William “Bill” Barr: An U.S. Attorney General History Will Judge Harshly
Founded in 1928, Opus Dei is a powerful and almost cult-like Catholic organization that “uses secrecy and manipulation to advance its agenda.” One of its 3,000 U.S. members is the current Attorney General of the United States, William “Bill” Barr. Barr has been an active member of several far-right religious groups, including the Catholic Information Center, an organization led by the ultra-right-wing Opus Dei, for which he served on the Board of Directors.
The group is known nationally and internationally for its promotion of a right-wing agenda, including a host of unfounded political conspiracies. There is a direct political lineage between Opus Dei and other right wing societies—like the Federalist Society—who are funded by super wealthy “dark money” political donors. One of its most notorious members Opus Dei was former FBI agent Robert Phillip Hanssen who betrayed America by spying for Soviet Union and Russian intelligence between 1979 and 2001.
Birds of a Feather
It is only fitting that President Donald Trump would tag William Barr to be this nation’s 85th Attorney General of the United Stated. He is a political ideologue who shares the president’s penchant for conspiracies, corruption, and the notion that the U.S. Attorney General is the president’s personal legal counsel. At least four other U.S. presidents appointed attorneys general who shared similar views. They are:
- President Woodrow Wilson: Appointed A. Mitchell Palmer as his attorney general who on numerous occasions abused his power and violated the original Bill of Rights.
- President Warren G. Harding: Appointed Harry M. Daugherty who was corrupt to the core with his involvement in the infamous Teapot Dome Scandal and with his indictment on corruption charges that led to two criminal trials.
- President Richard M. Nixon: Appointed John N. Mitchell, the president’s former campaign manager, who engaged in a long list of criminal activities, including his involvement in the infamous Watergate cover up that led to his convictions for perjury, obstruction of justice, and criminal conspiracy which sent him to prison where he remained for 19 months.
- President Ronald Reagan: Appointed Edwin Meese as his attorney general. Although a recent recipient of the prestigious Medal of Freedom from President Trump, Meese’s tenure as attorney general (and most of his insider political career) was tarnished by continuous allegations of unethical or criminal misconduct.
During his first tenure as Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush, current Attorney General Barr became a integral component of the long-running Iran-Contra criminal scandal that consumed the Reagan presidency when he recommended to President Bush that he pardon six of the individuals either convicted or charged in that scandal.
It was more likely than not that it was this penchant for corruption that drew President Trump’s attention toward Barr. The Attorney General openly expressed his contempt for the rule of law for all to see after the Bush Iran-Contra pardons:
“I favored the broadest pardon authority,” Barr said at the time. “There were some people just arguing just for [Defense Secretary Casper) Weinberger. I said, ‘No—in for a penny, in for a pound.”
That was music to Trump’s ears.
“Official” Conspiracy Theories Dangerous to Democracy
The president has long suckled on the debunked sophomoric conspiracy theory that an Obama “Deep State” tried to derail his 2016 presidential campaign and has continued to undermine his presidency. Despite 17 U.S. intelligence agencies saying Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to bolster Trump’s campaign, the president has weaved a web of lies and distortions that it was actually Ukraine that interfered in the election with hopes of getting Hillary Clinton elected.
Attorney General Barr has nurtured this child-like presidential Deep State conspiracy theory by repeatedly stating in all sorts of venues that the Deep State spied on the president’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Shortly after Barr’s February 2019 confirmation as Attorney General, the president instructed the Attorney General to “investigate” the origins of the July 2016 investigation opened by the FBI into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election process.
Despite three internal inquiries by Justice Department personnel that the FBI investigation had legitimate origins, Barr embraced the instruction to investigate not only his own Justice Department but all of the nation’s intelligence agencies as well.
“Investigating” Debunked Conspiracy Theories for Political Gain
Barr immediately tagged Connecticut Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham to conduct what was then labeled as a “probe” into the FBI’s Russian election interference investigation. Durham’s role in “probe” was apparently public window dressing because it was the Attorney General himself, to the consternation of world leaders and domestic officials, who began globe-trotting through England, Italy, Australia, and even Ukraine trying to put meat on the president’s ridiculous Deep State conspiracy bone.
And six months later it was Barr who transformed Durham’s probe into a full-blown criminal investigation.
While steadily trying to find wrongdoing in the Russian election interference investigation, Barr’s Justice Department refused to investigate the whistleblower’s complaint that ultimately led to the current ongoing impeachment proceeding against the president.
In fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi charged that the Attorney General had “gone rogue” in his attempt to cover up the president’s impeachable conduct in delaying military assistance to Ukraine until that government agreed to conduct a criminal investigation into Trump’s leading 2020 political rival, Joe Biden.
Lunatic Authoritarian Speech Get Attention
With his footprints deeply embedded in the impeachment scandal, the Attorney General got himself booked in an appearance before none other than the Federalist Society, a kissing cousin to Opus Dei, on November 15, 2019 to tout the president’s authority and to condemn the “Resistance” (new term for Deep State) trying to undermine Trump’s presidency. This is a synopsis of what Barr told the group who recommended his appointment to the president,(“The Resistance” refers to Presidents Trumps opponents):
- “Now, [the] ‘resistance’ is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power … This is a very dangerous—indeed incendiary—notion to import into the politics of a democratic republic.”
- “[I]n waging a scorched-earth, no-holds-barred war of ‘Resistance’ against this Administration, it is the Left that is engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining [of] the rule of law.”
- Saying he believes Congress has “some” oversight over the executive, he added that “the sheer volume of what we see today—the pursuit of scores of parallel ‘investigations” through an avalanche of subpoenas—is plainly designed to incapacitate the Executive Branch, and indeed is touted as such.”
The Federalist Society speech, which was nothing short of a demand that Trump be given king-like powers, led to immediate calls from prominent attorneys and legal scholars for Barr’s impeachment. Former White House ethics counsel Richard Painter actually called Barr’s speech “another lunatic authoritarian speech.”
In a Daily Beast op-ed piece, Jeff Hauser, Director of the Revolving Door Project, a nonprofit group that exposes political corruption, and Max Moran, a research assistant with the group, had this to say about Barr:
“[I]f Democrats are going to uncover more information through aggressive hearings and ultimately impeach the president, they need to recognize their most powerful adversary: Attorney General William Barr … in other words, [the attorney general] is a key target of any investigation into Trump’s seemingly criminal abuse of power. This gives Democrats ample justification to zero in on the attorney general [for impeachment].”
University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck pointed to the glowing reception Barr’s bitter and vicious partisan speech received from Federalist Society gathering. Professor Vladeck tweeted: “It’s not just that the Attorney General of the United States said these things; it’s that his audience at the [Federalist Society} convention gave him a standing ovation for doing so.”
Critics Decry AG’s Speech
Other prominent individuals in the legal community expressed similar concerns.
Former federal prosecutor Mimi Roach said of Barr’s speech: “This is so outrageously inappropriate for an AG to be saying. You are the head of the DOJ for all Americans not just the ones in the Federalist Society. Please start acting like it.”
The President and Director-Counsel for the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, Sherrilyn Ifill, a longstanding opponent of the Attorney General, said this in a tweet: “I have warned for some time that AG Barr is the most alarming figure in the [Trump] Administration. A true believer who has been waiting for his moment and pitched hard for this job. He has an agenda and political view that is lockstep with Trump.”
The singular most important duty the Attorney General of the United States has is to enforce the laws and constitutional mandates under his purview. It is not part of William “Bill” Barr’s job description to either wage partisan political warfare or to incite religious hostility against those who do not share his extreme Opus Dei theology. And that is precisely what Barr has done since he became this nation’s highest law enforcement officer.
By his public actions and speeches, Attorney General Barr has unquestionably made it clear to anyone with rational reasoning that he is a far-right political lunatic and a dangerous religious zealot.
Attorney General Barr, we believe, is not ethically fit, politically stable, or intellectually suited enough to be Attorney General of these United States of America.