Only William Barr stands between Trump and the end of democracy in America

Only William Barr stands between Trump and the end of democracy in America
© Washington Post

In February, Attorney General William BarrBill BarrIntelligence officials warned Trump that Giuliani was target of Russian influence campaign: report DOJ veteran says he's quitting over Barr's 'slavish obedience' to Trump Obama: Trump lacks 'patience' and 'focus' needed to implement foreign policy MORE  ABC News that President TrumpDonald John TrumpLatest Mnuchin-Pelosi call produces 'encouraging news on testing' for stimulus package China warns it will detain American nationals following DOJ prosecution of Chinese scholars: report Musician John Fogerty issues cease and desist over Trump use of 'Fortunate Son' MORE王中王精选一肖一码 “has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.” 

That was then. Last week, Trump told Barr to bring criminal charges against Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenConservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Trump wishes Harris 'the best' after aide tests positive for COVID-19 Pennsylvania rejects 372K mail-in ballot applications following primary confusion: report MORE (and against Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaJacobin Editor-at-Large: Valerie Jarrett's support for Citigroup executive's mayoral campaign 'microcosm' of Democrats' relationship with Wall Street Obama to stump for Biden in Philadelphia On India, the US must think bigger MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden camp urges supporters to 'campaign like we're trailing' Censoring the Biden story: How social media becomes state media NYT editorial calls Trump the 'greatest threat to American democracy since World War II' MORE王中王精选一肖一码), in connection with the DOJ’s investigation of possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign in the 2016 election. “Unless Bill Barr indicts these people for crimes -- the greatest political crime in the history of our country,” Trump , “then we’ll get little satisfaction unless I win.”

The president’s demand is really the sequel to last year’s Ukrainegate. Trump then  Biden as the greatest threat of any Democrat to his reelection. So he threatened Ukraine, which was engaged in a proxy war with Russia, with loss of vital military aid unless its government announced a criminal investigation of Biden, and his son Hunter, in connection with Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian oil and gas company (there is no evidence that Joe Biden did anything wrong).  


The extortion scheme nearly worked. Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky was on the  of such an announcement in September 2019, which might have crippled Biden’s Democratic primary campaign. Then news leaked of a holdup in Ukraine military aid, followed two weeks later by disclosure of the Ukrainegate . Congress went  and the scheme collapsed. 

王中王精选一肖一码Now that Biden is the Democratic nominee with a commanding lead in the polls, Trump seems to be trying, for a second time, to rig the 2020 election. This time he is pressuring his own government to criminally prosecute Biden in connection with the Russia investigation, despite that no evidence exists to support such charges or even to justify an investigation. Barr acknowledged as much last May by  that, based on the “information I have today,” DOJ would not begin a criminal investigation of Biden (or Obama) concerning the Russia investigation — and no additional information has since emerged.   

王中王精选一肖一码When you come right down to it, Trump wants his attorney general to jail his political opponents on fabricated charges (Barr has been publicly non-committal about Trump’s demand). That’s a pretty good litmus test for identifying a dictatorship or an autocracy. The  of Iran, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Cambodia, to name a few, have arrested, jailed or put their political opponents under house arrest on fake or trumped up charges, often on the verge of elections. In Putin’s Russia, to cite just one notorious example, opposition figure Alexei Navalny was jailed in 2013 and .

Will Barr hold the line? He certainly has demonstrated unswerving loyalty to Trump. Barr intervened in the Mike Flynn and Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneDOJ veteran says he's quitting over Barr's 'slavish obedience' to Trump Only William Barr stands between Trump and the end of democracy in America Hundreds of attorneys and judges offer to support any Trump official opposing 'political misuse of the DOJ' MORE王中王精选一肖一码 prosecutions to help these die hard Trump supporters; he made a series of misleading or baseless  that mail voting fraud is widespread, which bolstered a Trump election theme; and he has promoted an aggressive theory of  that may account for why Trump  that, under the Constitution, “I can do whatever I want as president,” including intervene in criminal cases.

But bringing unsupported criminal charges against an opposing presidential candidate just weeks before an election may be a bridge too far for William Barr. It could unleash a firestorm, cause an open revolt within the Department of Justice and leave Barr with the historical reputation as the man who sacrificed 250 years of American democracy to help Donald Trump win reelection. 


Our democracy is fragile indeed if its preservation depends on whether an appointed official like Barr has the courage to stand up to the president. Suppose Trump had nominated and been able to confirm Rudolph Giuliani as attorney general. Judging by his role in orchestrating Ukrainegate, Giuliani might have been more receptive than Barr has been (so far) to weaponizing the DOJ against Joe Biden.

王中王精选一肖一码If democracy in America survives Donald Trump’s presidency, it won’t be by much.

Gregory J. Wallance, a writer in New York City, was a federal prosecutor during the Carter and Reagan administrations. He is the author of “America’s Soul in the Balance: The Holocaust, FDR’s State Department, and The Moral Disgrace of an American Aristocracy.” Follow him on Twitter at @gregorywallance.

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