April 11, 2019

Is William Barr Serving the Public Interest or the President’s?

William Lutz Vice President of Communications


During Attorney General William Barr’s confirmation process, ACS President Caroline Fredrickson published an op-ed in The New York Times posing the question: Will William Barr Be Trump’s Roy Cohn?

Unfortunately, the attorney general’s recent actions and yesterday’s statements underscore the very concerns Fredrickson flagged back in December. In an appearance on Capitol Hill yesterday, Barr said that he believed the FBI “spied” on the Trump presidential campaign and that he was launching an investigation into the matter.

In an interview with Politico, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., shared his concern that Barr is doing Trump’s bidding:

“It’s very concerning when the top law enforcement officer in the country uses incendiary language like that. That’s the kind of thing you hear the president say at his rallies, when he’s advocating a deep-state coup attempt. It ought to concern all of us.”

Roy Cohn was President Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer throughout the 1970s, having previously served as a top aide to Sen. Joseph McCarthy. He had a reputation for pushing legal limits to protect his clients.

For his part, Barr has a reputation for holding an expansive view of presidential power, especially regarding legal investigations involving the president.

As Fredrickson wrote: “These are perilous times. Not since Watergate have we seen a presidency so mired in accusations of unethical and illegal behavior. And not since Watergate have we seen a president so contemptuous of the rule of law.”

If there was one thing the president needed to enable him to navigate the choppy legal waters in which he currently flounders, it was an attorney general willing to take steps to protect him. Sadly, it appears he may have found his man in William Barr.