In Attorney General William Barr, Donald Trump found someone willing to act as his personal defense attorney, up to and including lying for him, but with establishment credibility to burn. The Washington Post shows how important that establishment credibility is with an article in which a parade of Republican lawyers defend Barr with the view that he “has long advocated strengthening the power of the executive branch, and the attorney general has told other lawyers that he is more interested in protecting the presidency than the man in the job.”
One told the Post that “His behavior is sufficiently explained by his well-known and publicly articulated views to constitutional principles.” Another, who lawyers for Mike Pence, said that “He is going to follow what he believes is the law, politics be damned.”
Really? Lying to Congress is part of a constitutional principle and/or following what he believes is the law? Because there can’t be a serious argument that Barr didn’t lie to Congress. We know that at an April 9 House hearing Barr claimed he didn’t know how Robert Mueller felt about Barr’s summary of his report—after Mueller had on March 27 sent Barr a letter objecting to Barr’s summary. Barr’s claim is a lie.
Trump knows it, too. People close to Trump say he’s happy with Barr’s loyalty, and as we’ve seen time and time again, Trump defines loyalty as being willing to lie for him. Even some of Trump’s allies, though, are calling it “shortsighted” to be happy about Barr’s loss of credibility.
The thing about William Barr is that he had establishment credibility to burn—but he’s been torching it awfully enthusiastically. People are noticing the flames, and eventually the fuel burns out.
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