- - Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly A. Strassel has just conferred her “Adult of the Year Award” on a man who deserves it, Attorney General William Barr. And Ms. Strassel writes with sufficient distance from the swamp to be taken seriously. Her column, titled “Potomac Watch,” is, I am told, composed from her lair in Alaska. That ought to insulate her from the swamp’s fumes and from Wall Street’s, too.

Moreover, though the attorney general has been a presence in Washington for years, he is not simply a Washington creature. He is his own man. A few months back, when it fell to me to introduce him at a professional dinner, I made bold to say, “I hope I am not mispronouncing your last name, General Barr. The accent is on the first syllable is it not?”

He, in a very good-natured way, assured me that it was. You must remember that I am a stickler for pronunciation, and the attorney general has a well-developed sense of the absurd.


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Ms. Strassel in her award-conferring column noted that upon being nominated for attorney general by President Donald Trump in December 2018 “he received the respect that he deserves.” Official Washington was quick to note Mr. Barr’s years of nonpartisan facility with the law observable in years spent at the Justice Department, at the CIA and in private practice. He was known as a serious student of the law and of the U.S. Constitution. All agreed he would not be anyone’s toady. 

Yet Ms. Strassel notes that his honeymoon is over. He has begun to be “vilified precisely because he has maintained an impartial view of the Justice Department and has kept his promises.” This demonstrated integrity by the attorney general has “commenced one of the more obvious, not to mention nasty, delegitimization campaigns in modern Beltway history.”



Official Washington has been yapping at the attorney general’s appointment of John Durham — a prosecutor of squeaky-clean reputation — to investigate the FBI’s probe into the 2016 Trump campaign. It became “hysterical” when the attorney general stated “his own view” that the Inspector General’s December report confirmed that, as Mr. Barr put it, the FBI suspicions about the 2016 campaign were “insufficient to justify the steps taken” by the country’s top cops. 

The campaign against him continues. Former FBI Director William Webster has joined the attack and Eric Holder, perhaps the most partisan attorney general ever, has too. All the high-minded talk of Mr. Barr’s early days in office has been forgotten. Who else will come forward? Perhaps Pope Francis?

Few people in the country today have demonstrated deeper insight into Spygate, the investigation into those who have been investigating the elected president of the United States, than Kimberley Strassel. In her column I detected a genuine note of alarm.

Is it possible that the investigation of the investigators could be brought to an end? Could the media render Attorney General Barr or prosecutor John Durham suspect? Will they uncover an incriminating telephone call? How long can the Democrat-controlled House mire these men in one of their investigations? Is it possible that the whole finely-tuned investigation overseen by the attorney general will come to a grinding halt because of Democratic subterfuge? 

Well, I do not think it is likely, but it is possible. 

As Ms. Strassel writes, the evidence against the FBI has steadily accumulated. Recall if you will the December report of Inspector General Michael Horowitz. If Americans are ever going to be able to see what happened in 2016 with the FBI and with other intelligence agencies, the work of Mr. Durham and Mr. Barr must continue. 

My guess is there are going to be indictments coming, possibly as early as this spring. Then the wheels of justice will expose the wrongdoing. Or possibly there is no wrongdoing. Let our system of justice decide. 

I am putting my trust in the courts after putting my faith in prosecutor Durham, Attorney General Barr and Inspector General Horowitz. As for Ms. Strassel, I turn to her “Potomac Watch” column every Friday. Last week, she pointed to William Barr as the “Adult of the Year.” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was doubtless appalled, and Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, thought to dig up more dirt on him. Has the Hon. Schiff discovered that Mr. Barr was cited for jaywalking in 1967? Look into it, fellows.

• R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is the author most recently of “The Death of Liberalism,” published by Thomas Nelson Inc.

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