By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist
“Trump is the most purely evil human being I’ve ever met.”
— Tony Schwartz, actual author of “Art of the Deal”
Maybe he never met Bill Barr.
If Trump is the lesser evil, it’s because he’s so damaged that he can’t help being amoral, any more than the proverbial scorpion could help killing the frog. Barr, on the other hand, made a conscious choice to be Trump’s handmaiden, purposefully subverting the Department of Justice. Not just evil: he could be the most dangerous man in D.C., though between Trump, Barr and Mitch McConnell, it’s a tough choice. That treacherous triumvirate has so damaged democracy it’ll be tough for Joe Biden and a Democratic Congress to make it right. If, by now, it’s even possible.
Attorney General William Barr wasted no time in weaponizing our DOJ as projector and protector of presidential power, rather than a guardian of justice for all citizens. His opening act, mischaracterizing the Mueller report, was as cynical as it gets. He knew truth would out, but figured if his lies got there first, he could count on Fox “news” and other right-wing media to bury Mueller’s real findings. Calling the investigation “a grave injustice … unprecedented in American history” (maybe he never met Hillary Clinton), he expected Trump’s supporters to accept his version, facts be damned. They did, and still do. The truth is, Robert Mueller was too soft: (New Yorker: tinyurl.com/mueller2soft)
It’s gotten worse. Here, in cronylogical order, are some of Barr’s lesser-known offenses, presaging his recent explosion of two-handed digital salutes to democracy: He undertook a spurious anti-trust action against a few small cannabis producers; he went after automakers for rejecting Trump’s deregulation by agreeing to California’s clean-air rules (like the Constitution, federalism is important to Republicans only when it suits them); asked how history would judge his actions, he said, “History is written by the winners.”
But it’s the recent, blatant attacks on separation of powers, on elections, and on peaceful protests that confirm his true nature and purely Trumpophilic agenda. If “evil” is too inflammatory, what else shall we call turning the DOJ into an attack-dog for an all-powerful “president,” accountable to no one, not even the electorate? This is America, after all; not Trump’s idolized Russia.
Barr’s effort to end the case against Michael Flynn, who’d pleaded guilty to two counts of perjury, is the least of it. Where shall we place his approval, around which he danced like Sean Spicer on “Dancing with the Stars,” of the brutal removal of peaceful protestors so Trump could perform his Bible-walk desecration? As threatening as it was to the First Amendment, it’s still not his worst. The Soviet-style purging of the Southern District of New York of its U.S. attorney, mid-investigation of Trump’s shady businesses and henchmen, ranks higher, even as he fumbled so clumsily in his desperation to get it done.
The man he fired, Republican Geoffrey Berman, garners bipartisan respect as a man of integrity. For a replacement, Barr chose a golf-buddy of Trump who’s never prosecuted a case of any sort. He has, however, lawyered for Deutsche Bank, fined for laundering billions in Russian mob money, provider of millions in loans to Trump. Suspicious? Not to Senate Rs and incorrigible Trumpists. If it were Eric Holder similarly protecting President Obama, would we hear such high-decibel silence?
As egregious as that full-frontal attack on constitutional democracy is, there’s something still worse: namely, his transparently craven lie about voting by mail. Ignoring his role as defender of free and fair elections, he simply made up warnings about the most powerful way to circumvent Republicans’ undemocratic vote-suppression tactics. It “opens the floodgates for widespread fraud,” he conjured. Foreign governments could create a deluge of fake ballots, he prophesied. Right. Tailored to each of thousands of precincts and parishes? Then what? Bring bulging bags to post offices around the country? “Pleez to be taking for mail. Eez OK no problem.”
We expect perpetual prevarication from our perfidious “president,” but Barr is the putative chief law-enforcer of our country, lying between his jowls, not caring how preposterous; protecting his boss, scorning the American people.
A word about Trump’s inaction over Russia paying Taliban fighters $100,000 per killed U.S. and coalition soldier. While Congress is briefed on the mounting evidence and other countries share theirs, only three entities deny it: Russia, the Taliban and Trump, the boy who cried hoax. Res, as they say on the streets, ipsa loquitur.
Finally, on this Independence Day, consider the obvious consequences of having a “president” who ignores intelligence, whether it’s about a pandemic or the actions of his “friend” and our enemy, Putin, and so much more; who, while our country is torn asunder by fear and hate of fellow citizens, chooses to make it worse. As campaign strategy. Vote. Him. Out.
Email Sid Schwab at firstname.lastname@example.org.