Politics

Barr on Caring About His Reputation: ‘Everyone Dies’

Attorney General William Barr told CBS News in an exclusive interview that he does not care about his reputation, brushing off interviewer Jan Crawford's questions with the aphorism, "everyone dies."

Barr's comments came after Crawford asked him if President Donald Trump's tweets about "the rule of law" worried him about the future of American institutions. Barr replied that he was not on Twitter, and only checked Trump's tweets if a subordinate brought them to his attention. Barr added that he doesn't look "to tweets as directives or official communications with the department."

When asked if he knew that he would be accused of "protecting the president" when he accepted his role as attorney general, Barr replied that "in a way I did."

"We live in a crazy hyper-partisan period of time, and I knew it was only going to be for a matter of time if I was behaving responsibly and calling them as I see them and that I'd be attacked," he said. "Nowadays people don't care about the narrative or substance. They only care who it helps, who benefits, whether my side benefits or the other side benefits: everything is gauged by politics."

Barr said that he took the job in the hopes that he would be able to save the Department of Justice from behavior that is "antithetical" to the way it is run.

"Any attorney general in this period is going to loose a lot of political capital, and I realized that," he said. "And that's one of the reasons I was ultimately persuaded that maybe I should take it on, because at my stage in life it really doesn't make any difference."

"Because you're at the end of your career?" Crawford asked.

"Yeah, I'm at the end of my career," Barr said.

"But, there's the reputation you've worked your whole life on."

"But everyone dies," Barr replied. "And I don't believe in the Homeric idea that immortality comes by having odes sung about you over the centuries."

Barr went on to say that he does not regret taking the job, saying that he believes "it's important that we do not, in this period of intense partisan feeling, destroy our institutions."