney General from 1990 to 1991; and the 77th Attorney General of the United States from 1991 to 1993. While serving at the Department, Mr. Barr was responsible for establishing new enforcement policies in a number of areas including financial institutions, civil rights, and antitrust merger guidelines. He also led the Department’s response to the Savings & Loan crisis; oversaw the investigation of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing; directed the successful resolution of the prison uprising and hostage situation at the Talladega Federal Correctional Institution in Alabama; and the federal response to the 1992 LA Riots. While at the Department, he served on the National Security Council’s Deputies’ Committee, and later as a member of the NSC, coordinating counter-terrorism activities during and after the First Gulf War.

From 1994 to 2000, Mr. Barr served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel for GTE Corporation and then, from 2000 through 2008, as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Verizon. At both GTE and Verizon, he led the legal, regulatory, and government affairs activities of the companies. During his corporate tenure, Mr. Barr helped negotiate, and obtain approval for, several major mergers, including the Bell Atlantic-GTE merger that formed Verizon, as well as Verizon’s later acquisitions of MCI and Alltel. He also played a lead role on behalf of the industry in framing and executing the litigation strategy that succeeded in obtaining deregulation of telecommunications companies and paving the way for the wide-scale deployment of broadband. In the course of this, Mr. Barr personally argued on behalf of the industry numerous cases in the federal courts of appeals and the Supreme Court. He also argued before the European Commission a successful challenge to parts of the WorldCom-MCI merger.

After retiring from Verizon in 2008, Mr. Barr advised major corporations on government enforcement and regulatory matters. He was of counsel at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in 2009 and rejoined the firm in 2017. He served as a director on the boards of Time Warner Inc., Dominion Energy Inc., and a number of other American companies. He also served on the CIA’s External Advisory Board.

At the end of 2018, Mr. Barr agreed to serve again as Attorney General under President Donald Trump. During his tenure, he navigated the “Russiagate” matter and successfully defended Administration initiatives and regulations against a constant flood of court challenges. He participated on the National Security Council; played a leading role in responding to Chinese technological challenges and industrial espionage; was a principal on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS); and chaired “Team Telecom,” the interagency body assessing the risk of foreign participation in telecommunications licenses. Mr. Barr authorized investigations into the market power of “Big Tech” and brought an antitrust suit against Google for efforts to monopolize internet search and search advertising.

Mr. Barr’s memoir, One Damn Thing After Another, was a #1 New York Times bestseller.