A former colleague of Attorney General William Barr is arguing that the AG misled the public about the results of the Mueller investigation in order to better establish a presidency exercising “unchecked” executive power. He also pointed toward an “unsolicited” anti-Mueller memo that Barr wrote before becoming AG.
There can be no doubt that the primary effect of Barr’s conduct to date has indeed been to befuddle and mislead, and create a public misimpression, for those who have not read Mueller’s report, that the president may not have interfered with the investigation. But Barr never said that the president did not in fact interfere, only that there is no basis in fact and law to support a finding of criminal obstruction. Indeed, a careful review of Barr’s conduct suggests that his mission is far more grandiose that just misleading people about the facts.
Ayer described Barr as long being a “fierce advocate of unchecked presidential power.” (Georgetown Law Professor Jonathan Turley, a friend of Barr’s, previously told The New York Times the AG’s “default” is Article II of the Constitution.) But Ayer now looks at the extent that Barr went to expand executive power.
Ayer found that in the AG’s opinion, there shouldn’t even have been a special counsel: “in Barr’s view, the only check on gross misconduct by the president is impeachment, and the very idea of an independent or special counsel investigating the president is a constitutional anathema.”
The article caught the attention of conservative attorney George Conway (who is, incidentally, husband to top Trump Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway). He called it a “brutal assessment.” Here’s what he highlighted.
“Barr never said that the president did not in fact interfere, only that there is no basis [for] a finding of criminal obstruction. … Barr’s conduct suggests that his mission is far more grandiose that just misleading people about the facts.”
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) June 30, 2019
[Image via MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty/Images]