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Publisher's Summary

National Best Seller!

CNN Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig exposes William Barr as the most corrupt attorney general in modern US history, with stunning new scandals bubbling to the surface even after Barr's departure from office.  

In Hatchet Man, former federal prosecutor Elie Honig uncovers Barr’s unprecedented abuse of power as Attorney General and the lasting structural damage done to the Justice Department. Honig uses his own experience as a prosecutor at DOJ to show how, as America’s top law enforcement official, Barr repeatedly violated the Department’s written rules, and those vital, unwritten norms and principles that comprise the “prosecutor’s code".

Barr was corrupt from the beginning. His first act as AG was to distort the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, earning a public rebuke for his dishonesty from Mueller himself and, later, from a federal judge. Then, Barr tried to manipulate the law to squash a whistleblower’s complaint about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine - the report that eventually led to Trump’s first impeachment. Barr later intervened in an unprecedented manner to undermine his own DOJ prosecutors on the cases of Michael Flynn and Roger Stone, both political allies of the President. And then Barr fired the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York under false pretenses. Finally, Barr amplified baseless theories about massive mail-in ballot fraud, pouring gasoline on the dumpster fire battle over the 2020 election results and contributing to the January 6 insurrection that led to Trump’s second impeachment.

In Hatchet Man, Honig proves that Barr trampled the two core virtues that have long defined the department and its mission: credibility and independence - ultimately in service of his own deeply-rooted, extremist legal and personal beliefs. Honig shows how Barr corrupted the Justice Department and explains what we must do to prevent this from ever happening again.

©2021 Elie Honig (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Hatchet Man

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If you think you’ve heard it all before, you’re wrong.

If you’ve heard Honig on CNN, or read anything he’s written on the subject of Barr, you won’t be surprised that he’s not a fan. What becomes immediately apparent in Hatchet Man, is that Elie Honig’s ire is not based on partisanship but rather his reverence for our Justice system and his anger at how Barr has flaunted long held conventions.

I prepared myself to wade through lots of legalize and nuance because I lack any legal background. I was pleasantly surprised that Honig very seldom drifted into institutional jargon and, when he did, he was adept at explaining it on a layman’s level & with examples.

I’m hopeful history will treat Barr with the appropriate level of scorn but I think Hatchet Man will become an important record of how William Barr enabled one of the most dangerous men in our country’s history. Even more so because Elie Honig, as the voice of experience, does an incredible job of explaining WHY Barr acted as he did.

Barr wasn’t just a groveling sycophant. Honig makes a very credible case that Barr had his own agenda. And it is a frightening one.

This book will be one of perhaps hundreds that will be written about the Trump era. I think it will end up being one of the most important.

16 people found this helpful

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The Despicable Wm. Barr

As a historical placemark, denoting the corrupt and sinister being of Attorney General William Barr, and his destruction of the American way of law, Hatchet Man, How Bill Barr Broke the Prosecutor’s Code and Corrupted the Justice Department, written and read by Elie Honig, does its job well. The work, though, reads like a trial court legal brief, a linear argument to the court. Attorney Honig fails in providing a true understanding of our justice system and how it preserves a secure lifestyle for us in the democratic matrix we call our nation (United States of America). The political question. He exceeds expectations in explaining the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney system and its place in our judicial process. The law-and-order question. Most importantly, though, e also exceeds in providing a chronology of William Barr’s wrongs and why they are evil deteriorations of our legal system. For that alone, this book should be read. Read it and learn the threat William Barr was and remains to our way of democratic life.

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Just the facts, ma'am

Loved the personal professional stories interspersed with historical accounting. Entertaining and effective. Really enjoyed the narration by the author himself.

9 people found this helpful

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A prosecutor knows

Elie Honig knows what he’s talking about. He’s a great narrator and the personal anecdotes he uses are spot on.

4 people found this helpful

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Elie was fair and balanced

I liked the comparison of his actual legal experiences to those in which Barr reacted the opposite. This tell gives you a better perspective as to just how outrageous Barr conducted his political biases into the AG point of view.

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Educational & entertaining

Fantastic book. Elie recounts all of Barr’s actions during his tenure as AG and explains why they were arrogant, unprofessional and corrupt. And Elie does a superb performance as the reader. I found the book to be educational and entertaining and highly recommend it

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From inside the mind of a prosecutor

I write this review as a criminal defense and appellate lawyer with more than a quarter century of experience. That’s my perspective and I put it out there because Mr. Honig’s book expertly explains how a prosecutor’s office is supposed to work and how those “mechanics” failed under William Barr’s most recent tour as Attorney General. He does so in a way that a non-lawyer can understand. That is no easy task. People in the general public learn about the law from tv and from social media. The reality is far different and Honig drills down into the details beautifully.

I knew almost every piece of the narrative — the audition memo, the false flag pre-Mueller Report statement, the Far Right ideology that Barr embraces. Honig’s book wraps those events together with the theme of how Barr’s actions failed to follow “the prosecutor’s code.” The author is self-deprecating about his own mistakes as a prosecutor and discusses humility and honesty to facts as being critical to the administration of justice. I particularly laughed (because we’ve all been there) as Honig’s described having to defend a trial partner’s error in an appellate argument. The one thing I didn’t know was that Barr had never been a prosecutor nor had he defended a criminal client. Frankly, I think I assumed that any AG would have some criminal law background.

My sole critiques are (1) that Honig narrated just a fraction too quickly but that didn’t distract from the book in the slightest; and (2) that while I agree that prosecutors make life-altering decisions, they are only one-third of the criminal justice system. The other two thirds are the defense and the judge/jury. The author recognizes this triumvirate of justice implicitly but doesn’t do so explicitly. I think he could have added that awareness more clearly and hope that he does so in a follow-up book. There are more details to be told. Great first book by an obviously experienced attorney.

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It Was Worth the Wait

Terrific book. Elie’s knowledge of the law and his passion for justice helped build a strong case against Barr.

Hope your next book dissects Rudy Gulliani.

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Compelling

This book is one of the best books written about the Trump administration and the DOJ.
I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in justice.
Thank you so much Elie Honig for writing this book in a clear way for layman to understand.

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Beyond insightful

Informative and as expected concerning to think one person’s ideology could be forced on to a supposedly free country

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  • Maria
  • 07-08-21

Just has expected

An insight to B. Barr conduct that in fact if we are really honest with ourselves this narrative would s more a confirmation of all we already know and how far the Trump administration corrupted American.

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  • Ged Martin
  • 08-02-21

Focus On The Writing Elie!

Elie is a great storyteller but simply doesn't have the voice for the narration. I love the subject matter and have been looking forward to this charlatan Barr getting his comeuppance, and Elie delivers it marvelously. I just hope the next book can be narrated by a dedicated pro.