William Pelham Barr (born 1950)
1991 - Resume (presented at congressional confirmation hearings)
See full page - 1991-nov-12-and-14-confirmation-hearings-on-federal-appts-w-barr-part-2-pg-154.pdf /
Saved wikipedia page (Feb 15 2019) : 2019-02-15-wikipedia-org-william-barr.pdf /
The second of four [brothers], [William Barr] grew up on the Upper West Side [of Manhattan]. [...] After high school, Barr entered Columbia University, where he majored in government and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1971. He then did two years of graduate study at Columbia, receiving an Master of Arts in government and Chinese studies in 1973. While employed at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 1973 to 1977, he attended the evening division of George Washington University Law School, graduating with a Juris Doctor in 1977.
From 1973 to 1977, Barr was employed by the CIA, initially for a short period as a China analyst, then in the legislative affairs section. After graduating from law school, Barr was a law clerk to Judge Malcolm Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1977 through 1978. He was in private practice with the Washington law firm of Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge from 1978 to 1982 and again from 1983 to 1989, after serving as Deputy Assistant Director for Legal Policy on the domestic policy staff at the Reagan White House from May 1982 to September 1983.
U.S. Department of Justice
In 1989, at the beginning of his administration, President George H. W. Bush appointed Barr to the U.S. Department of Justice as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), an office which functions as the legal advisor for the President and executive agencies. Barr was known as a strong defender of presidential power. He wrote an advisory opinion justifying the U.S. invasion of Panama and arrest of Manuel Noriega. He wrote legal justifications for the practice of rendition, so that the FBI could enter onto foreign soil without the consent of the host government to apprehend fugitives wanted by the United States government for terrorism or drug-trafficking. Barr declined a congressional request for the full opinion, but instead provided a document that "summarizes the principal conclusions." Congress subpoenaed the opinion, and its public release after Barr's departure from the Justice Department showed he had omitted significant findings in the opinion from his summary document.
U.S. Deputy Attorney General (1990–1991)
In May 1990, Barr was appointed Deputy Attorney General, the official responsible for day-to-day management of the Department. According to media reports, Barr was generally praised for his professional management of the Department.
During August 1991, when then-Attorney General Richard Thornburgh resigned to campaign for the Senate, Barr was named Acting Attorney General. Three days after Barr accepted that position, 121 Cuban inmates, awaiting deportation to Cuba, seized 9 hostages at the Talladega federal prison. He directed the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team to assault the prison, which resulted in rescuing all hostages without loss of life.
U.S. Attorney General (1991–1993)
First nomination and confirmation
It was reported that President Bush was impressed with Barr's management of the hostage crisis; weeks later, Bush nominated him as Attorney General.
Barr enjoyed a "sterling reputation" among Republican and Democratic politicians alike. His two-day confirmation hearing was "unusually placid", and he was received well by both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Asked whether he thought a constitutional right to privacy included the right to an abortion, Barr responded that he believed the constitution was not originally intended to create a right to abortion; that Roe v. Wade was thus wrongly decided; and that abortion should be a "legitimate issue for state legislators". "Barr also said at the hearings that Roe v. Wade was 'the law of the land' and claimed he did not have 'fixed or settled views' on abortion." Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Joe Biden, though disagreeing with Barr, responded that it was the "first candid answer" he had heard from a nominee on a question that witnesses would normally evade; Biden hailed Barr as "a throwback to the days when we actually had attorneys general that would talk to you." Barr was approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee, was confirmed by voice vote by the full Senate, and was sworn in as Attorney General on November 26, 1991.
1994 LaRouche PAC article : "William Barr, the Bush Clique, and Their Friends at Dope, Inc. "
- https://larouchepub.com/eiw/public/1994/eirv21n42-19941021/eirv21n42-19941021_029-william_barr_the_bush_clique_and.pdf / 1994-10-21-executive-intel-review-v21-n42-william-barr-and-the-bush-clique.pdf / https://drive.google.com/open?id=1AWBKDbuPh2i6NFqJ276OcZMk3lAJ7Y7u
Two members of George Bush's covert action team, former U.S.Attorney General William Barr and Lt.Col.Oliver North, both plunged into Virginia politics this year.Barr was head of the governor's commission to abolish parole, proposing to make prison inmates slaves under private corpo rate control.North was promoted for the U.S.Senate as a "law and order" candidate.
Oliver North became world famous in the 1980s as a smuggling manager in the Iran-Contra drug-running and gun running affairs.
William Barr, though little known to the public, is a top lawyer for the same criminal covert action team.He was also Attorney General in the Bush administration, when Lyndon LaRouche, then a political prisoner, submitted six volumes of new evidence proving that the government always knew he was innocent, evidence which the Justice Department and the courts refused even to look at.We shall report here on Barr's unusual career, protecting the political and financial managers of the world narcotics trade.
Blocking the BCCI investigation
Executives of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) were indicted in October 1988, on charges they conspired with cocaine traffickers to launder millions of dollars in narcotics profits. Forty U.S. and foreign banks, evidently complicit in the international drug trade, were subpoenaed to produce records before a Tampa, Florida grand jury.A majority of those subpoenaed had earlier been named in EIR's best-selling book, Dope, Inc., as among those lead ing British and allied Wall Street banks in the business of washing dope money.
BCCI was further exposed as an instrument for the trans actions of Oliver North and his associates, who had been criminally employed by Vice President George Bush in the Iran and Contra operations.
But George Bush was elected U.S.President just weeks after the BCCI indictments.In December 1989, Bush ordered the U.S.bombing and invasion of Panama, killing thousands. Panamanian Gen. Manuel Noriega, who knew the dirtiest drug-pushing secrets of BCCI, Bush, and North, was kidnapped and imprisoned in Florida.
Under the leadership of Attorney General Richard Thornburgh and William Barr, who was then an official in the Bush Justice Department, the BCCI investigations were stopped.Plea bargains protected the world's top drug bank ers, and protected President Bush and his criminal employee North.In exchange for leniency, officials of BCCI agreed to help Bush prosecute General Noriega for alleged drug trafficking.
Barr, who had a startling private relationship to BCCI, and who had drawn up the spurious legal rationale for the attack on Panama, was then appointed U.S.Attorney Gener al.He reached a final settlement of the BCCI case, foreclosing all further investigations of the BCCI-linked drug apparatus.
Initiation into the Bush team
We shall now trace Barr's route to political power, ob serving his early initiation into the Bush covert action machine.
Barr reportedly decided, while still a high school student, that he would one day be the head of the Central Intelligence Agency.He joined the CIA's internship program while he was a Columbia University graduate student in 1971, and went to work full time for the CIA when he left Columbia in 1973.
During his first two years with the Agency, Barr worked for the intelligence directorate in the China department. He would soon cross paths with George Bush,' who went to Beijing in 1974 as Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's liaison chief to the Communist Chinese government.
Barr was already in the CIA's legal office in 1976 when Bush became Director of Central Intelligence. Bush promptly brought back assassinations manager Theodore Shackley as associate deputy CIA director for covert operations, along with Shackley's deputy Thomas Clines. Shackley had been the head of the CIA Miami Station in the early 1960s, following the disastrous invasion of Cuba. Shackley and Clines had assembled the Cuban irregulars, who had been trained as assassins and smugglers, into a permanent covert action force. Men like Felix Rodriguez had served under Shackley as he ran the opium-growing projects in Laos and the Operation Phoenix mass murder project in Vietnam.
Shackley's Cubans had turned up as the 1972 Watergate burglars, paid by George Bush's Texas political machine. Shackley would later serve as George Bush's speechwriter in Bush's campaign against Ronald Reagan for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination. When Bush got in as vice president instead, Felix Rodriguez and Oliver North together would supervise the Contras' drug running, out of George Bush's vice presidential office.
William Barr joined this team as it matured under George Bush's hand at the CIA. Barr prepared briefs for Bush's stonewalling responses to congressional probes, led by Sen. Frank Church and Rep. Otis that attempted to bring the Bush and Kissinger covert under the rule of American law.
George Bush made one extraordinary change at the Agency which was never publicized beyond the ranks of the intelligence community. Bush committed the United States to share with Great Britain's secret service the fruits of the U.S. satellite surveillance throughout the world. This action dismayed many in the American service who has seen traitors such as Kim Philby as the very heart of the British Crown's leadership grouping But Bush's official intelligence policy change reflected his deep-seated ties to Britain, from his father, Prescott Bush's, banking partnership with Averell Harriman in British geopolitical schemes from the 1920s to the 1950s. This Anglo-Bush faction of the intelligence community would soon fashion BCCI into a global rime instrument.
Jimmy Carter won the 1976 presidential election, and refused Bush's request to stay Jr as CIA director. Barr was one of the many CIA men who left the Agency after Bush's departure in 1977. Ted Shackley led the Association of Former Intelligence Officers and cdrralled these men into a private intelligence clique around George Bush.
On George Bush's recommendation, the 27-year-old Barr was hired in 1977 as clerk to Federal Circuit Court Judge Malcolm Wilkey. During the 1960s, Wilkey had been general counsel to a copper-mining conglomerate operating in Chile under the political management of Prescott Bush's banking partner, Spruile Braden. Salvador Allende became Chile's President and confiscated Braden's huge El Teniente mine; Allende was soon overthrown and murdered in 1973.
In 1976, Chilean opposition leader Orlando Letelier had been blown up by a car bomb in Washington, D.C. Though the U.S. media generally blamed the Chilean secret police for the killing, it is well established that then-CIA director George Bush had penetrated the Chilean agency and had squelched all U.S. police investigation into the murder. Barr's new boss, Malcolm Wilkey, later served as George Bush's ambassador to Uruguay and arranged cool-out payments to Chileans who might have fingered Bush's CIA for the Letelier bombing.
Later, in 1992, Chile's Supreme Court decided that Presi dent Bush could be legally ordered to appear in Chile, to testify on the role of the CIA in the Letelier case; Chilean generals claimed they have been wrongly blamed for the killing, and that Bush's CIA ordered the 1976 bombing. The U.S. chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General William Barr, did not respond. But what he did, was to hire Malcolm Wilkey as a special prosecutor to intimidate the Democratic Congress in the House Post Office affair.
On Judge Wilkey's recommendation, Barr started in Oc tober 1978 as an associate of the Washington, D.C. law firm Shaw, Pittman, Potts, and Trowbridge. Barr immediately took up the representation of B.F. Saul II, a Maryland real estate magnate who only a few months earlier had become chairman of Financial General Bankshares. In his later testimony to the Senate hearings on his confirmation for Justice Department posts, Barr revealed that he had represented B.F. Saul beginning November 1978, and in 1979, 1981, and 1982.
This was an extraordinarily important stretch of time in his client's life. During this period, Financial General was taken over in stages by BCCI, a London-based bank with Arab and other principal investors tied to Anglo-American intelligence. Saul's Financial General Bankshares changed its name to First American Bankshares, and functioned as the Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virginia arm of the British spook-bank BCCI.
What did Barr really know about BCCI?
A decade later, the worldwide scandal would begin with the British taking regulatory action against BCCI in London. British newspapers called BCCI a front for the CIA. The scandal culminated in the prosecution of the elderly Clark Clifford, who at a certain point replaced Saul as chairman of First American.
In America, much of the scandal centered around the "secret" ownership of First American by the BCCI group of investors, in violation of U.S. banking laws requiring transparency of bank control. William Barr told the Senate that the government could not have prosecuted BCCI earlier, because it had not discovered this secret BCCI involvement in First American until a decade after the fact. But to whom was it secret? Had it really been a secret to Attorney General Barr?
Regardie's magazine of May 1990, quoted Clifford that B.F. Saul "had occasion to go to London, maybe more than once. He had occasion to go to the Middle East, the Persian Gulf countries. I remember later on his talking with me, and he said, 'I have looked into the reputation, particularly of e leader of the group, of His Excellency Sheikh Kamal Adham' [chief of Saudi intelligence]. And he said, 'It's difficult to recall a time when I have heard such universal commendation for an international businessman. I hear it in London. l've heard the most commendatory comments. I've heard about him in the countries of the Persian Gulf. I have not heard one whisper of criticism against this man.' And he said, 'I feel perfectly comfortable about this group, headed by this man, coming in and taking over our banks.' "
Attorney William Bar'r s client during the takeover, B.F. Saul, tried to put a different spin on the matter. He told Regardie's: "I never did go to the Middle East to meet him. I think I met Kamal Adham in Washington once. I don't think I ever met him in London. I met him for 20 minutes. I did not try to make a judgment whether they should own a bank. That was something for the Federal Reserve to do. All I was concerned about was whether this was in the best interest of the shareholders, and I thought it was " (emphasis added).
Barr told the Senate that he had represented B.F. Saul through March 1982. By this time, the BCCI takeover of First American was completed. In April 1982, Clifford re placed B.F. Saul as First American's chairman, although Saul stayed on the board. In May 1982, Barr ceased being a private attorney, and joined the White House legal staff, becoming an intimate collaborator of Vice President George Bush's counsel C. Boyden Gray.
Bush's covert action apparatus
Barr was officially back in government at the precise time that the Bush team was consolidating extraordinary power, and the new BCCI arrangements would be useful for their global offensive.
On May 14, 1982, Vice President Bush's position as chief of all U.S. covert action was formalized in a secret memorandum (signed "for the President" by Ronald Reagan's National Security Adviser William P. Clark and declassified during the congressional Iran-Contra hearings). The memo explained that "National Security Decision Direc tive 3, Crisis Management, establishes the Special Situation Group (SSG), chaired by the Vice President. The SSG is charged. . .with formulating plans in anticipation of crises. "
The memo also announced the birth of the Standing Crisis Pre-P.lanning Group (CPPG),to work as an intelligence-gathering agency for Bush and his SSG. This new subordinate group ,consisting of representatives of Vice President Bush, National Security Council (NSC) staff members,the CIA, the military,and the State Department,was to "meet periodi cally in the White House Situation Room. " They were to identify areas of potential crisis and "present . . . plans and policy options to the SSG " under Chairman Bush. And they were to provide to Bush and his assistants,"as crises develop, alternative plans," "action/options," and "coordinated implementation plans" to resolve the "crises. "
Finally,the subordinate group was to give to Chairman Bush ami his assistants "recommended security,cover,and media plans that will enhance the likelihood of successful execution. " It was announced that the CPPG would meet for the first time on May 20,1982,and that agencies were to "provide the name of their CPPG representative to Oliver North,NSC staff'; North would henceforth function under Bush's direction in the smuggling of drugs and weapons. Felix Rodriguez,North's cohort in the massive cocaine smuggling of the Contras,began operating through George Bush's office in August 1982,and appeared in Bush's office no later than March 17,1983.
Barr left the administration in September 1983,returning to Shaw,Pittman. Two years later,the illegal shipment of missiles to the Khomeini regime in Iran was planned,offi cially,at an Aug. 8,1985 meeting of Vice President Bush with the National Security Planning Group in the residence section of the White House.
The work of Bush and his cadres bore fruit in what be came known,years later,as the first transactions of the Iran scandal. The London Financial Times on July 29,1991 described the way BCCI had become a "magnet for covert operations in the 1980s":
- "BCCI Used by Iran to Buy U.S. Missiles
- "London branches of BCCI were used to finance the export of U. S. anti-tank missiles during [Iran's] war with Iraq.
- "The export of the TOW missiles together with other weapons in 1985 was arranged by an Indian-born British arms dealer who figured prominently in the Irangate arms-for-hostages scandal and was wound up in February of this year.
- "The man at the center of the deal was Mr. Ben Banerjee, a London-based businessman,fho boasted of his links with Col. Oliver North,the disgraced former White House official at the center of Irangate. Mr. Banerjee died of a heart attack in May 1990.
- "The . . . $ 18. 8 m[illion] deal in 1985 . . . was disguised as a shipment of' I ,250 lift trucks'. . . .
- "Mr. Arthur Liman, former chief counsel of the Senate's Iran-Contra committee . . . told the FinanciaL Times that Mr. Adnan Khashoggi,the Saudi arms dealer who was one of the main figures in the scandal, made payments from his ac counts at the BCCIto the Enterprise Fund [of Oliver North] . . .
- "The story of how Mr. Ba erjee . . . arranged for the shipment of arms . . . provides a revealing insight into the way in which [BCCI] became a ragnet for covert operations in the 1980s. . . . A U. S. investigator said . . . BCCI could have been involved in the begin ing and the end of the TOW missile transactions.
- According to the document ,some of the weapons were shipped through Poland. "
Barr in power
As a member of the Bush team since 1976, Barr was the first Assistant Attorney GeJeral installed at the Justice Department after Bush's 1988 election to the presidency. He was chief of the Office of Legal Counsel. During one late night session,Barr drafted the brief justifying the kidnapping of Panama's General Noriega; he also supplied legal pretexts for the bombing and invasion of Iraq. Barr further developed the astonishing legal theory,which came to be known as the Thornburgh Doctrine, that the FBI could kidnap people in foreign countries, even against those countries' laws and regardless of U . S. obligations under international law. Some congressmen were reportedly angry with Barr for keeping confidential the text of the brief upon which this legal doctrine was based.
In May 1990, Barr was elevated to Deputy Attorney Gen eral, was in charge of the day-to-day management of the Justice Department. As a Bush insider, Barr gradually took over much of the power of his nominal boss,the discredited Attorney General Thornburgh. In August 1991, Thornburgh resigned; Barr became acting Attorney General and was soon officially nominated for the post.
In his Senate confirmation hearings, Barr was asked by Sen. Strom Thurmond (R- S.C.), "What are your goals during your tenure as Attorney General?"
In reply, Barr first made it clear that an attack on the leadership of the world narcotics trade, or any top-down approach to the drug problem,was strictly ruled out: "Obvi ously, drugs has to continue as a top priority. In my view, it is a long-term struggle. We are talking here about the cold war. We are not talking about Desert Storm. This problem took decades to come about, and it is going to take decades to cure. But part of my responsibility and my priority will be to keep the pressure on, so we continue to make progress."
What progress? The money-laundering bankers, the co vert-action drug smugglers,and the corrupters of the security and military services, are all untouchable by law enforcement, because they are "gentlemen and men of distinction" for Barr [...].
What did Barr have in mind, when he told the senators that he would be "attacking criminal organizations"? It was not the Dope, Inc. apparatus, which criminally employs and feeds the drugs to America's youth. Rather,Barr would tar get the street-level criminals. He was crudely hyping up vic tims of violent crime, speaking of "street gangs, many of which are involved in drug trafficking themselves,and I think there are some initiatives we can take in that area. We are focusing . . . more on those kinds of organizations like the Cripps and the Bloods. You may have read about the FBI anti-gang squad that was established in Washington, and I think you will be seeing more of that nationwide.
"[Then there is] the problem of career criminals, armed career criminals. We have strong firearm statutes . . . and we are seeking some additional statutes and we realize that a very high proportion of violent crime is committed by a very small group, a cohort of hardened criminals, career criminals,and we can use the firearm laws to apprehend these individuals and put them away in federal prison for long periods of time."
How the dope trade was saved
Just before Bush's 1988 election to the presidency, as the Iran-Contra scandals continued to boil,executives of BCCI were indicted for conspiracy to launder millions in cocaine profits.
Recently a former high-level U.S. government official with intimate knowledge of the BCCI case told EIR that the Reagan-Bush-era CIA had initiated the bank's trafficking in drugs and arms. This source said that the CIA had assured BCCI associates that these practices were in accord with U.S. national security. Here was the operation of the Bush "Special Situation" executive, briefly thrown into public view with the BCCI indictments,
The records of at least 40 banks were subpoenaed in connection with BCCI's drug-money laundering, including Bank of America, which helped finance the founding of BCCl's start-up company, and at one point owned 30% of BCCI. Customs agents scrutinized Bank of America ac counts used by people linked to Roberto Alcaino, a Colom bian arrested in 1988 in New York on cocaine-smuggling charges. Alcaino was named in BCCI indictments as "a major trafficker" of cocaine to New York, Los Angeles, and Chica go. Executives of BCCI allegedly helped him launder his profits.
Other major banks targeted by the federal probe included:
- Marine Midland Bank, since 1978 owned by the Hong kong and Shanghai Banking Corp., so notorious since the British Opium Wars of the nineteenth century as a drug bank, that the New York State Banking Commission blocked its buyout of Marine Midland;
- Republic National Bank, the New York City flagship firm of Israeli mafia figure Edmond Safra, whose banking empire stretches from the eastern Mediterranean to lbero-America;
- Bank of Nova Scotia, the Canadian banking giant, which was identified in EIR's Dope, Inc. as the institution that opened up the Caribbean as an offshore money-laundering center,in collusion with the Meyer Lansky syndicate;
- Another Florida bank subpoenaed, Dadeland Bank, was owned by a group of anti-Noriega Panamanians.
But these investigations were sabotaged and shut down. And in December 1991, Attorney General Barr announced that BCCI had entered a guilty plea to certain racketeering charges, in return for which the U.S. Justice Department agreed to drop all other federal and state charges that might be brought against BCCI entities in the future. In the plea bargain arrangement,BCCI forfeited all of its estimated $550 million assets in the United States, and there were some minor jail sentences. But the global drug apparatus, which had for a time been publicly challenged,was safe.
A memo uncovered in the Central Intelligence Agency’s declassified archives shows that during his time at the CIA’s Office of Legislative Council, current Attorney General William P. Barr drafted letters calling for the end of the moratorium on destroying records imposed on the Agency ahead of the Church Committee hearings.
2019-01-11-city-journal-org-if-confirmed-ag-barr-reputation.pdf ( https://www.city-journal.org/william-barr-attorney-general-nominee )
What would William Barr do if he is confirmed as attorney general and confronted with a repetition of the 1973 Saturday Night Massacre, when Richard Nixon tried to save his presidency by ordering his attorney general to fire the special prosecutor investigating him? Would he be willing to shut down special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation?
After meeting with him earlier this week, Senator Lindsey Graham said that Barr had assured him that he would let Mueller complete his inquiry into Russia’s election-meddling. That view was widely echoed by those who know Barr well. “The man I know would never be swayed by undue political pressure—from editorial boards, the Congress, or a president,” said Paul Cappuccio, a former executive vice president and general counsel of Time Warner. “He’ll be his own man,” said Michael Kelly, who worked with Barr when he came to GTE as general counsel and executive vice president. “Anyone who knows my father knows he’s the wrong man to try to bully,” said Margaret “Meg” Barr, at 34 the youngest of his three daughters, all lawyers with public-service jobs.
Barr was well regarded during his first stint as attorney general under President George H. W. Bush between 1991 and 1993, but critics argue that his overly expansive view of executive power and defense of Trump in a 19-page unsolicited memo to the Justice Department and to Trump’s lawyers raise questions about his fitness for the job. Many insist that Barr should recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller inquiry as a condition of confirmation, though Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has said that the memo had “no impact” on the Mueller probe.
In our interviews last month in Washington, Barr refused to discuss either his confirmation hearings, which begin on January 15, or his only meeting with Trump, in December, which one White House official described as a “candid” 90-minute encounter, though Trump reportedly did not ask how Barr would handle the Mueller inquiry. During a wide-ranging interview and at a dinner with his family, Barr did discuss his personal and professional life. He and Christine, a retired librarian, have been married 45 years. His eldest daughter, Mary, 41, is a senior Justice Department official who now oversees the department’s anti-opioid and addiction efforts in Rosenstein’s office; Patricia, 37, is counsel for the House Agriculture Committee; and Meg, a former Washington prosecutor and cancer survivor, is now counsel for Republican Senator Mike Braun of Indiana.
Barr, 68, clearly wants the attorney general job. “Our institutions matter,” he said, without elaboration. He does not seem to fear his confirmation turning into an ugly, partisan brawl that could sully his reputation. Meg’s cancer battle took care of that. “If it’s not about my daughter’s being mortally ill, it’s nothing,” he said softly in the living room of the new house in McLean, Virginia, that he helped design. “Meg’s illness changed our family. It changed me.”
The second of four sons, William Pelham Barr grew up on New York’s Upper West Side. His father became headmaster at Dalton, the elite New York prep school, where his college-educated mother taught English to foreign students. Barr’s values were ingrained early in life—conservative politics and Catholicism—and have never wavered. At Corpus Christi, his Roman Catholic elementary school, he supported Richard Nixon. (A nun took him aside and promised to pray for him.) Even in high school at Horace Mann, the most competitive nonsectarian (but largely Jewish) prep school in New York, Barr stood out. “He wanted to be respected as a conservative intellectual more than liked,” recalled Doug Schoen, the Democratic pollster and a fellow student there. “He made it known that he took his intellectual inspiration not from Allard Lowenstein, the Pied Piper of the anti-war movement, but William Buckley.” This predilection for early decisions applied to avocations as well. At age eight, Barr took up the bagpipes, and has since played competitively in Scotland and at family events.
Barr told his high school guidance counselor that he wanted to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, said Robert Kimmitt, a Republican friend of 40 years who has also held several senior government posts. While most aspiring analysts studied Russian during the Cold War, Barr got a master’s degree at Columbia in Chinese—“the other enemy,” as he put it. Between 1973 and 1977, he worked as a CIA analyst while attending night law school at George Washington. As a junior specialist in China, he occasionally was asked to backstop CIA director, George H.W. Bush, a former U.S. ambassador to China, at congressional hearings. The connection proved useful.
Barr’s faith and commitment to service have taken priority, his family told me, whether he was working in government or in the private sector as executive vice president and general counsel of Verizon. He has long served on the board of the Archdiocese’s Inner-City Scholarship Fund in New York, raising money for Catholic schools and causes. Friends told me that for many years he has paid the tuition of some 18 students a year at a parochial school in New York, costing him about $50,000 a year.
Perhaps the pivotal day in the Barr’s life was July 17, 2012, when he and Meg learned that her Hodgkin’s lymphoma had relapsed. Though 92 percent of Hodgkin’s cases are cured, only 17 percent of patients whose cancer returns survive. “It was the worst day of my life,” Meg told me. They reacted with resolve, not panic, reading studies, questioning researchers, and examining the results of experimental treatments. “We were like two lawyers preparing a legal brief,” she recalled.
They also prayed. Barr asked the nuns at convents he helps support in Illinois and Virginia to pray for his daughter. He also sought help from a rabbi who sent Meg a book of prayers. His own father, though a Catholic convert, was born a Jew. “So I wanted to cover all the bases,” he said.
When they chose Dana Farber Cancer Institute for Meg’s chemo and stem-cell transplant, Barr suspended work at his law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, and moved with his wife to Boston to be close to her. “He never missed a chemo or radiation treatment, a test or a scan,” she said, calling him her “cancer concierge.” When Meg needed to be isolated after her stem-cell transplant, Barr rented a house in Scituate, outside Boston, where they walked on the beach and read books together. They talked about a future neither was certain she would have. “Those three months were best and worst of times,” she recalled.
Against the odds, Meg recovered. “The hardest part of my illness was accepting the randomness of it, the fact that you can’t control the outcome,” she said. “Both my father and I tend to be control freaks.”
Last December, days after President Trump announced his intention to nominate Barr as attorney general, he walked Meg down the aisle of St. Peter’s, their local parish church. He even persuaded the priests to let bagpipes play at the wedding ceremony.
In 1991, after only two days before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr’s nomination as attorney general was approved unanimously, by voice vote. He won praise for his candor from Judiciary Committee chairman Joe Biden for admitting that he believed the Constitution had not created a right to abortion, and that abortion, though now settled law since Roe v. Wade, should be a “legitimate issue for state legislators.”
His second confirmation hearing will surely prove more contentious, especially given Barr’s longstanding endorsement of broad presidential powers. When Barr headed the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in 1989, he deemed legal the invasion of Panama and the arrest of longtime U.S. ally Manuel Noriega and argued that the Bush administration could arrest terrorists and drug traffickers overseas, even in violation of international law. As deputy attorney general in 1990, he advised that President Bush could legally wage war against Iraq, without Congress’s approval, though he encouraged Bush to seek a congressional resolution of support to strengthen his political position. Barr is therefore likely to support the issuing of presidential pardons to loyalists. Long a champion of tough-on-crime policies and of tighter immigration controls, he is also likely to embrace former attorney general Jeff Sessions’s agenda on both, perhaps even including the legality of separating parents from children at the U.S. southern border.
But it is the Mueller investigation that will draw the sharpest inquiry. Barr’s memo argues that a president cannot be accused of obstructing justice unless he destroys evidence, urges a witness to lie, or deliberately takes other actions “to block or hinder an investigation.” He has criticized Mueller for appointing so many Democratic investigators for his probe. In a 2017 Washington Post op-ed, he argued that Trump “made the right call” by firing James Comey as head of the FBI, and last year he told the New York Times that there was more justification to investigate Hillary Clinton’s role in the sale of uranium to Russia than Trump’s supposed collusion with Russia. Senator Dianne Feinstein has called such views “troubling.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to use the confirmation hearings to force Barr to pledge that Mueller’s inquiry will proceed unimpeded, and that Congress and the public will see the final Mueller report.
In his highly qualified, unenthusiastic endorsement of Barr, Benjamin Wittes, editor-in-chief of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, called the nominee “as good as we’re likely to get,” arguing that “all the features that make Barr attractive also make him scary.” But Wittes is also encouraged by reports that Barr and Mueller have known and respected one another for years. Senator Graham, one of Trump’s most ardent champions, also stressed Barr’s respect for Mueller, who was assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s criminal division under Barr.
“Trump may believe that Barr will do his bidding, but that’s wrong,” said Schoen. “Notwithstanding his memo, what Barr’s history tells you is that he won’t bend or fold for Trump. His personal and professional record suggest that he will do what he considers legally right and ethical.”
In a recent episode of The Lawfare Podcast, former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara argued that Barr’s decisions as attorney general, if he is confirmed, will either burnish or tarnish what is now a sterling reputation. Barr, in sum, has little to gain, but much to lose. That may well be his best qualification for the job.