To no one’s surprise, Alyssa Farah, Mike Pence’s former press secretary, is the newest panelist on “The View.” Farah replaces Meghan McCain, who quit the show last year after suffering from postpartum depression and nonstop bullying by her leftist co-hosts, she claimed.
Farah, however, will pick up where McCain left off: using her voice as the only alleged “conservative” to bash Donald Trump and his supporters. She’s been auditioning for the role on the daily talk show ever since she left the White House in late 2020, following a well-trodden path that promises fame and fortune to Trump associates who turn on their former boss. Betrayers earn lucrative book deals, glowing coverage in corporate media, “exclusive” interviews on CNN, and newfound respect from one-time enemies.
Such appears to be the case with former Attorney General William Barr. Picked by Trump in the spring of 2019, Barr, who served in the same role under President George H. W. Bush, initially said all the right things about the need to clean up a compromised, partisan Department of Justice. Barr shut down Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year witch hunt into imaginary Trump-Russia election collusion, a probe that resulted in no criminal charges related to its original mission.
Barr openly worried that a “Praetorian Guard mentality” at the Department of Justice and FBI propelled the unprecedented surveillance of Trump and his campaign team during the 2016 election.
“They identify the national interest with their own political preferences, and they feel that anyone who has a different opinion, you know, is somehow an enemy of the state,” Barr told CBS News reporter Jan Crawford in May 2019, the same month he assigned U.S. Attorney John Durham to probe the origins of Crossfire Hurricane.
“It’s just as dangerous to the continuation of self-government and our republican system that we do not allow government power, law enforcement or intelligence power, to play a role in politics, to intrude into politics, and affect elections,” Barr said, referring to concerns over foreign election interference.
But the well-known bagpiper has changed his tune, and dramatically so. Suddenly, Barr says, the danger to the republic is not posed by blatantly partisan prosecutors and investigators exercising unchecked authority to “play a role in politics” but by Donald Trump. The “Praetorian Guard mentality” he once condemned now, apparently, is a welcome use of government power that should not be challenged by anyone, including a federal judge.
Since the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago on August 8, Barr has been on a nonstop publicity tour, acting as the guardian of the current Praetorian Guard. Downplaying the unprecedented nature of the raid, Barr sneered that “it’s also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put ’em in a country club,” an absurd description of Trump’s private residence.
Barr also mocked the idea that Trump could unilaterally declassify thousands of government documents: “If he stood over scores of boxes, not really knowing what was in them and said, ‘I hereby declassify everything in here,’ that would be such an abuse and show such recklessness that it’s almost worse than taking them,” Barr said last week.
In a jaw-dropping interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Barr inveighed against U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon’s September 5 order to appoint a special master—a matter he earlier described as a “red herring”—to review records taken by the FBI during the nine-hour pillage in Palm Beach. Her ruling was “wrong” and “deeply flawed,” Barr concluded, though he offered no specific reasons.
Naturally, Barr urged the Justice Department to appeal the decision. “The fundamental dynamics of the case are set, which is the government has very strong evidence of what it needs to determine whether charges are appropriate, which is government documents were taken, classified information was taken and not handled appropriately, and there was evidence to suggest they were deceived,” Barr told Martha McCallum. He also claimed Cannon’s ruling would be overturned on appeal. (Late Thursday afternoon, the government did just that.)
So, what gives with Barr? Is he, like Farah and so many before her, hoping to land a gig as a cable news “legal analyst” where all of his opinions just happen to support whatever lawfare is waged against Trump? Is he trying to sell more books? Or is he just trying to get revenge against Trump for some undisclosed reason?
It’s unlikely Barr will answer those questions, nor will any reporter ask. But other questions demand Barr’s response, not the least of which is why he waited until October 2020 to appoint John Durham as special counsel to investigate the “Praetorian Guard”? Why did Barr fail to hold a single Russian collusion perpetrator criminally responsible during his 18 months as head of the Justice Department? Where was the wide-ranging fraud, conspiracy, and obstruction case?
Further, why did Barr decline to prosecute former FBI Director James Comey for handling and sharing government records, including some that contained classified or confidential information? Similarly, why did Barr refuse to charge former FBI Director Andrew McCabe for lying to federal investigators about his own involvement in sharing classified information related to a criminal investigation? And why didn’t Barr find the Justice Department officials who leaked classified information about the FISA warrant on Carter Page to the Washington Post, among other high-level illicit leaks?
Barr may now attempt to portray himself as the expert in all things classified and pre-judge Trump’s guilt accordingly. But when Barr had the chance to send a message that keeping, sharing, and leaking classified government material is a serious crime deserving of serious consequences, he punted every time.
Perhaps his Alyssa Farah routine is convincing some viewers that his tough-on-classified-crime stance is legitimate. But only those who don’t know Barr’s recent and failed history.