John Avlon welcomed Elie Honig, CNN legal analyst, to talk about his new book "Hatchet Man: How Bill Barr Corrupted The Justice Department."
"This is a really well-written book, not surprisingly. You do not need to be a lawyer to appreciate the moral story it tells and how it contrasts with your life as a prosecutor, given the surprising absence of prosecution experience of Bill Barr's Justice Department. I want to ask, you don't pull any punches. You come right out towards the top and say Bill Barr is a liar. Strong words. Why?" Avlon asked.
Honig said both fields of law and media are reluctant to call somebody a liar.
"However, I decided look, I'm not pulling punches here. The man lied to us not just once, not just twice but over and over throughout his tenure, including starting with the Mueller report but many things beyond that, the firing of the Southern District U.S. attorney," he said.
"Remember that when he said, oh, he's stepping down. A few hours later, the U.S. attorney said no, I'm not. He lied to us about the threat of election fraud, things large and small throughout his tenure. I'm not willing to let that sit. I'm going to call it out. I'm not alone. Federal judges, multiple federal judges called him out for obfuscating, not being credible. They said his statements do not align with the facts, all the polite ways of saying liar. I'm not going to be polite, he's a liar."
"I want to show a quote from the book that really explains this," Avlon said.
"It says, Barr didn't merely sit by and let DoJ get dragged into politics by Trump or others. He made it happen himself by design and with gusto, often directly in response to Trump's corrupt entreaties."
"Why did he want this job back in 2018 after trump had just browbeaten Jeff Sessions? And I offer two explanations based on his words and actions in the book. Bill Barr has this extreme view of the law. He views the president and the presidency as above and beyond. He took that to such an extreme where he lost continually in court. But his view is, the president is above the law. You can't subpoena him. You can't question him. You can't do anything to him. I think that's wrong. The courts have rejected that.
"The other thing I think is less known, less understood about Bill Barr is, he is what I call a real culture warrior, right? He gave a little bit of a hint of this towards the end of his tenure, talked about the importance of and I quote, 'God's law' at Notre Dame. That's an extreme alarming thing for an attorney general to say."
He said he found speeches and articles by Barr that were even more extreme, especially when he railed against the "homosexual movement" and blame it for the downfall of society. Honig believes this motivated him to pursue the AG job.
"So how unusual -- that culture war talk even from the evangelical right is something we have become used to. But how unusual is it for an attorney general to speak that way from the pulpit at Notre Dame?" Avlon asked.
"It's completely unacceptable to speak that way as the attorney general. If you want to speak that way as a candidate for office, as a preacher, as just a person of faith, god bless, no pun intended. However, not as a prosecutor," Honig said.