• Nathan Max

Architect of Lawlessness

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

Photo credit: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters. Attorney General William Barr testified before the House Judiciary Committee.

United States Attorney General William P. Barr finally stopped ducking Congress on Tuesday.

During five hours of testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Barr continued to distinguish himself in all the wrong ways by delivering a series of disturbing responses that displayed his enduring obsequiousness to Donald Trump. Barr’s many awkward answers offered a glimpse into his and the president’s warped world view and provided a potential road map for more unconstitutional actions to come.

When Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline asked the Attorney General if it was ever appropriate for a president to solicit or accept foreign assistance in an election, Barr initially answered: “depends what kind of assistance,” before he changed his answer after the question was rephrased.

Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond asked Barr: “Can a sitting U.S. President move an election date?” The Attorney General responded: “I haven’t looked into that question under the Constitution.” Barr also parroted the president’s bogus belief that mail-in voting could lead to widespread election fraud.

Barr described protesters, who frequently consist of mothers and military veterans, as “violent rioters and anarchists.” When directly asked about federal agents in military attire beating and pepper-spraying 53-year-old retired Navy commissioned officer Christopher David in Portland, Ore., Barr answered as if he hadn’t seen the widely distributed footage.

The Attorney General claimed to be ignorant of Trump’s many off-the-wall and incriminating tweets, and he categorically denied demonstrators’ claims that there is widespread systemic racism in the nation’s police and sheriff’s departments.

Barr honorably served as this nation’s 77th Attorney General under George H.W. Bush from 1991-93, and he entered the Trump administration with a sterling reputation. Since the moment he started his second stint in the job, Barr has disgraced himself and destroyed his legacy.

Republicans in Congress have spent the last four years enabling this president. Barr has spent the last two empowering him, serving as an architect of lawlessness.

The now 85th Attorney General has done for the president everything Jeff Sessions refused, acting as Trump’s personal henchman instead of an independent steward of justice. Barr has created one set of rules for the president and his friends and another for the rest of us.

It began when Barr released a misleading summary of Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and his actions have only gotten worse from there.

When it comes to Gen. Michael Flynn lying to the FBI, a crime to which the former National Security Advisor pleaded guilty to twice, Barr’s Department of Justice inexplicably wants to dismiss the case. But when it comes to former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, the government actively tried to stifle an upcoming book by throwing him back in prison.

When it comes to Trump pal Roger Stone, convicted of seven felonies for lying to cover for the president’s involvement in Russian election meddling, Barr has no problem with the president commuting the prison sentence. Stone never had to serve a day. But when it comes to imprisoned Reality Winner, jailed for leaking an intelligence report about Russian interference in the same election to a news outlet, the government can’t grant a compassionate release, even after she contracted COVID-19.

Most recently, Barr began using the Department of Justice to trample on the civil liberties of protesters exercising their right to free assembly. First, he activated federal agents from the Bureau of Prisons to help forcibly remove demonstrators from Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., so the president could pose for an absurd photograph with a Bible.

Now, Barr has sent U.S. Marshals and Customs and Border Patrol agents to Portland, and threatened to do so in other cities, under the flimsy guise of protecting federal buildings. Yet, these opaque paramilitary agents seem to have no problem taking to the streets to beat, gas and unlawfully detain the demonstrators in what appears to either be some kind of campaign stunt or a trial run for martial law.

For months, Barr refused to come before Congress to testify and defend the rickety justifications for his and the president’s actions. Now that he has finally done so, it has confirmed what most of us already knew. This man, as well as the president, is acting above the law.

Someone needs to put a stop to it.