From the Mueller report to the Ukraine scandal, critics of Attorney General William Barr have often denounced the U.S. attorney general as someone who puts his loyalty to President Donald Trump over the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution. And Barr’s critics, journalist Tom McCarthy reports in The Guardian, have found even more reasons to be critical of him during the George Floyd protests.
“The top law enforcement official in the country, the attorney general, William Barr, is facing an internal crisis of confidence and growing calls for his own resignation,” McCarthy explains. “Barr stands accused of directing violence against peaceful demonstrators outside the White House earlier this month — and with peddling a conspiracy theory advanced by Donald Trump in an attempt to smear protesters, who enjoy wide public support.”
On June 1, according to Barr’s critics, the U.S. attorney general gave the order to violently clear nonviolent Floyd protestors from Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C. so that Trump could enjoy a photo-op at nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church. And on June 10, McCarthy notes, almost 1300 former U.S. Department of Justice officials published an open letter to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz demanding an investigation of Barr’s response to the protests.
During a recent appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Barr said, “I think there’s racism in the United States still, but I don’t think that the law enforcement system is systemically racist. And I would say, you know, the president — before any of this happened — was out in front on this issue.”
In response to that comment, Kandace Montgomery (director of the Minneapolis/St. Paul-based Black Visions) asserted, “William Barr is a white man who is serving a racist administration; so, of course, he’s going to deny the fact that the current law enforcement system is systemically racist. History and facts have proven otherwise. But we know how that administration feels about facts.”
Barr, McCarthy points out, is a “proponent of an elaborate conspiracy theory” involving the Floyd protests and antifa. Trump hasn’t shied away from fear-mongering over the antifa movement, stressing that antifa should be labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. And Trump has drawn widespread criticism for a tweet in which he claimed that Martin Gugino — the 75-year-old activist who was hospitalized after being violently shoved to the ground by Buffalo, New York police — “could be an antifa provocateur.”
Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2020
The vast majority of Floyd protestors have been peaceful. And when acts of violence did occur, the evidence did not show the antifa connection that Trump and Barr have alleged.
“None of 51 individuals facing federal charges in connection with protests in recent weeks has any alleged link to any such conspiracy, according to court documents reviewed by NPR,” McCarthy notes.
Donald K. Sherman, deputy director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said of Barr, “He can’t function in the job as the founders intended the job to be done, and he needs to be removed. We have seen him literally bend the scales of justice to protect the president’s rich, white, criminal allies, versus what he has done to people who have dared to stand up peacefully against racial injustice in America.”