Attorney General William Barr has run interference on the Russia investigation, overruled federal prosecutors to aid President Donald Trump’s cronies, investigated those who have investigated the administration, helped purge government watchdogs and ordered peaceful protesters gassed — all of it confirming that he views himself not as America’s lawyer, but as Trump’s fixer.
Barr’s firing Friday of a top U.S. prosecutor, who has been investigating potentially illegal actions by Trump’s associates, should be the last straw. The House should initiate impeachment proceedings against Barr for blatant politicization of his office and violation of his oath.
Trump appointed Barr early last year to replace fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a slavish Trump sycophant who was ultimately not quite slavish enough. The clear message was that Trump wanted an attorney general whose first duty would be not to justice but to Trump personally.
It’s a message Barr obviously got loud and clear. Among his first actions was to stall the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report so Barr could first put out his own, deeply misleading summary designed to suggest Trump had been exonerated when, in fact, it made a damning case that Trump obstructed justice.
Barr’s office subsequently tried to suppress a whistleblower’s allegation about Trump’s attempt to extort election help from Ukraine, which led to Trump’s impeachment.
Barr’s malfeasance grew bolder still. He overruled his own prosecutors to help convicted Trump cronies Michael Flynn and Roger Stone. He has abused his office by persecuting officials who conducted the Russia probe, to validate Trump’s ridiculous claim that it was a “witch hunt.” He has defended Trump’s systematic purging of inspectors general whose jobs are to provide oversight of the administration.
By the time Barr violated the First Amendment by ordering police to attack peaceful protesters outside the White House this month — for a Trump photo op — it was clear that Barr had no intention of honoring his oath of office.
Late Friday, Barr announced Geoffrey S. Berman, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, had resigned. This was a lie, as Berman confirmed with a counter-announcement that he wasn’t leaving. So Barr on Saturday announced Trump was firing him. No reason was given, but it’s not hard to figure out: Berman’s office prosecuted former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and is investigating current Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Enough. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., says Barr should be impeached, but that it would be “a waste of time” because the Republican-held Senate won’t remove him. That’s almost certainly true, but Senate Republicans’ well-established abdication of their duty doesn’t release House members from doing theirs. The House should impeach Barr — and let the Senate GOP, once again, show America how willing it is to put party over country.
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