This top story about William Barr is from our daily newsletter published on December 22, 2020. To have this and more delivered directly to your inbox scroll down and enter your email or click here to sign up. Photo: William Barr with President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office in 1983
Top story from the Wall Street Journal news team: “Attorney General William Barr said he saw no reason to appoint a special counsel to investigate allegations against Hunter Biden or election fraud on Monday, saying he believed the investigation into President-elect Joe Biden’s son was ‘being handled responsibly and professionally.'” Here’s what both sides are saying about Barr’s parting remarks:
On the Right: The conservative media ecosystem is still split in terms of how they feel about outgoing Attorney General William Barr. Some think he has done an outstanding job, others think he is just another selfish bureaucrat. For example, Hans A. von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, penned an op-ed for Fox News in which he said, “Barr successfully carried out his solemn obligation to prosecute on behalf of justice in a professional, ethical, objective, and nonpartisan manner.” Federalist Senior Editor Mollie Hemingway backed Barr as well saying, “the mainstream media did a horrible job covering [his career] throughout the time that he was attorney general.” She said, “they constantly claimed things that were not true about how he was handling the Trump administration.” Further out on the fringe, outlets ranging from The Blaze to The Daily Caller were noticeably disappointed in Barr’s parting remarks. Chris Pandolfo of the Blaze wrote that “His announcement is sure to disappoint President Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress who have been pushing for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate President-elect Joe Biden’s son.” Pandolfo also pointed out “the existence of an FBI investigation into Hunter Biden and his associates, focusing on allegations of money-laundering.” He says, “The report was covered by conservative media, but at the time largely ignored in the mainstream press.” Lastly, The Daily Caller wrote that “Barr is set to retire Wednesday following weeks of criticism from President Donald Trump that he did not do enough to publicize the Biden investigation heading into the 2020 general election.”
On the Left: Democrats and left-leaning outlets were pleased with William Barr and his remarks but still think Barr could have done more during his tenure. EJ Montini of the Arizona Republic penned an op-ed for AZ Central in which he said, “Now that the attorney general is on his way out, it appears we have finally reached the point when Trump can no longer lower the Barr.” Montini adds: “Still, it would have been nice if Barr had taken such a judicious stance with, say, the Mueller Report, which the attorney general mischaracterized” or if he “would have backed up the FBI’s Washington field office” rather than “enabling Trump’s wild conspiracy theories about Antifa.” Chas Danner of the NY Mag’s Intelligencer characterized Barr’s remarks in a similar manner. Danner began by saying that Barr made it clear “he doesn’t support some of the outlandish post-election plans currently backed by President Trump.” Danner then points to his colleague Jonathan Chait who “has repeatedly underlined Barr’s public skepticism on these issues and his unwillingness to entertain the president’s coup-fancying [which] do not make him some noble guardian of America’s democracy.” Danner concludes by saying, “He’s just a reality-tethered Trump ally who has already gotten in his many unethical licks and now understands it’s time to move on. But regardless, it’s still undoubtedly better that he said something, rather than nothing, on his way out the door.”
Flag This: In addition to saying there is no reason to appoint a special counsel to investigate allegations against Hunter Biden or election fraud, Barr also said he believed Russia was behind the SolarWinds hack. This also contradicts remarks from President Trump who tweeted over the weekend that the attack could have originated from China.