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William Barr Gives a Grand Speech – Now, About that Investigation…

Today’s Campaign Update, Part II
(Because The Campaign Never Ends)

Attorney General William Barr delivered a hard-hitting speech at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention on Friday evening. – In the speech, the AG presented a vigorous defense of President Trump and his administration, and a pointed take-down of the Democrat-funded “resistance” and its repugnant, ongoing efforts to destroy the country from within.

It’s more than an hour long, but well worth your time to watch. Below is a video of the speech, followed by key outtakes from the transcript:

Outtakes (full transcript can be read here):

Unfortunately, over the past several decades, we have seen steady encroachment on Presidential authority by the other branches of government.  This process I think has substantially weakened the functioning of the Executive Branch, to the detriment of the Nation.  This evening, I would like to expand a bit on these themes.

One of the more amusing aspects of modern progressive polemic is their breathless attacks on the “unitary executive theory.”  They portray this as some new-fangled “theory” to justify Executive power of sweeping scope. In reality, the idea of the unitary executive does not go so much to the breadth of Presidential power.  Rather, the idea is that, whatever the Executive powers may be, they must be exercised under the President’s supervision.  This is not “new,” and it is not a “theory.”  It is a description of what the Framers unquestionably did in Article II of the Constitution.

So let me turn now to how the Executive is presently faring in these interbranch battles. I am concerned that the deck has become stacked against the Executive.  Since the mid-60s, there has been a steady grinding down of the Executive branch’s authority, that accelerated after Watergate.  More and more, the President’s ability to act in areas in which he has discretion has become smothered by the encroachments of the other branches.

Immediately after President Trump won election, opponents inaugurated what they called “The Resistance,” and they rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver available to sabotage the functioning of his Administration.  Now, “resistance” is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power.  It obviously connotes that the government is not legitimate.  This is a very dangerous – indeed incendiary – notion to import into the politics of a democratic republic.  What it means is that, instead of viewing themselves as the “loyal opposition,” as opposing parties have done in the past, they essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple, by any means necessary, a duly elected government.  

Congress has in recent years also largely abdicated its core function of legislating on the most pressing issues facing the national government.  They either decline to legislate on major questions or, if they do, punt the most difficult and critical issues by making broad delegations to a modern administrative state that they increasingly seek to insulate from Presidential control.

Of course, Congress’s effective withdrawal from the business of legislating leaves it with a lot of time for other pursuits.  And the pursuit of choice, particularly for the opposition party, has been to drown the Executive Branch with “oversight” demands for testimony and documents.  I do not deny that Congress has some implied authority to conduct oversight as an incident to its Legislative Power.  But the sheer volume of what we see today – the pursuit of scores of parallel “investigations” through an avalanche of subpoenas – is plainly designed to incapacitate the Executive Branch, and indeed is touted as such.

In recent years, we have seen substantial encroachment by Congress in the area of executive privilege.  The Executive Branch and the Supreme Court have long recognized that the need for confidentiality in Executive Branch decision-making necessarily means that some communications must remain off limits to Congress and the public.   There was a time when Congress respected this important principle as well.  But today, Congress is increasingly quick to dismiss good-faith attempts to protect Executive Branch equities, labeling such efforts “obstruction of Congress” and holding Cabinet Secretaries in contempt.

In recent years, we have seen substantial encroachment by Congress in the area of executive privilege.  The Executive Branch and the Supreme Court have long recognized that the need for confidentiality in Executive Branch decision-making necessarily means that some communications must remain off limits to Congress and the public.   There was a time when Congress respected this important principle as well.  But today, Congress is increasingly quick to dismiss good-faith attempts to protect Executive Branch equities, labeling such efforts “obstruction of Congress” and holding Cabinet Secretaries in contempt.

One of the ironies of today is that those who oppose this President constantly accuse this Administration of “shredding” constitutional norms and waging a war on the rule of law.  When I ask my friends on the other side, what exactly are you referring to?  I get vacuous stares, followed by sputtering about the Travel Ban or some such thing.  While the President has certainly thrown out the traditional Beltway playbook, he was upfront about that beforehand, and the people voted for him.  What I am talking about today are fundamental constitutional precepts.  The fact is that this Administration’s policy initiatives and proposed rules, including the Travel Ban, have transgressed neither constitutional, nor traditional, norms, and have been amply supported by the law and patiently litigated through the Court system to vindication.

Indeed, measures undertaken by this Administration seem a bit tame when compared to some of the unprecedented steps taken by the Obama Administration’s aggressive exercises of Executive power – such as, under its DACA program, refusing to enforce broad swathes of immigration law.

Conservatives, on the other hand, do not seek an earthly paradise.  We are interested in preserving over the long run the proper balance of freedom and order necessary for healthy development of natural civil society and individual human flourishing.  This means that we naturally test the propriety and wisdom of action under a “rule of law” standard.  The essence of this standard is to ask what the overall impact on society over the long run if the action we are taking, or principle we are applying, in a given circumstance was universalized – that is, would it be good for society over the long haul if this was done in all like circumstances?

For these reasons, conservatives tend to have more scruple over their political tactics and rarely feel that the ends justify the means.  And this is as it should be, but there is no getting around the fact that this puts conservatives at a disadvantage when facing progressive holy far, especially when doing so under the weight of a hyper-partisan media.

In essence, the Court has taken the rules that govern our domestic criminal justice process and carried them over and superimposed them on the Nation’s activities when it is engaged in armed conflict with foreign enemies.  This rides roughshod over a fundamental distinction that is integral to the Constitution and integral to the role played by the President in our system.

This is a very dangerous and indeed incendiary notion to import into the politics of a Democratic republic. The fact is, that, yes, while the president has certainly thrown out the traditional beltway playbook and punctilio, he was upfront about what he was going to do and the people decided that he was going to serve as president.

[End of Outtakes]

There is much, much more, but these outtakes highlight the essence of the speech, which is powerful, incredibly well-thought and well-drafted, and shows without doubt that Barr has a clear-eyed understanding of the war the disloyal, seditious left is waging on the foundations of the American Republic.

But at the end of the day, this is just a speech and these words, while great, are just words. They only will ultimately have real meaning if they are intended to serve as the prelude for the long-delayed Horowitz Report to be finally issued and for the investigation of U.S. Attorney John Durham to start bearing fruit in terms of public perp walks, indictments and most importantly of all, convictions involving the high Obama officials who created and led this ongoing coup d’etat.

How about it, Mr. Barr?

That is all.

 

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