Critics have long cited Bill Barr’s handling of the Robert Mueller-led special counsel investigation into alleged Trump–Russia collusion as evidence that the attorney general is serving as little more than a personal lawyer for President Donald Trump in his role as head of the Justice Department.
In an attempt to quash those rumors, Barr has been vocal about his history of working with Mueller when they served under former President George H.W. Bush — but now, a new report from New York Magazine suggests the pair’s relationship may not have been as friendly as Barr has insinuated.
According to Business Insider, Barr subjected Bob Mueller to what New York Magazine called “intellectual hazing” when Mueller was his subordinate in the 1990s.
“Bill was always making fun of people in his meetings, and Mueller was a particular target of his fun,” a former colleague of the men told the magazine. “Mueller would say things that were kind of stupid at times, and Bill would just mercilessly make fun of him.”
Barr: The Alpha
According to New York Magazine, unnamed sources in the Justice Department said that while Barr was friendly with Mueller and respected him as a prosecutor, the now-attorney general didn’t view Mueller as a “brilliant legal mind.” Indeed, some saw Mueller as little more than a figurehead in the Trump–Russia collusion probe, particularly after the now-former special counsel’s shaky testimony before Congress.
“I doubt it would be any surprise to Bill to learn or conclude that Bob’s staff was driving the train much more than Bob was,” an anonymous source told the magazine of the Russia probe.
The two have known each other for decades: Barr’s first stint as attorney general came when Mueller was head of the FBI’s criminal division. (Mueller later headed the bureau.)
But according to New York Magazine, Barr “was always the alpha.”
More grist for the rumor mill
The magazine went on to describe the pair’s relationship as “complicated,” even alleging that Barr believed his old friend “needed guidance” when it came to the special counsel probe. Before he headed Trump’s Justice Department, Barr wrote a memo to the White House detailing this viewpoint, which some believe ultimately led Trump to nominate Barr to replace Jeff Sessions, who resigned as attorney general after the 2018 midterm elections.
The rest, as we know, is history. Controversy erupted over Barr’s summary of Mueller’s investigation upon its conclusion, and Mueller did himself and his reputation no favors with a weak performance before Congress to explain his findings in his own words.
Given that the assertions by New York Magazine come from unnamed sources and can’t be verified, there is no way to know if they are accurate or not. Of course, that doesn’t matter to leftists, who just want to paint a portrait of Barr as the bad guy.
But at the end of the day, they’re just fueling the rumor mill. What a shame.