{i18n `360_TITLE`}

Should Attorney General William Barr be impeached?

Should Attorney General William Barr be impeached?

The 360 is a feature designed to show you diverse perspectives on the day’s top stories.

Speed read

What's happening: U.S. Attorney General William Barr's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee — and his refusal to appear before its counterpart in the House -– has spurred Democrats to ramp up their tactics to obtain an unredacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

Barr has defied subpoenas from the House requesting the full report. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold him in contempt. In the hours before the vote, the president asserted executive privilege to prevent the full report from being shared.

Why there's debate: Democrats have accused Barr of “purposefully” misleading lawmakers and the public in his initial summary of the report and in his Senate testimony. Barr's trustworthiness has come under even more scrutiny in light of reports that Mueller sent him a letter criticizing his framing of the report. Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Barr of committing a crime by lying during his testimony.

Barr's apparent loyalty to the president, some argue, is counter to the intended role of the attorney general and should be disqualifying. Several prominent Democrats have called on Barr to resign. If he refuses, their only other option to remove him is impeachment.

Taking action against Barr could also provide Democrats with political cover, allowing them to satisfy those demanding aggressive action while at the same time deflecting the conversation over whether to consider adopting articles of impeachment against the president.

Barr's defenders contend he is merely doing his job and claim Democrats are grasping at straws to save face in the wake of their disappointment with Mueller's findings.

What's next: The likelihood of Barr actually being removed from office is small, since that would require a two-thirds vote in the Republican-controlled Senate. Nevertheless, Democrats in the House may use impeachment proceedings against Barr as another mechanism to extract information from a reluctant Justice Department.

Perspectives

Barr is behaving as the president's personal lawyer, not the nation's attorney general.

“Barr made it clear that contrary to his promise to defend Mueller's investigation, he was now fully invested in portraying Trump as its innocent victim.” — Brian Dickerson, USA Today

It will be impossible to trust Barr moving forward, therefore he is unfit for his role.

“Barr’s redacted version of the report, like Barr himself, will always be suspect. His actions have provided more than sufficient reason to be suspicious of his motives, to feel that he’s out to protect the president, not to find the truth.” — Editorial, Masslive.com

Barr is just doing his job.

“Democrats and the media are turning the AG into a villain for doing his duty and making the hard decisions that special counsel Robert Mueller abdicated.” — Editorial, Wall Street Journal

“Democrats and the media are acting as if Barr engaged in some sort of cover-up, when he went further than required under the regulations to release all of the report with minimal redactions.” — Editorial, National Review

Barr is standing between the American people and the truth.

“The White House and its various henchpeople are on their way to leaving the Congress no remedy except impeachment to get to the truth of this administration's corruption.” — Charles P. Pierce, Esquire

Democrats are looking for a scapegoat after the Mueller report came up short.

"Sadly, no witch hunt is complete without an inquisition, and the only thing the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing lacked in that regard was a torture rack for extracting false confessions. Barr held his ground without skipping a beat because, despite the protests of the Democrats, he’s got truth on his side." — Joseph diGenova, Fox News

Barr's position as attorney general makes other disciplinary options moot.

“Federal prosecutors have broad discretion over whether to bring charges or not, and it’s unlikely they’ll do so against an executive branch official, especially if the person being held in contempt is the attorney general, the nation's top law enforcement official.” — Sarah Wire, Los Angeles Times

ImpeachingBarr is a chance for unity among Democrats divided over impeaching Trump.

“Democrats are unwilling to impeach President Donald Trump for now, so they're throwing all their pent-up fury at the next best target: Attorney General William Barr.” — Kyle Cheney and Darren Samuelsohn, Politico

“The feud with Barr has animated Democrats and temporarily shifted attention away from impeachment — and by extension, the party’s divisions over whether to pursue it.” — Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press

Read more 360s