Advise and Dissent
December 12, 2019

Former Attorney General Eric Holder is "reluctant to publicly criticize my successors," he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed Wednesday night, but the current attorney general, William Barr, "has made a series of public statements and taken actions that are so plainly ideological, so nakedly partisan, and so deeply inappropriate for America’s chief law enforcement official that they demand a response from someone who held the same office."

Among Barr's troubling statement, Holder writes, were his "ode to essentially unbridled executive power" in a Federalist Society speech, his evidence-free attacks on the FBI and Justice Department inspector general, and his "stunning declaration not merely of ideology but of loyalty: to the president and his interests." In fact, Holder said, "to me, his attempts to vilify the president's critics sounded more like the tactics of an unscrupulous criminal defense lawyer than a U.S. attorney general."

"Virtually since the moment he took office," Holder writes, "Barr’s words and actions have been fundamentally inconsistent with his duty to the Constitution. Which is why I now fear that his conduct — running political interference for an increasingly lawless president — will wreak lasting damage." He concluded:

The American people deserve an attorney general who serves their interests, leads the Justice Department with integrity, and can be entrusted to pursue the facts and the law, even — and especially — when they are politically inconvenient and inconsistent with the personal interests of the president who appointed him. William Barr has proved he is incapable of serving as such an attorney general. He is unfit to lead the Justice Department. [Eric Holder, The Washington Post]

Holder wasn't the only former official giving successors advice in the Post on Wednesday — 17 former Watergate special prosecutors also advised their latter-day congressional counterparts that Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors and counseled putting country over party. Read Holder's entire op-ed in The Washington Post. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads