In an address to the Federalist Society on Friday evening in Washington, Attorney General William Barr lashed out at the Democratic Party “resistance” against President Trump, saying it is a “incendiary” and “scorched earth” movement signaling that America is ruled by an occupying military power, not an elected executive.
“The fact of the matter is that, in waging a scorched earth, no-holds-barred war of ‘resistance’ against this administration, it is the Left that is engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law,” Mr. Barr told attendees of the Society’s 2019 National Lawyers Convention, delivering a blistering indictment of today’s progressives who “treat politics as their religion.”
Mr. Barr did not specifically mention the ongoing impeachment push by House Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, and Rep. Adam Schiff of California. But Republicans have depicted the proceedings as just another bid in a three-year-long Democratic Party campaign to delegitimize and destroy the president.
“Immediately after President Trump won election, opponents inaugurated what they called ‘The Resistance,’ and they rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver available to sabotage the functioning of his administration,” Mr. Barr said Friday. “Now, ‘resistance’ is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power. It obviously connotes that the government is not legitimate. This is a very dangerous, indeed incendiary, notion to import into the politics of a democratic republic.”
Mr. Barr laid blame squarely on Democrats. As a “prime example,” he cited Senate Democrats who are requiring virtually ever Trump nominee to go through “cloture,” a time consuming voting process. Democrats have demanded cloture on 236 Trump nominees. In President Obama’s eight years, cloture was cited just 17 times.
“It is reasonable to wonder whether a future president will actually be able to form a functioning administration if his or her party does not hold the Senate,” he said.
While Mr. Barr did not himself delve into a timeline of Democratic “resistance” tactics.
However, Democrats began drumming up impeachment talk right after the election, often citing the so-called anti-Trump Russian dossier in which an ex-British spy supposedly gleaned dirt on Trump from Kremlin operatives. After special counsel Robert Mueller found no proof of a Russia-Trump conspiracy, Democrats turned to Ukraine. They allege he held up military aid to try to get Kiev to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and the Ukraine business dealings of his son Hunter.
Mr. Barr said on Friday, “What it means is that, instead of viewing themselves as the ‘loyal opposition,’ as opposing parties have done in the past, they essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple, by any means necessary, a duly elected government.”
While Senate Democrats block formation of a government, House Democrats “constant harassment” have mired the White House in demands for witnesses and documents.
Democrats have all but abandoned “executive privilege,” a legal doctrine that allows an administration to withhold certain private decision-making documents and witnesses.
“I do not deny that Congress has some implied authority to conduct oversight as an incident to its Legislative Power,” Mr. Barr said. “But the sheer volume of what we see today, the pursuit of scores of parallel ‘investigations’ through an avalanche of subpoenas, is plainly designed to incapacitate the Executive Branch, and indeed is touted as such.”
Mr. Barr contrasted progressives’ thirst for power with conservative theory of government.
“Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursing a deific end,” he said. “They are willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage in achieving their end, regardless of collateral consequences and the systemic implications.
“Conservatives, on the other hand, do not seek an earthly paradise. We are interested in preserving over the long run the proper balance of freedom and order necessary for healthy development of natural civil society and individual human flourishing.”
Mr. Barr has clashed with Democrats almost from the day he was confirmed as attorney general in February 2019. He said the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign, bringing Democratic condemnation of the word “spy.”
He tapped John Durham, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, to investigate how the Obama administration started the FBI Trump-Russia probe and whether it violated the law.