Discussing Attorney General William Barr’s Testimony

Barr’s intervention on behalf of two Trump allies; his role in clearing Lafayette Square of peaceful protesters; and — most recently — his ordering federal forces into Portland, have drawn widespread criticism and fear. To reflect on Barr’s leadership, Christiane speaks with former Democratic Senator Russ Feingold and Paul Rosenzweig, who worked in the George W. Bush administration.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, Senator Feingold, since it’s the Democrats who called the attorney general, what you make of what you’ve seen so far? Have any points or any clarity been made?

FMR. SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D-WI): Well, I think it’s very clear what’s being demonstrated. I’d like to answer really as an American rather than as a Democrat, because the fact is that the Judiciary Act of 1789 created the office of U.S. attorney general. And the first laws of the Justice Department’s mission statement is that the attorney general is to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law. Not the president, he’s not the president’s lawyer, he’s not the president’s political facilitator, and this is a tragic moment in the history of our Justice Department, which is one of the most important parts of this great democracy.

AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you as a Republican, Paul Rosenzweig, do you agree with Russ Feingold or do you think there is little bit more nuance in what William Barr has been saying?

PAUL ROSENZWEIG, FOUNDER, RED BRANCH CONSULTING: Well, I confess that when Attorney General Barr was first appointed, I thought that it was an appointment that might actually rescue the Department of Justice. He has a long history of service in the department, and I confess to being disappointed. I think that in addition to the items you listed out, we could add things like mischaracterizing the Department Of Justice’s inspector general report or mischaracterizing the Mueller special investigation report or his actions in Lafayette Square, all of which seem to me to be inconsistent with the fair and impartial administration of justice. I think that it is, indeed, a tragedy, and I think that the evidence is, unfortunately, increasingly clear that Attorney General Barr sees himself more as a handmaiden of President Trump’s political interests than he does as attorney for the United States of America.

About This Episode EXPAND

Chrisitane speaks with Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman about the state of the U.S. economy. She also speaks with Russ Feingold and Paul Rosenzweig about Attorney General William Barr’s testimony earlier this week. Walter Isaacson speaks with former Miami Dade college president Eduardo Padrón about why flexibility is needed to ensure every student can get an education.