A failure to hold Barr accountable when he is so obviously conniving with Trump to meddle in the processes of counting votes and certifying results would signal to the American people and to both parties that when Republicans are perverting their positions for purely partisan and deeply destructive purposes there will be no consequences. Sending that signal is every bit as dangerous as anything Trump or his allies might do at this point; it would continue a Democratic pattern of pulling punches when the party’s congressional leaders should be using all the tools at their disposal to defend the will of the people against abuses of the public trust.
The attorney general, who long ago indicated that he is more interested in representing Trump’s political interests than serving as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, has tossed aside Department of Justice standards that have historically prohibited prosecutors from engaging in blatantly partisan interventions in the electoral processes of the states. So egregious was Barr’s action that Richard Pilger, the career prosecutor who has served as director of the election crimes branch in the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, resigned in protest Monday night, warning that the attorney general had implemented “an important new policy abrogating the forty-year-old Non-Interference Policy for ballot fraud investigations in the period prior to elections becoming certified and uncontested.” In a memo to colleagues, Pilger wrote, “Having familiarized myself with the new policy and its ramifications, and in accord with the best tradition of the John C. Keeney Award for Exceptional Integrity and Professionalism (my most cherished Departmental recognition), I must regretfully resign from my role as Director of the Election Crimes Branch.”
Senator Warren responded with appropriate fury when she mentioned impeachment as a necessary response to Barr’s lawlessness, and when she argued, “If he cared one shred about our democracy, he’d be focused on the peaceful transition of power instead of doing the bidding of a wannabe dictator.” The former law professor is not a alone in her thinking. Tennessee Representative Steve Cohen, a senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, in June proposed a Congressional Resolution demanding an inquiry into whether the chamber should impeach Barr based on a pattern of “obstructing justice to benefit the president and his political allies.” Thirty-five House Democrats cosponsored Cohen’s proposal to hold Barr accountable for having “undermined our judicial system and perverted the rule of law.”