Attorney General William P. Barr said in an interview broadcast Friday that he returned to the Justice Department to protect the institution during a period of “intense partisan feeling” and is not bothered by criticism from Democrats about how he’s handling the job.
During the CBS interview, Barr was pressed on whether he is concerned about the toll his second stint as attorney general is taking on his reputation. Democrats have accused him of acting more like President Trump’s personal lawyer than an independent attorney general following the completion of the special counsel’s report on Russian election interference.
“I am at the end of my career,” Barr said. “Everyone dies, and I am not, you know, I don’t believe in the Homeric idea that you know, immortality comes by, you know, having odes sung about you over the centuries.”
Barr, 69, who served in the George H.W. Bush administration, said he knew it would “only be a matter of time” before he was attacked for his actions, given he is serving during a “crazy, hyperpartisan period of time.”
“Nowadays, people don’t care about the merits and the substance,” he said. “Everything is gauged by politics. And . . . that’s antithetical to the way the department runs, and any attorney general in this period is going to end up losing a lot of political capital, and I realize that, and that’s one of the reasons that I ultimately was persuaded that I should take it on, because I think at my stage in life, it really doesn’t make any difference.”
Barr said that he had no regrets about taking the job, adding that he loves the Justice Department and FBI.
“I think it is important that we not, in this period of intense partisan feeling, destroy our institutions,” he added.
Barr also defended Trump, whom critics have accused of disrespecting an array of U.S. institutions, including Congress, the courts, the FBI and Federal Reserve.
“I think one of the ironies today is that people are saying that it’s President Trump that’s shredding our institutions,” Barr said. “I really see no evidence of that. From my perspective, the idea of resisting a democratically elected president and basically throwing everything at him and you know, really changing the norms on the grounds that we have to stop this president, that is where the shredding of our norms and our institutions is occurring.”