William Barr

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William "Bill" Barr (2019)

William "Bill" Pelham Barr (* 23. May 1950 in New York City ) is an American politician of the Republican Party . Between November 1991 and January 1993 he was the United States Attorney General in the George HW Bush Cabinet . US President Donald Trump appointed him Minister of Justice in his cabinet in February 2019 . Barr submitted his resignation on December 14; this will take effect on December 23, 2020.


Origin, education and first professional steps

William Barr's father, Donald Barr, was a writer and taught English literature at Columbia University . He was a native Jew and converted to Catholicism . William Barr's mother, Mary Margaret, nee Ahern, was of Irish origin and also taught at Columbia University. Barr and his three brothers were raised Catholics.

Barr graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor's degree in administration and sinology in 1971 and a master's degree in 1973 . He then completed a law degree at the George Washington University Law School , which he completed in 1977 with a Juris Doctor (JD) and the grade summa cum laude .

Barr worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 1973 to 1977 while still a student . He was then an officer in the Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia . He then worked as a lawyer in Washington. From 1982 to 1989, during the reign of Ronald Reagan , he served on the domestic political staff of the White House . He then worked for several years as a lawyer in a large Washington, DC law firm

Barr began his Justice Department career in 1989 as Assistant Attorney General and Head of Legal Services. In May 1990, he became Deputy Attorney General of the United States (United States Deputy Attorney General) . He held this office until his appointment as Acting Attorney General in August 1991.

First term as Minister of Justice

On November 26, 1991, President George HW Bush appointed him to succeed Dick Thornburgh as United States Attorney General . Barr belonged to the cabinetuntil the end of Bush's term on January 20, 1993. In 1992 he started a telephone monitoring program to gather information about international calls made by innocent US citizens. The secret program, which was initially supervised and operated by the drug investigation agency, recorded billions of connection data and other information from calls from almost every US state in 116 countries. The Head of Internal Audit at the Ministry of Justice came to the conclusion in March 2019 that the program had been started without prior legal verification of whether it was legal or constitutional. However, he did not assess the question of whether the collection of the data was legitimate. According to USA Today newspaper , the program provided the “ blueprintfor a more comprehensive surveillance program ", which the US government started after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Its extent and technical possibilities were later made known to the public through Edward Snowden's revelations (see NSA affair ).

Private sector

After resigning from the office of Attorney General, Barr worked again as a lawyer and was also a board member of several companies. Barr also served on the Board of Directors of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia from 2001 to July 2005 . From 2000 to 2008 he worked as the head of the legal department and as vice president of the US telecommunications company Verizon Communications , where he earned an average of US $ 1.7 million per year; on leaving the company, he received US $ 10 million in severance payment and a further US $ 17 million in retirement. In 2008 he worked as an external advisor of counsel for the international law firm Kirkland & Ellis, where he was employed from 2017.

Attorney General in the Trump cabinet

In December 2018, President Donald Trump nominated Barr to succeed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. The president said he had only recently known Barr. Barr, at his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in January 2019 , called for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate interference in the presidential campaigncan bring it to an end. Barr took office on February 14, 2019, following his approval by the U.S. Senate. On March 22, 2019, Mueller presented him with the final report of the investigation; Two days later, Barr reported the results to Congress in a four-page letter, stating that, first, the special investigator's report failed to provide evidence that there had been a conspiracy, or a prohibited collusion between the Trump campaign team and Russia, or any Coordination with Russia's attempts to influence the elections and, second, that the Special Counsel had not made a decision on whether Trump should be prosecuted for obstruction of justice. Barr cited a quote from the report, which at the time was still unknown to Congress and the public, which said that it was not possible to provide evidence or to come to the conclusion that Trump had committed a crime, but also that Trump had not been exonerated, based on the numerous indications and findings listed in the report ("while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him "). Mueller chose this formulation because an internal policy of the Ministry of Justice (DOJ) prohibits all public prosecutors from opening criminal proceedings against an incumbent president. Therefore, he did not initiate any proceedings against Trump. Mueller also confirmed this later during his Congressional hearing, and he also replied in the affirmative when asked whether Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice after his presidency.Russian interference in the election campaign , for example by only quoting small subordinate clauses in his letter which, without the previous main clauses containing circumstantial evidence, then ignored the fact that the Trump team had at least tried to conspire with Russia through Russian middlemen. At a specially scheduled press conference, Barr posed in the presence of his deputy Rod Rosensteinthen also presented the result of the investigation in such a way that the evidence available was not sufficient to be able to prove beyond doubt that Trump had actively obstructed the judiciary, which is in itself punishable. In fact, Mueller did not investigate this issue to the same extent as, for example, electoral interference, because this was not part of his investigative mandate and because the Justice Department directive expressly prohibited the prosecution of Trump. After the publication of the report with its very extensively blackened passages and after the hearing of Mueller, it became clear that this statement was not tenable at all, which is why Barr's press conference by democratic politicians and large parts of the press as Barr's attempt at cleansingTrump was branded, and why the Democrats asked him to resign. Such a cleansing is especially scandalous in the USA because a federal prosecutor should actually maintain his independence from the government in judicial or criminal matters, even if the function is connected with a seat in the cabinet. Barr then ruled out further judicial measures against Trump and his campaign team.

After a 16-year hiatus in federal executions , Barr ordered their resumption on July 25, 2019. After months of legal battles, the executions began in July 2020. In the last six months of Barr's tenure, 10 people were subjected to the death penalty under federal law - there had not been so many executions per year under federal law since 1896, ie for 124 years. Barr defended this by arguing that justice must be done to victims of horrific crimes and their families.

As one of Trump's closest confidants, Barr came into the focus of investigations into the Ukraine affair in autumn 2019 . Barr and his staff, as well as Trump himself, have prevented White House staff from appearing before the committee on several occasions since the start of the investigation into this affair, which many commentators claim is a one-off event. This is made possible by the strong position of the president in the United States' political system .

After US President Trump published numerous tweets , including those about ongoing criminal proceedings, Barr said in February 2020 that he would not be intimidated by anyone, including Trump, but that he would stand up for the integrity and independence of the judiciary.

After the 2020 US presidential election , Barr clearly distanced himself on December 1, 2020 from the unsubstantiated claims of the elected President Trump that there were massive election fraud . His ministry could not find any election fraud to the extent that this would have led to a different election result. Trump then left it open whether he would hold on to Barr and described the Justice Department as a disappointment. Barr resigned from his position as Attorney General on December 14, 2020 (the day the Electoral College elected Joe Biden as the 46th US President), effective December 23.

Web links

Commons : William Barr  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wolfgang Saxon: Donald Barr, 82, Headmaster And Science Honors Educator. In: nytimes.com. The New York Times , February 10, 2004, accessed August 11, 2019 .
  2. ^ John Haltiwanger: Who is William Barr? Former attorney general could get old job back. In: MSN . December 9, 2018, accessed October 3, 2019 .
  3. ^ Judith Miller: Stepping Into the Fire. In: city-journal.org. Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, January 11, 2019, accessed August 11, 2019 .
  4. ^ Brad Heath: Justice under AG Barr began vast surveillance program without legal review - in 1992, inspector general finds. In: usatoday.com. USA Today, March 28, 2019, accessed February 14, 2020 .
  5. ^ Dan Alexander: How Attorney General Bill Barr Built A $ 40 Million Fortune. In: forbes.com . July 19, 2019, accessed December 17, 2020.
  6. William P. Barr - Of Counsel / Litigation. Kirkland & Ellis , archived from the original on December 6, 2018 ; accessed on January 23, 2019 .
  7. ^ Trump nominates William Barr as attorney general. In: Augsburger Allgemeine . December 7, 2018, accessed August 11, 2019 .
  8. Justice Minister-designate contradicts Trump. In: Spiegel Online . January 15, 2019, accessed January 23, 2019 .
  9. William Barr sworn in as the new US attorney general. In: Handelsblatt . February 15, 2019, accessed August 11, 2019 .
  10. ^ The Intercept: William Barr Misled Everyone About the Mueller Report. Now Democrats Are Calling for His Resignation. In: theintercept.com. Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Laura Poitras, April 20, 2020, accessed February 14, 2020 .
  11. Tammy Kupperman, Ariane de Vogue, Vernocia Stracqualursi: Barr directs federal government to reinstate death penalty, schedule the execution of 5 death row inmates. CNN, July 25, 2019, accessed December 10, 2020 .
  12. US justice department resumes use of death penalty and schedules five executions. The Guardian, July 25, 2019, accessed December 10, 2020 .
  13. US speeds up pace of federal executions as Trump nears final days of presidency. The Guardian / Associated Press, December 9, 2020, accessed December 15, 2020 .
  14. Thorsten Denkler: The actors in the Ukraine affair. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung . October 1, 2019, accessed October 3, 2019 .
  15. David Rohde: Trump's Sword and Shield. In: The New Yorker. January 13, 2020, accessed on January 13, 2020 .
  16. literally: “I'm not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody” (quoted from washingtonpost.com: Barr pushes back against Trump's criticism of Justice Dept., says tweets 'make it impossible for me to do my job' )
  17. spiegel.de February 14, 2020: Trump's tweets make it "impossible to do my job"
  18. US attorney general finds 'no voter fraud that could overturn election'. BBC News, December 2, 2020, accessed December 2, 2020 .
  19. US Attorney General William Barr resigns. Zeit Online, December 14, 2020, accessed December 15, 2020 .