Over the past couple of days, Attorney General William Barr has made headlines after remarks made during an interview with WGN Radio and a speech and question and answer session at Hillsdale College. Among the topics discussed was the potential of the country heading in the direction of a socialist society, mail-in voting issues, career staff vs political appointees at the Department of Justice, and the constitutional implications of coronavirus-related lockdowns.
On Monday, Barr was interview by WGN Radio‘s, John Kass where the main focus was on crime and corruption in Chicago and around the country. Barr addressed several issues during the interview that have made headlines recently. He stated, “As an attorney general, I’m not supposed to get into politics. But, [I] think we are getting into a position where we’re going to find ourselves irrevocably committed to a socialist path. And I think if Trump loses this election, that will be the case.”
Barr continued, “You know liberals project.” [They say] “You know the president is going to stay in office and seize power and all that s—? I’ve never heard of that crap. I mean, I’m the attorney general. I would think I would have heard about it. There undoubtedly are many people in the government who surreptitiously work to thwart the administration.”
Barr also said the U.S. was headed towards a “rule by mob” approach to governance. “Increasingly, the message of the Democrats appears to be ‘Biden or no peace’.”
The conversation then veered toward voting and mail-in ballots, “Just think about the way we vote now,” Barr said. “You have a precinct, your name is on a list, you go in and say who you are, you go behind a curtain, no one is allowed to go in there to influence you, and no one can tell how you voted. All of that is gone with mail-in voting.”
Barr continued, “There’s no more secret vote with mail-in vote. A secret vote prevents selling and buying votes. So now we’re back in the business of selling and buying votes. And the capricious distribution of ballots means harvesting, undue influence, outright coercion, paying off a postman, here’s a few hundred dollars, give me some of your ballots.”
The Attorney General accused the Democrats of sowing doubt in the minds of Americans as to the validity of the election’s results, “They’re creating an incendiary situation where there will be loss of confidence in the vote. It’ll be a close vote. People will say the president just won Nevada. ‘Oh, wait a minute! We just discovered 100,000 ballots! Every vote will be counted!’ Yeah, but we don’t know where these freaking votes came from.”
Then on Wednesday, Barr gave remarks at Michigan’s Hillsdale College Annual Constitution Day celebration. Barr focused on the power that the Constitution allocates to the Executive during his speech. “The Supreme Court has correctly held that, under Article II of the Constitution, the Executive has virtually unchecked discretion to decide whether to prosecute individuals for suspected federal crimes. The only significant limitation on that discretion comes from other provisions of the Constitution. Thus, for example, a United States Attorney could not decide to prosecute only people of a particular race or religion. But aside from that limitation — which thankfully has remained a true hypothetical at the Department of Justice — the Executive has broad discretion to decide whether to bring criminal prosecutions in particular cases.”
“The criminal process is a juggernaut.” He added, “And that means federal prosecutors possess tremendous power — power that is necessary to enforce our laws and punish wrongdoing, but power that, like any power, carries inherent potential for abuse or misuse.”
“It has become fashionable to argue that prosecutorial decisions are legitimate only when they are made by the lowest-level line prosecutor handling any given case. Ironically, some of those same critics see no problem in campaigning for highly political, elected District Attorneys to remake state and local prosecutorial offices in their preferred progressive image, which often involves overriding the considered judgment of career prosecutors and police officers. But aside from hypocrisy, the notion that line prosecutors should make the final decisions within the Department of Justice is completely wrong and it is antithetical to the basic values underlying our system.”
Later, Barr was asked a question about the constitutional hurdles of banning church gatherings during the pandemic. “You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history,” Barr said.
Attorney General Bill Barr says, other than slavery, coronavirus stay-at-home orders are the "greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history."pic.twitter.com/OUdGn40B3J
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) September 17, 2020
“Most of the governors do what bureaucrats always do, which is they … defy common sense,” Barr added. “They treat free citizens as babies that can’t take responsibility for themselves and others. We have to give business people an opportunity. Tell them what the rules are you know the masks, which rule of masks, you had this month, and then let them try to adapt their business to that and you’ll have ingenuity, and people will at least have the freedom to try to earn a living.”
Kaylee McGee from the Washington Examiner was at the event on Wednesday and set the record straight regarding the comments made by Barr, “But the Left can’t seem to stop lying about Barr. [He] gave a speech about power, politics, the rule of law, and how the Justice Department juggles all three. At one point, he talked about the constitutional authority given to him by the executive, otherwise known as the president, and he questioned why many in the federal government (including members of his own department!) try to undermine it.”
She continued, “The only reason Barr’s statement was controversial is because he is a conservative serving under a Republican president. When former Attorney General Eric Holder intervened and dropped charges against former DOJ lawyer Thomas Tamm, who leaked details of a Bush administration wiretapping program to the New York Times, no one in the media or the Democratic Party questioned Holder’s right to do so. They might have disagreed with Holder’s actions, but they could not argue with his authority.”
McGee did say Barr used a poor analogy when referring to the coronavirus shutdown, “He did not downplay the evils of slavery, nor did he suggest that the shutdown was just as bad.”
“Ironically, Barr predicted his words would be misconstrued. He acknowledged on Wednesday night that he is no media darling, in large part because he is not what they expected. The Left hoped that, as a career politician who had previously served under a much more moderate administration, Barr would be an ally. But as he made clear on Wednesday, the job of the attorney general is to uphold the rule of law and enforce it — and the law doesn’t pick sides.” McGee concluded.