Every member of Congress should be calling for the resignation of the attorney general.
No one is as good at hiring an unscrupulous lawyer as Donald Trump. And now it seems that the worst of the bunch, the late Roy Cohn — the lying, cheating, and eventually disbarred attorney who represented both the red-baiting Joseph McCarthy and the president, when Trump was a young real estate developer — has been reincarnated in the form of Bill Barr. The trouble is that this time, the lawyer in question isn’t just a personal lackey or counsel to the president, but rather the attorney general of the United States.
The attorney general, while a political appointee, is bound first and foremost not to the whims and personal interests of the president, but to the law. An enduring lesson of the Watergate scandal, and the norm that attorneys general and presidents from Ford through Obama have upheld since, is that while presidents may set broad policy on law-enforcement priorities, the Justice Department should act independently from the White House when it comes to individual criminal cases.
Barr never seems to have gotten that message. His tenure has been defined by dismantling the norm of the Justice Department’s independence from partisan politics and the president’s personal interests. His intervention in criminal proceedings against one of the president’s friends last week, a wildly inappropriate move that led to the resignation of four federal prosecutors from the case, was only the latest travesty on Barr’s watch.