Here’s something that’s totally just a coincidence and not clearly indicative of a larger flaw in the American political system: U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s massive donations to the Republican party spiked just prior to his Senate confirmation hearing.
A report from Quartz notes that Barr gave $51,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee between October 2018 and February 2019. Jeff Sessions resigned as attorney general in November 2018. Barr was confirmed as the attorney general on Feb. 14, 2019. The NRSC refunded $30,000 to Barr on Feb. 6. That seems normal, right?
It’s not. Sessions didn’t make contributions to party committees, and neither did the previous attorney generals, Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder, at least not in such close proximity to their approval hearings. (Holder donated $250 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee two years prior to his confirmation; Lynch gave $13,800 to Obama’s 2008 campaign, six years before her nomination.)
Adav Noti, a senior director at the nonpartisan nonprofit Campaign Legal Center and former associate general counsel at the FEC, explains to Quartz that while the donations aren’t necessarily illegal, “Someone giving such large amounts to a senatorial committee before their confirmation certainly raises appearance questions.”
In June, the New York Times argued that Barr was reluctant to join Trump’s administration. These contributions seem to suggest otherwise, as does the unsolicited 20-page memo Barr wrote to Trump in which he pretty explicitly says he’ll defend Trump. In that memo—titled “Mueller’s ‘obstruction’ theory”—Barr writes that there can be “no limit on the President’s authority to act on matters which concern him or his own conduct,” moments after noting that “the Constitution vests all federal law enforcement power, and hence prosecutorial discretion, in the President.” Again, totally normal behavior from someone who definitely didn’t want to be the attorney general.
Barr’s former Department of Justice colleague Donald Ayer has some troubling statements about Barr, noting that his work with Trump is the next step in “his life’s work of creating an all-powerful president.” Sure does sound like fascism to us.