Former Attorney General William Barr expressed disquiet about conservatives voicing outrage for the Justice Department without searching for solutions.
Barr explained Thursday to “Honestly” podcast host Bari Weiss that FBI actions during operation Crossfire Hurricane generated deep distrust of the agency. He suggested, that reflected the actions of a few higher-ups in the agency rather than the behavior of most employees of the FBI. In particular, he defended the integrity of its Trump-appointed director, Christopher Wray.
Fox News reported further:
“So what do you say to conservatives who say, ‘Why should we possibly trust these institutions to prosecute people — let’s say who protested on January 6th or agents of the state going after a president they so obviously despise? Why should we trust them anymore?'” Weiss asked, adding “You still give them the benefit of the doubt, but many other people in your party don’t.”
“Well, the Russia-gate thing, I think, to the extent the FBI was misused was decisions made toward by high-level officials in the FBI. I don’t think that Chris Wray is that type of leader nor do I think the people around Chris Wray are those types of leaders,” Barr responded. “I think there are problems in the FBI, but it’s not that. It’s not the Chris Wray. Wray is going to wake up and say, you know, ‘How do I throw the FBI’s weight around to interfere in the political process. Just the opposite. I think he’s very cautious about that.”
Barr acknowledged the DOJ, by and large, is “spotty” when it comes to those who act on a partisan basis versus those who are able to “check [their politics] at the door.”
Weiss, however, called his comments an “unsatisfying answer” to Republicans who continue to distrust the FBI.
“Well, what’s the alternative?” Barr shot back. “You know, something I’m pretty tired of from- from the Right is the constant pandering to outrage and people’s frustrations. And picking and picking and picking at that sore without trying to channel those feelings in a constructive direction. In my opinion, Ronald Reagan was a great populist not because he followed, you know, the frustrated instincts and the outrage of the people that many people who supported him but because he channeled it and was constructive about it.”
He continued, “So I always say, you know, what’s the alternative? We have these institutions that need reform. And the first step is to win an election with a decisive majority that allows you to put a program into effect and deal with some of these problems going forward and fix them. And that is not done by throwing fuel on the fire of outrage on one side of the equation while the other side does the same thing on their side. That leads to stalemate. And I don’t see anything productive coming out of it. I think we should basically try to persuade people- and I think they’re there.”
His remarks may strike a chord with many Republicans who still view the GOP as the law-and-order party that backs law enforcement.
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