Following a column he wrote trashing Attorney General William Barr as "un-American," former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer — who served in the Justice Department before Barr was appointed for the first time under President George W. H. Bush — told CNN in greater detail his impression of Barr's worldview.
"One of the ultimate reasons that Bill Barr needs to go is, he's made clear his views for a very long time," said Ayer. "The clearest statement was in the memo he wrote. He wrote a memo back in the middle of 2018 ... some people thought it was an audition memo to be attorney general. It talks about how the powers of the president are such even having this investigation was improper. He said the president is the executive branch, and that he necessarily has complete and unlimited discretion to oversee criminal cases. He said the thing that the president said not long ago."
"You've known Bill Barr for about 40 years," said anchor Wolf Blitzer. "Now you're calling him, in this article, 'un-American' ... strong words. Has he changed over those 40 years or what?"
"I don't know that he's changed, because he's always had a really strong view that the executive ought to have a great deal of power," said Ayer. "I've never known how far it would go, and there was never any reason to test it because when he was attorney general under George H. W. Bush, George H. W. Bush had no interest in being an autocrat. Now he's won the job of an attorney general under a president that wants to be an autocrat."
"I think it's fair to say, and I think most people would agree with me, that the central tenet of our legal system and our justice system is that no person is above the law," continued Ayer. "Bill Barr's vision is different. There's one man, one person who needs to be above the law, and that's the president. He's carried that out. This is the really important thing. He said that before he became attorney general, but he's now carried it out in many steps as he became the attorney general."