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‘Delusional Projectionism’: Lawyers Pan Bill Barr’s Fox News Interview as Partisan ‘Gaslighting’


U.S. Attorney General William Barr unleashed a partisan attack against Democrats over the weekend, referring to the opposing political party and protesters as a “revolutionary group” intent on “tearing down the system.” The comments, which came during an interview with Fox News that aired on Sunday, sparked immediate backlash among lawyers and former Justice Department officials, with some accusing Barr of “gaslighting” the American public.

Appearing on Life, Liberty, & Levin with conservative pundit Mark Levin on Sunday, Barr accused the Democratic Party of being motivated solely by the prospect of winning “total victory” against the GOP at any cost, eschewing the “classic liberal values that have undergirded our society since our founding.”

“I think the left has essentially withdrawn from this model, and really represents a Rousseauian revolutionary party that believes in tearing down the system,” Barr said of the left. “They’re interested in complete political victory, they’re not interested in compromise, they’re not interested in dialectic exchange of views. They’re interested in total victory. It’s a secular religion. It’s a substitute for a religion.”

The attorney general also spoke about the Black Lives Matter movement and protests that have swept the nation following George Floyd’s death, saying the “demonizing” of police officers would lead to less law enforcement in urban areas.

“The fact is, generally speaking, we have superb police in this country,” he said. “There will be some instances of excessive force, but by and large, it’s an excellent police force. And if they’re going to be demonized like this, they’re not going to work in these cities.”

Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Michigan and NBC News legal analyst Barbara McQuade called the interview an “incredible act of projection.”

“In an incredible act of projection, Barr condemns Democrats as the party that wants to tear down our institutions and destroy truth,” she wrote. “Highly inappropriate for a sitting AG to be so blatantly partisan. He does not even correct the host who repeatedly calls it the ‘Democrat’ party.”

Weighing in with similar takes were Fordham University law professor Johnathan Pfaff and former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Joyce White Vance.

“Every single thing this admin says is gaslighting projection. They’ve attacked nearly every institution and norm, right up to anticipatory delegitimization of the election, but accuse the moderate centrist Dems of being radicals,” Pfaff wrote, adding, “This relentless disinformation is exhausting.”

Vance accused Barr of hypocrisy, pointing to his 4-page summary of the Mueller report (to which the special counsel himself later objected).

“The man who lied about the conclusions of the Mueller Report while trying to prevent us from reading the report itself, accuses Dems of tearing down democratic institutions. Using fancy phrases from behind his horned rim glasses doesn’t make him any less of a fraud than his boss,” she wrote.

Former federal and state prosecutor Elie Honig, a CNN legal analyst, and former associate White House counsel Ian Bassin also criticized the attorney general.

Honig called Barr a “disgrace” to the DOJ.

“This is delusional projectionism of such enormous proportions I just can’t,” Bassin began. “But I will: how do we know it’s not just both sides thinking this and it’s all just even? Only one side does their ‘righteous acts’ late on Friday night only to be called a liar by the only witness.”

[image via Fox News screengrab]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.