Barr-a-Lago

The FBI’s August 8 raid on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence has called out commentary from all quarters. Last week, former Attorney General William Barr told the Bari Weiss podcast what he thought about it. 

“Number one is that I think a lot of the attacks on the FBI are over the top because a decision like this is not made by the FBI,” Barr said. “In fact, I don’t think the FBI would push a decision that it’s best to go in and search and obtain those documents after being jerked around for a year and a half. The decision would be made at the Department of Justice, by subordinates of the AG, and ultimately signed off on by the AG. The FBI would be told to go and execute it. I think the idea that the FBI is the problem here is misplaced.” 

Barr was more disturbed by “the constant pandering to outrage” on the Right, without discussion of whether the outrage had any merit. The FBI seized Trump’s passports, leaving the impression that the former president had committed a crime and was now a flight risk. FBI agents also rummaged through the closets and dressers of Melania Trump. While Trump attorneys were forced outside, the FBI easily could have planted or destroyed information. If anyone was outraged about that conduct, it would be hard to blame them. 

Weiss brought up the “Russiagate” episode, as the host explained, “the idea that Donald Trump was a compromised agent of Moscow. That there were deep connections between Trump’s people and Russian intelligence. That the Trump campaign had colluded with the Russians, including by hacking Democratic National Committee emails.” Barr remained in his defensive stance. 

“Well, the Russiagate thing, I think, to the extent the FBI was misused was decisions made by high-level officials in the FBI,” the former attorney general answered. “I don’t think that Chris Wray is that type of leader nor do I think the people around Chris Wray are those types of leaders. I think there are problems in the FBI, but it’s not that. It’s not Chris Wray. Wray is going to wake up and say, you know, ‘How do I throw the FBI’s weight around to interfere in the political process.’ Just the opposite. I think he’s very cautious about that.”

Many observers might not think so.

When selected as FBI boss, Wray denied any “spying” had taken place against the Trump campaign. As the world now knows, the FBI did spy on the Trump campaign. In 2018, Wray proclaimed, “I do not believe special counsel Mueller is on a witch hunt.” 

Mueller’s “professional investigation,” aided by partisan Democrats, turned up no evidence of collusion with Russia. All told, Christopher Wray doesn’t sound like someone who is “very cautious” about interfering in the political process, and he was all-in with the Mar-a-Lago raid.

Weiss recalled that Barr “had been in the CIA” and worked as attorney general under George H. W. Bush. Weiss did not recall Barr’s defense of the FBI in a case that marked 30 years only days before the interview. 

During the Ruby Ridge siege of 1992, the FBI deployed a massive military force against a single family. 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, as FBI boss Louis Freeh claimed in 1995

Barr spent two weeks organizing former attorney generals to defend Horiuchi, who already had government lawyers working on his behalf. Barr told reporters he was not directly involved in Ruby Ridge, but the Washington Post revealed that the Justice Department made 20 telephone contacts with the operation, two of them from William Barr’s office. The Weaver family filed a wrongful death lawsuit and the government paid $3 million. When an Idaho county filed criminal charges against Horiuchi, Barr sought immunity for the FBI sniper. 

The shoot-without-provocation rules were approved by the FBI’s Larry Potts. When Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno nominated Potts for deputy director of the FBI, William 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 2022, Barr has nothing but praise for Christopher Wray. 

To all but the willfully blind, the FBI is now the American KGB. And, like that organization engaged in “special tasks,” it is not exactly operating within the law. The FBI plants evidence (money planted on George Papadopoulos), fabricates evidence (Kevin Clinesmith changing the email about Carter Page), engages in stagecraft (the fake Whitmer kidnap plot), and pressures social media platforms to avoid news of Hunter Biden’s laptop, supposedly “Russian disinformation.” 

On the other hand, the FBI looks the other way at blatant lawlessness, such as Hillary Clinton keeping classified information on her unsecured homebrew server and destruction of subpoenaed emails and electronic devices. 

The FBI’s KGB-style operations were the strongest evidence of Russian interference in the election process. As William Barr concedes, his pal Robert Mueller found no evidence that Trump colluded with Russia.

Barr told Weiss he hadn’t seen evidence of fraud in 2020 on a scale that would have affected the outcome of the election. He did not indicate what audits his Justice Department conducted on races that suddenly reversed in favor of Biden. Barr provided no tallies of the number of illegal aliens who had voted in California, where the “motor voter” program automatically registers illegals to vote. Stuffed ballot boxes, as shown in “2000 Mules,” also escaped his notice. Yet in 2022, as the midterms approach, the former attorney general and CIA man remains certain about the 45th president. 

“Trump is his own worst enemy. He’s incorrigible. He doesn’t take advice from people,” Barr told Weiss. “I said to him when I first started that I thought he was going to lose the election unless he adjusted a little bit. And if he did adjust, he could go down in history as a great president. He continued to be self-indulgent and petty and turned off key constituencies that ultimately made the difference in the election.” 

For Barr, voter fraud and election interference had nothing to do with the outcome. By implication, the nation was panting for the addled Joe Biden, who openly touted voter fraud and failed to conduct a national campaign. On the Delaware Democrat’s watch, the FBI for the first time raids the residence of a former president, carting off passports and rifling the drawers of the former first lady. 

The raid prompted Barr to wonder, “what is the nature of the highly classified information? How sensitive were these documents?” In similar style, “what is the evidence, if any, of active conceit by the president or those around him in Mar-a-Lago to mislead the government?” The former attorney general and CIA man seems down with the whole operation, and that provides a moment of clarity. 

Donald Trump is not his own worst enemy. Donald Trump’s worst enemies include his own attorney general, members of his own party, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has crossed the line. Whatever special tasks the FBI has planned, Bill Barr will be there to back them up, just as he did with FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi. The defender of the deep state, at its worst, can be no friend of the people.

About Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Hollywood Party and other books including Bill of Writes and Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation. His journalism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Spectator (London) and many other publications. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.

Photo: Oliver Contreras via GETTY IMAGES

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