AG Barr assails Trump Resistance in fiery speech to conservative lawyers
Attorney General Bill Barr on Friday delivered one of his most effusive defenses to date of his expansive views on executive power, in a speech where he accused Democrats who’ve sought to thwart President Donald Trump’s agenda of “using every tool and maneuver to sabotage” the administration.
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“In waging a scorched-earth, no-holds-barred war of Resistance against this administration, it is the Left that is engaged in a systematic shredding of norms and undermining the rule of law,” Barr said in a speech to conservative lawyers at the Federalist Society’s convention in Washington.
Barr went into detail as he assailed the self-described “Resistance” to Trump, accusing them of adopting “dangerous” and “incendiary” language by implying the sitting government is illegitimate.
“This is a very dangerous and indeed incendiary notion to import into the politics of a Democratic republic,” Barr said. “The fact is, that, yes, while the president has certainly thrown out the traditional beltway playbook and punctilio, he was upfront about what he was going to do and the people decided that he was going to serve as president.”
The remarks came just hours after prosecutors from Barr’s Justice Department secured yet another conviction of one of the president’s past informal campaign advisers, Roger Stone, on seven criminal counts that included lying to congressional investigators who were probing Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Throughout the hour-long speech, Barr took shots at the legislative and judicial branches for what he described as years of “encroachment” on the powers of the executive, blaming a “knee-jerk tendency [among Democrats and the media] to see the legislative and judicial branches as the good guys, protecting the people from a rapacious, would-be autocrat.”
Barr earned cheers from the crowd as he repeatedly excoriated, and at times mocked, critics of the “unitary executive” theory, embraced by Barr and others in conservative legal circles who argue for fewer restraints to a president’s exercise of his executive power.
“One of the more amusing aspects is these breathless attacks on the unitary executive theory — ah!” Barr said, adopting a ghoul-like accent to mimic critics.
Barr specifically cited what he argued were Congress’ overly burdensome demands for documents, which he alleged is intended to “incapacitate” the administration rather than exercise oversight.
“I don’t deny that Congress has some implied authority,” Barr said, “but the sheer volume of what we see today in the pursuit of scores of parallel investigations through an avalanche of subpoenas is plainly designed to incapacitate the executive branch and indeed is touted as such.”