Fox News host Sean Hannity published an op-ed on Wednesday laying out exactly how he thought President Donald Trump, to whom he serves as an informal adviser, should move forward with congressional border security negotiations:
Step one: The president signs the deal, and uses the $1.375 billion as a downpayment for the wall. Step two: President Trump has identified some $900 million for additional construction that is already available for the administration’s discretion. That would bring the pot to about $2.3 billion. Step three: This needs to happen simultaneously, and it has the president declaring a national emergency. This is the time.
And on Friday, Trump followed the instructions obediently, suggesting Hannity’s influence over the White House could be near-absolute.
In light of that fact, Hannity’s other recent demands are even more terrifying than Trump’s national emergency gambit, which is likely to fail.
As Media Matters for America documented Friday, another of the Fox News host’s major priorities for the newly confirmed attorney general, William Barr, is the prosecution of Trump’s enemies.
On Thursday night, just hours after the Senate confirmed Barr, Hannity crowed, “My sources telling me tonight things are happening as we speak.” The Fox host went on to detail numerous purported crimes he said had been committed by 10 “deep state actors,” including former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
“Over the next year with a brand new attorney general, William Barr, this country — we’ve got to decide,” Hannity concluded. “You want to save the United States? You want to be a constitutional republic? You want equal justice under the law? Do you want a dual justice system, or do you want America to be handed off to your kids and grandkids as a banana republic?
Later in the program, Gregg Jarrett, the Fox legal analyst whose role at the network is to explain why the president and his team did not break the law but all of his critics did, claimed that “more than a dozen” Obama-era officials had committed crimes and that Barr “should haul them all in front of a federal grand jury.”
“What about Hillary? Does she get held accountable?” Hannity asked. “They should reopen the investigation; it was a fraud,” Jarrett responded.
Barr is generally well-respected in conservative legal circles despite some of his controversial actions taken the last time he was attorney general. Assuming he is who these legal experts think he is, he would be unlikely to pursue Trump and Hannity’s wildly illiberal agenda of going after the president’s enemies through prosecution.
However, there are reasons to be concerned about Barr’s integrity. He chose to take a job under Trump, knowing full well what that would mean. And prior to getting the job, he circulated a memo to the administration outlining problems he had with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that many argued was severely flawed, showing a willingness to pander to the White House. During his confirmation hearing, Barr also suggested he shared concerns about baseless right-wing conspiracy theories, showing significant failures of judgment.
And on Thursday night, Matt Schlapp, the husband of a Trump aide, tweeted out that with a Barr in place, Mueller would soon be gone. So there remain many reasons to worry about the new attorney general’s integrity — and to worry that he might be willing to take marching orders from Sean Hannity.