Alan Zendell, June 28, 2021
Remember Bill Barr, Donald Trump’s last Attorney General? Remember his smug, arrogant smirk, and how he could sound demeaning and sarcastic without uttering a word? Barr loved the power, reveling in the unfettered opportunity to settle old scores, as long as they fit into Trump’s agenda. Remember how, after the election, at Trump’s behest, he used Justice Department Resources to launch an investigation to support Trump’s Big Lie that the election was stolen because of massive election fraud?
From the day he was appointed Attorney General, Barr gave every appearance of being another Trump lapdog, although it didn’t seem to make much sense in his case. Clearly nearing the end of his political career, (he’s seventy-one,) he was already respected in conservative circles – he didn’t need that job, but he clearly wanted and lobbied for it.
When Trump appointed him, it was widely reported that Barr was very critical of the attempts to impeach Richard Nixon and force him to resign his presidency. He had opined that Nixon had been railroaded and shouldn’t have caved in to pressure – an interesting view of a president who essentially admitted to committing a felony in office. Trump had always wanted to use the DOJ as his own personal legal attack dog, and Barr appeared to be willing to make that happen, especially when he issued a distorted summary of the findings of the Mueller investigation that made Trump look completely exonerated, when in fact, Mueller had cited a dozen instances when Trump’s actions looked prosecutable.
There’s one important difference between Trump and Barr. Trump spent most of his adult life behaving like a raging bull, ignoring laws and rules that didn’t suit him, knowing his highly paid lawyers could usually intimidate his enemies, and when they couldn’t, the worst consequence he would face would be a fine and a slap on the wrists. In the world of business, you have to be Bernie Madoff to wind up in prison.
Barr, on the other hand, understands government, something Trump never cared enough about to learn. Barr understands that there are serious consequences for malfeasance or criminal behavior while serving in office, and unlike his sociopathic boss, there were lines he knew he couldn’t cross. Thus, while Trump was screaming about fraud and a stolen election last November, Barr was putting the final touches on his version of an investigation that found no indication of fraud that might have influenced the outcome of the election. And on December 1, 2020, Barr told that to an Associated Press reporter who published it the same day.
This week, Jonathan Karl published the results of his interviews with Barr and Mitch McConnell in the Atlantic. Karl says McConnell had been pressuring Barr to go public since right after the election. McConnell himself refused to speak out because, he claims, Trump would have gone ballistic and sabotaged the two Senate runoffs elections in Georgia, which he did anyway. You’d think politicians as experienced as McConnell and Barr would have understood the danger of having a tiger by the tail.
That pretty much sums up how Trump has been able to control the Republican party for six years. Having a tiger by the tail is problematic because if the tiger turns on you, you’re dead. And this particular tiger had publicly turned on enough people, particularly Barr’s predecessor, Jeff Sessions, that Barr and McConnell had no illusions about who and what they were dealing with. Most Republican politicians had shown themselves to be craven cowards since Trump came on the scene, which made it especially difficult for McConnell to speak out publicly.
Is it a coincidence that the Atlantic article appeared just as the New York District Attorney’s office announced that they are about to indict the Trump organization on charges of tax fraud? Do you find it surprising that Barr now claims he only began the DOJ investigation into election fraud because he knew he’d have to respond to Trump’s lies one day? Ah, the joy of revisionist history. It’s truly amazing how courageous rats become when it’s clear the ship is taking on water with no salvation in sight. Trump hasn’t completely lost his shrinking base, and he probably won’t, but his media presence now centers around a television network (AON) fully invested in crazy conspiracy theories. His attempt to re-establish himself on social networks turned into a lead balloon, and his revenge tour rallies aren’t attracting crowds the way they used to.
Barr is one of the chief rats in this scenario. When he decided to publicly reveal that he had jumped ship, it was a sign that it will all be going down soon.