Donald Trump has called prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller on the Russia probe “angry Democrats.” Even though most of them have been lifelong Republicans, he has pointed out that in the past some of them gave political donations to Democrats as proof that they are biased against him.
And now Trump has nominated lifelong Republican William P. Barr to lead the Justice Department as Attorney General. If confirmed, Barr will oversee the Russia investigation which is threatening the Trump presidency.
And, according to the Washington Post, if he is confirmed Barr would become “by far the most prolific political donor to step into the country’s top law enforcement post in at least a quarter-century.”
An analysis by the Post shows that Barr has given more than $500,000 to Republican candidates and groups over the past two decades.
In addition his wife, Christine Barr, gave more than $220,000 over that same time period.
And, in typical Trump administration hypocrisy, before he was nominated Barr heavily criticized political donations by prosecutors working on Mueller’s team.
Barr told the Post last year:
“In my view, prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with a political party. I would have liked Mueller to have more balance on this group.”
According to the Post, they asked Barr to comment on his past statements but he did not respond to their messages.
A White House official said that it is “absurd for critics to focus on financial support he provided to his party, which is consistent with what attorneys general have done previously.” The official also contributions from political appointees are much different from contributions from career prosecutors.
Previous attorneys general have donated to politicians but in much smaller amounts. By way of contrast, President Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, gave $37,000 to Democrats before he took office in 2009.
The Post looked back to 1980 and found no other attorneys general who had given substantial amounts of political contributions.
Fred Wertheimer, president of a nonprofit group that attempts to limit the influence of money in politics, said that the nomination of Barr proves that Trump’s attacks “are hypocritical as well as bogus.”
“Under the Trump ‘bias standard,’ Barr must be ‘biased’ in favor of Republicans and therefore should not oversee the Justice Department investigation of Trump or any other Republican,” Wertheimer said.
Barr was attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush. For the past ten years he has been with the law firm Kirkland & Ellis where he has represented major corporations fighting government enforcement actions.
Donald Trump has a history of very partisan appointments, even as he has accused federal prosecutors of being biased against him. For example, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker previously lead a mysterious right-wing organization that existed to issue false statements against Democrats.
Once confirmation hearings begin for William Barr we will learn more about his extreme partisanship and his biases which favor a president who has now been accused by federal prosecutors of more than one felony. There is no guarantee that Barr will ever be confirmed as U.S. Attorney General, just as there is no guarantee that Donald Trump will serve out his term as president.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.