Supporters of President Donald Trump no doubt greeted with a certain amount of disappointment the news that Attorney General Bill Barr has resigned. Not that they will be sad to see him go, but because conservatives feel, once again, let down by the second-highest law enforcement officer in the land. Like his predecessor, Jeff Sessions, Barr over-promised and under-delivered. Two recent and particularly significant revelations, though, beg the question: Was Bill Barr’s relationship with the president built on lies?
Perhaps that sense of disappointment felt by Trump’s supporters also has another facet. Prior to the news that Barr tendered his resignation in a Dec. 14 letter to the president, many conservatives were likely still holding out some hope that this attorney general, despite his relatively low profile during the election and the ensuing battle over potential fraud, was, in fact, still working to right the ship and serve justice where it was due.
Now that he has announced his intention to quit, however, it becomes clear that Barr feels his work as attorney general is already done – and that in itself means that there will be no further significant action from the Department of Justice on the subject of alleged voter fraud.
The Election Fraud Denial
As for the two previously mentioned revelations, the first came from the attorney general himself when, during a recent media interview, he claimed that, to date, DOJ had not discovered enough evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election to potentially reverse the reported result. To conservatives, at least, this appeared to be a monumental cop-out on the part of the top cop, considering the massive amount of evidence gathered by the Trump campaign’s legal representatives and other interested parties.
That evidence included, but was not limited to, some 1,000 sworn affidavits from poll workers and others who claim to have witnessed improper tampering with ballots and numerous breaches of election rules and procedures. It appeared that Barr and his department lacked both the curiosity and the courage to follow up on the many apparent anomalies that took place on the night of Nov. 3 and over the following days.
The Hunter Biden Cover-Up
Then, more recently, The Wall Street Journal reported that the attorney general himself had instructed his officials at the DOJ to keep an investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes under wraps prior to the election.
Surely, in a truly free society that claims to practice democracy, the voting public has the right to know about any investigations or other activities relating to candidates for office that could potentially affect their voting decisions. In 2016, Americans should indeed have been informed that Hillary Clinton was being investigated for maintaining a private email server during her time as Secretary of State. Likewise, the public had a right to know that the FBI was conducting a counterintelligence operation targeting the Trump campaign.
In the United States, ultimate authority belongs to the people. It is not a stretch, then, to say that Barr did not have the authority to keep from the public the news that the son of a presidential candidate was being investigated by the FBI for potential financial wrongdoing and perhaps for other corrupt activities involving his overseas business dealings.
The Irony of Political Neutrality
The WSJ report says Barr’s intention was to not create the perception that the DOJ was interfering in the election. And yet, by keeping the knowledge of the Biden investigation from the voting public, Barr was, in fact, interfering with the election – just as the media interfered with the election by not reporting on the story, even though they were aware of it.
Barr served in one of the most difficult positions in the federal government during one of the most fraught episodes in American political history. Not to give him credit for taking on that challenge would be deeply unfair. Additionally, Barr did stand up to the Robert Mueller investigation, drawing the ire of Democrats and, quite likely, of Mueller himself by publicly stating that President Trump had not obstructed justice as the special counsel had implied. The AG also made it clear that he considered Trump’s impeachment in the House of Representatives to be a frivolous and politically motived exercise.
Then, of course, there is the appointment of John Durham as special counsel, indicating that the AG is committed to giving Durham the power and the assets to uncover the corrupt and murky genesis of the Trump-Russia collusion hoax.
Yet the ultimate irony that will forever be attached to Barr’s legacy as attorney general is that, in trying perhaps too hard to keep the Department of Justice out of politics, he managed to leave at least half the nation more convinced than ever that the DOJ is hopelessly politicized.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.