Barr: A good pick for attorney general?
By nominating William Barr as the next U.S. attorney general, President Trump hit a “home run,” said Andrew McCarthy in NationalReview.com. Barr, 68, earned a reputation as “a lawyer’s lawyer” while serving as President George H.W. Bush’s attorney general—and, earlier, as deputy attorney general. Before that, he worked as a CIA intelligence analyst, and has become “one of the country’s best thinkers on counterterrorism for the post-9/11 era.” He’s the sort of “law-enforcement pro” you want overseeing sentencing reform. Just as important, Barr already has a “fine working relationship” with special counsel Robert Mueller, who oversaw the Justice Department’s criminal division under Barr during the Bush 41 years. Barr will support Mueller’s work when he produces “real evidence of a crime,” but if such evidence is lacking, he will “expect him to close the case without fanfare.”
Trump must have picked Barr for a reason, said Caroline Fredrickson in The New York Times. For nearly two years, the president has ranted that he wants an attorney general who will aggressively defend him as his old pit-bull lawyer Roy Cohn once did. In Barr, he may have found his man. Barr, an uberpartisan conservative, is on record criticizing Mueller for hiring too many Democrats, and has said Trump “made the right call” in firing former FBI Director James Comey. Let’s also recall it was Barr who advised Bush in 1992 to pardon six key Iran-Contra players indicted for or convicted of lying. Barr is “Jeff Sessions without the baggage,” said Mark Joseph Stern in Slate.com. In 1991, he argued that the Constitution does not protect access to abortion; he has “taken a hard-line stance against LGBTQ rights”; and he’s “proved to be a drug warrior, immigration hawk, and law-and-order stickler.”
To be sure, there are plenty of “legitimate reasons to be concerned” about Barr, said Benjamin Wittes in TheAtlantic.com, particularly his belief in strong executive power—which may lead him to object to obstruction-of-justice charges against Trump. But let’s face facts: Unlike acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, he’ll be questioned and vetted by the Senate, and he’s “steeped in the traditions and culture” of the Justice Department. Just consider Trump’s other possible choices. “Jeanine Pirro? Rudy Giuliani? Kris Kobach? Pam Bondi?” Under the circumstances, Barr is “as good an attorney general as we’re likely to get.”