Finally, Barr, in particular when he was at the Office of Legal Counsel, was well-known for his robust views of presidential power, which of course will generate concern that he might lend support to Trump’s nutty fantasies about his own power. No doubt Barr champions a strong presidency, and he has publicly endorsed the controversial idea of the “unitary executive.” He advised Bush that he could unilaterally launch the Desert Storm military engagement without congressional approval. On the other hand, he also advised Bush that the president did not enjoy inherent constitutional authority to exercise a line-item veto. In brief — and it’s a topic that will require extensive examination at the hearings — Barr sees the president’s power as wide-ranging and reposed in the president alone; but he does not see it as limitless.
As attorney general, Barr did not politicize the Justice Department, and he had no problem working with people of different political affiliations. He viewed the department’s work as apolitical and the views of nearly all department employees as irrelevant. I remember in discussion with him once, it came up that I had clerked for liberal icons Abner Mikva and Thurgood Marshall. He just sort of whistled and said, “Wow, you’re really liberal,” and the topic never came up again.