William "Bill" Barr CC '71 GSAS '73 is the current and 85th Attorney General of the United States, appointed by President Donald Trump and assuming office on February 14, 2019. He previously served as 77th Attorney General of the United States under President George H.W. Bush from November 26, 1991 - January 20, 1993, and was replaced by Janet Keno, whose deputy Eric Holder CC '73 LAW '76 would later become Attorney General under Barack Obama CC '83.
Early Life and Education
Barr is a New York City native, raised on the Upper West Side and attended Horace Mann School. His father, Donald BarrCC '41, taught English at Columbia in addition to being headmaster of the Dalton School.
Time at Columbia
Barr attended Columbia during the 1968 Protests, siding with the Majority Coalition. In an interview with the New York Times, Barr fondly remembers blocking protestors from entering Low Library, eventually engaging in a fistfight with SDS members.
After graduating from Columbia College in 1971 with a degree in government, Barr spent his summers with the CIA and the rest of the year studying for an MA in government and Chinese studies. After graduating from GSAS in 1973, he went on to work at the CIA full-time.
Time as 77th Attorney General
Barr's first tenure as Attorney General in the Early 1990s centered on reassigning FBI resources from counter-intelligence to anti-gang efforts. He made an effort to increase the incarceration rate nationwide. He also pardoned some of the members involved in Reagan's Iran-Contra Affair.
Time as 85th Attorney General
Barr's second tenure as Attorney General was met with more criticism than his first. While Barr's efforts in the Early 1990s were instrumental in creating the system of Mass Incarceration present in the United States, his work in the Late 2010s would take a far more dramatic and public tone. He would actively work against a Federal Special Investigation into possible collusion between the Russians and President Trump, offering a notoriously censorous summary of Special Counsel Robert Muller's Findings.