Government

Former Attorney General Eric Holder 'extremely disappointed' in AG William Barr

'He has tended to think of himself as the lawyer for the president as opposed to the attorney for the people of this country'

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, shown here during a 2013 news conference, said during an interview for “Iowa Press” on Friday that Attorney General Barr “thinks of himself as the lawyer for the president as opposed to the attorney for the people of this country.” The episode is online now and will air on Iowa Public Television on June 21 and June 23.
Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, shown here during a 2013 news conference, said during an interview for “Iowa Press” on Friday that Attorney General Barr “thinks of himself as the lawyer for the president as opposed to the attorney for the people of this country.” The episode is online now and will air on Iowa Public Television on June 21 and June 23.

JOHNSTON — The U.S. attorney general received a less-than-glowing job performance appraisal from one of his predecessors Friday in Iowa.

Eric Holder, the former attorney general during Democratic President Barack Obama’s tenure, said he is “extremely disappointed” in Attorney General William Barr, the second to serve during Republican President Donald Trump’s tenure.

Holder gave his assessment of Barr on Friday during the filming of an episode of “Iowa Press” on Iowa Public Television.

“I’m both surprised and extremely disappointed,” Holder said when asked to assess Barr’s performance since taking the job in February.

“I actually thought that he was an institutionalist, and I thought that he would actually be at odds with President Trump relatively soon in his tenure, and he has proved to be anything but that.”

Barr has been criticized for his framing of the special counsel’s report on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Critics say Barr’s summary, which was published before the majority of the report was made public, lacked context in an apparent effort to make the report appear less critical of Trump, his campaign and his administration.

“(Barr) has become a defender of the president, a protector of the president and has done things inconsistent with what I think an attorney general is supposed to do,” Holder said.

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“I think he has tended to think of himself as the lawyer for the president as opposed to the attorney for the people of this country.”

Holder also was critical of Trump’s comments this week in an ABC-TV interview that he would not go to the FBI if a foreign government were to reach out to his campaign with information on one of his political opponents.

“That’s shocking. It’s appalling to have a president of the United States say that if a foreign power was to offer me information, I wouldn’t immediately reject it and report it,” Holder said.

“It’s pretty frightening because the reality is once you interact with that foreign power, they’ve got something on you. They have something on you that they will undoubtedly try to use. And the fact that the president doesn’t understand that either expresses to me some degree of venality or ignorance or some combination thereof.”

Holder also pushed back at suggestions from some Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, that the reaction to Trump’s comments is hypocritical for anyone who did not have a similar reaction when it was revealed Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign paid a former British spy to look into Trump’s past.

Holder called the comparison a “red herring.”

“This is really just an attempt to divert attention from the very real concerns that we ought to have about the degree of cooperation that existed between a foreign government and the Trump campaign,” Holder said. “That’s nonsense. That’s absolutely nonsense.”

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The “Iowa Press” episode featuring Holder will air at 7:30 p.m. June 21 and at noon June 23. It can be viewed online now at IPTV.org.

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