Dear Commons Community,
There were two op-eds in the past two days exposing Bill Barr for the pathetic “yes man” he has become for President Trump.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder was unequivocal in his criticism of Barr, the current attorney general of the United States, in a searing op-ed published in The Washington Post.
Holder, who served as the country’s top law enforcement officer from 2009 to 2015 and as deputy attorney general from 1997 to 2001, accused Barr of shameless partisanship and of having behaved in a way that’s “fundamentally inconsistent with his duty to the Constitution.”
Barr is “incapable” of serving effectively as attorney general, Holder said.
“As a former U.S. attorney general, I am reluctant to publicly criticize my successors. I respect the office and understand just how tough the job can be,” Holder began his op-ed. “But recently, Attorney General William P. Barr has made a series of public statements and taken actions that are so plainly ideological, so nakedly partisan and so deeply inappropriate for America’s chief law enforcement official that they demand a response from someone who held the same office.”
n his op-ed, Holder reminded readers that the attorney general’s “ultimate loyalty” should lie not in the president personally, “nor even to the executive branch, but to the people — and the Constitution — of the United States.”
“Virtually since the moment he took office, though, Barr’s words and actions have been fundamentally inconsistent with his duty to the Constitution,” Holder wrote. “Which is why I now fear that his conduct — running political interference for an increasingly lawless president — will wreak lasting damage.”
“He is unfit to lead the Justice Department,” Holder concluded.
Caroline Fredrickson, author of The Democracy Fix, in an op-ed with the New York Times, opens with President Trump famously asking, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Demanding a stand-in for his old personal lawyer and fixer, Mr. Trump has actually gotten something better with Bill Barr: a lawyer who like Cohn stops seemingly at nothing in his service to Mr. Trump and conveniently sits atop the nation’s Justice Department.
Mr. Barr has acted more like a henchman than the leader of an agency charged with exercising independent judgment. The disturbing message that sends does not end at our borders — it extends to countries, like those in the former East Bloc, struggling to overcome an illiberal turn in the direction of autocracy.
When Mr. Trump sought to have President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine announce an investigation of his political opponent, he likely expected a positive response. After all, politicized prosecutions had been part of Ukraine’s corrupt political culture for years.
On Monday, when Michael Horowitz, inspector general for the Justice Department, released a report that affirmed the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was justified, Mr. Barr immediately turned on his own agency in defense of the president.
But for Americans, we must worry about a prosecutor who bends to the political needs of the president. Mr. Trump may no longer be able to call on Roy Cohn, but he now has a stronger ally in the United States’ top law-enforcement official, who thinks that if the president does it, it can’t be wrong.