Down Goes Bill Barr

With the possible exception of Fox News, few domestic actors did more to protect Donald Trump over the final two years of the most fraught presidency in modern US history than William Barr.

On March 24, 2019, barely 48 hours after receiving the voluminous Mueller Report, Barr released his infamous “principal conclusions,” which effectively cleared Trump of obstruction, paving the way for the White House to falsely declare that the special counsel found no evidence of wrongdoing.

In fact, the Mueller Report was replete with evidence to support all manner of accusations, if not actual charges, and Mueller himself chided Barr in a letter. “The summary the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions,” Mueller told Barr, on March 27, 2019.

By the time Barr finally got around to releasing the full report to the public, the administration had ample time to drive home the “no collusion, no obstruction” narrative which was, at best, only half-true.

But Barr’s enabling of Trump’s brazen approach to governing hardly stopped with Mueller. He also made Trump’s dream of a counter-investigation into the origins of the Mueller probe a reality, and it appeared the Attorney General was poised to back Trump’s inevitable allegations of voter fraud. In the months ahead of the election, Barr made a series of misleading claims about mail-in ballots, for example.

And yet, there were times when one could discern Barr’s limits. For example, the Justice Department distanced itself from the Ukraine scandal after it emerged that Trump mentioned Barr’s name while attempting to cajole Volodymyr Zelensky into launching an investigation into Joe Biden and his family.

Over the past two weeks, Barr found himself at odds with Trump after failing to countenance the far-fetched allegations of attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, both of whom have pushed various theories about the election without providing anything that even approximates the kind of evidence a court might demand when something as consequential as the US presidency is at stake.

Barr also reportedly worked to keep a tax probe into Hunter Biden from becoming public in order to avoid a scenario where the Justice Department became ensnared in campaign politics. He also declined to deliver the kind of game-changing results Trump demanded from the counter-investigation conducted by John Durham, although he did appoint Durham special counsel, giving him protection for the duration of his work.

Last month, Barr dipped his toes into the shark-infested, post-election waters with a caveat-riddled memo authorizing federal prosecutors to investigate allegations of voter fraud. Richard Pilger, the official who presided over such investigations, immediately stepped down. Barr’s memo was chock-full of what amounted to disclaimers, including guidance that investigations should not be pursued when allegations of fraud are “specious, speculative, fanciful, or far-fetched.”

Then, earlier this month, Barr told the AP that “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” “There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all,” he added, noting that “there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.”

In other words: Barr essentially told the AP that Trump’s claims were baseless.

Shortly thereafter, questions began to swirl about Barr’s imminent exit. On Monday evening, Trump made it official. “Just had a very nice meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House. Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job!”, Trump tweeted.

Then, he informed the public that Barr “will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family.”

In a letter, Barr lavishes praise on Trump, but what’s notable is the first sentence. “I appreciate the opportunity to update you this afternoon on the Department’s review of voter fraud allegations in the 2020 election and how these allegations will continue to be pursued,” Barr wrote.

One possible interpretation is that Trump was not satisfied with Barr’s “update.”

Barr proceeded to deliver what I think it’s entirely fair to describe as a laughably obsequious pseudo-resignation. He described a “abusive and deceitful” campaign to “cripple, if not oust, your Administration” and characterized collusion allegations as “frenzied and baseless.”

Barr also called Trump’s pre-pandemic economy “the strongest and most resilient in American history.” While “resilient” admits of some subjectivity, “strongest” doesn’t, and on that score, Barr is simply not telling the truth. Trump’s economy was, on average, the same as Obama’s economy and nowhere near the strongest economy in US history.

“Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, an outstanding person, will become Acting Attorney General,” Trump went on to say Monday evening. He then shouted “Thank you to all!”

On December 1, when Barr told the AP that no voter fraud on a scale large enough to change the election outcome had occurred, Chuck Schumer joked “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”


Speak your mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

19 thoughts on “Down Goes Bill Barr

    1. Yes. Exactly.

      Any “Washington News Week” on a Sunday morning on CBS in April 2021, blah blah, doesn’t mean anything. All he will be concerned with his his legacy.

      There’s not a Wright’s Silver Polish strong enough to clean the tarnish off Barr’s legacy.

  1. Barr probably (finally) realized how potentially and utterly destructive Trump is in his monomania to remain in power, and as a result was able to summon just enough backbone to reinforce and help legitimize the election results.

    H, that brief trip down treasonous memory lane was painful, made me remember that Barr also traveled the world wide to meet with right wing / authoritarian conspiracy wack jobs in his devoted duty to Trump.

    Guess no pardon for Bill; maybe he and Michael Cohen can get together and commiserate about their fall from “grace.”

    1. I don’t think that’s the case that he finally recognized the destructive path Trump is willing to take to stay in power.

      Let’s see what his interviews are like when he is on TV, etc., after Trump is out of office. I suspect it will be the usual like “Well, all of these decision were based on trust in other actors and the facts that we had at the time.” Forget that. Right?

      Let’s face it, William Barr was part of the problem. He was an enabler. There is no post-Trump, apologist history for Barr.

      Oh, and by the way, the US has perhaps among the highest death rates from COVID in the developed world. Barr did nothing (that I am aware of) to halt the progress of the virus or to protect us people.

      Of course, we’ll have to let the historians in 20 year see where the call lies. In the meantime, assuredely, Barr’s standing in history is deservedly, and permanently, tarnished.

    1. No.

      He hasn’t “said” anything.

      He is still in office. He can “say” something. If he has something to “say,” say it now. He has already chosen the side of history he wants to be on. Isn’t it clear?

      Barr has nothing to say to end this attempt, much less future attempts, at authoritarian rule in the Unites States. He is an enabler. I hope that I am wrong, I do hope that Barr will make a public statement tomorrow denouncing all these shenanigans the last four weeks…and three and a half years before.

      Once Barr no longer holds his post, anything he says to counter our criticisms is just a re-writing of history to burnish his legacy. Fundamentally, Barr is, and was, part of the problem.

      Barr is, to quote a headline from a media outlet this afternoon, just another boot licker.

    1. Too late.

      Barr was an enabler. There is no distance that he is trying to establish that is not related to his reputation and his legacy.

      Barr helped sell all of us out. Barr does not care about us. He had Trump’s back.

      Barr will forever be associated with perhaps the greatest failure of any presidential administration in U.S. history.

  2. I am in no way a fan of Bar and hope he lives long enough to realize the stain that will attach to his name and tenure as AG, but I do not like Trump having his pick of temp AG for what remains of this nightmarish presidency. He can place a puppet in the position to assist with the latest iteration of the coup, the alternative GOP electors, or with whatever other extreme action he continues to contemplate to ensure he remains in power.

  3. In fact, Barr’s reticence to mobilize the Justice Department to support Trump’s quest to stay in power is the primary reason for his exit at this time.

    For Barr this offers some measure of grace from Trump’s illegitimate power grab. While for Trump this may provide him with a more pliant United States Attorney General.

  4. I still think the US needs to seriously consider prosecuting Barr, along with most top Trump aides.

    In 2000, GWB was installed by SCOTUS to the presidency. Gore conceded because it was clear the Florida vote (that he likely won if you take in some of the disqualified ballots) was never going to be conclusively recounted. When Obama took over from GWB, no legal actions were initiated for the Iraq War.

    This constant appeasement of the Republican leaders has not produced any increase in civility or bipartisanship. It’s time to try the other way and punish them relentlessly for their criminal activities. Maybe they’ll get the message more clearly?

    Similarly, I don’t know what the libel laws of the US allow and disallow but going after Fox/Murdoch and Sinclair for any and all breaches is necessary.

    Again and again, being a conservative is fine. Voting conservative is fine. Even being a fascist is ‘fine’. But the Republican Party and its elite are now well beyond that. They are actively attacking the democratic setup of the US Republic…

    1. Agree completely that the new administration can’t ‘forgive and forget’, otherwise it encourages more bad behavior by the next bad actors in power. If for no other reason, the population at large needs to see how deep and destructive their covered up behavior has been. I wonder if Ford’s pardon of Nixon started this whole tradition of letting ‘criminal administrations’ get away with lies and deceits. Why should society’s leaders be held less accountable than those at the bottom. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

      1. Agree. … otherwise next time there may not be a possibility of an fairly close and competitive election victory to save the democracy

      2. One concern with this strategy, of course, is that Republican voters, in their hatred of Ds and blindness of “their team” (whether it’s actually “theirs” or not) will be outraged by what will obviously be portrayed as “elites attacking the last conservative voices left”, “prosecuting a political agenda”, the “deep state attacking freedom loving true patriots”, etc. The headlines write themselves.

        So, it’d be important to secure the loyalty of the police and armed forces, just in case. I don’t doubt that R voters will be outraged and unhappy but, as long as the present R leadership is taken out and, in effect, replaced by roughly decent (if conservative i.e. politically and economically mistaken) people, then it honestly doesn’t matter too much. They can vote R to their heart’s content, they can even get the levers of power again for 4 or even 8 years and the Republic will survive just fine and normality will be restored.

    2. Libel laws are strong for media owners. Not likely these two, who deserve to swing from a yardarm, will face any blowback.

      You are right about them attacking the state. It is the only play the KKK/Nazis/religious zealots and allies have left. This is mostly a play by the forces in our country, who exercise power for ammoral money/racial/religious principals against those with some morality. This battle has gone on a long time here in the USA and every time these forces rise up they are beat back. Each time their zenith is lower and lower.

      Much like Northern Ireland or other historic civil wars we will not ‘solve’ it but will put these forces in their place. This time it is particularly due to Russian interference in election and now hacking NSA. However McConnel just flipped and recognized Biden as president elect so Donald is on a very short leash and can be removed by an emergency vote in the Senate, any trial can run after removal.

      1. So maybe Trump had a point and libel laws should be strengthen? 🙂

        One thing, though, I don’t think you can resume Trumpism and Trump voters to KKK/Nazis/religious zealots. These are present, sure. But there’s also plenty of people who, for whatever (slightly unhinged – to me) reasons, absolutely and totally loathe Ds/liberals and there are plenty of run-of-the-mill conservatives who just never voted D and will never vote D.

        That last group is fine in a democratic set-up and should be given a reformed conservative option to vote for.

  5. Gotta hand it to Barr…in his “resignation” letter he’s every bit the equal of Pence when it comes to publicly fellating the president.

NEWSROOM crewneck & prints