Trump’s choice for AG William Barr just may be the right person for the job
My first reaction to the news that William Barr, who already served as attorney general under President Bush 41 was probably incorrect. I groaned, as I suspect many conservatives did, at the thought of a member of the GOP establishment taking on this vital job.
Paul Mirengoff of Powerline has worked with him, and describes him as “aggressive.”
Barr was the general counsel of GTE when I represented that company (as one of dozens of lawyers from at least four law firms to do so) in contentious litigation following the enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Barr was one tough lawyer. I was happy that GTE’s conduct of the litigation was considerably more aggressive than that of other similarly situated carriers who were also required to share their facilities and equipment with new competitors under the Act.
An aggressive AG would be a welcome contrast to Jeff Sessions, particularly since there is so much internal resistance to Trump’s agenda within the DoJ. When absurd redactions are made from documents merely to protect the DoJ from embarrassment, an aggressive reaction from the top is required to overcome resistance.
Because Barr already has experience at the DoJ (unlike Sessions) as AG, he is familiar with the procedures, and almost certainly still has people within the bureaucracy that can serve as allies, channeling information to him that would not reach him otherwise, blocked by Deep State operatives.
Official Portrait as Attorney General
Barr’s first-hand experience also extends to the CIA, another major source of Deep State resistance to Trump, where he worked between 1973-77. Bypassing official channels and their roadblocks, as well as familiarity with procedures and regulations could serve him very well in this sphere.
Now, it is always possible that these assets could be liabilities, if Barr is covertly working against Trump. But his history of policy positions suggests he is ideologically sympatico with Trump.
First of all, he has refused to appoint a special counsel on “Iraqgate” and the BCCI scandal. Even better, the one special counsel that he did appoint, retired Democrat-appointed federal judge Nicholas Bua, who was investigating the INSLAW scandal, delivered a report that exonerated the DOJ. He did his job of investigating the charge, and didn’t feel the need to find some crime – any crime –to put a notch on his gun barrel. Robert Mueller, so far as can be determined, has still not found any evidence of a crime related to Russia, but is delivering guilty pleas to process crimes.
On other issues, Barr is also very much in tune with Trump:
In a 2017 Fox News interview, Barr said that Mueller could have been "more balanced" in his choice of prosecutors, a majority of which have either ties to Democrats or have made donations to them.
Barr also said James Comey's firing was "understandable" and that he "crossed a basic line" and "transgressed" in his role as FBI director.
Barr long has been very supportive of Trump’s view of extensive executive power, and is able to defend it in a scholarly fashion.
AT author Mark Wauck pointed out to me in an email the ultimate reason to think that Barr is on Trump’s side in reforming the DoJ and supporting his initiatives:
“The guy is obviously no fool. He knows he's letting himself in for nothing but grief by going for this job, so he probably has a strong sense of right and wrong and duty.”
That's exactly the kind of person needed to reform the DoJ.
So, we will be treated to the spectacle of Democrats in Barr’s confirmation hearings arguing that a guy who was unanimously confirmed for AG during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, recently beatified in the media, now is a moral leper unfit for office. Will they bring Prof Blasey-Ford in to recover some memories of him?