The Decline and Fall of William Barr
There can no longer be any hope that US Attorney General William Barr will approach his job as the country's top law-enforcement official, rather than as US President Donald Trump's personal defense lawyer. Barr has now made clear that he will do whatever it takes to legitimize Trump's hare-brained "deep state" theory.
ATLANTA – US law-enforcement officials are no strangers to politically motivated investigations. From Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer’s infamous “Red Raids” in 1919-20 to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s pursuit of the Berrigan brothers and other nonviolent activists in the 1960s, political prosecutions are as American as apple pie.
The Department of Justice under President Donald Trump appears to be continuing the tradition. No one is surprised that Trump himself is deploying every Orwellian device at his disposal to thwart the current impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives. But it has been tragic to witness Attorney General William Barr following suit by launching investigations into career national-security officials just for doing their jobs.
Owing to his paranoid obsession with a mythical “deep state,” Trump has long singled out FBI agents and CIA officers in his public attacks. It is these professionals, after all, who uncovered Russia’s operation to assist his presidential campaign in 2016, as outlined in the Mueller Report. But now, Barr, too, has decided to advance the “deep state” fiction on Trump’s behalf. Demonstrating an unprecedented level of involvement by an attorney general, Barr has traveled to both Rome and London, reportedly to question Italian and British officials in person about the origins of the Russia investigation.
We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.
To continue reading, subscribe now.
Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.
Already have an account or want to create one to read two commentaries for free? Log in