'Disgusting legacy and stain on democracy': As Bill Barr resigns, Democrats and rights groups say good riddance
President Donald J. Trump listens as Attorney General William Barr delivers remarks at a Medal of Valor and Heroic Commendations Ceremony Monday, Sep. 9, 2019, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

After Attorney General William Barr announced his resignation Monday in a fawning letter to President Donald Trump, Democratic lawmakers and civil rights groups condemned the "disgusting legacy and stain on democracy" the outgoing top law enforcement official left during his tenure at the Justice Department.


"Barr kowtowed to President Trump's worst whims, unleashed federal law enforcement on peaceful protestors, and allowed the Trump administration to throw out law and order for the president's political allies," Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said following news of the attorney general's resignation effective December 23, around a month before President-elect Joe Biden is set to take office.

"He never acted as the attorney general for the American people but rather as the personal henchman for Donald Trump."

—Rep. Pramila Jayapal

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, tweeted late Monday that "Bill Barr won't be missed."

"He never acted as the attorney general for the American people but rather as the personal henchman for Donald Trump," said Jayapal, who recently grilled Barr on the federal government's violent assault on racial justice protesters in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.

"He is a corrupt liar who attacked our democracy and did an injustice to justice in this country," Jayapal added. "I'm not done holding him accountable."

Trump announced Barr's resignation in a tweet containing a bizarre letter from the attorney general filled with praise for the president.

Barr begins his letter by expressing appreciation for "the opportunity to update you this afternoon on the [Justice] Department's review of voter fraud allegations in the 2020 election and how these allegations will continue to be pursued." Earlier this month, Barr said publicly that DOJ had not uncovered any evidence of widespread voter fraud, despite Trump's unending claims.

The attorney general went on in his letter to applaud Trump's vicious crackdown on immigration and appointment of right-wing judges to lifetime positions on the nation's federal courts.

"I am proud to have played a role in the many successes and unprecedented achievements you have delivered for the American people," Barr wrote.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement Monday night that "from misleading the American public about the Mueller report to his dangerous efforts to overturn Covid safety measures, from his callous disregard for civil rights to his rampant politicization of the Justice Department, William Barr was willing to do the president's bidding on every front but one."

"Barr refused to play along with President Trump's nonsensical claims to have won the election. He is now out as Attorney General one month early," Nadler continued. "In 37 days, President-elect Biden will be sworn into office. Whomever Joe Biden chooses as the new attorney general will have a tremendous amount of work to do to repair the integrity of the Department of Justice—and I, for one, look forward to being a partner in that project. The work must begin without delay."

On his way out the door, Barr—who resumed federal executions last July after a nearly two-decade hiatus—is overseeing what has been described as an unprecedented "lame-duck execution spree" that is set to take the lives of at least four more people before Biden, an opponent of the death penalty, takes office. Last Thursday, as Common Dreams reported, the Justice Department executed Brandon Bernard, a 40-year-old Black man.

"The civil rights community opposed William Barr's confirmation based on his long record of advancing positions that restrict civil and human rights—and because we were concerned he lacked the independence necessary to serve as U.S. attorney general," The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights tweeted Monday. "And we were right. Goodbye."