Among the things Bill Barr did in his second tour as Attorney General were to:
- Make speeches arguing that progressive politics were a threat to the nation
- Spend months prioritizing the criminalization of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, even as his own department showed that right wing terrorism was a far more serious problem and the Boogaloos were deliberately attempting to launch false flag operations pinned on Antifa
- Repeatedly claim mail-in ballots were prone to fraud in defiance of the evidence, a key part of Trump’s later attempts to undermine the outcome of the election
- Treat overt threats against a judge from the Proud Boys as a technicality unworthy of a sentencing enhancement
- Continue a policy of disciplining, firing, or criminalizing Department personnel who investigated Trump and his associates
- Even at a time Barr admitted he was unfamiliar with the evidence — and persistently throughout his tenure — undermine the premise and conduct of the Russian investigation, appointing at least three US Attorneys to undermine the investigation
- Dedicate department personnel to chase conspiracy theories spun by Sidney Powell in a failed attempt to undermine a legitimate prosecution
- Not only provide Rudy Giuliani direct access to the Department, but (by all appearances) undermine criminal charges against him for influence peddling involving now-sanctioned Russian agents
In short, over an extended period, Bill Barr laid the groundwork for the two-month effort to undermine the election that culminated in a coup attempt. The outcome of Barr’s actions — the disparate treatment by the department of Trump supporters, the empowerment of right wing terrorists, the continued influence of Powell and Rudy — was foreseeable. Nevertheless, Barr persisted with those policies that laid the groundwork for the January 6 insurrection.
In spite of that record, Barr continues to find journalists willing to spin a fairytale completely inconsistent with this record, one of Barr standing up to Trump as he pursued this path.
Consider this account of Bill Barr’s decision to quit from Jonathan Swan.
It provides a dramatic account of how Barr denounced Trump’s conspiracy theories — all rooted in claims about the delayed counting of mail-in ballots that Barr had stoked for months.
The president’s theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were “bullshit.”
White House counsel Pat Cipollone and a few other aides in the room were shocked Barr had come out and said it — although they knew it was true.
It describes Barr’s frustration with Trump’s demands about the Durham investigation without mentioning that Barr repeatedly fed those expectations.
He was sick of Trump making public statements and having others do so to whip up pressure against U.S. Attorney John Durham to bring more prosecutions or to put out a report on the Russia investigation before the election.
It also allows Barr to call Rudy and Sidney “clownish,” without mentioning that those very same clowns had gotten Barr to squander the credibility of DOJ on similarly outlandish conspiracy theories, including but not limited to the Mike Flynn prosecution.
For good measure, the attorney general threw in a warning that the new legal team Trump was betting his future on was “clownish.”
The president had become too manic for even his most loyal allies, listening increasingly to the conspiracy theorists who echoed his own views and offered an illusion, an alternate reality.
But Barr’s respite ended after Election Day, as Trump teamed up with an array of conspiracy theorists to amplify preposterous theories of election interference, arguing that Biden and the Chinese Communist Party, among others, had stolen the election from him.
It presents the conflict over using the military to quell summer protests, without mentioning Barr’s own role in militarizing the response (to say nothing of treating BLM more harshly than right wing terrorists).
By the late summer of 2020, Trump and Barr were regularly skirmishing over how to handle the rising Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd while in police custody. As the national movement unfurled, some protests had given way to violence and looting. Trump wanted the U.S. government to crack down hard on the unrest.
The president wanted to invoke the Insurrection Act and send the military into U.S. cities. He wanted troops in the street.
Besides, Barr asked, what was the endgame for adding the military to the mix? Federal forces could end up stranded in a city like Portland indefinitely.
Trump grew more and more frustrated, but Barr pushed back harder, standing his ground in front of everyone in the room. He was ready, willing and able to be strong, he said. But, he added, we also have to be thoughtful.
In short, this dramatic profile presents a fictional character, wise old Attorney General Bill Barr, who stood up against the President’s worst instincts, wisely resisting the urge to politicize investigations, trump up claims of voter fraud, chase the theories of Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, and back a violent crackdown against Trump’s opponents.
Except that profile is entirely fictional. That Bill Barr is a myth carefully crafted with the help of obliging reporters.
The reality is that over two years of not just tolerating these efforts, but usually taking affirmative steps to foster them, Billy Barr helped to create this monster, even though he was one of the people with the obligation to stop it.
With his corruption as Attorney General Bill Barr fostered this monster. He should get no credit for skipping out before the predictable outcomes of his own actions blew up on January 6.