It’s no secret that the media doesn’t like Attorney General Bill Barr. Since his rise to the office of attorney general, the left has systematically attacked the unflappable bureaucrat for a range of imagined misdeeds, from white-washing the Mueller report to boosting President Donald Trump’s claims of being spied on by the FBI.
Keeping with this tradition of Barr hysteria, the New Yorker published an almost 10,000-word screed on Monday that depicts the AG as a dangerously authoritarian toady of President Trump. But according to The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway, “the article is absolutely riddled with errors and omissions of key facts.”
Trump’s sword and shield?
The angle of the hit-piece leaps from the page: Barr is a nefarious culture warrior who “has acted as the president’s political sword and shield,” the New Yorker‘s David Rohde writes. Rohde goes on to dwell on common liberal talking points, characterizing Barr as someone who has nursed authoritarian views throughout his career and presenting an account of recent Department of Justice (DOJ) probes that is shot through with innuendo and inaccuracies, Hemingway notes.
Rohde faults Barr for showing “skepticism” of then-unproven (and eventually discounted) allegations of Russia collusion during his confirmation hearing, falsely claims that Barr launched an investigation of the Trump–Russia probe at the president’s “behest,” and generally presents Barr as a conspiracy theorist for challenging Justice Department Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz’s findings on abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
As a whole, Rohde does not dwell on the holes in the Russia probe — he mentions the former British spy Christopher Steele’s dossier only in passing — and he incuriously pushes the official talking points that the investigation was completely justified. He also claims that the inspector general found that there was “no political bias” in the Russia probe, when in fact, Horowitz did not rule out political bias altogether, according to Hemingway.
Rohde further points to five individuals charged in then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe to claim that Barr “misrepresented” Horowitz’s findings when he said that evidence in the Trump–Russia probe was “exculpatory,” but the leftist writer leaves out that none of the individuals were charged over “collusion.” Rohde also incorrectly states that Barr and Durham visited Australia as part of their probe of Russiagate’s origins.
Errors and omissions
Putting aside these glaring inaccuracies, the piece largely attacks Barr for having political views that liberals don’t like, from his law-and-order approach to criminal justice to his support of Trump’s desire to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The criticisms are all of a piece: Barr is both a loyalist who puts the president before the Constitution and a secretly reactionary villain who wants to turn America into a Christian theocracy.
Many have pointed to Barr’s recent speeches extolling the power of the presidency, as well as his view that religion is indispensable to democratic life, to paint Barr as a shadowy authoritarian, and these themes recur again and again in Rohde’s piece, which attempts to portray Barr as belonging to a shadowy Catholic cabal centered on the organization Opus Dei. (Catholic writers, for their part, have responded sharply to the insinuation that there is anything nefarious about the group.)
Rohde’s piece also vaguely hints that Barr’s religious views, together with his views on presidential power, are dangerous and lacking in historical precedent. The writer says Barr’s claim that the Founding Fathers thought religion was indispensable to democratic life is “contentious,” even though Barr went on to supply a quote from John Adams (hardly the only example) validating that claim: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”
Elsewhere, Rohde quibbles with Barr for arguing that immorality, rather than poverty, causes crime — obviously a big no-no with the social justice crowd — but Rohde doesn’t give any rebuttal of Barr’s common-sense conception of justice.
The angle is obvious: Barr is an evil conservative mastermind who does Trump’s bidding — or rather, is using Trump as a vehicle for his own reactionary agenda.
Never mind the truth.
This latest hit piece comes as Democrats and the media incuriously push the claims of Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born U.S. citizen and associate of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani who has said that Barr was in cahoots with Trump on Ukraine. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who spent the better part of last year orchestrating a smear campaign against the “rogue” attorney general, also said that Barr was “implicated” in Trump’s so-called crimes, according to MSNBC.
It seems the outrage never ends. But knowing Barr, he’ll just shrug it all off.