William Barr: Man Of The Year.

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  • 08/21/2022

“Person of the Year” is high praise indeed. TIME has given the honor to the teenage climate activist, Greta Thunberg, for beginning “a global movement by skipping school."

Perhaps more gallingly, TIME named “the public servants” as their “guardians of the year.” In particular, Marie Yovanovitch, Bill Taylor, Fiona Hill, and Alex Vindman—four of the bureaucrats who testified against President Trump in the impeachment hearings—as individuals who had the courage to “follow the law.”

While these four might have “followed the law” by testifying under subpoena, the broad-based effort to impeach President Trump based on a phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky is disgraceful, and against the spirit of the Constitution. Using the whistleblower statutes—and other underhanded means—to undermine the President’s foreign policy authority is something to be criticized, not praised. Moreover, those who testified against the President were endlessly lauded by the Democrats and the mainstream media, one doubts that these witnesses really put that much on the line.

We at Human Events feel this honor should be bestowed on a man who has actually worked to preserve the rule of law in the face of overwhelming political and media pressure. He’s a man who returned to public service to preserve our Constitution, knowing full well that he would be attacked relentlessly as a result.

That man is Attorney General William Pelham Barr.

[caption id="attachment_181146" align="aligncenter" width="1920"]WIlliam Barr. WIlliam Barr.[/caption]


Almost immediately upon taking charge at the Department of Justice, Barr put an end to the Mueller investigation. Barr was sworn in on February 14th, 2019; the Mueller investigation ended on March 22nd. There were reports that some prosecutors on Mueller’s team were keen to continue the probe, and prosecute a number of other officials. Barr’s actions stopped that.

Barr, the experienced operator, saw right through Mueller’s ploy.

Barr also brought an end to any further investigation of the obstruction charges against President Trump. In June 2018, while in private practice at Kirkland and Ellis, Barr wrote a lengthy memo explaining the flaws in primary theory that Mueller and his team were using to investigate President Trump for obstruction of justice. Now, with Barr installed as attorney general, his views became the Department of Justice’s views; as subordinates, Mueller and his team had to abide by those views.

Mueller and his team tried one last, desperate maneuver to get the obstruction charges in front of Congress. Instead of trying to argue that President Trump be indicted for obstruction of justice (which Barr, as Attorney General, could have easily shot down), Mueller declined to make a charging decision, and hoped that Democrats in Congress would get the hint and impeach Trump on obstruction.

Here, too, Barr’s actions were decisive. When Mueller gave him his report, Barr did not immediately release it to the public (which would have been irresponsible, as the report required careful redactions). Instead, Barr released a summary memo of the Report, which included an affirmative finding on the obstruction—namely, that there was insufficient evidence to indict the President.

In the battle of framing, who gets there first usually wins, especially if they have the law on their side. Mueller and his team were trying to do an end run around the law, and create a public perception that the President had obstructed justice, all while avoiding Barr’s cogent legal objections to their theory.

Barr, the experienced operator, saw right through Mueller’s ploy.

[caption id="attachment_181152" align="aligncenter" width="1920"]Donald Trump. Donald Trump.[/caption]


As discussed in one of the very first articles published in the re-launched Human Events, Robert Mueller's novel theory of obstruction of justice could have led to an indefinite investigation, where any action that President Trump took—even criticizing the investigation—could have been construed as obstruction of justice. An indefinite special counsel investigation would have hamstrung President Trump as long as he was in office.

Barr stopped that. Mueller's "creative" investigators like Andrew Weissmann found themselves out of government. Barr’s actions put an end to the DOJ rebellion against the elected President of the United States, and returned the department to its rightful position as subordinate to President Trump and the White House.

But Barr didn’t just get the DOJ back in order; he also defanged Mueller’s report. Democrats tried to complain that Barr’s summary memo was unfair, but those complaints fell upon deaf ears. Everything that Barr asserted about Mueller’s report was scrupulously accurate. It was not Barr, but Mueller himself, that was trying to to an end run around the law by not making a finding on obstruction. Barr sniffed out the ploy, and exercised his lawful authority as Attorney General to affirmatively find no obstruction.

As a result, Democrats desperately tried to revive the Russia theory and the Mueller investigation by having Mueller testify at a public hearing. If Barr had not acted, perhaps the Democrats would have proceeded on the basis of the report alone. But because Barr was so effective, Democrats thought they needed to get Mueller to speak for himself.

The problem for Democrats was that Mueller wasn’t in command of his report; he lacked clarity on the details. The Mueller hearing was an epic failure, a failure catalyzed by Bill Barr’s actions.

[caption id="attachment_181148" align="alignnone" width="1920"]WIlliam Barr. WIlliam Barr.[/caption]


That’s not to say that Attorney General Barr’s tenure has been an unmitigated success. The IG report revealed that at least one FBI official, Kevin Clinesmith, actively doctored evidence in order to keep the FISA investigation going. He has not been prosecuted; neither has Andrew McCabe, who was fired from the FBI over eighteen months ago for “lacking candor” under oath.

AG Barr’s actions were elegant and decisive; they ended the Mueller investigation and ensured that wobbly Republicans would ultimately continue to support the President.

The DOJ has brought a slew of prosecutions against former Trump associates for false statements—George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, and Roger Stone, just to name a few. These prosecutions began before Barr entered office, but it is still his responsibility to ensure that the law is consistently applied in this area. If Trump campaign associates faced prosecution for false statements to the FBI, the officials investigating them must also face prosecution if they made false statements to the IG or to the FISA court.

The time to do all this is running short. We are less than a year away from the 2020 election; President Trump's victory is not guaranteed. A DOJ supervised by a President Biden or a President Warren would have little interest in prosecuting past FBI misconduct. John Durham, Barr’s handpicked AG, has a reputation for being deliberate; that said, he must finish his work early this year, so these prosecutions happen. Ultimately, the responsibility making sure that happens falls on AG Barr.


AG Barr’s actions were elegant and decisive; they ended the Mueller investigation and ensured that wobbly Republicans would ultimately continue to support the President.

In doing so, AG Barr not only defended President Trump and the results of the 2016 election. He did something more; he defended the separation of powers and the rule of law. The executive branch is not a subordinate branch of government; it is co-equal . By standing up for President Trump’s right to fire James Comey—his subordinate—Barr was defending the concept that any President has the right to fire his direct subordinates, no matter how much of a media storm they can create.

That principle matters. An executive who cannot fire his subordinates is impotent; the notion would be unthinkable in the private sector. President Trump, like all Presidents, has a duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” He cannot do that if he cannot fire those who, in his judgment, are not up to standard.

Moreover, Attorney General Barr did not have to take this job; he’s almost seventy years old, and coming up to the end of a long, prestigious career in the law. He first served as Attorney General almost thirty years ago, in the first Bush administration. But instead of staying out of the public light, enjoying his retirement and his grandchildren, Barr felt the pull of duty: to defend the executive branch and the Constitution from an overreaching Congress.

In that regard, his actions were more righteous than any other person in government this year.

That’s why Attorney General William Barr is Human Events’ Man of the Year.