At the outset of his newly published memoir, One Damn Thing After Another, former Attorney General William Barr recalls his concern about President Trump’s claim that the 2020 election had been “stolen” through voting “fraud.”
“There’s always some fraud in an election that large,” Barr explains, and “there may have been more than usual in 2020.” But Barr’s Department of Justice didn’t see it changing the outcome, so by extension, cellar-dweller Joe Biden, who had openly touted the most extensive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics, won it fair and square.
As he winds down the memoir, Barr charts President Trump’s many successes: tax reform, deregulation, the strongest and most resilient economy in American history, unprecedented progress for many marginalized Americans, withdrawal from the Iran deal, peace accords in the Middle East, and so forth. Trump achieved all this “in the face of bitter, implacable attacks,” but it wasn’t enough to get him a second term.
If Trump had just exercised “a modicum of self-restraint, moderating even a little of his pettiness,” he would have won. As the two-time attorney general has it, “the election was not ‘stolen.’ Trump lost it.” That’s Barr’s basic message, and the rest of the book is like a bikini, interesting as much for what it conceals as what it reveals.
Back in December 1969, William Barr applied for an internship with the Central Intelligence Agency and was admitted to the program. While attending law school at night, Barr worked at the CIA and as a lawyer continued in the CIA’s office of legislative counsel. Aside from Jimmy Carter’s pick—Stansfield Turner, “a disaster”—CIA bosses come off pretty well in Barr’s book.
In 1976, college student John Brennan voted for old-line Stalinist Gus Hall, candidate of the Communist Party USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Soviet Union. That disqualified Brennan from any job with the CIA. As Ronald Radosh notes, Clinton national security advisor Anthony Lake thought Stalinist spy Alger Hiss might have been innocent, and that played a role in Lake’s failure to get the CIA’s top post.
In 1980, by contrast, the CIA readily hired Brennan, who served in the Directorate of Intelligence and rose through the ranks. In 2013, the composite character president David Garrow described in Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama made Brennan CIA director. Barr, a veteran of the CIA, shows no curiosity about the strange career of Brennan, a key player in the Russia hoax. Barr is quite familiar with other cast members.
“I had known [James] Comey for more than twenty years,” Barr reveals, and “helped him become US Attorney in New York.” In 2016, FBI Director Comey held a news conference “sharply criticizing Clinton for her mishandling of classified emails.” Readers might think that a former attorney general and CIA man would outline the federal statutes Clinton violated.
Barr fails to detail the big fix that kept Hillary in the campaign, so he doubtless shares Comey’s belief that “no reasonable prosecutor” would have indicted her. By extension, former first ladies must be above the law, along with FBI bosses.
Trump wanted Barr to indict Comey for giving out memos containing confidential information. Barr told the president “everyone at the department agreed the evidence showed Comey lacked criminal intent. No one thought that the prosecution could be justified.”
As Barr explains, criminal intent is hard to prove unless an official commits “an inherently wrongful act—like altering a document.” FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith altered a document about Trump adviser Carter Page. Clinesmith got probation and Comey and Peter Strzok never endured a criminal prosecution.
Barr is also a fan of former FBI boss Robert Mueller. “I admired Bob,” Barr writes. “We became friends as did our wives.”
Barr also knew the Justice Department’s Rod Rosenstein “for many years” and “believed him to be a consummate professional with a broad and deep understanding of the department’s business.” It was deputy attorney general Rosenstein who suddenly appointed Mueller special counsel to investigate Trump, a “controversial” move according to Barr.
“Few can appreciate the complexities Rod faced during that tumultuous time,” writes Barr, “and even fewer will know the important contributions he made to the administration and the country.” Barr leaves it there, so readers are left to wonder.
One Damn Thing After Another shows how FBI and Justice Department bosses mounted operations against a duly elected president. Barr holds them above the law and extends the same privilege to former presidents and vice presidents. As Barr explains, “I made it clear that neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden were [sic] in [U.S. Attorney John] Durham’s crosshairs.”
William Barr first became attorney general on November 26, 1991, the selection of George H.W. Bush, the former CIA director who came into office talking up a “new world order.” Barr does not speculate whether his own experience with the CIA was a factor. Barr recalls the Pan Am 103 bombing but omits a key episode from his first stint as attorney general.
During the Ruby Ridge siege of 1992, FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi shot unarmed Vicki Weaver in the head as she held her infant child. Snipers are trained carefully to “acquire” the target so the killing was not accidental. Barr spent two weeks organizing former attorney generals to defend Horiuchi, who already had government lawyers working on his behalf.
The shoot-without-provocation rules were approved by the FBI’s Larry Potts. Barr told the New York Times Potts was “deliberate and careful” and “I can’t think of enough good things to say about him.”
In his January 2019 Senate confirmation hearings, Democrats asked Barr if he had ever undertaken pro bono activities to serve the “disadvantaged.” As James Bovard observed, “nobody is asking about Barr’s legal crusade for blanket immunity for federal agents who killed American citizens.” That seems to be an ongoing problem.
The “forcible breach of the Capitol by rioters” on January 6, 2021 “was reprehensible,” Barr writes. But he neglects to mention the only person shot dead that day. Unarmed Trump supporter and Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt was gunned down by Capitol police officer Michael Byrd. Barr fails to mention this shooting and also seems unaware of the FBI role in January 6 events, as Julie Kelly has charted in great detail.
Also missing from Barr’s account are several Russia hoax players, including U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), former Justice Department official Andrew Weismann, and Democrat lawyer Michael Sussman, the subject of recent revelations from John Durham.
Barr does reveal that in 2016 his choice for the Republican nomination was Jeb Bush, a “thoughtful and soundly conservative” contrast to Donald Trump, whom he regarded as “a political opportunist who had no real political convictions.” After confirming that collusion charges against Trump were false, and charting his considerable achievements, Barr wants Trump to butt out.
As the two-time attorney general sees it, the Republicans can now boast “an impressive array of younger candidates fully capable of driving forward with MAGA’s positive agenda.” Good luck with that under current conditions.
As One Damn Thing After Another reveals, the deep state is deeper and more powerful than embattled Americans have imagined. The CIA, once headed by a Gus Hall voter, meddles in domestic affairs. The vaunted Justice Department functions as the pro bono law firm of the deep state. The FBI, the U.S. equivalent of the KGB, has become the strike force of the Democratic Party.
FBI boss Christopher Wray hotly denied that any spying against Trump had taken place. President Trump wondered if Wray was the right person to clean up the FBI, but as Barr writes, “the more I worked with Wray, the more I thought he should stay.” He did, and now heads up operations against “domestic terrorists”—essentially anyone less-than-worshipful of Joe Biden, anyone concerned about voter fraud, and those parents who protest the racist indoctrination of their children. And so on.
At the close of his memoir, Barr says “it is time to look forward.” Embattled Americans should take his advice.
August 21 will mark 30 years since the Ruby Ridge siege, when the federal government deployed massive military force against a single family and an FBI sniper killed an unarmed woman holding her infant daughter. In August, with midterms looming, embattled Americans doubtless will be protesting voter fraud, ongoing vaccine mandates, soaring energy costs, inflation, and a lot more.
If things get rowdy, and the FBI, DHS, ATF, U.S. Marshals, National Guard, Capitol Police—now stationed in Florida and California—state police or local police should happen to gun down any unarmed women, Americans will know where William Barr stands. As Trump likes to say, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.