Attorney General Bill Barr’s NBC News interview attacking the FBI stunned many legal and government experts on Tuesday.
After Barr criticized Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s finding that the FBI’s investigations into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian agents during the 2016 presidential election was justified, he also accused the FBI of running a “bad faith” investigation and said actions like that represent the biggest threat to the integrity of American elections.
Don Moynihan, a professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, was astonished by the attorney general’s attacks on the law enforcement agencies that he oversees.
“The Attorney General is saying that the FBI is a bigger threat to the United States than Russia,” he wrote on Twitter. “This is banana republic stuff.”
New York University Law professor Ryan Goodman, meanwhile, argued that Barr’s declaration that the FBI’s actions represented a massive danger to American democracy stand in stark contrast to his belief that President Donald Trump has the right to use the machinery of the State Department to pressure foreign governments to launch investigations into his political rivals.
“But that’s NOT what FBI did in 2016,” he wrote. “That IS what Trump did with Ukraine for 2020.”
Steve Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, argued that Barr’s attempts to discredit the inspector general’s report make him a danger to the system of oversight over law enforcement agencies.
“The whole reason why we have Inspectors General is for cases in which there’s reason to doubt that political appointees can be fair decisionmakers,” he wrote. “The Attorney General taking this position is proof only of why that independence is so important — and why this wasn’t up to him.”
And national security attorney Bradley Moss wrote that America’s attorney general has now completely morphed into the president’s personal fixer.
“Bill Barr went full Michael Cohen/Roy Cohn in this interview,” he wrote.