Last week, Attorney General William Barr firmly asserted his control over rogue prosecutors at the Justice Department by repealing an overly harsh sentencing recommendation for President Donald Trump’s longtime ally, Roger Stone, and then decisively refuted Democrat accusations questioning his political independence by publicly criticizing the president for his interference in the Stone sentencing matter through his comments on Twitter.
Stone was the last person to be indicted by the Special Counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller. He was tried in a Washington, DC, federal court and convicted this past November on seven criminal counts including witness tampering, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators about his effort to find damaging information about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Stone has a long history as an unscrupulous political operative and dirty tricks specialist. During the 2016 campaign, he claimed to have been in contact with a Russian hacker known as Guccifer 2.0, as well as having advance knowledge of the publication of materials embarrassing to the Hillary Clinton campaign on Wikileaks. Stone was indicted and tried on charges stemming from testimony he gave to Mueller’s investigators and the House Intelligence Committee about his contacts with Russian hackers and Wikileaks.
Two of the four prosecutors from the US Attorney’s DC Office who presented the case against Stone, Aaron Zelinsky and Adam Jed, had been members of Mueller’s team, noted for its political bias against Trump and his supporters. The other two career prosecutors were Jonathan Kravis and Michael Marando. All four agreed that aggravating elements in Stone’s case justified issuing a non-binding sentencing recommendation of seven to nine years in prison to the US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, which was much harsher than called for by the basic Justice Department sentencing guidelines.
Their supervisor was Timothy Shea, the interim US Attorney at the DC office, who had been at that post for less than two weeks. Shea had previously served as Barr’s counselor, and had worked for Barr during his first stint as attorney general for President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s. Shea told senior Justice Department officials last week that he thought the sentencing recommendation from the four prosecutors was too harsh, and they agreed that it should be toned down before being submitted it to the judge who would made the final decision on Stone’s sentence.
Shea’s predecessor as US Attorney for the District of Columbia, Jessie Liu, had left her post ahead of schedule after she was nominated by Trump to serve as a Treasury Department undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes. However, Liu’s new Treasury Department appointment was canceled before her Senate confirmation hearing without a public explanation. According to a Washington Post report, Liu’s handling of cases which were referred to her by the Mueller probe while she was US Attorney had been criticized by influential Republican congressional aides.
PROSECUTORS DEFIED THEIR JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUPERIORS
According to Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel, the four prosecutors threatened to withdraw from the case unless their overly severe sentencing recommendation was approved, posing a political problem for Shea, whose appointment to his new post had not yet been confirmed by the Senate. Shea agreed to sign the sentencing recommendation, which was immediately submitted to the court and made public, catching the rest of the Justice Department leadership by surprise.
Attorney General Barr quickly ordered a more lenient replacement sentencing recommendation in line with department guidelines of about four years in prison, which was to be submitted the next day. But late that night, President Trump issued a tweet complaining that the original sentence recommendation for Stone of up to nine years was “a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”
The tweet put Barr in a difficult position. He had already made his decision to reduce Stone’s sentencing recommendation, but that would not be how it looked the next day when the revised sentencing recommendation was released hours after Trump’s tweet hit the headlines.
The revised Justice Department sentencing recommendation said the memo the four prosecutors submitted to Judge Berman “could be considered excessive and unwarranted under the circumstances.” These include the fact that Roger Stone had no prior criminal record, and that his efforts to obstruct justice by intimidating a witness against him were ineffective and not taken seriously by the witness. The revised sentencing memo was signed by Shea and John Crabb Jr., a career Justice Department official who is the supervisor of its criminal division, and who replaced the four prosecutors who eventually removed themselves from Stone’s case.
An unnamed senior Justice Department official tried to assure reporters that the original recommendation “is not what had been briefed to the [senior officials in the Justice] Department. The department finds the recommendation extreme and excessive and disproportionate to Stone’s offenses.”
But Trump’s political enemies, starting with the four “career” Justice Department prosecutors who handled Stone’s case, seized the opportunity to expose what they portrayed to the public as unwarranted interference by the president in the criminal justice process on behalf of one of his friends. One by one, all four publicly submitted their notices to the court personally withdrawing from the Stone case, implying that they could not sign onto the new, more lenient sentencing recommendation. One of the four prosecutors, Jonathan Kravis, announced that he was also resigning from his post as an assistant US attorney.
BIASED STONE JUROR COMES FORWARD
Meanwhile, Stone’s defense lawyers announced that they will ask for a new trial for their client based upon new evidence that the forewoman of the jury which convicted Stone in November had hidden her strong political bias against Trump and Stone from the judge and the defense attorneys in the case.
In response to reports of the more lenient sentencing recommendation against Stone, Tomeka Hart, a former president of the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners, said in a Facebook post that she “can’t keep quiet any longer. It pains me to see the DOJ now interfere with the hard work of the prosecutors. They acted with the utmost intelligence, integrity, and respect for our system of justice.”
Hart had previously run for Congress as a Democrat, but during the jury screening process, she denied that she had a political bias that would “make it difficult for you to be fair and impartial to both sides” in the trial. Apparently, Stone’s defense lawyers had been unaware of Hart’s political background and subjected her to only cursory questioning before accepting her as a juror. However, an online search of her name reveals that Hart made many posts on social media hostile to Trump, including specific comments on Stone and his arrest – long before she was selected as a juror in Stone’s trial.
SEIZING ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO CRITICIZE TRUMP
Coming less than a week after the Senate’s votes to acquit Trump on two articles of impeachment, the prosecutors’ actions were immediately cited by the anti-Trump media and Democrat leaders as proof that the president had once again exceeded his authority and was a threat to the rule of law.
In a tweet, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of engaging in “political interference in the sentencing of Roger Stone.” She wrote that, “It is outrageous that DOJ has deeply damaged the rule of law by withdrawing its recommendation. Stepping down of prosecutors should be commended and actions of DOJ should be investigated.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proclaimed the change in the sentencing recommendation to be “a crisis in the rule of law. . . This situation has all the indicia of improper political interference in a criminal prosecution.”
Congressman Adam Schiff, who supervised the first round of House impeachment hearing, declared Trump to be guilty of another “abuse of power,” which was the basis of the first of the two articles of impeachment against him.
SENTENCING GUIDELINES ARE NOT BINDING
However, writing in The Hill, conservative legal expert Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, noted that Barr “was well within the legitimate power of the attorney general to countermand the Stone prosecutors’ submission to the court,” by suggesting a “stiff but reasonable prison sentence on Stone, in place of the prosecutors’ suggestion of an excessive term.” McCarthy also explained that federal sentencing guidelines are subject to different interpretations based upon a variety of factors, and that judges often receive sentencing recommendations from several different sources before making up their own minds about the proper sentence based upon their own evaluation of the legal issues and facts in the case. In other words, the prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation are not binding on the judge.
The media ignored a statement by the Justice Department spokeswoman confirming that the decision to reduce the sentencing recommendation for Stone had been made before Trump issued his tweet complaining about the original recommendation submitted by the four prosecutors. The media also largely dismissed Trump’s statement to reporters later that day that, “I have not been involved in it (the new sentencing recommendation) at all.”
Trump also took that opportunity to criticize the four prosecutors for their original recommendation, calling it, “an insult to our country. That was a horrible aberration. These are, I guess, the same Mueller people that put everybody through hell, and I think it was a disgrace. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.”
DEMOCRATS DEMAND BARR’S REMOVAL
But Democrats and the mainstream media reacted to the downgrading of Stone’s sentencing recommendation by demanding Barr’s resignation. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, whose campaign for the Democrat presidential nomination has been losing ground, called for the House to start impeachment hearings to remove Barr from office.
Warren said in an interview with CNN host Anderson Cooper, “What Barr has done should mean that we are demanding a resignation. And if that guy won’t resign, then the House should start impeachment proceedings against him. And the United States Congress right now should put a rider on an upcoming bill to say, ‘Hey, no funding of any investigations that Barr meddles into. No funding Barr to meddle into investigations of Donald Trump, Donald Trump’s family or any of Donald Trump’s cronies.’ Because look what we create otherwise.”
Warren then added, “You know, right in front of our eyes, we are watching a descent into authoritarianism. And this just seems like a moment, to me, everybody should be speaking up. Presidential candidates should be speaking up. People around this country should be speaking up. We can’t have this.”
On the other hand, Republican Congressman Devin Nunes, who conducted his own investigation of the anti-Trump conspiracy as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, welcomed the resignation of the two former members of the Mueller investigation who demanded an overly harsh sentence for Stone, and predicted more revelations about “what the Mueller team was really doing” in their effort undermine Trump’s presidency.
During an interview with Fox Business Channel host Lou Dobbs, Nunes urged Trump to remove many other people who are part of the “permanent bureaucracy,” including a lot of Obama administration holdovers still working in the National Security Council, responsible for many of the leaks which have embarrassed his administration.
BARR SAYS TRUMP’S TWEETS ARE MAKING HIS JOB IMPOSSIBLE
After two days of enduring intense public criticism, the usually stoic Barr pushed back against those challenging the political independence of the Justice Department he is running.
In a remarkably blunt interview with ABC News, Barr declared, “I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody,” in carrying out his duties as the nation’s top law enforcement official. Without mentioning the president directly, Barr added, “I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me. . .
“I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” he said, adding that such statements “about the department, about people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending here, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors and the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.”
With regard to accusations that Barr allowed Trump to influence the Justice Department’s handling of cases, the attorney general declared that Trump has never tried to interfere with his handling of a criminal case. More specifically, Barr insisted that he and Trump had “not discussed the Roger Stone case at the White House.”
Barr also provided more details about the circumstances which led to the revision of the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone and the negative effect of Trump’s tweets about it.
BARR WAS CAUGHT BY SURPRISE
He noted that interim DC US attorney Tim Shea had spoken with him briefly before the original recommendation was filed, telling him that the four prosecutors on the case “very much wanted to recommend the seven to nine years to the judge,” but that Shea also said, “he thought that there was a way of satisfying everybody and providing more flexibility.
“I was under the impression that what was going to happen was very much as I had suggested, which is deferring to the judge, and then pointing out various factors and circumstances,” Barr said.
However, Barr said that when he first saw news reports about the original sentencing the recommendation, he thought, “Gee, the news is spinning this; this is not what we were going to do. I was very surprised. And once I confirmed that that’s actually what we filed, I said that night, to my staff, that we had to get ready because we had to do something in the morning to amend that and clarify what our position was.”
Then, when he learned about the president’s tweet later that night complaining that Stone was being treated unfairly, Barr realized that it had put him in an untenable position.
“Once the tweet occurred, the question is, ‘Well, now what do I do?’” Barr said during the interview. “And do you go forward with what you think is the right decision, or do you pull back because of the tweet? And that just sort of illustrates how disruptive these tweets can be,” Barr added.
DEFINING THE LIMITS OF PRESIDENTIAL AUTHORITY
Barr explained that Trump would have been within his rights to ask for an investigation in an area that didn’t affect his personal interests, but, “if he were to say, ‘Go investigate somebody,’ and you sense it’s because they’re a political opponent, then an attorney general shouldn’t carry that out.”
Barr was also embarrassed by a presidential tweet which specifically complimented him for making the Justice Department’s new sentencing recommendation for Stone more lenient. “Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought,” Trump wrote. “Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought and tainted.”
That tweet was cited by Trump’s enemies as further evidence to support their claim that Barr’s real motive in altering the sentencing recommendation for Stone was to satisfy Trump’s desire to protect his political allies.
Barr’s associates told reporters that the attorney general had become increasingly frustrated with the public impression that Trump created with his steady flow of tweets complaining about a double standard at the Justice Department. Trump believes that his friends and associates, such as Michael Flynn and Roger Stone, have being treated harshly for having committed relatively minor “process” crimes. At the same time, he’s furious that former officials such as FBI Director James Comey and his assistant, Andrew McCabe, who abused their power to spy on his 2016 campaign and promote the Russian election conspiracy hoax, have not been criminally prosecuted despite the evidence found against them by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
Trump’s public complaints against the leaders of his own Justice Department are not new. They began during the first months of his presidency, after Barr’s predecessor as attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from the FBI’s investigation of Trump-Russia collusion allegations, because Session had served as one of Trump’s campaign spokesmen. Trump made Session’s life miserable with a series of increasingly insulting tweets blaming the attorney general for not shutting down the Russian investigation.
TRUMP ALSO COMPLAINED ABOUT STONE’S JUDGE
Trump also tweeted his complaints last week about Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who will ultimately decide what Stone’s prison sentence will be, and who is not bound by any sentence recommendation submitted by the Justice Department. Trump complained that Judge Jackson was too harsh in her handling of the criminal trial of Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, over his questionable financial dealings with former Ukrainian political leaders. Trump also said that Judge Berman had been too lenient in handling criminal charges that had been lodged in 2016 against his rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s complaints against Berman also drew a rare public rebuke from her superior, Chief US District Judge for DC, Beryl Howell. He expressed his full confidence in the fairness of the sentencing decisions of all the judges in his court, based upon “the actual record in the case before them [and] their own judgement and experience. Public criticism or pressure is not a factor,” Judge Howell declared.
Trump has also been unhappy with the performance of Christopher Wray, the man he hired to replace Comey as FBI director in 2017. Trump repeatedly complained that Wray has not done enough to change the anti-Trump culture at the FBI, or institute new policies that would prevent future FBI abuses of power, such as its reliance on bogus evidence from the Steele dossier to justify the issuance of a surveillance warrant on the Trump campaign from the secret FISA court.
TRUMP NEEDS BARR MORE THAN BARR NEEDS THE JOB
However, Trump’s relationship with Barr started out on a very different footing. Barr came to the job with a reputation as a highly respected former attorney general and legal advocate for the constitutional powers of the presidency.
Barr quickly proved himself to be Trump’s most effective defender. His deft interpretation of the Mueller report discredited the Russian conspiracy hoax in the eyes of the American public by showing that after two years of investigation, no evidence was found of Trump-Russia collusion. Barr’s summary also said that he and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein found insufficient evidence in Mueller’s report to support charges that Trump had obstructed justice.
The attorney general also pleased the president by launching his own investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia collusion hoax, including the possibility of filing criminal charges against the ringleaders of the plot to discredit Trump by respected Connecticut-based federal prosecutor John Durham.
Unlike Sessions, Barr began to confront the “deep state” conspiracy of career officials at the Justice Department who dispense a very lenient form of justice to liberals like Hillary Clinton who willfully break the law, while applying a harsher standard to Trump supporters such as Michael Flynn and Roger Stone.
Barr has been perfectly willing to clash with liberal career employees within the Justice Department who have conspired against Trump and his policies from the inside. He is not afraid to be disliked or resented for insisting that members of the department carry out the president’s policies.
The attorney general is not the only administration official loyal to Trump who also believes that some of the president’s tweets can be counterproductive to his own cause and political popularity. Barr has overcome a lot of opposition and made much progress in his efforts to “drain the swamp” at the Justice Department, and reacted so strongly to Trump’s latest tweets because he believes they undermine progress he has already made. The tweets have raised new questions about the department’s political independence, and damaged morale among its career professionals.
TRUMP REFRAINS FROM STRIKING BACK AT BARR
Trump was uncharacteristically silent in the immediate wake of Barr’s stinging complaint about having his authority and reputation undermined by the president’s tweets. After carefully weighing his options, Trump had White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issue a carefully worded, low-key statement re-affirming his support for his attorney general’s right to speak his mind while defending the tweets that Barr was complaining about.
“The President wasn’t bothered by the comments at all and [Barr] has the right, just like any American citizen, to publicly offer his opinions,” Grisham said. “President Trump uses social media very effectively to fight for the American people against injustices in our country, including the fake news. The President has full faith and confidence in Attorney General Barr to do his job and uphold the law.”
Reading between the lines, Trump was saying that he will continue standing behind Barr just as long as the attorney general continues to “drain the swamp” at the DOJ and pursue those who broke the law by participating in the “resistance” conspiracy to discredit and terminate his presidency.
BARR’S CRITICS CALL HIS INTERVIEW A “STAGED” ACT
Barr’s vigorous public assertion of his own independence in that ABC interview, in addition to his blunt criticism of the president’s tweets, momentarily silenced those who had accused Barr of acting as Trump’s spineless lackey. But Trump’s chief legal critics, including John Dean, a former White House counsel who was the chief witness against President Richard Nixon during the Senate Watergate investigation, and Preet Bharara, the former US attorney for the Southern District of New York, soon concocted a new conspiracy theory to explain Barr’s unexpected public criticism of the president. They claim that the Barr interview had been “staged” with the cooperation of the White House, and it was just a “shrewd, deliberate, smart, calculating” and fully dishonest act, intended to restore Barr’s tarnished credibility.
Congressman Adam Schiff, Trump’s chief impeachment accuser, never admitted that the Russia-Trump conspiracy theory was a hoax. He claims that Barr intervened on behalf of Roger Stone “to cover up for the President. He’s only upset that Trump’s tweets made the political nature of his intervention obvious,” Schiff wrote. “Barr fools no one. He’s a witting accomplice to Trump’s attack on the rule of law.”
But Trump’s Republican supporters accepted Barr’s condemnation of Trump’s tweets criticizing Justice Department policies at face value and praised him for it.
“The attorney general says it’s getting in the way of doing his job,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News. “Maybe the president should listen to the attorney general.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Fox News commentator Sean Hannity,
“Barr doesn’t care where it takes him. He just looks for justice.”
The Washington Post reports that people close to Barr insist that his frustration with Trump is genuine, and that he went public with his complaint against the president’s tweets only after having privately expressed his concerns to the president on more than one occasion, to no effect.
The same Washington Post story reported that reaction among career employees to Barr’s interview outburst against Trump’s tweets was mixed. Some were relieved, while others were still suspicious of his motives in launching reviews of department prosecutions of the president’s allies, as well as his pursuit of the hidden sources behind some of the unproven accusations against Trump.
LETTER DEMANDS BARR’S RESIGNATION
On Sunday, more than 1,100 former Justice Department employees signed a public letter urging Barr to resign over his handling of the Roger Stone sentencing recommendation. They exhorted current Justice Department employees to follow the “heroic” example of the four prosecutors who withdrew in protest from the Stone case, and to report any further unethical conduct by Barr to the department’s Inspector General, the Office of Professional Responsibility, and to Congress.
“Mr. Barr’s actions in doing the President’s personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words,” the letter said. “Those actions, and the damage they have done to the Department of Justice’s reputation for integrity and the rule of law, require Mr. Barr to resign.”
The signatures on the letter were gathered by Protect Democracy, a liberal group that has been highly critical of Barr’s handling of the Mueller investigation.
The letter adds that “because we have little expectation [Barr] will [resign], it falls to the Department’s career officials to take appropriate action to uphold their oaths of office and defend nonpartisan, apolitical justice.”
TRUMP DESCRIBED AS BARR’S “DIFFICULT CLIENT”
Conservative columnist Hugh Hewitt, who had three decades of experience representing the clients of a large private law firm and before that, as an assistant to two federal attorney generals, believes that Barr has been acting very much like a lawyer representing a very “difficult client” in his service to President Trump. Like every great lawyer, Hewitt says, Barr has been “directing and guiding his client to be patient about, and have confidence in, the rule of law.”
Hewitt added that, “it’s the hardest task when a client is right about being wronged.”
He interpreted Barr’s statement in his ABC interview that “I’m happy to say that in fact the president has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case,” as a declaration to both his client, the president, and to the media elites that he won’t be intimidated by either side.
BARR DEALING WITH FLYNN AND MCCABE CASES
Michael Flynn was entrapped into committing perjury by FBI Director James Comey, who sent two FBI agents to Flynn’s White House office in January 24, 2017, to conduct an “ambush” interview concerning a December 29 phone conversation between Flynn and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
Violating normal FBI protocol, neither Flynn nor the White House counsel were informed by the FBI that Flynn was the target of an investigation. During the interview, Flynn did not mention that newly-imposed US sanctions on Russia had been discussed, but the two FBI agents who interviewed him did not believe that Flynn was trying to deceive them. Nevertheless, Mueller’s prosecutors pressured him into pleading guilty to making a false statement by threatening to arrest Flynn’s adult son on unrelated charges. Flynn submitted a guilty plea to a federal court on December 1, 2017, with his sentencing deferred while he cooperated by giving testimony to Mueller’s investigators on other matters.
In December 2018, Mueller’s prosecutors submitted a lenient recommendation to the judge in the case for Flynn to receive little or no jail time, but Flynn’s defense lawyers requested further leniency because he had been tricked into lying during the January interview with the FBI. The sentencing judge became suspicious of the FBI’s conduct in the case and delayed the sentencing several times while prosecutors and Flynn’s lawyers tried to reach agreement on the sentencing recommendation. This past December, when prosecutors recommended that Flynn receive a harsher six-month jail sentence, Flynn’s new lawyers filed a motion to retract his guilty plea because of the government’s bad faith. Judge Sullivan then postponed Flynn’s sentencing date once more to February 27.
Trump and his supporters have always claimed that Flynn was set up by the FBI and a holdover Obama Justice Department official named Sally Yates, who leaked reports about his conversation with the Russian ambassadors to the Washington Post and told the Trump White House that Flynn had not been honest with them regarding the phone call with the Russian ambassador. Flynn was forced to step down as Trump’s national security advisor, as the FBI continued to pressure him into giving them incriminating evidence for use against Trump in their Russian collusion investigation.
Last week, Barr appointed Jeff Jensen, the US attorney in St. Louis, to review the case against Flynn to ascertain whether he was treated fairly by the FBI, just days before his new sentencing date.
Barr has also finally resolved the Andrew McCabe case. In the report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz that led to McCabe’s firing just days before his scheduled retirement, he recommended McCabe’s criminal prosecution for lying to investigators over his role in approving the unauthorized leak of a story about the Justice Department to the Wall Street Journal in October 2016. The case had been languishing before a grand jury in DC for more than a year, until Barr decided last week that it would be too difficult to obtain McCabe’s conviction. He then ordered the case to be dropped, even though he knew the decision would infuriate President Trump.
McCabe, who is now a commentator for CNN, said on air last week after the case was dropped that the investigation was a “horrific black cloud that’s been hanging over me and my family for almost the last two years.” Before the investigation against McCabe was dropped, a federal judge supervising the case warned prosecutors that the public attention attracted by Trump’s tweets which have criticize McCabe would complicate any subsequent attempt to try him.
Trump did complain privately to associates that McCabe, whom he described as a “bad guy,” would escape prosecution, but the president also realized that he still needs Barr to complete his other investigations. Therefore, instead of firing the attorney general, he issued another tweet summarizing the IG’s recommendation that McCabe be prosecuted, and then let the issue go.
Trump had also been infuriated by a decision last August by Justice Department prosecutors not to press charges against former FBI Director Jim Comey despite the conclusion by IG Horowitz that he had acted illegally by keeping some of the memos he had taken reporting on his private conversations with President Trump and arranging for them to leaked by a friend to the New York Times after Trump fired him.
The decision to close the McCabe case was further proof of Barr’s political independence, and that his primary objective as attorney general has always been to restore the reputation of the Justice Department for fairness and impartiality, regardless of the criticism he would receive either from Trump or his opponents.
BARR IS TRUMP’S MOST EFFECTIVE DEFENDER
Barr has been frustrating Trump’s enemies since he issued his own definitive public summary of the Mueller report last April. In pointing out that the investigation found no evidence to support the Russia-Trump conspiracy theory, and had failed to prove the president guilty of obstruction of justice, the attorney general has been a primary target of Trump’s opponents. They rightfully see Barr as a threat to all those in the government and media who participated in the illegal conspiracy to discredit the president and force his removal from office.
Barr first served as attorney general almost 30 years ago under President George H.W. Bush. In 2017, Barr, as a private citizen, publicly criticized the legal basis for the Mueller investigation, and later argued in a 20-page legal memo that President Trump had acted within his Constitutional powers in firing FBI Director James Comey.
On December 7, 2018, Trump nominated Barr to succeed Jeff Sessions as attorney general. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr made it clear that he already had a successful legal career and was only taking the job out of his deep-seated convictions. “I feel like I’m in a position in life where I can do the right thing and not really care about the consequences,” Barr declared. “I am not going to be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong.”
Since then, Barr has made an earnest effort to restore the integrity of the FBI and the Justice Department. He has been investigating the officials within those agencies who participated in the conspiracy against Trump and has sought to carry out his promise to the Senate to make sure the Justice Department would provide an “even-handed application of the law,” rather than judgments based on politics or favoritism, which became all too common during the Obama years and the two year-long Mueller investigation.
He has demonstrated many times since then that he is cool under pressure, not easily intimidated by media or political criticism, and, most recently, that he is not afraid to speak truth to power, and stand up against unreasonable demands and irresponsible statements by the same president whose interests he has so ably defended.