Pollak: In Defense of Attorney General William Barr

William Barr (Chip Somodevilla / Getty)
Chip Somodevilla / Getty

President Donald Trump referred to Attorney General William Barr as a “big disappointment” on Saturday, responding to reports that Barr knew the Department of Justice (DOJ) had been investigating Hunter Biden for months, but said nothing.

Many Trump supporters are also outraged at Barr for announcing earlier this month that the DOJ had not yet found evidence of voter fraud sufficient to overturn the election results.

Instead of criticizing Barr, Americans should be praising him.

Barr refused to be what Attorney General Eric Holder was for President Barack Obama — the president’s “wing-man.”

He also refused to be what Attorney General Loretta Lynch was for Obama — a lackey who met with President Bill Clinton on the tarmac while the FBI was investigating Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information on her illicit email server. Even after that, she refused to recuse herself, but allowed FBI Director James Comey to intervene, with disastrous results.

Notably, Barr also refused to be what Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced to become. Sessions took office determined to depoliticize the DOJ. He cleaned out some of the rot, ending the “slush fund” that had been abused for years to fund left-wing activist groups as part of legal settlements.

But Sessions could not oversee the DOJ’s inquiries into “Russia collusion,” because of his role in Trump’s 2016 campaign. He naively believed it would not be an issue, because there was no collusion.

Barr was not constrained by politics. He insisted that Special Counsel Robert Mueller produce his findings, then released them to the media before Mueller’s team of hacks could spin them.

Barr also reeled in partisan prosecutors who tried to punish Trump supporters. He objected to the absurdly long sentence given to Roger Stone, and tried to drop the Michael Flynn prosecution after appointing an outside investigator who uncovered egregious abuses by the prosecutors in the case.

In June, as Black Lives Matter riots raged through Washington, DC — radical unrest in which Democrats participated, and which they falsely called “peaceful protests” — Barr personally led efforts to restore order.

He was out in the streets of the nation’s capital, directing law enforcement officers. He had rioters cleared from the park in front of the White House, then joined the president in walking across the park to St. John’s Episcopal Church, which rioters had burned the night before.

Barr was vilified by Democrats and the mainstream media. House Democrats even held him in contempt of Congress for obeying the law that prevented him from releasing grand jury materials.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Barr had “contempt … for our democracy.” She also called him names — a “blob.” She added that he should be “disbarred”: “Bill Barr is a complete henchman. He’s a disgrace to the office he holds. He shouldn’t even be a lawyer. He should be disbarred. We’ve held him in contempt of Congress.”

“Disbarred” was not a clever pun, but Pelosi’s attempt to destroy Barr’s career for the supposed crime of serving in the Trump administration and doing his job. (Democrats have since followed Pelosi’s illiberal example by attempting to have the Trump campaign’s lawyers disbarred.)

In July, Democrats staged a hearing in which they hoped to drag Barr over the coals. He turned the tables on them, noting that they had failed to condemn mob violence. The hapless Democrats were forced to stop Barr from speaking at all: “Reclaiming my time,” they interjected.

Barr infuriated Democrats by standing up for religious liberty. During the coronavirus pandemic, he used the DOJ to warn Democrat-controlled state and local governments not to infringe on First Amendment rights by discriminating against religious gatherings.

Barr also predicted — correctly — that “mail-in ballots … open the floodgates of potential fraud” and that “people’s confidence in the outcome of the election is going to be undermined.” And he told the DOJ to investigate fraud.

So what happened? Nothing. Barr simply kept doing his job.

If Barr had let the public know that the DOJ was investigating Hunter Biden, the prosecution would have been seen as political abuse — the kind of abuse the Obama DOJ committed against then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016 when they leaked the fact that his campaign was under investigation for “Russian collusion.”

The Obama DOJ’s abuse is now the subject of an investigation by U.S. Attorney John Durham. If Barr had told Durham to hurry up before the election, he would have committed the same abuse Durham is investigating.

In sum, Barr protected these investigations by keeping them free of politics. President Trump’s frustration is understandable. But it was the Democrats, and the media, who failed to do their job. It is to Trump’s credit that AG Barr continued to do his.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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