Much talk has focused lately on Donald Trump’s connection to mass shootings such as the one that killed 22 innocent people and wounded dozens more at a Walmart in El Paso this past weekend. While Trump has not pulled any trigger, his divisive, fear-mongering, and racist rhetoric has encouraged white supremacists to believe they need to defend the country against what Trump has repeatedly called an immigrant “invasion.”
Fortunately, this aspect of the Trump administration’s role in these deadly acts is finally receiving the attention it deserves. However, it is not the only way in which this administration is culpable. Attorney General William Barr’s efforts to protect Trump at all costs, including from his own government, has helped create a disturbing situation in which the government is not fully equipped to identify and prevent terrorist attacks.
In early May, Sen. Ron Johnson and Sen. Gary Peters wrote to Barr and FBI Director Chris Wray, requesting certain information about how the DOJ and FBI (a part of the DOJ) handle domestic terrorism. Coming from the Republican Chairman and the Democratic Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the communication simply represented a bipartisan attempt to fulfill their duty under Senate rules to investigate “the efficiency, economy, and effectiveness” of government agencies, in large part to keep America safe. Yet, their letter was completely ignored.
This week, Johnson and Peters had to write to Barr and Wray again — this time under more somber and urgent circumstances. “Since the date of our request, there have been numerous mass attacks, including Virginia Beach, VA; Gilroy, CA; El, Paso, TX; and Dayton, OH,” they wrote. “These continued mass attacks make it clear that the federal government has more work to do in preventing domestic terrorism.” The senators added that the committee is concerned that the DOJ and FBI “failed to accurately track data on domestic terrorism and that federal law enforcement has been slow to respond to changing domestic threats.”
When the history books are written about this time period—assuming there are people around to read them and that they are not censored by a totalitarian world government — Barr will be portrayed as a more muted, behind-the-scenes type of villain. Unlike Trump, you don’t see Barr leading racist chants at rallies, spewing hate in all-caps on Twitter, or even climbing up steps with toilet paper hanging from his shoe. Barr is the weak, silent type who loves sticking his middle finger up to Congressional oversight for sport, even on topics that have nothing to do with Russian interference. Rather than ensure that the DOJ cooperates with Congress to enforce the law, protect the country, and keep Americans safe, Barr treats Congress as if it’s the legislative arm of a foreign enemy. With Trump as President and Barr as AG, it’s a miracle more innocent people have not been killed.