As the House gathered to impeach Donald Trump on Wednesday, Bill Barr had some choice words to describe the occasion.
The attorney general told Fox’s Martha MacCallum that he fears Democrats have turned the impeachment process into a “political tool,” echoing Republicans who have blasted the Democrats’ recently concluded inquiry as a partisan crusade.
“The articles of impeachment here do not allege a violation of law, and it looks as if it’s going to be along partisan lines — I think — you know, I’m concerned about it being trivialized and used as a political tool,” Barr told MacCallum on Wednesday’s episode of The Story.
The attorney general also rebuked former FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday for failing to accept the Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s recently released findings on potentially illegal spying that happened at the FBI under Comey’s watch, Fox News reported.
“A political tool”
Barr’s concerns about impeachment are in line with his candid thoughts on the left’s regular threats to the constitutional order, whether from the bad actors at the FBI or other Democrat partisans. The attorney general has faced a firestorm of pushback for accusing Democrats of a “no-holds-barred, scorched-earth” campaign to take down Donald Trump that is “undermining” the rule of law, according to RealClearPolitics, and he recently voiced concern that the FBI was motivated by “bad faith” to spy on the Trump campaign, NBC News noted.
Three years of that “scorched-earth” resistance finally culminated in Donald Trump’s impeachment this week, and Barr had some thoughts. The Democrats did not accuse Trump of any crimes in the articles of impeachment, he said — and both articles, as Barr predicted, passed along strictly partisan lines Wednesday evening.
“As a general matter, I think we have to be careful about trivializing the process, and they put in a hurdle of high crimes — of treason, bribery and other high crimes,” Barr said, noting that Democrats later left out any mention of a criminal statute.
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Donald Trump similarly argued that she had “cheapened the very ugly word, impeachment” by introducing articles with no underlying crimes alleged. House Republicans echoed Trump’s complaints Wednesday, accusing Democrats in a marathon debate of impeaching Trump out of sheer “hate” rather than any wrongdoing, according to MSNBC.
Democrats did all they could to conceal their excitement Wednesday, as Pelosi — dressed in black — visibly chastised members of her caucus for clapping, according to the New York Post. But to many, what should have been a “historic” moment felt like business as usual in Washington — a troubling sign of just how much Democrats had debased the meaning of impeachment.
Conspicuously left out of the articles of impeachment: any mention of Robert Mueller or the Russia collusion saga that consumed Washington for the first half of Trump’s term. Democrats have largely forgotten about Mueller, and they have similarly dismissed the recent inspector general report, which found that the FBI abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to spy on the Trump campaign in 2016.
Barr has said that the report leaves open the possibility for “bad faith” by the FBI, contradicting many members of the media and Comey, who adopted a defensive posture in the wake of the report’s release. The former FBI chief claimed in a testy interview with Fox’s Chris Wallace that Barr “does not have a factual basis…to be speculating that agents acted in bad faith,” but Barr doubled down in his interview with MacCallum.
“One of the things that I object to is the tack being taken by Comey, which is to suggest that people who are criticizing or trying to get to the bottom of the misconduct are somehow attacking the FBI. I think that is nonsense,” Barr said, according to Fox. “We’re criticizing and concerned about misconduct by a few actors at the top of the FBI, and they should be criticized if they engaged in serious misconduct.”