Don’t be so sure.
While there’s no doubt that Barr, on a number of occasions, made himself a willing participant in Trump’s efforts to turn the Justice Department into his own private score-settling agency, there’s been several examples of late in which Barr bucked the President’s wishes in critical moments.
Those twin moves suggest that, while he was willing to bend to Trump’s will, Barr’s ultimate loyalty — at least in these instances — was with the rule of law.
All of which begs this question: If Barr wasn’t loyal enough to Trump or willing to do everything the President asked of him, what will the post-Barr DOJ look like for the final weeks of the Trump presidency?
In announcing Barr’s resignation, the President also said that Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen would serve as the acting attorney general — although he did not specify whether Rosen would hold that job for the remainder of Trump’s term.
It also gives him more control over the broader government apparatus as he can place unquestioning loyalists in posts without having to worry about those people being confirmed by the Senate.
What that means for the DOJ is that Trump is very likely to enjoy something close to unfettered control over the department between now and January 20.
That could mean the appointment of a special counsel to ensure the Hunter Biden investigation continues beyond the Trump presidency.
Or 1,001 other things that Trump has unsuccessfully pushed the Justice Department to look into — virtually every one of them involving his political enemies — over his four years in office.
Most presidents before Trump understood that while the attorney general — and the wider Justice Department — work for him, that it was important for the rule of law to ensure that the AG had significant autonomy. Trump never seemed to understand that need for independence. And now, with Barr gone, the last major obstacle to him doing (or at least trying to do) whatever he wants is now gone.