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William Barr, vilified by all sides, did his job

John Kass, Tribune Content Agency on

Attorney General William Barr, vilified witlessly and unreasonably for years by the left — and most recently by conservatives — has just performed two critically important services to the republic:

After the election, Barr refused to put his name or the Department of Justice behind any of President Donald Trump’s wild claims — without evidence — that the presidential election was stolen by Democrats and President-elect Joe Biden.

And before the election, Barr quietly appointed a special prosecutor to investigate what is known as the “Obamagate” scandal, the origins of now-discredited allegations that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

Now that U.S. Attorney John Durham has been made special prosecutor, it will be politically difficult for Biden to kill the investigation. Durham is looking into decisions at the FBI and other intelligence agencies under the Obama-Biden administration to focus on Trump’s 2016 presidential effort, to gather information on his campaign apparatus, and to delegitimize the Trump administration in its early days.

These witless, tribal times we live in didn’t begin with Trump. We’ve been living like this for more than a decade. And that old line about you’ve probably done your job when both sides hate you seems just about right.

Barr served as attorney general under the late President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s. He made a great living in the private sector in the telecommunications industry. He didn’t need to return to government.

 

But in an interview in Chicago before the election, Barr told me that he felt he owed a debt to the Justice Department and his country.

He felt that Justice had been politically weaponized against the opposition. And he worried about the long-term implications of all this on the republic.

Angry rhetoric, bad tweets, hurt feelings and never-ending virtue signaling might not destroy the republic. But a weaponized Justice Department would destroy it.

If the FBI and CIA were seen by the people to be little more than political hit squads directed by political bosses, we wouldn’t have a republic.

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