AG Barr either has no cajones or, he definitely was hired to be Trump’s lap dog.
On Wednesday, when Attorney General William Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Mueller report, he addressed lawmakers more as if he were a member of President Trump’s legal team than as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer. Barr framed Trump’s actions as fully justifiable, even arguing that if the president feels an investigation is unfounded, he “does not have to sit there constitutionally and allow it to run its course.”
Whether out of sycophantic loyalty or a deep-seated belief in executive impunity, Barr has used his position to insulate the president from legal scrutiny. He has done everything in his power to downplay the impact of the special counsel’s investigation.
He did not hesitate, for example, to frame Robert Mueller’s findings as an exoneration of the president, despite a report that said otherwise. By itself, this gave Trump the appearance of vindication, as major media outlets declared him innocent of “collusion.”
Barr has done nothing but run interference for Trump, indifferent to his established pattern of lawbreaking and criminality. And it has left his former colleagues bewildered and searching for answers. “How could Mr. Barr, a bright and accomplished lawyer, start channeling the president in using words like ‘no collusion’ and F.B.I. ‘spying’?” James Comey, the former F.B.I. director, asked in a Times Op-Ed. Eric Holder, who served as attorney general under President Barack Obama, echoed this dismay on Twitter: “I thought he was an institutionalist, committed to both the rule of law and his role as the lawyer for the American people.” Even Mueller’s even-keeled letter can’t help betraying his expectation that Barr would behave very differently.
Helping Republican presidents act with impunity is William Barr’s stock-in-trade — it’s what he does. Even before joining Trump, he wrote an unsolicited memo arguing outright that a president cannot be charged with obstruction of justice if the underlying actions fall under his lawful authority and the accusations are false — the same argument he made at Wednesday’s hearing. “Most of the obstruction claims that are being made here, or episodes, do involve the exercise of the president’s constitutional authority,” Barr said to Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont. And he asserted, “We now know that he was being falsely accused.”
For Barr, there are no apparent limits to presidential authority, at least as long as that president is a Republican. His theory of presidential immunity did not extend to Bill Clinton, for example, whose impeachment Barr defended.
What we’ve seen over the past two months is a professional at work. Someone who understands his mission and acts accordingly. Unless he voluntarily resigns, Barr will be attorney general for at least the next 20 months, or until Trump dumps him, which seems unlikely given his success at protecting the president…
If and when progressives retake the White House and the Senate, they have to make accountability a priority. Otherwise, the Bill Barrs of the world will emerge over and over again, ready to do their yeoman best.
We are living in troubled AND dangerous times. The very foundation of our republic and certainly its time-tested institutions are under attack by our so-called President and his lackeys in the republican party and Congress.
Unless truly patriot Americans turn out in mass to oust Trump in 2020 our country may very well become the worlds newest and largest Banana Republic.