Bill Barr Prefers Presidents Who Don’t Incite Riots
Donald Trump's two attorneys general, Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr, were both terrible and still somehow never quite corrupt enough for him. They failed to live down to his expectations. Barr abandoned Trump's Death Star before it fired mob violence at the Capitol, but during an interview on Britain's ITV News, the former attorney general said that Trump's Big Lie “precipitated the riots on the Hill."
BARR: I'm sad to see but not surprised in a way to see the kind of violence we saw on Capitol Hill. I don't know if I would use the word inevitable but I think that when you start suppressing free speech, when people lose confidence in the media and also when they lose faith in the integrity of elections, you are going to have some people resort to violence.
@RohitKachrooITV "That was the thing that precipitated the riots on the Hill" Former attorney general Bill Barr te… https://t.co/s5Mjn6qzym— ITV News (@ITV News) 1611004760.0
It's unclear who Barr believes “started suppressing free speech." If he's referring to conservative bogeyman “Big Tech," the problem was that they were too lax in permitting disinformation to spread on social media. Americans lost faith in the media not because of a perceived liberal bias, but because the president of the United States and most Republicans actively attacked and demonized a free press. That's a classic authoritarian move.
But Barr doesn't mince words when linking Trump's relentless assault on our elections to the January 6 insurrection. This interview is pretty damning evidence for no-longer-president but still-impeached Trump's Senate trial. The day after the siege, Barr accused Trump of “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress," which he considered a “betrayal of his office and his supporters." It's no wonder that loyal stooge Lindsey Graham is begging Senate Democrats to dismiss the article of impeachment.
We were all rightly concerned that Barr would eagerly assist Trump's jacklegged coup. Back in June, when testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Barr was sketchy and evasive about Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
Salon reported at the time:
Perhaps most chilling was Barr's answer to Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., who asked whether Barr himself would leave office on Jan. 20, 2021, if Trump loses the election but tries to remain in the White House. "Well, if the results are clear, I would leave office," the attorney general said.
And as it turned out, Barr did in fact leave office when it was “clear" that Joe Biden had won, and a few weeks earlier, Barr announced that the Justice Department had uncovered no evidence — as in zero — of any widespread voter fraud that would've made Trump the winner of the election, instead of a big loser.
Barr knew this would piss off Trump, but he was reportedly “furious" that Trump was making baseless claims about a “rigged" election. According to Jonathan Swan at Axios, Barr told Trump in a meeting after his announcement that Trump's conspiracy theories were “bullshit" and his elite squad of Kraken handlers was “clownish."
Swan reports that Barr had spent months diapering Trump's bottom (I'm speaking figuratively). During the racial justice protests last summer, Trump wanted to invoke the Insurrection Act and send in troops as a show of “strength." This was after his failed invasion of Portland, Oregon. Barr remained a firm no, which sent Trump into the “hysterics" assholes still insist we'd endure under a woman president.
"No one supports me," Trump yelled. "No one gives me any fucking support."
He just wanted sharks with fricking laser beams attached to their heads shooting protesters. Someone throw the president a bone here.
Trump stormed out of the Oval Office and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Barr, “Well, that went well," because he's a character in a very bad sitcom.
Keep in mind that at this point, Trump hadn't actually lost the election and begun his quick descent into madness (it's like one stop on an elevator). He was at his peak stability last summer, but when Barr told him last December that all the OAN network fairy tales about election fraud weren't true, Trump went full supervillain.
"Why would you say such a thing? You must hate Trump. There's no other reason for it. You must hate Trump," the president charged, speaking about himself in the third person.
Yeah, they should've invoked the 25th Amendment every day for the past four years.
Barr's public statements are bad enough, but he should testify at the impeachment trial about these private meetings. Trump refused to listen to reason, even from within his own administration. He fanned the flames of conspiracy until they almost consumed American democracy. It's not enough that he's out of office in less than 24 hours. The Senate needs to permanently remove the threat of Trump ever returning to the White House.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."