On June 8th, 2018, William Barr wrote a 20-page unsolicited letter to Trump to audition for the job of Attorney General as it became clear that Jeff Sessions would be leaving office. In that letter, he expressed opposition to Mueller’s authority to charge the president with obstruction of justice. In this letter, he concludes, “there can be no limit on the President’s authority to act (even)on matters which concern him or his own conduct.” In other words, he believes a president cannot be guilty of obstructing justice, because the Constitution gives him “all Federal Law Enforcement power, and hence prosecutorial discretion.” Barr knew this letter would secure him to be the next attorney general.
In June of 2019 in Atlantic Magazine, Former Attorney General Don Ayers posed the question, ” Is Barr using the office he holds to advance his extraordinary lifetime project to assign unchecked powers to the president?” If that’s true, it implies our attorney general does not support the Constitution’s call for co-equal branches of government. Americans must understand how this ideology poses a threat to democracy and national security. The opinion that any person elected president is qualified and mentally healthy enough to make unilateral decisions that affect the lives of millions of people is a questionable rationale. Why would an attorney general hold such a rigid, illogical belief?
Before Barr was appointed attorney general, Trump had begun acting in ways that smacked of racism and autocracy. The Muslim ban, the refusal to release his tax returns, redistributing money for the border wall which Congress had allocated for other projects, and unnecessarily shutting down the government are a few of the actions Trump has taken that align with Barr’s view of unbridled presidential powers. Once the Mueller Investigation began, Trump continued to act as if he could do or say anything he wanted without scrutiny. He disparaged the intelligence community, the FBI, fired FBI Director James Comey (because he would not take a loyalty oath), attacked members of the judiciary who question his policies and recently tried to secure dirt on his political opponent from a foreign government. No president in U.S. history has acted with this level of disrespect and arrogance towards our democratic norms.
Barr does not serve on behalf of the American people and our democracy. He blatantly defends any action or any position Trump takes, citing the power of the presidency as justification. The Mueller Report found extensive evidence of Trump and his agents colluding with Russians. Even though it could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt there was a conspiracy, there was wrongdoing that occurred. Barr’s statement that the report showed there was “no collusion and no obstruction” was a narrative aimed to falsely exonerate Trump from any prosecutable behavior.
Barr and Trump are alike in that they both blatantly lie or spin facts for personal or political gain in the plain view. Barr’s misleading narrative on the report gave Trump a pass on the ten counts of obstruction of justice against him in the Russian investigation. It bypassed any scrutiny into the meeting with Don Jr. and the Russians and countless other contacts with the Russians that Trump officials conducted. Barr’s reason for misleading the public about the findings of the Mueller Report can be explained by the pursuit of his goal of protecting Trump to align with his belief in limitless power for a president.
The Atlantic article posed the question, “why would Barr at this stage of life, after a successful legal career and distinguished government service, accept the job of lying for the president? Why would he befuddle and mislead to create a public misinterpretation?” They concluded that Barr’s vision of the president possessing unchecked powers must be the reason.
The Founding Fathers did not intend for the President to be unchecked. That is why they developed three co-equal branches of government. Each branch has unique powers granted to it, but they are accountable to each other under certain conditions that are of utmost importance to the functioning of our democracy. Through actions and attitudes, Barr has made it clear that no matter what Trump does, he will not allow the Department of Justice to stand in his way. With shameless and absolute bias, Barr will continue to allow Americans to suffer the consequences of Trump’s assault on America. This country was once a shining star on the global stage of countries and will be once again after Trump is gone.