Attorney General William Barr has come under fire for his handling of the Mueller Report, a group of findings from an investigation launched by special counsel Robert Mueller in 2017. The report looked into potential collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government to meddle in the 2016 election.
Photo: Sebastian Pichler on Unsplash
With all of the controversy Barr is facing currently, it may be worth looking into who he was before the scandal.
For starters, Barr is a veteran within the Justice Department, as he served in the Central Agency from 1973 to 1977 while studying at The George Washington Law School by night. While at the agency, Barr primarily served as an analyst and an assistant legal counsel.
After graduating from The George Washington Law School with highest honors in 1977, Barr went on to work for the US Court of Appeals as a law clerk under Judge Malcolm Wilkey. He left in 1982 to join Ronald Reagan’s domestic policy staff.
Barr was then appointed to serve as Deputy Attorney General from 1990-1991 before being appointed Attorney General under George H. W. Bush, where he served from 1991-1993.
He was known for many accomplishments during his previous tenure as attorney general, such as his handling of the Savings and Loans Crisis, the Pan-am bombing, and coordination of counter-terrorism efforts during the First Gulf War.
Many of Burr's political views tend to mirror those of the current administration.
On immigration, Barr tends to have a stricter view. In 2017, he stated that President Trump would have “constitutional power” to enact the travel ban. The now-revised travel ban was first proposed in 2017, consisting of a prohibition of travel from several Muslim-majority countries. The current ban prohibits travel from seven countries: Venezuela, Libya, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, and North Korea.
The current administration cites a threat of terror from the aforementioned countries, though many of the travel ban critics state that the addition of Venezuela and North Korea was only to deter accusations of anti-Muslim bigotry.
Barr also calls for a halt to sanctuary cities, or cities that provide protection to illegal immigrants without criminal records, citing them as an aspect that encourages more illegal immigration.
For the border wall, Mueller originally referred to any kind of barrier or wall over the southern border as “overkill” in 1992. He seems to have changed his mind recently, citing an increase of drug trafficking. He now calls for border reinforcements, including both walls and slats.
Concerning criminal justice reform, Barr has previously been considered tough on crime. He released a report in 1992 titled “The Case for More Incarceration”, claiming that he wrote it as a response to higher crime rates in the early 1990s. In spite of this, Barr stated in his confirmation hearing that he would be open to sentencing reform.
Barr can be described as anti-abortion, as he previously stated in his 1991 confirmation hearing that “... Roe v Wade was wrongly decided and should be overruled”, thus leaving the decision to the states, rather than being decided federally. Barr stated in his confirmation hearing, however, that he will uphold Roe v Wade, as it has “been on the books for 46 years”.
As far as his beliefs in the extent of presidential power, Barr is of the belief that the president should have control over the perception of his actions within Congress by stating “The Constitution itself places no limit on the President’s authority to act on matters which concern him or his own conduct. [...] He alone is the executive branch” in 2018, in regards to the Mueller probe.
Barr now faces a hearing from the House Judiciary Committee for contempt of Congress or obstruction within a congressional hearing.
For more information on Barr and his policies, click here.
Zaira Khan is a junior at Mercer University where she is pursuing a double major in public health and sociology. She enjoys exploring the world around her and hopes to contribute to a more honest, thought-provoking world.