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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: William Barr should be investigating Trump’s conduct, not excusing it

Donald Trump and William Barr
President Trump and Atty. Gen. William Barr at the White House on May 22, 2019.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

To the editor: Josh Hammer asserts that Atty. Gen. William Barr is acting appropriately in his defense of President Trump. He provides several historical examples of attorneys general who carried out the perfectly appropriate policy priorities of the president they served — or, to put it colloquially, they acted rightly as the president’s “wing man.”

What Hammer fails to distinguish or justify is the defense by the attorney general of a president for engaging in personal political conduct that is counter to law, not for advancing public policy.

Where a president uses his position to obtain a personal political benefit, for example, by seeking to win an election through cheating, the attorney general should investigate the president’s questionable behavior, not excuse it. After all, the attorney general is sworn to support and defend the Constitution, not the president.

Robert J. Switzer, West Hollywood

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To the editor: Hammer defends Barr’s unwavering support for Trump by referring to history when then-Atty. Gen. Eric Holder said he was President Obama’s “wing man.” Hammer cites “antecedents in seventeenth-century England” as well as an action taken by Abraham Lincoln’s attorney general in 1861.

This business of partisan individuals justifying certain actions by very selectively referencing past events has become all too common. How many times have I heard Republicans support the seemingly predetermined outcome of Trump’s impeachment trial by noting that President Clinton was acquitted?

It is misleading to justify a current event by selectively citing past events — hundreds of years ago, in Hammer’s case — that occurred under much different circumstances and are almost always taken out of context.

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At the end of the day, officials like Trump and Barr are there to do what is in the best interests of Americans. Let’s not make foolish excuses, but instead form our expectations of them on that basis.

Dan O’Connell, Canyon Country

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To the editor: I suspect that Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus, who quit their jobs as attorney general and deputy attorney general rather than carry out President Nixon’s illegal order to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, would have been surprised to discover that their job was “non-independent subordination” to Nixon.

Barr is entitled to carry all the water he wants for Trump, but neither he nor Hammer is entitled to rewrite the Constitution and American legal history in an attempt to polish that turd.

Lorelei Laird, Culver City


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