“Orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable,” former Attorney General William Barr advised last week. “The president’s conduct yesterday was a betrayal of his office and supporters.” This is the same Barr who, before resigning from his Justice Department post, made a series of public statements supporting Trump’s claims that the presidential election might have been hobbled by fraud. Barr eventually reversed himself, asserting about a month after the election that there was no widespread fraud.

And he’s the same Barr who earlier gave Trump and his advisers legal cover and maneuvering room when they tried to poison the electoral process or obstruct justice. The first go-around involved former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of whether the president’s team colluded with Russia to sabotage the 2016 election, an investigation Barr undermined. The second involved Trump’s calls to Ukraine seeking dirt on a high-profile opponent in the 2020 election, Joe Biden. Democrats in Congress impeached Trump for that one, but Barr downplayed the severity of the Ukraine misdeeds when they were revealed to his prosecutors and gave every appearance of trying to bury the problem.

For Barr, Trump was a useful idiot, a vehicle for crafting an all-powerful executive branch.