Three main points, developed below:
- There’s reason enough to fear that Barr is being groomed to play a role in a potential overturning of the election results, if they should go against Trump.
- There are abundant reasons for impeaching Barr, and some of them have lately been brought to public attention.
- Impeaching Barr makes sense even despite the Republican control of the Senate.
A New and Urgent Possible Reason to Impeach Barr
While there have been quite sufficient reasons for impeaching William Barr – for serious and flagrant violations of his oath of office –soon after he became Attorney General, another potentially urgent reason has started to become visible. Namely, one can reasonably suspect that Barr is emerging as a key player a virtual coup d’etat to maintain Donald Trump in power (in the event he is defeated in the upcoming presidential election).
Is that an unwarranted scenario?
In terms of what Trump would be willing to do (if he thought it served his interests), I’ve presented a case here previously – in a piece titled “If It Looks Like Biden Will Win… A Foreseeable Threat to American Democracy https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/6/13/1952681/-If-It-Looks-Like-Biden-Will-Win-the-Foreseeable-Threat-to-American-Democracy?_=2020-06-13T08:16:19.035-07:00#comment_77626711 -- asserting that it is practically a certainty that Trump will be unrestrained in doing whatever he can to prevent having to acquiesce in defeat.
That judgment was far from casual, but was made on the basis of four years of close observation of this man. (And I offered that judgment citing this credential: that 40 years ago American intelligence judged me qualified to help prepare psychological assessments of world leaders for the President, like those that had recently helped Jimmy Carter achieve the Camp David Accords from his meetings with the leaders of Israel and Egypt.)
Admittedly, in terms of the evidence that Barr is being groomed for a major role in such a possible coup, reaching that conclusion requires an intuitive leap from various pieces of evidence. But, especially given the stakes, that leap seems warranted. If it were true, these would be the early signs—and we cannot afford to simply recognize them in retrospect.
These pieces of evidence – accumulating over the course of months – show Trump and Barr incrementally transforming Barr’s role incrementally into that of an American “Interior Minister.”
(These pieces include especially Barr’s role in Trump’s recent attempts to employ military forces to violate the First Amendment rights of American citizens—most immediately those protesting in the vicinity of the White House, but also potentially nationwide. And they include the yet-to-be-explained appearance of military/police forces without any identifying labels—forces some dubbed “Barr’s Secret Police,” armed men who, when asked, “say they work for the Dept. of Justice. None will be more explicit than that – so clearly they were instructed to not tell anyone who they work for.” https://www.alternet.org/2020/06/bill-barr-defends-the-disturbing-refusal-of-an-unmarked-secret-police-force-to-identify-itself/ )
Many have been asking: What would happen if Trump lost but refused to acknowledge defeat and leave office? Barr seems central to the most worrisome answers.
Some, like Biden himself, have responded to that question with confidence that the Secret Service would follow the constitutional dictates about the post-election transfer of power. And that the military would not abet any extraconstitutional action to keep Trump in power.
But what if, with Barr’s help, Trump had developed forces of his own to command, forces loyal to him and not the Constitution?
Ever since Barr “applied” for the job of Attorney General, with his memorandum laying out arguments placing the President above the law, Barr seems to have guided Trump on how to use – i.e. abuse -- the joint powers of the presidency and the Attorney Generalship to dismantle the constitutional order. All of which leads to the question:
If Trump and Barr are working together to develop the means to subvert and/or overturn an election in which the will of the people is to strip Donald Trump of the powers of the presidency, would it not look something like what we’ve seen unfolding lately in the evolution of Barr’s role?
It is that possibility, I am proposing, that puts before us the new and urgent reason to impeach William Barr. Impeach him not only because he has systematically violated his oath of office, but now additionally in order to pre-emptively break down the mechanisms that Barr may be working to assemble to enable Trump, with Barr’s help, to subvert our constitutional order to maintain Trump’s power.
The Newly Refreshed Grounds for Impeachment
Fortunately, in terms of rallying the people to the idea of impeaching Barr, there is an abundance of recent news that has made the grounds for Barr’s impeachment highly visible to the public.
I. For starters, one federal judge has lately reminded us of Barr’s misrepresentation of the Mueller Report. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/05/us/politics/mueller-report-barr-judge-walton.html
The differences between the report and Mr. Barr’s description of it “cause the court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller report to the contrary,” wrote Judge Walton, an appointee of President George W. Bush.
Really, though, of Barr’s deliberate misrepresentation, there is no “question.” That became clear early on, and Barr’s subsequent further betrayals of the rule of law (in service of Trump’s political interests) only bolster that interpretation further.
II. Meanwhile, “More than 1250 former Justice Dept. workers call for internal watchdog to probe Barr role in clearing Lafayette Square,” as the Washington Post reports. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/more-than-1250-former-justice-dept-workers-call-for-internal-watchdog-to-probe-barr-role-in-clearing-demonstrators-from-lafayette-square/2020/06/10/608827fe-aa73-11ea-9063-e69bd6520940_story.html
In their letter, the more-than-a-thousand signatories declare, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/doj-alumni-request-barr-probe_n_5ee1103fc5b6d5bafa560466 , “If the Attorney General or any other DOJ employee has directly participated in actions that have deprived Americans of their constitutional rights or that physically injured Americans lawfully exercising their rights, that would be misconduct of the utmost seriousness, the details of which must be shared with the American people.”
The signatories want the DOJ’s Inspector General to investigate. But let’s skip the IG route – the IGs are fighting for their survival anyway, under attack from Trump -- and go straight to the House Judiciary Committee, whom Trump cannot fire.
III. And most recently, and perhaps most scathingly, the report from a former federal judge – tasked by the judge in the Michael Flynn case with responding to the unprecedented call by Barr to dismiss the case against a man who has already confessed under oath to his crimes – provides a searing glimpse into Barr’s corruption and abuse of the law he’s taken an oath to uphold. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/michael-flynn-john-gleeson_n_5ee10f53c5b6d5bafa560302
Barr, said former District Judge John Gleeson, “has engaged in highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the President.” The briefs filed by Barr’s minions, he said, “are riddled with inexplicable and elementary errors of law and fact.” The DOJ’s move was “corrupt” and “politically motivated,” “an unconvincing effort to disguise as legitimate a decision to dismiss that is based solely on the fact that Flynn is a political ally of President Trump.” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/10/us/politics/john-gleeson-michael-flynn.html
These three combined are merely exemplifications of a much larger pattern of Barr’s behavior, serving a lawless President while assaulting the norms and principles of the American system of justice.
If William Barr doesn’t deserve to be impeached, who would?
But What about Acquittal in the Senate?
It will surely be objected – and reasonably so – that while the House might impeach, the Senate – controlled as it is by the same Republicans who protected the equally impeachable President Trump earlier this year – will leave Barr in office. So what’s the point?
Here’s why I still favor proceeding with an impeachment process.
- The Republican acquittal of Trump smelled then, but it looks even worse now. Adam Schiff’s warnings about how much damage Trump might do to the nation – even in just the months until the election -- if he were left in office have been fully borne out. And the public sees it—e.g. the failure with the pandemic, with many tens of thousands of additional deaths because of Trump’s utter failure of leadership. A new trial for Trump’s main accomplice would remind the nation of the price the nation is paying for the Republicans’ betrayal of their oath of office to protect a manifestly unfit and self-serving President. With one-third of the Senate coming up for election – mostly for seats now held by Republicans, and with a Republican debacle already taking shape – a Barr impeachment would put the Republicans in a no-win position, however they voted.
- Even if Barr remains in office, the trial could help serve as part of the forewarning of the American people about the crisis that is sure to come as Trump attempts to stay in power by whatever means he can. Forewarned is forearmed. So the more the people are alerted in advance, the greater the ability of the nation to protect itself from the assaults to come from Trump and his main ally in the assault on the constitutional order, William Barr, so-called Attorney General of the United States.