Attorney General William P. Barr said in a recent interview that the United States would be “irrevocably committed to the socialist path” if President Trump was not re-elected, and he accused government workers of working to thwart the administration. The statements cast Mr. Trump’s opponents, and possibly Mr. Barr’s own employees at the Justice Department, as essentially un-American.
“There’s now a clear fork in the road for our country,” Mr. Barr said in a wide-ranging interview with Chicago journalists, an audio recording of which drew wider attention on Tuesday after it was published on Monday.
Mr. Barr has emerged as one of Mr. Trump’s strongest defenders ahead of what could be a bitterly contested presidential election, one that Mr. Barr described as the most significant in a lifetime.
During the interview, he acknowledged that as attorney general, he is “not supposed to get into politics,” a norm that his predecessors have followed to preserve the appearance that in the United States, justice is meted out fairly, regardless of political affiliation.
But Mr. Barr narrowly defined “getting into politics” as making appearances on the campaign trail, and then offered Mr. Trump one of his strongest endorsements yet.
“I think we were getting into position where we were going to find ourselves irrevocably committed to the socialist path,” Mr. Barr said. “I think if Trump loses this election that that will be the case.”
Mr. Barr’s comments will again fuel criticisms that he has politicized the Justice Department. Under his tenure, the department has recommended a more lenient sentence for the president’s longtime friend and associate Roger J. Stone Jr. as well as sought to drop the prosecution against Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn.
Since becoming attorney general in February 2019, Mr. Barr has accused former Justice Department officials and career bureaucrats of working to attack the president, accusations that he repeated in the interview.
“There undoubtedly are many people in the government who surreptitiously work to thwart the administration,” he said.
In his telling, those government employees are working with Mr. Trump’s opponents to undermine democracy and a duly elected president, simply because they do not like him. From the day that Mr. Trump delivered his 2016 victory speech, “they started talking about impeachment,” Mr. Barr said.
He also cast the government’s Russia investigation as part of a partisan plot to remove Mr. Trump. “He’s not a legitimate president with the Russia stuff. He was a pawn of Russia, all this stuff from Day 1,” Mr. Barr said. In past public statements, he has said that he does not believe that the Russia investigation should have been opened.
The Justice Department’s inspector general has determined that law enforcement officials had sufficient cause to open the Russia investigation. A report released last month by the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee found that the Russian government did interfere in the 2016 election to help Mr. Trump win, and that some Trump campaign advisers welcomed Russia’s help. Those conclusions support the findings on Russian election interference from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
Mr. Barr said that the Democrats were becoming the party that supported violent protest. “Increasingly, the message of the Democrats appears to be Biden or no peace,” Mr. Barr said. “That is rule by the mob. And we’re approaching that.”
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