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Why Bill Barr Is Trump’s Best Appointment

No cabinet official can get a President in more trouble faster than his Attorney General. Administration policies can fail quickly if they are not ably defended from legal attack. Legal overreaching can create a climate of public opinion that condemns the administration as lawless. Bad legal advice can lock the administration into bad policies. Ethical lapses at the Department of Justice can taint the entire government.

It is thus very fortunate that the President has made his most effective appointment in William Barr. While some of the President’s initial appointments were also men of stature and judgment, like Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis, they disagreed with the President on fundamental issues central to their departments, something ultimately disqualifying in a high government official. In contrast, William Barr agrees with Trump on the most important issues within DOJ’s purview. Like Trump, he believes that borders must be secured, that violent crime should remain a priority for law enforcement, and that courts should not be the mechanism for fundamental social change.

Others appointees, like Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke, agreed with Trump, but ethical inattention and lapses undermined their effectiveness. Barr, in contrast, has a reputation for integrity.

Barr’s predecessor Jeff Sessions had a substantial career as a Senator and was ethically above reproach. Nevertheless, his incompetence got the administration into continuous trouble. For instance, he should never have rested the DACA repeal entirely on the notion that the policy was illegal but should have argued instead that the administration had discretion to end it. This failure is bedeviling the administration in the courts. And his decision to separate children from their parents at the border was a public relations disaster, as anyone with an understanding of how this decision would play in the media could have predicted.

Barr will make no such mistakes. He will make the best arguments for administration policies that can be defended. He will not undertake frolics and detours in lawsuits that have no hope of victory. He will not support Trump policies with tactics that will undermine the possibility of their success.

And he nevertheless can be tough when he needs to be. Just look at the video of his confirmation hearing where he stood up to the most partisan Democratic Senators, like Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono. Hirono implied he had campaigned to become Trump’s Attorney General and was untrustworthy. Barr shut her down by bluntly telling her that if she thought him untrustworthy she should simply vote against him.

I should note that I worked as a deputy to Barr at the Office of Legal Counsel in the first Bush administration. I mention this to provide some context for my strong judgments here. I did not always agree with Barr, nor do I agree with him now on some issues, like asset forfeiture. But I am confident he will bring stability to an administration that has been harmed by chaos, including that emanating from the Department of Justice.

Reader Discussion

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.

on January 18, 2019 at 09:36:29 am

Good take on Sessions. Would you not also include in negative side of Sessions' ledger the act of "recusal'. Entirely unnecessary to my mind and left The Trumpster with a principal officer that was hostile to him.

News today that the Dems are up to their usual tactics with Sen. John Kennedy asking whether Barr's Catholicism disqualifies him from the AG position;

https://hotair.com/archives/2019/01/17/kennedy-barr-catholicism-disqualify-office/

OMG, this is beginnning to sound like the late 19th / early 20th century with charges of "Popery" sure to come next.

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gabe
on January 18, 2019 at 10:24:31 am

Sen. John Kennedy is a Republican from Louisiana. No Democrat asked Barr about his Catholicism.

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Ken Kelly
on January 18, 2019 at 10:37:41 am

Here's something interesting about Mr. Barr concerning Ruby Ridge:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/william-barrs-connection-to-ruby-ridge-defending-fbi-snipers/

To my eye, Barr is yet another bad choice by Trump.

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EK
on January 18, 2019 at 11:07:42 am

You make a good argument but I cannot get around the asset forfeiture issue. One policy disagreement should not determine anyone's fitness for office but this is patently unconstitutional and has no place in a decent republic.

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JR
on January 18, 2019 at 12:53:26 pm

Oops, you are right. I misread the party affiliation. It makes it even worse.

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gabe
on January 21, 2019 at 07:52:22 am

I'd settle for the rule of law equally applied to both republicans and democrats, as opposed to the way it is applied to the nth degree for Trump and anyone remotely associated with him, while democrats get a big "Eh, whatever".

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jj2105
on January 21, 2019 at 11:57:07 am

Amen to that. Is it too much to ask that the DOJ re-examine Hillary Clinton’s devious deeds at SOS? Or has she skated so far that even Barr can’t catch her?

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Image of Joel
Joel
on January 21, 2019 at 15:26:50 pm

I withhold judgment of Mr. Barr until I see how he chooses to deal, when confirmed, with the real Russian collusion perpetrated by his DOJ and FBI, the DNC, the Clinton campaign, the CIA and Obama White House. If there is no investigation and no indictments emerge , he will reveal himself to be another establishment guy protecting their own. I am hoping for the alternative.

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Dutybound
on January 21, 2019 at 22:26:24 pm

[…] Law Liberty: Why Bill Barr Is Trump’s Best Appointment […]

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Image of Ep. 14 MLK Day & Interview with Jesse Loshe of Q Army Social. Common Sense Show 1/21/2019 – Indy News Home
Ep. 14 MLK Day & Interview with Jesse Loshe of Q Army Social. Common Sense Show 1/21/2019 – Indy News Home
on January 22, 2019 at 11:53:45 am

No mention of Barr's opposition to the 2nd Amendment and willingness to impose even more gun controls?

https://gunowners.org/alert11619/

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Image of Patrick T Peterson
Patrick T Peterson
on January 24, 2019 at 09:38:48 am

And how about Barr's support for the FBI sniper who killed Randy Weaver's wife?

http://jimbovard.com/blog/2019/01/16/william-barr-patron-saint-of-fbi-snipers/

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Image of Patrick T Peterson
Patrick T Peterson
on November 14, 2019 at 11:48:55 am

[…] Law Liberty: Why Bill Barr Is Trump’s Best Appointment […]

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Image of Ep. 14 MLK Day & Interview with Jesse Loshe of Q Army Social. Common Sense Show 1/21/2019 | Indy News Media
Ep. 14 MLK Day & Interview with Jesse Loshe of Q Army Social. Common Sense Show 1/21/2019 | Indy News Media

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.