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Bill Barr was the worst Attorney General in American history


The baseline to evaluate Barr should be “what we expect of the country’s Attorney General,” not what “Donald Trump expects of his Attorney General”:

For example, in a low point of his tenure as attorney general — which is one long historical trough for the department — Barr gave a dishonestly exculpatory description of the Muller report that he described as a summary of its findings in 2019, causing Mueller himself to (privately) object. But filling the vacuum left when Mueller made the willfully naïve decision to refuse to draw firm conclusions, Barr successfully created a false narrative that there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian interventions into the 2016 elections. (The August report issued by the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee demonstrating a substantial web of ties between the Trump campaign and Russian attempts to influence the campaign in his favor got far less attention.)

That was, of course, far from the only case of Barr acting like Trump’s personal attorney rather than the attorney general of the United States. Barr also dropped the case against Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had pled guilty to federal crimes. He fired the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, which everyone (including Berman) assumes was in retaliation for the division’s investigations into Trump and his associates; he also tried to lie by claiming that Berman had resigned.

Barr also personally ordered the violent dispersal of lawful protestors from Lafayette Park in Washington so that Trump could do a photo-op in the midst of the George Floyd protests. And, while covering up the evidence of the Trump campaign’s cooperation with Russia, he opened multiple politically motivated investigations into people who investigated that case. Finally — in a particularly remarkable case of his working on Trump’s behalf — he attempted to shield Trump from the defamation lawsuit filed by E. Jean Carroll by arguing that Trump was acting in his capacity as president when he denied knowing Carroll before he assumed office and thus could not have sexually assaulted her as she alleges.

Barr’s efforts to boost Trump continued through the 2020 campaign. Most notably, he ordered the top federal prosecutor in Pittsburgh to investigate the conspiracy theories about Joe and Hunter Biden brought to the FBI by Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor turned Trump personal attorney. While in marked contrast to the disastrous decision by then-FBI Director James Comey (who was fired by Trump in 2017) to ignore departmental norms and inform Congress about the briefly reopened investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server in 2016, Barr did not make these investigations public during the campaign. But giving a personal Trump employee special access to the FBI is a highly corrupt act, and “handled FBI investigations of a presidential candidate better than James Comey” is the lowest bar imaginable.

Speaking of Republican white guys who were able to seamlessly integrate back into the legal establishment, the fact that James Comey was unable to meet de minimis standards even Trump’s personal Phalangist was able to clear should say it all.

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