When the U.S. Senate voted to confirm William Barr as President Donald Trump’s attorney general, some optimists hoped he would bring a more traditional view of conservatism to the Trump Administration — noting that Barr had previously held the same position under President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s. But Barr has turned out to be a full-fledged Trump loyalist, and legal experts are lambasting him for becoming, in effect, Trump’s personal attorney during the Ukraine scandal and the president’s impeachment. Barr hasn’t been hiding his feelings on Trump’s impeachment, claiming that Democrats in Congress are “trivializing” impeachment and are using it as a “political tool.”
Journalist Alexandra Hutzler, in an article published by Newsweek on December 23, gathers some views from legal experts. One of them is attorney Nick Akerman, who told Newsweek, “This is a really strange situation with Barr, who has so many conflicts and is up to his eyeballs in all of the corruption surrounding Trump.”
Former federal prosecutor Michael J. Stern was equally critical, asserting that Barr’s loyalty to Trump is a “perversion” of his position as U.S. attorney general. Stern told Newsweek, “There is an inherent conflict in Barr’s designated role as the chief law enforcement officer of this country and his efforts to protect the man who gave him his job. It is unfortunate that Bill Barr never misses an opportunity to place his thumb on the scales of justice in favor of Donald Trump. That’s not how it is supposed to be.”
On December 18, the U.S. House of Representatives indicted Trump on two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. At issue was his July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who he tried to pressure into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden — and, House Democrats argue, Trump failed to respect congressional oversight when he encouraged past and present members of his administration to defy House subpoenas.
The July 25 conversation came to light thanks to a whistleblower in the United States’ intelligence committee; that person’s identify remains unknown to the general public. Barr, according to Akerman, is a “major player” in the obstruction case against Trump because he advised the White House not to turn over the whistleblower’s complaint about Trump’s conversation with Zelensky.
Michael Gerhardt, who teaches constitutional law at the University of North Carolina and served as a witness a witness for Democrats at a House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing on December 4, told Newsweek that Barr “should be performing no role here” because “he has a clear conflict of interest.”
Hutzler notes that the government watchdog group Common Cause has sent a scathing letter to members of Congress urging them to impeach Barr because he has become a “threat to national security” and has “violated his oath to the people he swore to protect.”
“During his first 10 months in office,” Common Cause stressed, “Attorney General Barr has made clear that, first and foremost, he serves President Donald Trump’s interests and not those of the United States.”