Attorney General William Barr on caring about his reputation: "Everyone dies"

AG Barr on his reputation: "Everyone dies"

Last Updated May 31, 2019 9:12 AM EDT

Looking back on his lengthy career as a top Department of Justice official, Attorney General William Barr doesn't seem fazed by critics questioning his relationship with President Trump and alleging he's not a straight shooter when it comes to interpreting the law. Barr says the attacks on his character stem from a "hyper-partisan period of time." 

Asked by CBS News' Jan Crawford about concerns over his reputation for defending the president amid ongoing probes into the administration's alleged ties to the Russian government and claims that Mr. Trump obstructed justice, Barr appeared indifferent.

"I am at the end of my career," Barr said. "Everyone dies and I am not, you know, I don't believe in the Homeric idea that you know, immortality comes by, you know, having odes sung about you over the centuries, you know?"   


More from the CBS This Morning exclusive interview:


Barr, who previously served in the George H.W. Bush administration, is only the second attorney general in history who's served in that capacity twice. The first was back in 1850. 

He said he knew it would "only be a matter of time" that he would be attacked for what he considers is "behaving responsibly and calling them as I see them." He argued "nowadays, people don't care about the merits and the substance."

"They only care about who it helps, who benefits, whether my side benefits or the other side benefits, everything is gauged by politics. And as I say that's antithetical to the way the department runs and any attorney general in this period is going to end up losing a lot of political capital and I realize that and that's one of the reasons that I ultimately was persuaded that I should take it on because I think at my stage in life, it really doesn't make any difference."

When asked if he had any regrets for taking the job, Barr told Crawford: "No."

"In many ways, I'd rather be back in my old life but I think that I love the Department of Justice, I love the FBI, I think it is important that we not, in this period of intense partisan feeling, destroy our institutions," he added.

Barr says Justice Department and Mueller sparred over "legal analysis" in Russia report

Barr meanwhile said his experience with the president has so far been a "good, professional working relationship" -- a somewhat stark contrast to the relationship between the president and Barr's predecessor, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 

Mr. Trump repeatedly and publicly lashed out against Sessions during his tenure at the DOJ, stemming from his recusal from the Russia investigation. Barr, however, said the two talk to each other in a direct manner. He told Crawford he doesn't pay attention to the president's social media edicts. 

"I think one of the ironies today is that people are saying that it's President Trump that's shredding our institutions. I really see no evidence of that," Barr defended.  

"From my perspective, the idea of resisting a democratically elected president and basically throwing everything at him and you know, really changing the norms on the grounds that we have to stop this president, that is where the shredding of our norms and our institutions is occurring," he added. 

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    Emily Tillett is the digital producer at "Face the Nation"