Barr's perspective on his current service as AG is that he took the job primarily to defend the institution of the presidency.
That said, while I agree broadly with the concept of the unitary executive, I'm not sure I would take it to the lengths that Barr has done in the past. On the other hand, the issues involved, especially with regard to the president's powers as commander in chief, can be exceptionally sticky.
So, first, here are the comments--bolding is mine:
August 17, 2019 at 7:00 PM
I think it's pretty obvious that Barr is the best choice for AG that could have been approved by the Senate. And he has many attributes and experience that are well suited to the challenges that he faces. And he is doing things the "old school" way, which is a refreshing change from the cronyism and corruption of Holder and Lynch.
However, I stand by my previous comments that Barr still views this fight in primarily legal terms and is not properly anticipating the extreme acts of desperation that may impact this nation when the Deep State escalates it's attacks. They have, and will continue, to come from many venues other than legal because Barr is too formidable in that arena. In the process, a lot of innocents have been, and likely will continue to be, harmed. This is because they are playing for keeps. And Barr is fighting with one hand tied behind his back because Wray is a Deep State Fifth Columnist, not an honorable or professional leader of the FBI. I sincerely wish Barr would bring in an aide with a combat background and no nonsense tough guy attitude.
August 17, 2019 at 7:09 PM
"Barr is the best choice for AG that could have been approved by the Senate."
I think he was the best choice for the job, period.
"Barr still views this fight in primarily legal terms"
In what terms should an AG view it? Military [terms]?
"I sincerely wish Barr would bring in an aide with a combat background and no nonsense tough guy attitude."
“Bill was just an attack dog that was loosed on us”
Barr is of the speak softly but carry a big stick school. He doesn't raise his voice, but his opponents know an attack dog when they see one:
“He isn’t going to wilt in the face of heavy fire,” said Theodore Olson, a prominent Washington attorney who has known Mr. Barr since they worked together in the Reagan administration.
“The telecommunications industry had really never seen anyone like Bill Barr,” said former Time Warner general counsel Paul Cappuccio.
One former competitor said he couldn’t fault Mr. Barr for his aggressive tactics. “Bill was just an attack dog that [was] loosed on us,” the former rival said.
August 17, 2019 at 7:44 PM
You have often stated that you believe Barr's loyalty is to the Executive and, I think, that Barr believes in the unitary Executive. I assume you mean that Barr's loyalty is to the legitimate powers of the Executive Branch as enumerated in the Constitution and as determined by the Supreme Court in cases where it has construed the power of the Executive branch. And that the ultimate authority of the Executive branch is held by the President and not the other officers of the Executive branch.
Perhaps its a bit of a rhetorical question but if you are of a mind to, would you elaborate on what 'loyalty to the Executive' and the unitary Executive means to you and how this loyalty is implicated in the extraordinary current political situation Barr finds himself in...and, in fact, we find ourselves in.
Then, the rest of us can pile on...
August 17, 2019 at 8:09 PM
What I mean is that Barr is loyal to the Executive in the sense that he took an oath to uphold the Constitution. Since he regards the unitary Executive as part of our Constitution, he regards it as his duty to defend the prerogatives of a unitary Executive, just as he would defend the other fundamental elements of the Constitution. His interpretation, especially with regard to obstruction, seems reasonable to me:
Barr to Rosey, esp. pp. 1-3.
I haven't thought it through beyond that.
However, here's an article that you and others might find very interesting--I will frankly state that there are aspects of it that I found somewhat dismaying: The real reason Bill Barr is defending Trump.
OK, now here are excerpts from the Politico article:
The real reason Bill Barr is defending Trump
The attorney general didn't want to serve Donald Trump. But he did want to fight for a theory of presidential power.
By ELIANA JOHNSON 05/01/2019
Bill Barr didn’t want to work for President Donald Trump.
At age 68 and semi-retired for a decade, the attorney general resisted three efforts over two years to recruit him into Trump’s fold. When approached in late 2018 for his current job, Barr recommended other candidates instead. Anybody but him. Only when the White House came back yet again did he relent.
Now that Barr has provided him with political cover from Mueller’s report, Trump is lavishing him with praise. ...
Other Republicans are just as exuberant about Barr, who they believe embodies the ruthless competence of previous Republican administrations that has often been sorely lacking in the current one. After his combative news conference moments before the release of the Mueller report, one GOP operative wished aloud that Trump would drop Vice President Mike Pence from the ticket in 2020 and add Barr instead. Other prominent Republicans speak of him in almost adulatory terms. “Barr is the closest thing we have to [former Vice President Dick] Cheney,” said Chuck Cooper, a conservative litigator and Barr ally who, like the attorney general, has led the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. “He’s a man. He has a very strong sense of purpose and confidence.”
But people who know Barr and have tracked his career for years say the story is more complicated. Trump and Barr barely have a personal relationship, according to White House aides. Barr may have donated $2,700 to Trump in the 2016 general election, but only after he threw $55,000 to Jeb Bush in the primaries. They say that it’s not Donald Trump whom Barr is fighting for, but a vision of the presidency.
Barr’s first interaction with the Trump White House came in the spring of 2017 when he met with Pence to talk about representing him in the Mueller probe. Barr waved off the offer, instead recommending a handful of friends to do the job. About a year later, when the president’s children were unhappy with Trump’s legal representation, Barr got another phone call — and turned down another offer, this one to join the president’s personal legal team.
In late 2018, when the White House was on the hunt for a new attorney general, Barr might as well have been on speed dial. He is a longtime friend of White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who worked for him at the Department of Justice in the 1990s and who pressed him to take the job. Again, Barr begged off, urging the White House to consider his friend J. Michael Luttig, a former federal appeals court judge — or former Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl — or his Kirkland & Ellis partner Mark Filip.
Ultimately, his friends managed to talk him into it. “We had discussions over a period of time, and I encouraged him to take it,” said George Terwilliger, a conservative attorney and longtime friend of Barr’s.
Barr’s social and professional circle was critical in drawing him into Trump’s orbit. Barr pals, including Terwilliger, Cooper, Luttig and former Virginia Attorney General Richard Cullen are part of a group of elite conservative litigators who were once wunderkinds in the the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. They grew up together and have fought countless political battles alongside one another.
They are united by a firm belief in a theory of robust presidential power dusted off by Reagan Attorney General Edwin Meese. Known among legal scholars as the theory of the “unitary executive,” they argue that the Constitution grants presidents broad control of the executive branch, including — to take a salient Trump-era example — the power to fire an FBI director for any reason at all.
Barr made his first imprint in this battle as head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in the George H.W. Bush administration, when he authored a controversial memo giving the FBI the right to seize fugitives abroad without the consent of the foreign government in question. As deputy attorney general, he told George H.W. Bush he had the power to send U.S. military forces into Iraq without congressional authorization.
[I probably don't agree with either of those positions. Or not without caveats. Whether Barr has reconsidered, I don't know.]￼
Conservative heroes from Robert Bork to the late Justice Antonin Scalia have been advocates of this theory. ...
Enter Bill Barr. Before he agreed to take the attorney general job, he drew on the unitary executive theory in the 18-page memo he sent to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last June — a document his critics say amounted to a veiled application for his current job. In that memo, Barr argued that obstruction of justice is limited to things like witness tampering and destroying evidence and that the president has “complete authority to start or stop a law enforcement proceeding.” The implication: Trump was acting on firm constitutional ground when he fired FBI director James Comey, regardless of his motivation, and that doing so was not an effort to obstruct justice. Neither were Trump’s subsequent, but thwarted, moves to fire Mueller himself.
Described by his friends as supremely confident in his views, Barr said at his confirmation hearing that he had circulated the memo widely “so that other lawyers would have the benefit of my views.”
“This captures Bill Barr perfectly,” Luttig said. “He has stayed active in Washington his entire life, he knows everyone and everyone knows him, he reaches out regularly to tell people what he is thinking about the issues of the day — and what he thinks of what they’re doing and, yes, what they need to be doing differently! And they love it.”
[And you could see those qualities in the way Barr dealt with the Dem senators at his confirmation hearings.]
Republicans have seen something different unfolding. They relish Barr’s willingness and ability to thrust and parry with the news media — something other Trump Cabinet secretaries have gone out of their way to avoid for fear of overshadowing the president or taking a misstep that might sit wrong with him and cost them their job.
During his pre-Mueller report news conference Barr interrupted a reporter who questioned why Mueller wasn’t present for the release of “his [Mueller's]” report only for Barr to interject, “No, it’s not, it’s a report that he did for me as the attorney general. ... I’m here to discuss my response to that report and my decision, entirely discretionary, to make it public since these reports are not supposed to be made public.”
Pressed on whether it was inappropriate to come out and “spin” the report before it was made public, Barr offered a terse response: “No.”
Barr’s allies argue that Democrats are upset only over Barr’s decision not to prosecute the president. “The left is savaging Barr only because Barr is not savaging Trump,” Cooper said. A Wall Street Journal editorial titled “Targeting Bill Barr,” argued that Barr “will be hammered no matter what he decides. The good news is that the country finally appears to have an Attorney General who can take the heat.”
“Barr step down?” Sol Wisenberg, a former deputy on Kenneth Starr’s independent counsel investigation into President Bill Clinton, told POLITICO on Tuesday. “Are you f*cking insane?”