Those who were most hopeful that Barr would restore some regularity to our government are among those most puzzled by recent events, since there is no imaginable reason for Barr to seek such a disreputable role for himself. At his stage of life, after a successful legal career and distinguished government service, why would he accept the job of lying to defend the president? And, especially, why would he go to such extraordinary and unconventional lengths to pursue the position by submitting, on June 8, 2018, a lengthy and apparently unsolicited memorandum attacking the Mueller investigation?
There can be no doubt that the primary effect of Barr’s conduct to date has indeed been to befuddle and mislead, and create a public misimpression, for those who have not read Mueller’s report, that the president may not have interfered with the investigation. But Barr never said that the president did not in fact interfere, only that there is no basis in fact and law to support a finding of criminal obstruction. Indeed, a careful review of Barr’s conduct suggests that his mission is far more grandiose that just misleading people about the facts.