America, David Mccullough Doris Kearns Goodwin, Ten Year discussed on Morning Edition

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The story of America with David McCullough Doris Kearns Goodwin and others available now where books are sold it's morning edition from NPR news I'm Steve Inskeep and I'm Rachel Martin the Attorney General William Barr has turned out to be one of president trump's most loyal defenders he was out in front again yesterday after justice department inspector general report found that the FBI had adequate reason back in twenty sixteen to open an investigation into the trump campaigns ties with Russia in a statement bar push back saying the FBI launched an investigation on quote the thinnest of suspicions when bar was nominated a little more than a year ago many speculated he would be sort of moderating force within the administration instead Barr has embraced many of the most of this of aspects of trump's agenda Marie Brenner writer at large for Vanity Fair wanted to better understand lean bar by looking at his past and she tells me she did that in part by talking with many of his former classmates one thing that struck me was the absolute recall that his classmates had about house so deeply he believed in the power of the constitution an executive authority from the time he entered Horace Mann in high school now I don't know what you were like at fourteen but certainly when I was going to high school in the middle of the Vietnam War I wasn't debating the president's power to be able to declare war without going through Congress right that was that something that was happening in his kitchen table late that was happening at his kitchen table and they were a family the bars of contrarians they were you know absolute you know doctrinaire Goldwater Republicans at this period in this world of a sort of a larger liberal culture that liberal culture was playing out at both Columbia University where William Barr was attending college and at the progressive Dalton school where his father Donald bar served as head master runners as two key moments at those schools influenced Williams career defining outlook outlook on executive power and the fierceness toward progressive politics what we're seeing now is an extremely interesting cultural moment that is being re translated during the late nineteen sixties and early seventies Donald bar began running afoul of many of the parents of the Dalton school because he became progressively more conservative and really double down on a lot of the students who were the straight a students at the Dalton schools desire to be out pro testing for the Vietnam War so with what you see I believe in William Barr at the justice department is a kind of re filtering of the protests that started against his father bill Barr was in high school and college when the Dalton parents and trustees began an immense pushed back against what many of them called the captain queen who was running the Dalton school and so he watches and absorbs his father being criticized quite publicly in The New York Times in New York magazine in the early nineteen seventies as he goes into college for his father's doctrinaire conservative views one of the things that so interested may have been learning about his early education wise our our current Attorney General attended Columbia University and he entered in nineteen sixty eight that is the time that the during his freshman year that the campus erupted into this large protest and quite fascinating way he was against all of this and has told people very close to him that he was barred from entering the Columbia University library to pursue his Chinese studies work and because these anti antiwar protest civil rights protests wrapping he you know he thought that this was anarchy and at the same time his father was riding quite tough really all in retrospect pretty shocking editorials and essays in vogue and in my calls saying that these were kind of limousine liberal protesters who would go to these protests by taxi you know at one point going after the growing black power movement this this kind of language and this kind of dinner table conversation you can only make a match and having a certain imprinting on a sun when William bars father was really fired from the Dalton school I mean he was allowed to legally to resign but there's this was for a young man who had just graduated from Columbia this had to be a kind of emblematic moment and you always wonder you know is this score settling one of the teachers I interviewed who would taught act the Dalton school through the Donald bar ten year said when I watched Billy testifying before set the Senate in may I thought this is his father we visited Billy has a score to settle when you spoke with several of bill bars for friends from from childhood I mean did you talk about today with them and and do any of them see the same man heading the justice department today that they knew back then the belly bar they went to school with they admired they found him so decent they found him never be little laying anyone he was a really good guy and what really struck me was their disappointment you know one of them said to me it's an American tragedy you start off in one way in life and you're going along and you veer into another and it becomes a very dark and I did want to say that did they say that because they just don't share his political leanings or are they pointing to something that they see changed from say the first time he was Attorney General to the time now that he is serving under the trump administration what no they'd see a change no because many of them said to me that when he was first appointed under bush as the Attorney General that he was obviously take a conservative but again a very decent very moderate thinking strict constitutionalist and when trump appointed him they believed that we would have a surprise you know that he would be operating on that high level when he first started under trump they were again mystified Marie Brenner is a writer at large for Vanity Fair she writes about the Attorney General William Barr for the magazine's December issue wearing thanks for sharing your reporting we push it thank you Rachel this.

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