It’s certainly true that Attorney General Barr believes that the President is constitutionally entitled to nearly unchecked power. Barr got his job based on a letter he wrote to the President that explained this position.
It’s also pretty clear that Attorney General Barr doesn’t worry too much about the past emphasis of separating the Department of Justice from the eyes and ears of the President. Geek out on the memo that White House counsel Don McGahn sent at the beginning of President Trump’s tenure on this important separation.
Are these positions problematic? Do they, collectively, lead to the conclusion that it’s time for Attorney General Barr to go?
the times they are a changin…
a scandalous meeting on a tarmac in 2016
Back in 2016, Attorney General Loretta Lynch was trying to decide whether or not the DOJ should open an investigation into Hillary Clinton regarding the use of her private email server for messages that included classified information. At the time Lynch was considering the case she was seen talking to Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac.
It was scandalous.
Bill Clinton COULD have been asking Attorney General Lynch to go easy on his wife, to not open the investigation, something like that. Lynch testified under oath that they talked about grandchildren. Witnesses also said the investigation was not discussed.
It looked bad, like the AG could’ve been influenced about an investigation by the former President.
Donald Trump was all over it.
“It is an amazing thing,” Trump said. “I heard about it last night. They actually went on to the plane as I understand it. That’s terrible. And it was really a sneak. It was really something that they didn’t want publicized as I understand it. Wow, I just think it’s so terrible, I think it’s so horrible.”
He tweeted about it too.
Bill Clinton’s meeting was a total secret. Nobody was to know about it but he was caught by a local reporter.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2016
Take a look at what happened w/ Bill Clinton. The system is totally rigged. Does anybody really believe that meeting was just a coincidence?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2016
Lynch essentially recused herself from the decision on the Hillary Clinton investigation, passing it off to the prosecutors around her.
fast forward to today’s disregard for conflict of interest
President Trump tweeted that he was unhappy with the DOJ (Department of Justice) sentencing request for Trump’s friend Roger Stone. Within 12 hours, the sentencing request was walked back.
BTW, it’s super unusual to have the guideline request made by lead prosecutors overruled. So unusual, in fact, that four career prosecutors quit the case over it.
Despite this, the DOJ insisted that the President didn’t influence their decision–even as the President praised Attorney General Barr for “getting involved.”
a quote that kinda illustrates the past belief that the Attorney General and President should remain disconnected
Republican President Gerald Ford’s Attorney General was Edward Levi.
Levi said, about his role as Attorney General, “There is no half-heartedness in our effort to achieve and maintain a Department of the highest professional competence and standards, free of partisan purpose.”
Levi and Barr couldn’t be further apart on this.
Barr’s speech to the Federalist Society
In a speech to the conservative Federalist Society, Barr ridiculed progressive left scholars and their left-leaning objectives, calling them “mushy” in their thinking.
Among his remarks:
“It is the left that is engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and undermining the rule of law.”
“In any age, the so-called progressives treat politics as their religion. Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the State to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection. Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursing a deific end. They are willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage in achieving their end, regardless of collateral consequences and the systemic implications. They never ask whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct, equally applicable to all sides.”
With that, #ImpeachBarr and #DisbarBarr blew up on Twitter.
other missteps by Barr
In addition to changing sentencing recommendations for Roger Stone after President Trump tweeted his displeasure, and overruling his own career prosecutors, Bill Barr, through the Justice Department, has engaged in a number of other partisan acts.
DOJ is officially receiving information from Rudy Guiliani
The DOJ has confirmed that it opened a special channel for Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Guiliani to bring information about opposing political candidates.
appointment of a Barr loyalist to the US attorney position overseeing the Roger Stone case
Barr recently removed the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., who oversees trials including that of Roger Stone, and replaced her with Timothy Shea, which is someone with whom Barr had worked closely.
Shea overruled the prosecutors’ sentencing guidelines at the request of Bill Barr.
Barr’s summary of Mueller investigation
At the end of the Mueller investigation, Mueller’s full report was released to Barr. Barr then sent Congress a four-page letter that mischaracterized the findings. He also delivered a short announcement to the public that similarly distorted the conclusions of the report.
Mueller himself said that Barr’s letter didn’t “capture the context of the Trump probe.”