Coming to town is a new sheriff, ah, make that possibly a new U.S. attorney general if Trump’s nominee, William Barr, is confirmed during hearings that began Tuesday.
If the National Black Church Initiative has a say, Barr should be confirmed. The faith-based coalition of 34,000, comprising 15 denominations and 15.7 million African-Americans, believe that Barr “is the right man for these troubled times.” The Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the NBCI, said in a statement that Barr “will make an excellent attorney general and he has the prayers and support of 34,000 Black churches.”
Barr, 68, who served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush, and who has more recently worked in the corporate world as well as at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, has said that he will not interfere in the Mueller probe, one of the sticking points of the confirmation process for Democrats.
Several days ago Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky voiced concerns about Barr’s nomination during a television interview with Chuck Todd. “I’m concerned that he’s been a big supporter of the Patriot Act,” he said, “which lowered the standard for spying on Americans. And he even went so far as to say, you know, the Patriot Act was pretty good, but we should go much further.”
Rand also expressed some reservations about Barr being a proponent of seizing people’s property through civil asset forfeiture “without a conviction.” He said, “Many poor people in our country have cash taken from them, and then the government says ‘prove to us where you got the cash,’ and then you can get it back. But the burden’s on the individual. It’s a terrible thing called civil asset forfeiture and he’s a big fan of that.”
Among the issues that might arise during the hearings are Barr’s stances on immigration, including his policy barring Haitian refugees with HIV from entering the country. He established himself as a hardliner on crime and supported many of the policies stipulating the rise of mass incarceration.
In an op-ed column in 2017, Barr backed Trump’s decision to fire then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who had directed the Justice Department not to defend the president’s executive order to block immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries from entering the country. Barr has also said that he did not believe that the constitutional right to privacy extends to abortion.
Apparently none of these concerns troubled the NBCI. “We reject the characterization of Mr. Barr’s record by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights,” the statement continued. “Their opposition to Mr. Barr is solely base on their hatred of Donald Trump. The Church is not in the business of hate. NBCI is not a part of the Leadership Conference and never will be.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s luncheon invitation to moderate Democrats to discuss the shutdown was refused, possibly by members fearing the lunch would be a fast food serving like the one offered to the Clemson Tigers, college football champs.