Plainly, William Barr lobbied to become attorney general for the second time in his career. I can think of four at-least-barely-plausible hypotheses about why Barr might have sought his current position:
- the customary mixture of resume enhancement, personal ambition, public service, and intellectual interest in the issues within the purview of the office
- because he had drunk the Trump Kool-Aid, had joined the Cult of Trump, and wanted, above all else, to be Trump’s toady
- because he wanted to protect the interests of the monied establishment by keeping Trump in office, by hook or by crook, and then getting him reelected in 2020, or
- because he wanted to protect the interests of the monied establishment by easing Trump from office—probably through a deal to get him to resign in exchange for immunity from criminal liability—and inaugurate the more pliable and predictable President Pence.
When he became attorney general, Barr was at the end of a long, prestigious, and highly lucrative career. He had no need to enhance his resume. His personal ambition had long since been satisfied. Hypothesis one is barely plausible but highly unlikely.
In the wake of the four-page Mueller report “summary,” many are leaping to hypothesis two. They may be right.
But Barr’s confirmation testimony was not what would expect from a Trump cultist. Nor, in my view, is the June 2018 Barr memo or the March 2019 Barr letter the work of a Trump cultist. Rather, each is the work of a very careful legal draftsman who seemed to seek the approval of a Trump cultists and highly superficial readers—such as Trump himself.
That disposes of hypothesis two. We are left to choose between three and four.
By the application of logic to the known facts, I’m still going with four.
In fact, I think it’s entirely possible that Barr wrote the four-page “summary” in a way that was intended to bring on a Trump “vindication” overreach that will backfire when the Mueller report is released.
That’s Machiavellian thinking.
Barr made a great deal of money in his career. And, to make that money, he did a whole heap ‘o Machiavellian thinking.