In a column for Just Security, a constitutional law professor at the Georgia State University College of Law who urged U.S. senators to reject the nomination of now-Attorney General Bill Barr admits he understated the case against the lawyer who has been far worse in his job than even he had expected.
Co-author of Separation of Powers Law: Cases and Materials," Neil Kinkopf began by recalling his testimony before the GOP-majority Senate Judiciary Committee where he testified, "Public confidence in the rule of law depends on there being an Attorney General who will not allow the President to do whatever he wants with the Justice Department. William Barr’s views of presidential power are so radically mistaken that he is simply the wrong man, at the wrong time to be Attorney General of the United States."
Admitting that it would have been a pleasant surprise to have been proved wrong, Kinkopf wrote that Barr's conduct in service to President Donald Trump has been disgraceful.
"I must concede that Barr’s tenure has been, without exaggeration, far worse than I predicted. In that sense, I am not saying here that I told you so. Rather, my warning was insufficiently dire," he wrote before pronouncing, "Attorney General Barr has fed President Trump’s most outrageous visions of executive power."
Writing, "Now that we’ve all seen just how ineffectual the impeachment power is in this Trump Era, the only surviving restraint on presidential power is the presidential election – an institution the president seems all-to-willing to subvert and, on Barr’s theory, there can be no limit on the president’s ability to use his office to further this subversion," he added, "President Trump has repeatedly exercised Barr’s advice that Article II gives Trump 'the right to do whatever I want as President.'"
Noting that the president has been interfering in Justice Department business as well as on a firing rampage against some of his critics since he was cleared by a Republican-controlled Senate following his impeachment trial, the professor said Barr should be more forceful with Trump instead of being a passive bystander.
"That Barr would provide outrageous legal cover for these kinds of acts was clear from his record at the time he was confirmed. What was not at all clear was that Barr would cast aside the independence of the Justice Department," he wrote before adding that he is not the only guilty party.
"President Trump has not left it to Attorney General Barr to undermine the Justice Department all on his own," he wrote, before adding, "The president’s decision to proceed outside this established process, and now set up a mechanism to do so under Jared Kushner, shows his contempt for the Department and its career prosecutors."
Taking all of that in, Kinkopf suggested it is time for Barr to step aside, writing, "If, however, there is anything left of the 1992 Attorney General Barr who stood up for the rule of law, then he must stand opposed to the president’s recent subversions. The only way to do that is to resign in protest. Stand up by stepping down."
You can read the whole piece here.