The Honorable Bill Barr

Democrats slimed him as Trump’s stooge, but the A.G. has always stood up for the Constitution

Attorney General William Barr / Getty Images
December 14, 2020

Since Attorney General William Barr was sworn in nearly two years ago, the powers that be in the Democratic Party have told a consistent story. Barr, they said, was nothing more than a toady who sold his soul to President Donald Trump in order to become the nation’s top cop. On Monday evening, Trump announced Barr’s resignation from the department amid reports that the president was on the verge of firing him. It was just the latest development that gave lie to the dishonest portrayals and petty personal attacks. 

The two-time attorney general of the United States has repeatedly demonstrated where his allegiances lie: with the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law.

Trump’s festivus list was long. First came news that contrary to his wishes, the Justice Department would not release the findings of prosecutor John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe before the November election. Then there was Barr’s statement earlier this month that, contrary to the president’s claims, he had seen no evidence of widespread election fraud. Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported that Barr made sure the federal government’s investigation of President-elect Joe Biden’s ne’er-do-well son Hunter didn’t see the light of day in the run-up to November 3rd. 

The coup de grâce is the widespread reporting indicating that Trump finally soured on his attorney general when Barr refused to involve himself in the president’s legal crusade. Those who know Barr anticipated that the two would come to blowsand they had little doubt that Barr would land on the side of the law. 

That should have surprised Democrats who, like the president they despise, eschewed substantive debate in favor of vicious personal attacks. The esteemed Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) likened Barr to Trump flunky Michael Cohen, "an underworld fixer for Donald Trump." Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler accused Barr of waging war against the upright and principled career officials at the Department of Justice "in an apparent attempt to secure favors for the president." 

Democrats were not to be outdone by their friends in the mainstream media. The New York Times’s Maureen Dowd dubbed Barr "minister of information"; at the Washington Post, the liberal columnist Greg Sargent argued that Barr "is party to Trump’s scheme to maintain power via illicit means if necessary." 

A passing familiarity with his lengthy legal career, including a prior stint as George H.W. Bush’s attorney general, would have revealed to his critics that Barr—who waved off advances from Team Trump several times before agreeing to take the AG job—was less committed to defending the president’s personal interests than to advancing a long-held view of executive power.

The dishonest criticisms of Barr reflect a pattern, mirroring those levied against Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearings, when Democrats from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) to secretary of state runner-up Chris Coons (D., Delaware) warned that she would do Trump’s bidding on the Supreme Court by resolving any election-related dispute in his favor. Barrett’s rebuke of the Trump team’s efforts to see the Electoral College results overturned gives the lie to the charges, so readily leveled against both her and colleagues Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

So it is with Barr—despite Democrats’ vague claims of nefarious conspiracy, at the end of the day he was always going to follow the law. We salute him for his honorable service and for making fools of the Democrats one last time as he gracefully exits the arena.