Thank You, Bill Barr – WSJ
resigned as Attorney General on Monday, effective Dec. 23, and he’s certainly earned the right to leave early. He has been the right man at the right time for that difficult job, with the principles and toughness to make difficult decisions despite bitter Democrats in Congress and a willful President
Mr. Barr had already been AG once so he didn’t need the title. He took the job in a Washington marked by no-limits partisanship knowing that he would be criticized no matter what he did. But he wanted to clean up a Justice Department that he rightly knew had been tainted by a corrupt FBI under
and political appointees in both parties who lacked the courage or tenacity to take responsibility for hard prosecutorial judgments.
His achievements included navigating the end of the
probe while protecting the office of the Presidency from unconstitutional conclusions about obstruction of justice. Future Presidents of both parties will thank him.
He was willing to endure media and Democratic smears by taking fresh looks at old investigations. This included hiring U.S. Attorney
to examine how the FBI could decide to investigate the 2016 Trump campaign as a Russian front. His release of documents has helped to show the FBI probe began in partisan scheming and unlawful practices, and Mr. Durham is staying on the job and may have more to report and indictments.
Mr. Barr also had the guts to ask another U.S. Attorney,
to re-examine Mr. Mueller’s prosecution of
That probe turned up more malpractice and a decision to dismiss charges that never should have been brought. Mr. Barr used the lessons of these misguided probes to impose new rules and limits on political investigations.
We disagreed with Mr. Barr on the weak antitrust case against Google. But he has been a champion of free speech and religious liberty when both are under attack by progressives. His interventions on Covid-19 restrictions against houses of worship supported lawsuits that have been vindicated at the Supreme Court and forced governors to consider the First Amendment’s limit on their power.
Perhaps Mr. Barr’s greatest contribution was speaking truth to Mr. Trump, who wanted his tormentors prosecuted whether or not the evidence warranted. This resistance chafed on Mr. Trump as Mr. Barr’s tenure went on, and especially when Mr. Durham declined to bring indictments or leak evidence before the presidential election. This was the right decision and shows Mr. Barr’s adherence to principle.
Mr. Barr recently said publicly that his investigators had not found enough evidence of voter fraud to overturn the presidential election, which was true but infuriated Mr. Trump. These run-ins influenced Mr. Barr’s decision to leave early. As has so often been the case with this President and his advisers, Mr. Trump never appreciated all that Mr. Barr did for his Presidency and the country.
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Appeared in the December 15, 2020, print edition.
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