Attorney General William Barr recently expressed frustration over President Donald Trump’s interference in the criminal case of veteran GOP operative Roger Stone, who on February 20, was sentenced to three years and four months in federal prison on charges ranging from jury tampering to lying to Congress. But journalist Adrian Feinberg, in an article for the Independent, expresses great skepticism over the possibility that any real tension is developing between Trump and Barr — whose authoritarian leanings, according to Feinberg, make him make him a perfect attorney general for the president.
“Despite the public break with Trump and the recent reports of extant resignation plans,” Feinberg reports, “sources who’ve known Barr over the years aren’t convinced that he’s going anywhere anytime soon. Barr, they say, has exactly what he wants in Trump, namely a president whose lack of firm convictions — except for a sense that his allies should never face criminal convictions — has allowed his third attorney general to have free rein.”
For his article, Feinberg interviewed some people who have known the 69-year-old Barr for decades — and they described him as someone who is motivated by a ruthless type of ambition and authoritarian instincts. One of the interviewees, Jonathan Smith, who knew Barr when they were students at Horace Mann High School in New York City, described the attorney general as someone who has long been “radically right wing.”
“I don’t even know if Trump has an ideology,” Smith told The Independent, “but I think Barr does. I don’t think he’s uncomfortable with the idea of a certain kind of authoritarianism being wielded towards those ends, and he sees Trump as someone who isn’t going to be circumspect about it.”
In the early 1990s, Barr served as U.S. attorney general under President George H.W. Bush — and criminal defense attorney Jimmy Lohman was highly critical of Barr even back then. Lohman, who also knew Barr from Horace Mann, noted that Barr picketed an event at Horace Mann High School because it was serving as a fundraiser for the NAACP. According to Lohman, Barr believes in “some weird ass version of Catholicism” and “almost unlimited executive power” — and Barr’s “fascist” views made Trump appealing to him.
“There are people out there who are fascist; William Barr, in my view, is one,” Lohman told the Independent. “And I evidently picked up on that a long, long time ago.”