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If Dick Cheney gained notoriety as George W Bush’s “Darth Vader”, William Barr, the US attorney general, appeared a worthy successor as Donald Trump’s Lord of the Sith.
Barr played the role of presidential enforcer with apparent relish, whether spinning the Russia investigation in Trump’s favour or defending a harsh crackdown on this summer’s civil unrest.
But even he could not or would not pass the ultimate loyalty test: shredding the US constitution to help his boss steal an election. As Trump’s niece, Mary, puts in the title of her book, it was a case of Too Much and Never Enough.
Trump tweeted on Monday that Barr will resign before Christmas. Barr, for his part, issued a resignation letter that noted election fraud allegations “will continue to be pursued” before going on to lavish praise on Trump’s “historic” record despite resistance that included “frenzied and baseless accusations of collusion with Russia”.
David Axelrod, the former chief strategist for Barack Obama, observed in a Twitter post: “In writing his fawning exit letter, Barr reflected a fundamental understanding of @realDonaldTrump: Like a dog, if you scratch his belly, he is a lot more docile. Just as[k] Kim [Jong-un] !”
But the sycophantic words could not conceal how Barr, like the attorney general Jeff Sessions and the FBI director James Comey before him, had refused to do the 45th president’s bidding once too often. With democracy in existential danger, he was the dog that did not bark.
Barr, who previously served as attorney general under George HW Bush in the early 1990s, had always been a believer in expansive presidential power and being tough on crime. He was therefore “simpatico” – to borrow one of Joe Biden’s favourite words – with Trump from the off.
Read more of David Smith’s sketch from Washington here: Barr couldn’t pass Trump’s loyalty test: shredding the US constitution
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘Unconscionable’: Biden criticises Trump while accepting electoral college victory – live updates | US news