Tues – 1/15: This Barr is set too low.

Action: Call your senator and tell them “NO” on William Barr for Attorney General.

“This is not the Whitaker replacement you are looking for.”

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Senator [___] to vote against the nomination of William Barr for Attorney General.

More script for the enraged: We want an attorney that not only understands the Constitution, but understands that it is his or her job to serve and protect it and the American people, not act as a lackey for the President.

Minimum requirements: He completely recuses himself from the investigation AND he pledges to release the full text of the Mueller’s investigation to the public. (There’s nothing in it that could surprise us now…)

Add in your favorites from the “Let us count the ways” section below.

Contact
Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Who is my representative/senator?: hq-salsa.wiredforchange.com 

Background

The GOP expects that we’d be so grateful for a lawyer, who unlike Whitaker, hasn’t been accused of fraud, abusive anti-gay prosecution or maintaining a proud disbelief and ignorance of Supreme Courts powers, that we’ll take anyone…

…like a lawyer not clear on the constitutional limits of presidential powers. Despite his protestations of independence from Trump and “friendship” with Mueller, Barr believes that the president is not just above the law — he is the law.  In his unsolicited and bizarre memo, to Rod Rosenstein, he described Mueller’s probe as “fatally misconceived”, as he describes the president as the nation’s top law enforcement official and therefore has absolute power to shut down any criminal investigation, even one against himself, and being permitted to fire anyone, like James Comey, who stands in his way. In a quote that allows him to weasel out of any promises he makes to senators at his hearing today: ““He (the president) alone is the Executive branch.”  The attorney general and the Justice Department lawyers “who exercise prosecutorial discretion on his behalf” are “merely ‘his hand.’”

Where has that hand been? Certainly not turning pages on constitutional law. The attorney general is not supposed to be the president’s personal enabler. He/she is supposed to be the most important legal officer in the executive branch, bound to the Constitution, not a president’s whims.

(Hand in the air!) The American people would like to hold off on picking a new attorney general until we find someone who understands the role of all three branches of government.

Why should the Senate bar Barr? Let us count the ways. 

We keep looking, futilely for the “adult in the room”. Keep looking. William Barr is the legal version of Steven Miller. (from aft.org unless noted otherwise)

This just in…William Barr tells senators that Mueller’s report might stay secret. (Wapo)

As discussed, he authored a controversial memo attacking part of the Mueller investigation. In June 2018, Barr sent the Department of Justice a lengthy memo arguing that Mueller shouldn’t be able to investigate Trump for obstruction of justice.

Barr supported Trump’s decision to fire James Comey. Trump has insisted on personal loyalty from law enforcement officials. When Comey would not pledge his personal loyalty to the President, Trump fired him. Barr authored a May 12, 2017 op-ed titled “Trump made the right call on Comey.”

Barr has already been asked to defend President Trump in the Mueller investigation. President Trump repeatedly criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for failing to rein in Special Counsel Robert Mueller, asked Barr if he’d serve as Trump’s personal defense attorney  recuse himself from the Mueller investigation.

Barr sees nothing wrong with the president calling for an investigation of his political opponents and believes that Hillary Clinton should be investigated, including over a uranium mining deal the Obama administration approved when she was secretary of state.

Barr would likely be skeptical of Congress’s power to protect Mueller. In a 1989 Office of Legal Counsel memo, Barr called on the president to resist “congressional incursions” into the president’s appointment power and advocated “vigorous opposition” to limitations on the president’s power to remove officials, which would be precisely the issue should Trump try to fire Mueller.

Barr is already on record minimizing the seriousness of allegations surrounding Trump and Russia. “Mr. Barr said he sees more basis for investigating the uranium deal than any supposed collusion between Mr. Trump and Russia.”

Barr is highly skeptical of independent investigations. Barr has said, “Frankly, I don’t think prosecutors should be independent.” Barr criticized the independent counsel statute in effect at during the Iran-Contra scandal, including the Supreme Court decision that upheld the statute.

Barr heavily criticized Sally Yates’s decision to follow the Constitution rather than succumb to President Trump’s agenda. When Yates directed Department of Justice lawyers not to defend the original discriminatory Muslim Ban (which was struck down by multiple courts), Barr heavily criticized Yates’s decision. Barr authored a February 1, 2017 op-ed where he argued that “[h]er action was unprecedented and must go down as a serious abuse of office.”

William Barr thinks Roe v. Wade was “wrongly decided and should be overruled” (the slot) (CNN)(video on C-span)

Barr pushed back on congressional efforts to ban torture. During President George W. Bush’s administration, Barr testified, “This administration says they’re not going to engage in torture, but they will engage in coercive interrogation, and I’m not sure if it would be helpful for Congress to try to figure out what exactly constitutes torture and what’s coercion under the circumstances.”

Barr believed President Trump could legally issue his first Muslim Ban. In fact, the ban was struck down by multiple courts, and the Trump Administration itself ultimately revised the ban.

Barr has spoken disparagingly of LGBTQ Americans and has fought LGBTQ equality. He has expressed his view that “[v]enereal disease is the price that we pay for sexual licentiousness.” While at DOJ, Barr reportedly led the effort to maintain a policy preventing HIV-positive non- citizens from entering the country. Barr was also reportedly a proponent of keeping HIV-positive Haitians housed at Guantanamo Bay, even though they were approved for asylum in the U.S. In 2018, Barr praised Jeff Sessions’s decision to rescind guidance protecting transgender Americans. (OK, he and Whitaker aren’t so different here.)

William Barr helped build America’s surveillance state. (ACLU)

Barr has opposed a free and open internet. As general counsel for Verizon, Barr, who received over $10 million from Verizon in 2009, opposed net neutrality.

Barr reportedly played a role in approving a bulk data collection program. He also supported immunity for tech companies that helped violate Americans’ civil liberties.

Barr advocated for TimeWarner’s merger with AT&T. The Justice Department he is nominated to head said the merger would harm consumers.

Barr opposed critical protections for investors. He attacked legislation Congress put in place after the Enron and WorldCom scandals.

In his capacity as a former attorney general, Barr signed a briefchallenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Had he been successful, health care for millions would have been jeopardized.

He’s pretty damn partisan (Vox)

Reading/Resources

  • Here’s his actual memo.
  • Barr’s Letter to Lindsey Graham
  • William Barr’s ahistorical view of the constitution would give Trump all the power (slate)
  • William Barr confirmation hearing: Trump’s attorney gerneral pick still has a lot to answer for (NBC)
  • Trump’s pick for attorney general could help him undermine the rule of law. (Indivisible)
  • Low Barr: The Senate shouldn’t confrim WB just because matthew Whitaker is a historically awful attorney general. (slate)
  • Bill Barr just argued himself out of a job (NYTimes)
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