This is a cautionary tale about Barbarism and BillBarrism. Barbarism is brutal, boorish, and lawless. BillBarrism is, well, pretty much the same. Barr is a man who slavishly, yet gleefully, served, coddled, and fostered Trump’s worst impulses towards authoritarianism.
As a reward for this loyal service, this week Trump lashed out at Barr, in the form of a letter to the Wall Street Journal (how manly!) in which he accused Barr of conspiring to deprive Trump of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes nearly a year ago. Trump’s attack is unfounded and irrational, as is Trump himself.
But don’t shed any tears for Barr. The fact that Trump’s attack on Barr in this particular instance is unfounded doesn’t mean that it is unfair. Barr is a despicable man who wielded the powers of the Department of Justice illegitimately to promote the dangerous personal and political interests of Trump.
Barr more than deserves any bad consequences that come his way, in return for the truly awful things he did do. (It’s sort of like when O.J. Simpson got busted in Las Vegas. Who cares if the charges were trumped up? Karma.)
After all, Bill Barr is a man who saw Trump trampling on the U.S. Constitution, laws, and norms, and said “I want in on that!” In fact, he auditioned for the job of Attorney General by drafting a bogus memo on how the Mueller investigation should be thwarted. Naturally, Trump loved it and hired Barr to carry it out, which he did by undercutting the actual findings of the Mueller report in a way that a federal judge later described as “distorted” and “misleading.”
Barr also gladly served Trump by unleashing anonymous storm troopers from unknown agencies on peaceful protestors. He reportedly ordered Lafayette Square cleared to make way for Trump’s outrageous hold-the-Bible photo op outside St. John’s Church.
But Barr suddenly resigned about a month before Trump’s term was set to end, which was highly unusual. What did he see that caused him to flee? Perhaps it relates to information that has come out on how Trump tried to strong-arm the Justice Department into providing a pretext for him to overturn the election by declaring it to be “corrupt.” Did Barr want to avoid facing tremendous pressure from Trump to participate in that villainous charade?
Keep in mind that Barr is a man who misused the power of DOJ to intervene to defend Trump in a defamation lawsuit related to Trump’s sexual misconduct – clearly a personal matter that was not appropriate for DOJ to jump into. He also interceded improperly in cases involving Roger Stone and Michael Flynn to help protect Trump’s personal and political interests, not those of the United States. Thus, Barr’s willingness to abuse his authority in the service of Donald Trump’s illegitimate schemes was quite high.
So whatever it was that caused Barr to resign, it must have been truly awful, because up until that point, Barr had not shown a shred of decency or integrity. Barr’s tolerance – even eagerness – to do Trump’s dirty work was unquestioned up until then.
Towards the end of Barr’s tenure, he had incurred Trump’s wrath by declaring, truthfully, that DOJ had not detected any evidence of election fraud on a scale that could have changed the outcome of the election. From that point forward, Barr’s days with Trump were numbered. If you won’t drink the Kool-Aid, you can’t stay at the party.
Trump’s petty and petulant attack on Barr illustrates once again the principle that Trump sycophants never seem to learn. (Even in his resignation letter, Barr could not resist ignominiously sucking up to Trump). No matter how loyally, dutifully, and obsequiously, you carry out Trump’s horrible demands, Trump will turn on you at some point. It happened to Barr’s predecessor, Jeff Sessions, and it will happen to many more after Barr.