House Democrats have already impeached President Donald Trump. Now they’re going after the man they call his new “fixer,” Attorney General Bill Barr.
Barr, however, is proving to be a more slippery target than the president, both physically and politically.
This afternoon, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the alleged “politicization” of the Justice Department featuring alarming whistleblower testimony. It was all about Barr—how the attorney general intervened to cut Roger Stone, the president’s longtime friend, “a break” in his sentencing for perjury and ordered the DOJ’s antitrust division to investigate marijuana companies because he didn’t like their industry.
“I believe William Barr poses the greatest threat in my lifetime to our rule of law,” testified Donald Ayer, a former Justice Department official who preceded Barr as the deputy attorney general under President George H. W. Bush, a declaration that fairly well summed up the afternoon’s proceedings. “That is because he does not believe in its core principle that nobody is above the law.”
Barr was nowhere to be found. His absence before congressional oversight hearings has become such a pattern that Democrats didn’t even bother, this time, to invite him. The attorney general, who’s been on the job for less than a year and a half, refused to testify last year about his widely criticized handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, eventually defying a House subpoena to appear before the Judiciary Committee. He had agreed to show up earlier this year, but the coronavirus pandemic postponed his appearance. While two of his staffers were testifying against him yesterday, a DOJ spokesperson announced that Barr had accepted an invitation to appear before the Judiciary Committee at the end of July. Yet if the recent past is a guide, Barr’s scheduled testimony a month from now is anything but certain.