William Barr says he took on the role of Attorney General because he felt the need to fight for the presidency, not necessarily for President Donald Trump.
“I felt the rules were being changed to hurt Trump, and I thought it was damaging for the presidency over the long haul,” Barr told the Wall Street Journal.
Barr came on as AG in mid-February. When special counsel Robert Mueller released his report on Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to win, he punted on whether Trump obstructed justice, on which Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded there was not sufficient evidence.
Barr has since been accused of misleading people about Mueller’s conclusions and acting as Trump’s attorney instead of for the U.S. as a whole.
“Protecting the president who has violated his oath of office and probably the criminal code is not an application of a strong view of executive power,” said Walter Dellinger, who succeeded Barr in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under Bill Clinton.
“That’s just wrong.”
Barr says he’s doing the right thing by trying to protect presidential power.
“At every grave juncture the presidency has done what it is supposed to do, which is to provide leadership and direction,” he added. “If you destroy the presidency and make it an errand boy for Congress, we’re going to be a much weaker and more divided nation.”