Attorney General Barr has provoked a constitutional crisis

The Trump administration is claiming total immunity from congressional oversight as well as the right to obstruct any investigations into the executive branch. It must be stopped.

William Barr.

Attorney General William Barr testified before Congress today amidst a burgeoning scandal about his deliberate, late March mischaracterization of the Mueller report. To be blunt, Barr's appalling testimony today is further evidence of the Trump administration's intent to create something like an executive branch crime syndicate — a lawless, hegemonic branch of government that is above the law, beyond scrutiny, and beneath contempt. The Trump administration has triggered the most serious constitutional crisis since the Civil War, and if Democrats don't take urgent action, they will have capitulated to the permanent marginalization of Congress and helped usher in a new era of unaccountable presidential supremacy.

Barr is certainly playing his part in that drama. His prepared remarks were layered with absurdities. He claimed that the summary letter was drafted because "I did not believe that it was in the public interest to release additional portions of the report in piecemeal fashion, leading to public debate over incomplete information." But precisely that public debate unfolded in the grim aftermath of Barr's letter, as the Trump administration exploited its informational asymmetry with the public to claim "total exoneration" of the president and his campaign of any wrongdoing before or after the election. Knowing that the report would cause a cacophonous uproar, Barr used his authority to tip the scales in favor of the president.

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David Faris

David Faris is an associate professor of political science at Roosevelt University and the author of It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics. He is a frequent contributor to Informed Comment, and his work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and Indy Week.