In what she calls a new award category, Kimberley Strassel at the WSJ would bestow her prize on “a person’s willingness to speak truth to power—whether to the press, the boss, or to partisan operators.”
When President Trump nominated William Barr as AG in December 2018, the press, who demeaned all Trump nominees, was stymied by Bill Barr’s impressive career and bipartisan legal support.
A Justice Department and Central Intelligence Agency veteran, (Barr) served as attorney general from 1990-91 with distinction. Media outlets had to acknowledge his “pedigree,” and CNN even quoted an unnamed Justice Department lawyer who had been “nervous” about a Trump pick but pronounced Mr. Barr “a great choice” because “he’s tough he’s principled and he’s independent.”
Mr. Barr remains all those things. He has been vilified precisely because he has maintained an impartial view of the Justice Department and has kept his promises. The great hope—and demand—of the Russia-collusion crowd was that Mr. Barr—as a longtime man of the institution—would circle the department’s wagons. His refusal to do so has made him a threat.
The Beltway’s Nasty, Delegitimization Campaign
And so commenced one of the more obvious, not to mention nasty, delegitimization campaigns in modern Beltway history. Journalists and Democrats accused him of manipulating the rollout of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in March. They pounced on his decision in May to name U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate the origins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into the 2016 Trump campaign, accusing both of engaging in “conspiracy theories.”
Attacks on Mr. Barr are patently designed to cast Mr. Barr as a Trump toady, continues Ms. Strassel.
Yet Mr. Barr wasn’t originally a Trump partisan. He’s 69, isn’t seeking higher office, and left a comfortable private-sector position to take a job he needs like a hole in the head. He testified that he came back because he was in a “position in life” to help “protect the independence and reputation of the department.” He meant its long-term reputation, which won’t recover absent a thorough accounting of its 2016 actions.
Looking to Insulate Justice and the FBI from Accountability
Beware the claim that it is Mr. Barr’s job to “insulate” the Justice Department and the FBI from “political pressure.” That’s code. What the critics want is for Mr. Barr to insulate those bodies from accountability—and in the process protect all those who allowed their fanatical opposition to a certain candidate to help drag federal law enforcement into dangerous new territory.
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