In November, hundreds of lawyers from the Federalist Society, an influential conservative group which has been in the ascendancy under Donald Trump, squeezed into the grand ballroom of the Mayflower Hotel to hear William Barr speak.
Giving the keynote address, the US attorney-general delivered a partisan defence of the president, accusing “the Left” of indulging in a “systematic shredding of norms” and of conducting a “progressive holy war” against conservatives.
More striking still was the way that America’s most senior law enforcement official tried to recast the national origin story of the US.
The revolutionaries had not fought against the “monarchical tyranny” of King George III, Mr Barr argued, but instead had the House of Commons in their sights. “The patriots well understood that their prime antagonist was an overweening Parliament,” he said.
His argument served to underline…