Trump's choice for attorney general has started to make the rounds on Capitol Hill, but he really doesn't want to talk to Democrats.
William Barr, Trump's pick to replace Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, has already shown himself to be a Trump loyalist. He thinks Hillary Clinton, not Trump, should be investigated and sent a lengthy — and unsolicited — memo to the Department of Justice criticizing the Russia probe. He's also, evidently, so dismissive of Democratic senators that he can't even be bothered to talk to them unless they raise a ruckus.
Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tried to meet with Barr, as his confirmation hearing is coming up next week. Sen. Klobuchar was initially told that Barr couldn't meet until after his confirmation hearing. Given that senators meet with nominees before their hearings precisely to learn more about the candidate and discern whether they deserve their support, it somewhat defeats the purpose to offer a meeting post-hearing.
Both Klobuchar and Blumenthal were told that Barr was unable to meet because of the government shutdown. It was a confusing explanation, given that such a meeting would only require the senators and Barr, not any othered furloughed workers or shuttered resources. It was also a bald-faced lie, as Barr had proven himself able to meet with GOP Senators Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley, regardless of the shutdown.
After complaints from Democrats, Barr did deign to meet with some Democrats on Thursday, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Klobuchar. But Democrats shouldn't have to beg Barr to meet with them so that they can perform their Constitutionally required function of advising and consenting to Trump's nominees.
Of course, this is nothing new. When Neil Gorsuch was nominated for the Supreme Court seat that Mitch McConnell stole from both President Barack Obama and Merrick Garland, he didn't bother to meet with Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) even though they made multiple requests.
Barr's behavior doesn't bode well for anyone who wants to pretend that he's going to behave in a neutral, judicious fashion. He received his nomination for the twin purposes of protecting Trump and baselessly thwarting Democrats, and he's made very clear, very early, that he's perfectly happy to do both.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.