According to a report from the Daily Beast, Attorney General Bill Barr appears poised to take the lead and attempt to force governors to re-open their states during the coronavirus pandemic — even at the risk of ramping up the spread of the virus when it appears to be slowing down.
In the process, he could become the face of Donald Trump’s failures to stem the COVID-19 health crisis.
“Donald Trump is calling for his followers to LIBERATE the states from the social distancing measures that are staving off an even greater coronavirus death toll. Trump’s enforcer, Attorney General Bill Barr, is now poised to support Trump’s call for insurrection by turning to the federal courts—seeded with a legion of newly installed right-wing jurists—to undermine critical public health protections on his boss’ behalf,” the Beast’s David Lurie wrote. “If Barr and Trump get their way, the states will soon be ‘opened up”’to the virus, and thus to a massive number of needless deaths.”
Pointing out that Barr already announced on Fox News that he would start scrutinizing actions taken by the states after April 30, Lurie suggests the attorney General will likely take his lead — as usual — based upon Donald Trump’s wishes, and that Barr will have some help from the slate of conservative judges installed by the president over the past three years.
“There is every reason to believe that Barr, as well as many of the judges Trump has placed on the bench, will enthusiastically comply with the new call to undertake an offensive against states’ emergency health measures,” Lurie wrote. “The spectacle of having judges second-guessing the determinations of state health professionals serves Barr’s and Trump’s broader goal: to undermine the legitimacy and authority of governors, some of them Democrats in swing states, who have received far more robust public support for their effective responses to the pandemic than has Trump for his catastrophically late efforts.”
The Daily Beast columnist also noted this should come as no surprise, as Barr has been remaking the Justice Department in his own image since being appointed by the president.
“Barr’s efforts now to undermine the authority of governors is of a piece with his past work undermining the legitimacy of his own Justice Department, as well as the nation’s intelligence community and diplomatic corps, to help Trump escape the consequences of his criminal conduct during Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and then his scheme to pressure Ukraine to announce an investigation of his 2020 rival, Joe Biden,” he wrote.
He then warned, “Yet while Barr’s past efforts to shred public confidence in governmental institutions have done a great deal of damage to the nation, the attorney general’s latest effort to misuse the authority of the law, and of the federal courts, to help Trump out of a political jam is likely to have more immediate, and fatal, consequences.”
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