Three Times William Barr Said Trading Pardons for False Testimony Was Obstruction of Justice

In the discussion of the Bill Barr memo in the last two days, the discussion of Barr’s claimed views on obstruction have mostly focused on the crazier parts of the memo that got him the job, and not even the passage at the bottom of the first page where he claimed to believe that if a President suborned perjury, it’d be a crime for him just as it would be for anyone else.

Obviously, the President and any other official can commit obstruction in this classic sense of sabotaging a proceeding’s truth-finding function. Thus, for example, if a President knowingly destroys or alters evidence, suborns perjury, or induces a witness to change testimony, or commits any act deliberately impairing the integrity or availability of evidence, then he, like anyone else, commits the crime of obstruction.

There has been far less attention to what he said in his confirmation hearing (where Lindsey Graham did not put him under oath). There were three substantive exchanges about what might constitute obstruction of justice for a President. And all of them get perilously close to behavior that Barr, now ensconced as Attorney General, claimed Sunday did not amount to obstruction of justice.

When Barr answered these questions, he appeared to have little awareness that Trump had floated pardons to — at least — Paul Manafort, Mike Flynn, and Michael Cohen. The first time he got asked about a pardon for false testimony, he stated clearly that would be a crime.

Patrick Leahy, specifically invoking Barr’s sanction of the Caspar Weinberger pardon that squelched the Iran-Contra investigation, asked Barr about pardons.

Leahy: Do you believe a president could lawfully issue a pardon in exchange for the recipient’s promise to not incriminate him?

Barr: No, that would be a crime.

Then, in this exchange from Amy Klobuchar, it appeared to take Barr several questions before he realized she knew more about the evidence than he did, and started couching his answers.

Klobuchar: You wrote on page one that a President persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction. Is that right?

Barr: [Pause] Yes. Any person who persuades another —

Klobuchar: Okay. You also said that a President or any person convincing a witness to change testimony would be obstruction. Is that right?

Barr: Yes.

Klobuchar: And on page two, you said that a President deliberately impairing the integrity or availability of evidence would be an obstruction. Is that correct?

Barr: Yes.

Klobuchar: OK. And so what if a President told a witness not to cooperate with an investigation or hinted at a pardon?

Barr: I’d have to now the specifics facts, I’d have to know the specific facts.

Klobuchar: OK. And you wrote on page one that if a President knowingly destroys or alters evidence, that would be obstruction?

Barr: Yes.

Klobuchar: OK. So what if a President drafted a misleading statement to conceal the purpose of a meeting. Would that be obstruction?

Barr: Again, I’d have to know the specifics.

Shortly after that exchange, Lindsey Graham tried to clarify the issue, asking the pardon question at a more basic level, coaching another not to testify, as Trump has done on Twitter repeatedly.

Lindsey: So if there was some reason to believe that the President tried to coach somebody not to testify or testify falsely, that could be obstruction of justice?

Barr: Yes, under that, under an obstruction statute, yes.

Lindsey: So if there’s some evidence that the President tried to conceal evidence? That would be obstruction of justice, potentially?

Barr: [nods]

Admittedly, by the third exchange, both Lindsey and Barr were hedging far more carefully about the set of facts.

But on three different occasions during his confirmation hearing, Barr made some kind of statement that said floating pardons for false testimony would be a crime.

And then, on Sunday, he said it wasn’t a crime.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

158 replies
  1. mister bunny says:

    “he appeared to have little awareness that Trump had floated pardons to — at least — Paul Manafort, Mike Flynn, and Michael Cohen.”

    EW, would you be willing to delineate the specific ways / times in which Trump floated pardons to each of these? I’ve followed this news very closely, and I can recall specifically the Rudy G connected lawyers who approached Cohen, and I know that it’s been assumed that Manafort’s repeated lies were aimed at securing a pardon, but how much specific detail do we have that Trump actually communicated that they should lie and could / would receive a pardon in return? How much clarity on the “dangling” is required to say it’s provable in court? Things I wonder about when reading your take on this aspect.

    • P J Evans says:

      “how much specific detail do we have that Trump actually communicated”
      Nothing that detailed and specific – it’s reading between the lines and watching what people say and do.

      • mister bunny says:

        So Barr should have read between the lines and charged Trump with a crime for maybe kind of dangling pardons?

        I mean I *detest* Trump and everything he’s about, but that doesn’t seem like a reasonable jump to me without there being solid evidence of witness tampering. Thus my question.

        • Mainmata says:

          I doubt that Rudy Giuliani would have dangled a pardon to Cohen if he didn’t at least have Trump’s quiet approval. I don’t follow Trump on Twitter because I value my sanity so I don’t know about the coaching tweets (not that it would surprise me). Would the paramour payoffs, besides being campaign violations also amount to obstruction of justice? I’m not a lawyer obviously.

    • emptywheel says:

      We don’t have a ton of details, but it was a question Mueller asked Trump in March 2018, after both Gates and Flynn had flipped.

    • mister bunny says:

      I’m not the one making the argument that Barr ignored evidence Trump has dangled pardons.

      I also don’t have the expertise to discern all the tea leaves with any certainty about my conclusions.

      Thanks for being rude and dismissive, though.

      • P J Evans says:

        What makes you think that was aimed at you in particular? (But if the shoe does fit, you get to wear it.)

      • Vern says:

        Actually, if that was directed at you, it was pretty damn polite. The comments to posts at EW are famous for contributing to the posts. Yours didn’t.

        Dr. Wheeler is a very busy woman. I’d much rather she picks what to focus on than some guy on the internet.

    • Valley girl says:

      earlofundingdon- I see no reason that mister bunny took offense at your brief comment. After all brevity is the soul of wit. I’m in very a pissy/ contrary mood, so I tried to find an appropriate Dorothy Parker quote to direct at mb. “Brevity is the soul of lingerie” doesn’t quite do it. Apologies in advance to all who might be offended by my bad Barr mood.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I could change my moniker to Madingley or Gog Magog, if that helps. (Is there a reason the Science Park is next to the sewage works?) I am inordinately fond of Dorothy Parker; the Mitfords were also able to turn a phrase.

        Vern’s response captures mine, but I’m glad when anyone comes here to find out more about a hot topic.

        • Valley girl says:

          Does this count?
          If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised. DP

  2. punaise says:

    W said it *best*:
    “Fool me once, shame on — shame on you.
    Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

    Meet the new Barr,
    Same as the old Barr.

    I’m going to put food on my family now.

  3. P J Evans says:

    Why didn’t they swear Barr before asking questions? Did the Rs know he’d be lying, and want to head off the possibility of perjury charges down the road?
    (I think there are a lot of appointees from the last 20 years who lied to the committees before they were confirmed. It should NOT be acceptable.)

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That such witnesses deserve some sort of professional courtesy from the House or Senate seems both outdated and false, especially for someone connected to the Trump administration.

      Putting Barr’s testimony under oath would have been a good thing, a statement that we’re all subject to the same rules here. But lying to Congress is an independent felony.

  4. jaango says:

    Permit me to add a tad of snark?

    Between Barr and Graham, the inference is that “white privileged criminality” is a lesser form of ‘white collar criminality.”

    • Coriolis says:

      Not just his son. His daughter got a pretty decent (and galling) government job out of it too. This brings to mind Barr’s “I don’t need to work here. I get nothing out of doing this” spiel.

      • P J Evans says:

        Barr gets a nice paycheck and a bigger pension out of it. Plus his kids, for now, have jobs that pay well (even if they’ve sold their souls).

    • harpie says:

      According to the article, one daughter and two son-in-laws were already working at DoJ. The daughter went to Treasury [FINCEN], one sil stayed at DoJ, National Security Division, and this sil went to WHCounsel.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        After she failed her background check, Caroline Wiles was sent to Treasury, too. She is the daughter of Susie Wiles, DT’s campaign mngr in FL. Susie is who saved a seat for Veselnitskaya at the Magnitsky hearing on 6/14/16.

  5. Bay State Librul says:

    The art of the hedge.

    My worry: What is to prevent Barr from killing off the SDNY investigations?

    I’m afraid that is next on the agenda.

  6. Kim Kaufman says:

    Hi Marcy –

    Perhaps you want to listen to a full hour of Aaron Mate with Mitch Jesserich on KPFA this morning. (perhaps not if you’ve recently eaten). Yesterday he had on John Nichols/Ruth Conniff for half an hour and then Jeff Cohen of FAIR, who sang Mate’s praises as the only honest journalist, blah, blah, gag.

    One thing it seems to me to be happening, from what I’ve been listening to and reading, is a noxious conflation between complaints about the legitimate msm malpractice (I include MSNBC, CNN, etc.) for the way they’ve over-reported this issue – and what the actual facts show (or lack thereof in Barr’s summary). And people like Mate and Taibbi are using this to ignore the real damage of what we’ve learned about Trump corruption with respect to this, notwithstanding their legitimate complaints of all the other real damage by Trump, et al, that’s been ignored by the msm in their pursuit of eyeballs and profit. But also Mate, Greenwald, et al., coming after you messes up their arguments since your reporting is what it is and what it isn’t is the malpractice of the msm.

    I really appreciate your clarity in beating down this crazy shitstorm right now.

    • emptywheel says:

      I’ll skip it. I know they’re coming after me personally. Which is nutty since all the things they complain most about I was calling out in real time (most of all the dossier, which I debunked repeatedly).
      I’m not sure why I’m such a threat to them — I guess because I refuse to ignore their errors.

      • Valley girl says:

        In addition, perhaps they are coming after you b/c you are woman. Male privilege and arrogance. By no means am I saying that this is true of all men, mind you.

      • oldoilfieldhand says:

        Thank you for your sincere and earnest interpretation of hard to discern facts. You are being personally attacked by literally lesser beings (lesser literal beings/s) because you are a threat to their self regard, self promotion and self professed belief in their infallibility. As for evidence regarding the reasoning for their attacks on you personally, look no further than your ability to see through and call them on their own bullshit.

    • Anon says:

      I disagree that Taibbi is ignoring “the real damage”. His columns are full of the damage that Trump has done and he is *definitely* aware of Trump’s corruption and the corruption of those around him. His reaction to the news was and is about the rampant and unverified speculation that was allowed to pass for fact. While EW has been much more realistic the fact is that some other outlets (e.g. MSNBC and CNN) were far more willing to run with unsourced specuation or to allow people to come on and declare that things would happen and then not have them happen.

      I don’t read his ire at being directed at EW per-se nor do I think he is in the thank for the “Nothing to see give up” crowd. More that he expects standards in journalism and in his opinion many of those were violated in this case.

      • Reader 21 says:

        Can’t speak to Taibbi, but Greenwald was ranting and spouting outright falsehoods yesterday am on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman (who uncharacteristically let him rant unchallenged; basically zero pushback). And GG apparently did the same on Tucker Carlson last night—with remarkably similar TPs to DJT Jr. and oh yeah, RT.

        • RMD says:

          Anyone who has been exposed to the levels of toxins issuing from herr Greenwald, and his loyalists, is sadly all too familiar with his “go to” of deliberate misrepresentation, selective editorial emphasis to make his favored argument — always to the exclusion of abundant evidence to the contrary. He is, in short, a propagandist for a viewpoint. Nothing more. If something makes his point, he’ll use it, and bang on that drum like a tin can. If something contradicts his conclusions, he is dishonest, disingenuous and ignores it. Always.

          For those who find this entertaining….it certainly isn’t an effort on behalf of the truth… my pity for them…
          His principle, if there is one, is himself. Narcissists can relate to other narcissists, hence his infatuation with Trump.

        • Ollie says:

          Look I’ve been following the snit between GG toward EW. I don’t agree w/GG on his stance but Jeremy Scahill is an exceptional journalist. The gloating GG has been doing is just like DJT. It’s sickening.

          I advocate supporting and encouraging MW w/o slandering anyone. Like, rise to the occasion? We’re better than that. Dr. Marcy Wheeler is solid. I for one want to focus my energies to continuing to learn from not only MW but all here.

        • RMD says:

          Nobly stated.
          I find myself increasingly impatient with liars that get a platform and deference when their behavior deserves neither.
          You use the word ‘slander’ far too easily, when the record shows otherwise.
          I’ll not dignify the cretin to document it all here.

          But, …both sides!™
          tally ho.

        • Ollie says:

          I think we agree on most of this shit….I’m just trying to pull myself up and live by a higher standard. I got so depressed over all this shit ….I’m trying.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I think their ire and the right’s generally is aimed at EW. She’s not some local blogger working in shorts from a basement in western Michigan. She has stature, prominence, and independence. She speaks her mind, not the corporate news department’s line of the day. She is the most accurate and outspoken analyst on this issue, even as she is joined by other largely independent or iconoclastic journalists.

        Criticizing CNN and its ilk is shooting fish in a barrel: too easy and obvious, it fails adequately to personalize the attack. Attacking, say, Tapper or Todd would fail for similar reasons: too easy and obvious, their work is not all that consistent or accurate, nor is it remotely independent.

        EW, on the other hand, is not a news reader. She depends on her accuracy and consistency, her thorough research and encyclopedic knowledge, and her superb networking. She answers to her own muse.

        Taking down her reputation would accomplish many things, as well as putatively prove he-man Taibbi and civil libertarian Greenwald correct. It would also reinforce the monopoly of corporate news.

        Personally, I think their read of how to respond to Trump is wrong. They want to ignore Russia, considering it irrelevant. They want to focus on other aspects of Trump’s unique ability to corrupt and destroy whatever he touches.

        Addressing those many things Trump is important. But I don’t think you can do that while ignoring the corrupt way he entered office, which touches everything else. What worked in 2016 will be expanded, replicated, and harder to spot in 2020.

  7. AitchD says:

    “No one is above the law” and its cognate, “the rule of law” , ordinarily evoke the premises about ethics and morality in the spirit of justice. Yet it also means that, in our legal system, only the state has the exclusive power and authority to charge a crime and to prosecute.

    AG Barr is one remove from having the last word on prosecutorial discretion, so it doesn’t matter what he writes or says.

    • Vinnie Gambone says:

      Above the Law? The no collusion conclusion has just set Paul Manafort free. Trump wasn’t going to give anyone a pardon while he thought he might need one for his kids. Now?
      The pedophile president will most certainly be giving Manafort a pardon , and Stone too if he is convicted , with the BS justification their investigations stemmed from a made up witch hunt. The PP will say they are collateral damage in a probe which should have never happened. Watch. He will probably do it Fourth of July and say they are heroes. And it won’t take long because he can’t help himself, just as he can’t help himself from looking at women and little girls in one way.

      Mueller will have to live with the fact he dodged his responsibility and let a person who helped sabotage our elections walk away. BOB, is this what you fought in NAM for?
      The friggin guy gave polling data to a russian operative. I had hoped Mueller would look at this shit the same way he would have looked at someone giving the Viet Cong troop movement information. When he didn’t bring charges against the Pedophile President he set Manafort free. So much for the double ankle bracelets, huh? The only flight risk now is if Manafort takes a Boeing Max 8 to whatever shell Country it is where his payoff is waiting for him.

      I so want to be wrong about Mueller. Oh Lordy let there be another shoe, but I don’t think there is. Grandma use to say, shit in one hand and wish in the other and see which one fills up first. I think Mueller and the rest of them sold out for some future payday at Lockheed Martin, or Booze Allen. They have all been gotten to, and have all sold out their country. I hope I am wrong, but it’s what my gut tells me when I am not vomiting.

      George Carlin was right about everything in his assessments of our country. The voting public are suckers. I feel so stupid for believing Mueller was going to play it straight. He sold out. He let the bad guys walk. Sickening.

      • InfiniteLoop says:

        Would you prefer Special Counsel Avenatti? He’d have filed charges!

        Mueller deserves our patience until we see what he actually concluded, not Barr’s heavily spun, cherry-picked version of what he concluded.

        • @pwrchip says:

          Vinnie Gambone
          I feel your pain but like InfiniteLoop, said lets wait and see the final outcome. I agree with Pelosi when she said about AGBarr’s conclusion was condescending. The idea that after 3yrs of watching Trump pretend to show any substance to be POTUS while he thinks that his incoherent ramblings of a 3rd grader he spews out of his mouth daily is normal, is of itself condescending. Every attack from Trump adds to the list of obstruction and this from a non lawyer seems to me is a clear violation of the law.
          I’m one who waits, at times not so patient, to let the evidence speak as the final word on this president. We need the FULL report.
          Thanks again Marcy for your clear coherent reporting that allows us an oasis of sanity in this insane nation we call America.

    • Nnamelet says:

      What did anyone here really expect Barr to do? His entire history pretty much guaranteed he would do exactly what he’s done. It’s going to be up to the Democrats in Congress and serious journalists like Emptywheel, Digby, Marcotte and many others to take Trump down. MSM isn’t going to do it. They’ve already started pushing the Bourbon Planter narrative. Donnie’s loss in 2020 is far from certain. We better do everything possible to make sure he loses. And make sure that people like Barr can’t get within a mile of the Executive Branch ever again.

        • P J Evans says:

          That isn’t going to fly with the House committees. Or Pelosi.
          It shouldn’t fly with the Senate either, but the GOP-T will go along with it to avoid being outed as getting money (and who-knows-what-else) from Russians (and others who are ineligible to donate) via the NRA and fake donors.

    • Valerie Klyman-Clark says:

      We’re living in the Upside Down. Or to persist with the pop culture horror references, The Sunken Place, even.

      I keep hearing Jon Stewart in my head, “I just want to say if there’s one hallmark to [45’s] presidency that I think we’re finding the most difficult is that no matter what [he/they] do, it always comes with an extra layer of gleeful cruelty and dickishness.”

  8. punaise says:

    Ode to Barr (sorry, Lionel Richie):

    Thank the Times for all they’ve given you
    The headlines are all so kind
    And now that we’ve come
    To the end of our reign, bro’
    There’s something I must say out loud!

    You lied once, twice
    Three times already
    Did they shove you?
    Yes, you’re once, twice
    Three times a-lazy
    All above you

  9. getouttahere says:

    I am not sanguine that the redactions will not conceal the essence of the report.
    Barr will also control the timing and there well may be selective leaks in order to dilute the impact of the totality of the evidence.
    The MSM needs to do a much much better job.

  10. pjb says:

    Maybe this is slightly off topic for this post and thread, since it deals with Barr’s behavior and not Mueller’s but I have a couple of nagging questions. In asking this I do not at all question Mueller’s good faith in any way. I consider him a model public servant and dedicated American. But, I simply cannot understand the determination not to force Trump to answer oral questions related to his state of mind in connection with the reviewed obstructive conduct. It seems to me that beyond the legal lunacy of Barr’s position with respect to the constraints on charging obstruction without an underlying crime or his expansive views of Presidential prerogative in firing an FBI director, etc., the one thing Barr hung his (and Rosenstein’s) hat on was that he did not think there was sufficient evidence of Trump’s obstructive intent to support the charging of that crime. Given that Mueller himself obviously considered his evidence of obstruction to be such a close question that he wanted to punt it to Congress, the elected political body, didn’t he think obtaining Trump’s oral responses was necessary to resolving the question? I certainly get that he calculated Trump would fight and would take it all the way to SCOTUS, which would add probably a year to his investigation, but that seems an insufficient reason to throw up his hands.

    Does anyone have a justification for this investigative decision? Do we think Mueller never really wanted to get to where an unelected prosecutor would make such a determination and sort of softly sabotaged his own investigation?

    • Reader 21 says:

      Apparently Trump’s lawyers told Mueller he’d just take the 5th. And there’s a policy of not calling witnesses if they’re just going to plead the 5th. Still should’ve called him though imo. Bad look to have the Pres plead the 5th.

      • pjb says:

        I have very serious doubts Trump would have actually taken 5. He’d have asserted some form of privilege and fought in court just to muck things up and buy time. By his own televised assertions, only guilty people and mobsters take the 5th. Even if Polydent Rudy threatened that, I’m sure Mueller would have seen it as an idle threat.

        In any case, my understanding is that the reason you don’t force 5A assertions from targets is that you are otherwise going to indict anyway. Here, Trump’s corrupt intent was the one element he needed to nail down in order to make a charging determination.

        I still don’t get it.

  11. J Barker says:

    I strongly suspect Barr’s declination on obstruction was based almost entirely on the investigation’s failure to establish a conspiracy. I know his Sunday letter insisted the lack of established conspiracy wasn’t “determinative” of the obstruction question, but the last few pages of the June 8 2018 memo leave the opposite impression.

    In the 2018 memo, one of his central claims is that a President’s exercise of his constitutional powers– including hiring and firing, prosecution decisions, and offers of pardons– must be given the presumption of having been “non-corruptly” motivated in virtually *every* context, including contexts where the President himself is the subject of the investigation.

    Any hiring, firing, prosecution/declination, or pardon offers done by the President in order to influence an investigation into himself, according to Barr, must be assumed to have been appropriately motivated. Why? Because, as Chief Executive, the President is the sole and ultimate arbiter of prosecutorial and executive power. All decisions about which investigations are “legitimate” and therefore should proceed, and which ones are “bogus” (to use Barr’s technical phrase) and therefore ought to be stopped, are the President’s decisions to make. If a President who is being investigated for wrongdoing either fires an investigator, declines to allow charges against himself or anyone else, or dangles pardons in exchange for witness non-cooperation, all of those actions must be assumed to have the following motivation: the President simply made the judgment, as Chief Executive, that this whole investigation is “bogus” (to use Barr’s technical expression) or a “witch-hunt” (to use Trump’s Very Technical expression) and that its efforts should therefore be frustrated in whatever way he saw fit.

    The only time the “presumption of non-corrupt motives” may be removed is if the investigators have established that the President has engaged in an underlying crime. Once *that* has been established, we’re free to start attributing corrupt motives. Otherwise, no matter what, the President gets the presumption of good motives. Here is a relevant passage from the Barr memo:

    “In other words, the notion would be that, if an investigation was bogus, the President ultimately had legitimate grounds for exercising his supervisory powers to stop the matter. Conversely, if the President had really engaged in wrongdoing, a decision to stop the case would have been a corrupt cover up. But, in the latter case, the predicate for finding any corruption would be first finding that the President had engaged in the wrongdoing he was allegedly trying to cover up. Under the particular circumstances here, the issue of obstruction only becomes ripe after the alleged collusion by the President or his campaign is established first. [T]he distinct crime of obstruction can frequently be committed even if the underlying crime under investigation is never established…. But here, the only basis for ascribing “wrongfulness” (i.e. improper motive) to the President’s actions is the claim that he was attempting to block the uncovering of wrongdoing by himself or his campaign. Until Mueller can show that there was unlawful collusion, he cannot show that the President had an improper “cover up” motive.”

    • J Barker says:

      So, in each of the exchanges EW cites, I’m 95% sure Barr is saying “yes, that’s obstruction” only because the questioner *builds into* each of the cases an inappropriate motive.

      For example, when Leahy asks: “Do you believe a president could lawfully issue a pardon in exchange for the recipient’s promise to not incriminate him?”, Leahy has built into the case that the president is issuing the pardon *with the motive* of getting the recipient’s promise not to incriminate. That’s definitely a corrupt motive, Barr might say, but none of the President’s subordinate’s are allowed to assume that that’s what the President’s motives are. Instead, they have to assume he’s doing it for whatever legitimate reason he gives them or they’re able to come up with themselves (ex. he believes the whole thing is an illegitimate investigation that *ought* to be frustrated).

      Or take Klobachar’s question: “You wrote on page one that a President persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction.” Again, she builds our knowledge of the President’s corrupt motive into the case. She’s just stipulating it as part of the example. Barr agrees because he’s thinking, “yeah, sure, if we could determine that this was the President’s motive, then we’d have an obstruction crime.” But in the back of his head he’s thinking, “of course, as the President’s subordinate, *I* would not be permitted to assume that the President had such a corrupt motive. I’d have to assume he was persuading the witness to do what was necessary to avoid getting caught up in an investigation that I– by way of my Omnipotent Executive Powers– have decreed is illegitimate.”

      • viget says:

        Ughhh… unitary executive theory strikes again. It’s OK if the President does it.

        Perhaps Barr needs to familiarize himself with Plato and Juvenal, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

      • Jockobadger says:

        Barker – Well written and thanks, though I can’t claim to understand it all completely as I am NAL. I get the gist I think: no underlying crime, no obstruction. Question: We’ve all heard the tape of trump telling Cohen to pay off Stormy – “cash? no, no, no!” etc. Doesn’t that comprise a campaign finance violation/crime? Paying off an adult film star to hide an affair that if outed might well affect (almost certainly did affect) the election result? Then all of the bluster that came after, all numerous lies? Nope, never met her, or maybe once? Doesn’t the act of illicitly paying off an actor in order to hide behavior comprise an violation of election finance law? I ask in all sincerity because I just do not understand how this sleazy, crooked sob continues to evade consequences. I’m sure I’m missing something re: Mueller’s remit or whatever, but it sure as hell is frustrating. I thought Mueller was allowed to follow and prosecute the crimes uncovered as part of his “Russia” investigation? Wasn’t this part of it in some sort of way?

        I admit that part of it is the way you competently lay it out in such stark, lawyerly, parsing-ish terms. It’s not you. I guess it’s the law? JHC can that be right?

        • J Barker says:

          No way, I think you’re asking a very good question!

          Your thought is: fine, it may be that because Mueller failed to establish conspiracy on Russian interference, Barr can’t use *that* as a basis to second-guess Trump’s motives. But there are plenty of other crimes that have been established here, including one SDNY said Trump himself committed, namely, the campaign finance violations. So Barr should look at that and think, “aha, well there’s a clear basis here for attributing a corrupt motive to Trump for obstructing the Mueller investigation. Mueller was poking around in Trump’s campaign, business, and finances, and Trump knew there was a crime there to be found, so that’s why he interfered with the investigation.”

          I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t know enough about the unitary executive theory to anticipate how Barr might respond to this objection. But I think you’re on to something!

    • emptywheel says:

      Yes. But that’s something I’ve dealt with on scope. Rosenstein told Mueller to investigate 1) coordination 2) links.
      The declination memos says, “no coordination, and since no coordination, no underlying crime.”
      The declination memo is silent on “links.”
      And while we don’t know, the “links” we’ve seen map out the outlines of a quid pro quo — real estate and dirt for sanctions relief and other considerations.
      Now THAT is still hard to charge because some of that is totally within the purview of the President. Trump ran on it. So it’s hard to charge it. But that is, I think, what the record shows Trump was covering up.

      • J Barker says:

        Aha, good point.

        And that would explain why Barr says the lack of conspiracy charges wasn’t determinative of the obstruction declination. If there weren’t some other collusion-adjacent wrongdoing uncovered by the investigation, we would expect Barr to have treated the lack of conspiracy charges as determinative given his June 2018 memo. But he didn’t treat it as determinative. So there must have been some other pretty nasty collusion-adjacent stuff uncovered.

        • MattyG says:

          Keep in mind Barr appears to limit conspiracy to conspiracy with literal Russian government personel, implying but not specifically spelling out that coordination with intermediaries and cut-outs working on behalf of the Russians does not invalidate his statement that the investigation failed to establish conspiracy . Barr is silent on what standard Mueller used and Barr may well have voided evidence involving intermediaries and cut-out in his own formulation. His deliberate lack of specificity begs the question and it is essential that Mueller’s own work on the conspiracy side be available for review.

          Barr sidesteps conspiracy to neuter obstruction charges. Conspiracy must remain the focus.

        • BobCon says:

          He may be taking advantage of the fact that the connections between a cut out and the government are either hard to prove outright in a court of law, or arguably something that needs to be kept secret for national security reasons.

          I agree that seeing Mueller’s work would help clear this up, but we may not see anything soon if there is a claim of national security.

        • MattyG says:

          Yes certainly. But as it stands Barr leaves us with nothing to make that judgement and his BS misdirects encourge us to assume the worse. I suspect that if Mueller had found *NO* compelling evidence of conspiracy with Russian side workers Barr would have hammered that home. Seeing the report and hearing Mueller’s take is crucial.

    • Geoff says:

      It seems a bit circular to me. If the obstruction prevents you figuring out that there was a crime, even when there was one, and you have to operate under this set of rules, that the President can’t obstruct if there is no crime, then it’s totally logical that they would obstruct to the maximum extent possible, since obstruction is quite effective at preventing the discovery of evidence, especially when the situation is one such as that between Manafort and Trump, who appear to have already made an agreement, with lots of help from the JDA, that they would simply never tell the truth. Manafort knew well that he’d transform himself into an old man, shop for a friendly judge, keep acting in his own self interest, fake contrition, get little time, and at worst, get the sentence commuted. All he and Trump have to do is wink at each other. Heck, they’ve been corrupt for years, why would the corruption end at the very last moment, when they already know that doubling down on lies has worked every single time so far?

      We were set up to lose here, and I am astonished at how much credibility people gave to Barr given his track record. All the people making decisions that mattered were Republicans, and they have one objective these days – obtain power, and retain power by any means necessary. The obstruction will continue until morale improves.

      • Geoff says:

        Rewrite : my gripe is, you should not have a system of laws set up that somehow incentivizes the defendants to act in an obstructive manner, and that is what we have here. If this type of setup existed during Watergate, when it was time to turn over the tapes, they simply would have burned them. Then they’d say, well, yeah, that looked really bad, but sorry, no evidence of a crime, so, all good.

        • J Barker says:

          Yes, I totally agree. To the extent that these consequences flow directly from the unitary executive view, I’m inclined to think we have a reductio ad absurdum on our hands. But hey, one person’s reductio is another’s clever ways to protect Republican presidents from accountability.

      • pjb says:

        But, doesn’t this all circle back to Mueller’s determination not to force Trump’s oral answers to his obstruction motive questions? Presumably, Mueller knew Barr’s rather outre views on Presidential obstruction. Surely, had Trump stupidly admitted to a corrupt motive, Barr would have been unable to presume the non-corrupt motive.

        or, maybe I am being dense and missing something in Barr’s position. Is he saying that even if the President admits he fired Comey because he did not want him to uncover Trump’s shady (but maybe not provably criminal) real estate venture with Russian officials who sought sanctions relief, even in that instance, he must presume a non-corrupt motive? Did Barr really go there?

        • J Barker says:

          Yep, I think it does circle back to the interview issue. In fact, Barr wrote the memo, in part, to argue that Mueller should not be allowed to request an interview with Trump. Here’s what he says on p. 1:

          “Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction… As I understand it, his theory is premised on a novel and legally insupportable reading of the law.”

          So no I think the idea is: interview only if sufficient evidence for obstruction, obstruction only if sufficient evidence for conspiracy. No sufficient evidence for conspiracy. Therefore, no interview.

          Kinda handy, er, completely detestable.

        • Pjb says:

          Thanks, Barker. I think i understand what Barr’# position is now. I still don’t understand why he’d bother to intercept the Mueller pass off to Congress though. Once Congress sees the evidence Mueller lays out, they’re going to make an impeachment determination anyway. What difference does it make what Barr’s obstruction determination is? Is he just trying to set a media narrative for a couple of weeks?

        • Vicks says:

          I have to take a better look at the timing but Rudy in one of
          wild media blitzes where he pretended to slip up and let out something “juicy” said Trump would be refusing to answer any questions that dealt with obstruction.
          Somewhere in there Barr sent in his resume which in some bee-zarre coincidence just happened to explain how trump could beat this by taking obstruction off the table.
          And here we are.
          Barr had to tell Congress if Mueller was restrained from taking any actions, would Barr have to do the same if Barr told Mueller to leave the answer to obstruction question blank and he (Barr) would handle it?
          The problem with a group of greedy, self observed self serving criminals is that many of them were helping Trump win AND lining their pockets and setting up plans for future fortunes at the same time. Only in Trump world could it be a “win” for the president if his campaign chairman handed off polling data because he using his position in the campaign to get “whole” with a Russian oligarch.

        • dwfreeman says:

          Except that Trump’s lawyers never had any intention of allowing Mueller to interrogate him regardless of the subject matter, and there were allegedly 16 talking points. Trump was more worried about obstruction than collusion.

          But that’s only because he was always an arm’s length distance from every one of the more than 100 contacts between his associates and Russians during the campaign. Beyond that, there was also the unguarded admission caught on tape of current House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy telling fellow GOP officials, including former counterpart, Paul Ryan, that he thought Putin paid Trump directly. “And I’m not kidding.”

          So, why did party members actually believe that in the summer of 2016 even as they were preparing to nominate Trump, then change their platform on Ukraine policy to accommodate the campaign, and not even acknowledge that they’d met with dozens and dozens of Russian contacts after the feds came to them and warned them that the Kremlin was interfering with election activities? Would this be considered obstruction on any level?

          The Repubiicans ran this investigation from Comey to Mueller, to Rosenstein to Barr. The story the Republicans are now trying to tell is that the Democrats failed in taking down the president, staking their entire political future on a complete GOP political fuckup that was never pushed to its enth degree in terms of squeezing the White House by subpoena to demand an interview that was tentatively scheduled Jan. 27, 2018. The Democrats couldn’t hold a public hearing after November 2016.

          Barr wasn’t even a glimmer then, and Trump’s lawyers never planned to allow him to talk to Mueller and company directly.

        • Vicks says:

          I was referring to the “save the trump” team making any questions regarding obstruction off limits in Trumps written testimoney running parrallel to Barr choosing obstruction for the theme in his resume.
          Using Barr’s “bar” for obstruction what seemed like Team Trump’s team irrational fear of perjury “traps” over the issue of obstruction makes more sense now.

    • Greenhouse says:

      Wow…that is so fucking depressing, but thanks Barker for this much needed perspective. It helps put in context Barr’s declination, if one allows his lawyerly logic on unitary executive to be constitutional. Which is even more ironic seeing that Greenwald is in such celebratory mode when he’s based his career off of arguing about the dangers of accepting that very same theory.

    • OldTulsaDude says:

      This is exactly the claim that Trump himself made, and I am positive he is not nearly bright enough to have figured it out for himself – almost to the point of believing Barr explained it to him, point by point.

      • P J Evans says:

        It would have to have been an explanation simple enough for a small child to understand – because everything else seems to indicate that Tr*mp can’t understand anything much more complex than that. (FFS, he needs very short briefings with one-sentence bullet points, pictures, and his name repeated frequently, and he still can’t understand what he’s being told. My brother’s three-year-old grandson has better understanding than that.)

        • Sandwichman says:

          Trump understands perfectly well when his own survival is at stake. His lizard brain is highly developed.

        • timbo says:

          So your argument that Trump has not ended up in jail before is because he’s not very bright but happens to be rich?

  12. Anon says:

    So Marcy, as a question going forward, since Barr and likely others will be subpoenad to testify, what should the congressional investigators be focused on asking them to establish the information? Is it as simple as releasing a report or are there clear questions that can be asked to pin Barr down in some crucial ways?

  13. Bay State Librul says:

    All I want to know is how many pages is the report. They can’t even provide the answer.
    Send us the Executive Summary, the footnotes, anything…….

    Is it a short story, a novella, a memoir, a 545 page Dostoevsky Crime and Punishment book?
    Is it fiction, a fantasy, a thriller, a detective story, a dystopia, a fairy tale?
    My bet it will labelled a “Self-Help” book —

    • P J Evans says:

      Barr and Tr*mp want us to think it’s no more than a novella, but I suspect it’s closer to Dostoevsky.
      (The definitions I’ve seen most often:
      Novel: a story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more.
      Novella: a story of between seventeen thousand five hundred (17,500) and forty thousand (40,000) words.
      Novelette: a story of between seven thousand five hundred (7,500) and seventeen thousand five hundred (17,500) words.
      Short Story: a story of less than seven thousand five hundred (7,500) words.)

  14. Reader 21 says:

    Great post! As EOH points out, doesn’t matter if Lindsay failed to put Barr under oath though—it’s a crime to lie to Congress (or their staff fwiw). Thanks for all you do, EW.

  15. Yogarhythms says:

    I agree with your reporting; three times Barr agreed obstruction could be charged during his confirmation. I’m following the comments and logic also understand unitary executive branch elevation seemingly to heights above what some would call even legal. “Links” you say possibly leading to “ConFraudUS” must be established by Dem committee’s as co-equal branches empowered by explicit …”constitutional authority to impeach; President, Vice President, and other civil officers.”. OT why was Sater’s testimony before Dem committee delayed? It is not like our area man can’t tweet five different directions at once and we Pavlov like crane our necks each way FOMO-Anonymous.

  16. punaise says:

    Continuing the theme of threes (sorry Bob Marley – jeez, is nothing sacred?)

    Rise up this morning, lie like a writhing scum
    Three little turds pinched by my doorstep
    Singin’ tweet thongs of remedies blurred, not true
    Sayin’, this is my message to you (ooh ooh)

    Singin’, don’t jury about a thing
    ‘Cause every little scam’s gonna be washed, right?
    Singin’, don’t jury about a thing
    ‘Cause every little scream’s gonna be all night

  17. Pat Neomi says:

    I was struck by a piece on NPR this morning talking about the fallout from the Barr memo. It was discussing the victory laps done by Trump, Hannity, Sarah Sanders, and even Glenn Greenwald and how Barr’s memo supposedly vindicated everything they had been saying for 22 months. They all said, essentially, because Barr’s carefully crafted memo said so, it must be so. It then juxtaposed this against the John Brennan types who said there would be a “treason smoking gun” or something like that and are now ostensibly chastened, since, you know “no collusion.”

    The kicker was at the end where the reporter said, “The details of Mueller’s findings remain a mystery.” So shorter NPR (and I’m sure every other media outlet): Barr says no collusion, Trump vindicated…aaaaaaand actually we don’t know that at all [and will either bury that little nugget at the end of the story (or not mention it at all)].

    Everyone is proclaiming the putative “findings” of Mueller’s investigation without knowing what is actually in the report. IANAJ(ournalist), but how is that journalism?

    • Bri2k says:

      I think NPR’s “coverage” has been abysmal. They took Koch Bros. money and are probably getting the editorial screws put to them. The best quote I’ve seen yet about the current state of NPR is that they cos-play at journalism.

      h/t TPM’s Matt in PA

      • AndTheSlithyToves says:

        @Bri2k — A thousand times “yes!” (I’m picturing that scene in “When Harry Met Sally” where Sally fakes an orgasm in the deli.) My local PBS/WETA station is the go-to Classical music station and normally wonderful, but it assaults my serenity weekday evenings at 7 pm if I forget to turn it off before NPR barges in for an hour of nattering. Before I could turn it off last night, I accidentally heard Judy Woodruff at the tail-end of a creepy, denialist interview with some whiny-voiced Trumpista who was none other than Ms. Alternative Facts, KellyAnne Conway. Talk about needing a shower (or a Rolfing session) after that. Ugh… or ick… or blech-h-h-h.

        • Tom says:

          According to a story in the May 15, 2017 Washington Post, Kellyanne Conway was quoted as saying privately, “Blech. I need to take a shower” after defending Trump in front of reporters.

    • dwfreeman says:

      They are reporting headlines, doing what corporate media normally does. The funny thing is, the Republicans are now trying to use Barr’s self-serving letter as justification for denying others First Amendment rights and stripping Democratic committee chairmen of their posts.

      And they want to use it to politically hopscotch to yet more Clinton investigations when they ran the fucking thing from start to finish. Someone ought to explain that basic fact to Lindsey Graham who wants to blame alleged unmasking crimes that were never made public by a Republican-appointed FBI director until after the fact while publicly derailing the Democratic presidential nominee’s candidacy amid an all-out Republican drive to beg, borrow and steal (through publicly requested Russian theft) Hillary emails from March 2016 to Election Day.

      And they still want to investigate her. Must be a base thing.

  18. vicks says:

    Can someone clarify whether all of the questions surrounding grand jury testimony is just related to what the public gets to see? I really don’t want to hear they consider it’s an option to keep that information from congress?

  19. Badger Robert says:

    Mueller understands how the Russians provided assistance. It was 1 remove from the Kremlin and it was not co-ordinated by the Trump campaign. With those deficits in the evidence. Mueller is announcing there will be no dramatic breakthroughs. So if there is going be any accountability it will be at the ballot box.
    However, if paying off women to postpone their revelations until after the election, and then engrossing the payment to Cohen for doing it, does not bother the Republicans as anything other than their normal campaign practice, then the hopes that Republicans would be bothered by even murder on 5th Avenue, are misplaced.

    • MattyG says:

      Until we get a look at the report or hear Mueller in his own words we simply do not know what Mueller understands, or announced.

    • timbo says:

      The issue is complicated by the use of IRs to gather some (much) of the information with regard to communications in Russia (for instance). You can’t prosecute people easily if you can’t compromise IRs for NatSec reasons. That is, you can’t publicly say “We believe that there were very likely no direct involvement of the Russian government because we basically know what it is the heads of the government are doing and saying all the time.” Similarly, we can’t say that there was either…if that compromises persons or methods severely.

      The reason we know that the KAL 007 incident was a legitimate international crisis, on the brink, is because the Reagan administration decided to reveal the level of detailed information we did have on Russian military aircraft communications (and related political and military chain of command communications within the Soviet regime) to make it clear to all involved that we knew exactly how KAL 007 was shot down. Many of the IRs were compromised because of this. So, at what point should DOJ and Pentagon compromise any such current IRs in the Trump coterie prosecutions? With regard to gathering intel on Russia and other nations, this is what the current investigations run up against when it comes to actually conducting public legal hearings and trials, etc; which IRs are worth losing vs what laws enforced/which individuals should be prosecuted?

  20. Badger Robert says:

    There are probably only two campaigns on the Dem side that have broad enough participation to be competitive with the Republicans in the end. Sanders has one and O’Rourke has the other. Even Senator Harris was not so wildly popular in California, though she did succeed.
    The person who ran before on the national scene has a head start, but the younger man from the larger state has advantages that will even the score.
    Stamina and effective budgeting are likely to be important tests of the campaigns.

    • Bri2k says:

      Count Sanders out due to his own failure to release his tax returns and his horrid rapey writings from the 1970’s.

      • AndTheSlithyToves says:

        Sanders is running to get the party to deal with voting issues, primarily overturning Citizens United–something I thoroughly support–and getting corporate money out of elections and funding them publicly. I’ll be happy to endorse any candidate that takes up that crusade. Until CU is overturned, it’s a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.

        • Rayne says:

          If he’s so big on getting corporate money out of elections, he’d better cough up his tax returns to prove he’s not on their dime.

          Nothing like running on “I’m not like Trump – until I am. And I’m a Democrat – until I’m not.”

        • AndTheSlithyToves says:

          No argument from me on Sanders’ (as well as every other political candidate) need to not be a hypocrite. Just sayin’ that until we get corporate money out of elections and publicly fund them, nothing is going to change. There is too much money to be made, and too many compromised individuals willing to trade their souls to get hold of it.

    • P J Evans says:

      Sanders probably won’t get much more support than he already has – he doesn’t have more to offer than he did four years ago.

      • Rayne says:

        Still no tax returns.
        Still weak on women’s and minority issues, stumping for rural white America over women and minorities.
        Still tepid on gun control; his remarks about mental health care versus gun control after Parkland take on a different perspective after three Parkland and Sandy Hook suicides (hint: it’s *both*).
        Still says stuff spordically that sounds like demoralizatsiya.
        Still too willing to bash Democrats and the Democratic Party; if he’ll act trashy about his natural allies, how’s he going to work across the aisle?
        Still not a Democrat — and I’ll bet he’ll still claim even after superdelegates were eliminated that the primaries rob him.
        And still no good explanation why he hired Tad Devine for his 2016 race.

        • P J Evans says:

          Add that I was unimpressed by his understanding of international affairs. (Vermont, I understand, is heavily armed. But he ought at least to understand licensing and background checks are a necessity. Even my father, in west Texas, went through the hassle of getting an antique shot pistol (“horse pistol”) registered, back in the mid-90s, and it’s classified by BATF as a sawed-off shotgun, so fingerprints, photograph, background check, and his WW2 serial number all came in.)

        • harpie says:

          Thanks for the checklist on Sanders! Here’s something to add:

          1:10 PM – 19 Mar 2019
          [quote] Bernie Sanders’ newest speechwriter @DavidSirota deleted 20,000 tweets after being contacted by @isaacdovere about his months of secret work as a Sanders adviser while at the same time using his Guardian column to savage Sanders’ Democratic opponents. [links to Atlantic] [end quote]

        • Anon says:

          While this story has been circulating like hot gossip once you dig into the details that appears to be all it it. The original Atlantic piece was based entirely on a quote attributed to one of Sanders’ campaign organizers who has denied it as has the Guardian. Additionally the timeline doesn’t really hold since it has been variously claimed January or other times but the campaign didn’t exist in January.


    • Rayne says:

      Spoken like a white man. The media is helping by doing the same thing they did to HRC — more coverage and hype for the male candidates. Ignoring Warren and Harris, Gillibrand, Klobuchar. Buttgieg has had a strong uptick but gee, another white man.

      I think if you look at polling across women (half the electorate), persons of color, and LGBTQ folks you will see very different favorites apart from O’Rourke and Sanders.

      • punaise says:

        At this point I’ve narrowed it down to:
        a) no old white guys (Biden, Bernie)
        b) no Amy Klobuchar (mistreating staff is a deal-killer)
        c) no Tulsi Gabbard (wrong on so many issues)

        so…equal opportunity nay-saying!

        • Rayne says:

          That’s pretty much what most of the hundreds of women I follow in social media — whether cis/het/LGBTQ/POC — say right now. I’m going to watch black women most closely because they were the only ones who had it right in 2016; 94% of them voted for HRC, which I read as an absolute rejection of Trump.

        • cat herder says:

          Warren/Abrams? I may be just another pasty white guy but I’d crawl through broken glass to vote for that ticket.

        • P J Evans says:

          Yeah, I’m not going for anyone who has only one idea. Or two. (President is a bit more complex than whatever job you’re trying to get promoted from.)

        • 4jkb4ia says:

          Anybody but Beto. I am just going to ignore that Tulsi Gabbard is running. I am on the Gillibrand slack but that is for personal gender politics reasons and I will be stunned if I am actually able to vote for her.

          (EW, these three posts were helpful. I am not sure that my husband bought the argument but I think we agree that if Trump promised to help Russia for purposes of his business deal and chose not to know that Russia was helping him the public should know that information.)

          (And if GG is going after EW personally that is utterly despicable.)

        • 4jkb4ia says:

          Showing clairvoyance into the mind of Nancy Pelosi, my husband said on Sunday night that Congress should move on and do something about health care.

        • Bay State Librul says:

          I’m casting my vote for Mayor Pete…. and this summer we can reminisce about the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.

        • BroD says:

          No. You can reminisce about Woodstock or celebrate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock but it’s way too early to reminisce about the 50th anniversary.

          Sorry–I’m just a pain in the ass sometimes.

      • timbo says:

        I think that’s a good analysis of the primary voter situation on the center-left in the DP race currently.

    • harpie says:

      @MsEnergyHealer is tweeting about that here:
      [quote] I hear Papadopoulos is saying he didn’t lie to the FBI and just misspoke about the timing of meeting the prof. He likes to act like Mifsud is his only problem…
      FBI declared he actually lied about lied about Timofeev’s existence & hid over 4 months of emails and Skyping…. [thread] [end quote]

      • Eureka says:

        LOL dig out those popcorn-related recipes. I just had reason to recall all of your sriracha butter (etc.) variations/convos: a chef on PBS promised ‘bacon and butter’ popcorn and I about ‘had a gallbladder’ reading the description.

        And I am one who says, “And sometimes -strike that– usually, popcorn is just a reason to eat a half stick of butter.”

    • Eureka says:

      Sounds like the cooperation *may have* started before today, but that Waters was just asked anew today. From The Hill:

      The chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee said Tuesday that Deutsche Bank has begun providing records of its dealings with President Trump for the panel’s probe into the president’s finances.
      Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that Deutsche Bank has begun cooperating with an investigation into its extensive history with Trump, who borrowed millions of dollars from the bank over several decades.

      When asked Tuesday at the Capitol if Deutsche Bank had started to hand over records of it financial relationship with Trump, Waters replied, “Yes.”

      The chairwoman also said she was satisfied with Deutsche Bank’s cooperation with the probe and that the Financial Services panel is looking into “everything” regarding Trump’s dealings with the bank.

      (internal links removed)

  21. A different Jenny says:

    I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate EW’s writings, but I have to say, I was a bit surprised when she seemed to imply in one of her posts that some sort of existing relationship between Mueller and Barr would temper Barr’s actions.

    I think the lesson is a reminder of what we already know, if you’re willing to work for Trump and you have some red flags in your history, then you’re someone willing to rationalize what’s going on and you’re role in it.

    Personally, I hope I don’t have to hear or read another word from/about William Barr. I hope any House Committees don’t waste their time on him. Once you’ve proven yourself to be a truth twister and rationalizer, time to move on, don’t waste anymore tax payer dollars by putting him and his carefully crated non-answers in front of the cameras.

    But by all means, Rep. Nadler, please, please call on Mueller and Rosenstein to testify…

  22. Watson says:

    o/t: Notwithstanding the comic relief provided by the preposterous spectacle of Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago PD taking the stage to lecture us about morality, the Jussie Smollett story is a sad and curious one.

    • JStr says:

      Beto is far too conservative for any Democratic ticket. He’s the right of Biden, and Biden – brought on to balance out the perceived liberal Obama – is far too right-wing for the 2020. Elizabeth Warren yes. Beto, hell no.

    • Tom says:

      An obvious (and morbid) point, older candidates should choose their running mates very carefully.

  23. TPO says:

    Marcy — did you believe Barr’s claims during his confirmation hearings?

    [Welcome back to emptywheel; we haven’t seen you in a long time. Please use the same username each time you comment so community members get to know you. This is your 2nd username. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  24. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I’m delighted that Paul Krugman has finally recognized that there are many on the right who oppose government-run programs that provide health care – or any other thing of value – to average Americans.

    It’s now clear that Republicans just have a deep, unreasoning hatred of the idea that government policy may help some people get health care.

    Dr. Krugman stumbles for a reason for such pathology. I think Tom Sullivan over at digby’s place has the obvious answer []:

    Trumpish authoritarians simply believe they sit atop the social ladder by virtue of superior better genes. Survival of the richest. Those who can afford, do. Those who cannot, die, just as God intended.

    Tom qualifies that statement with “perhaps.” But given their boorish, self-serving and self-obsessed behavior, and their slavish following of the pathological Trump, I don’t think there’s any doubt about it.

    In support, I cite Betsy DeVos’s budget (and billionaire Betsy herself). []

    Her budget, whose impact she denies knowledge of, would cut federal funding for imperfect children: Special Olympians, programs and universities for the blind and infirm, and anyone who fails to qualify as Aryan, rather, anyone unfit enough to survive a nature red in tooth and claw. The reddest and most toothsome being today’s Republican Party.

  25. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Rayne has a nice twtr comment about a twt from NYT’s David Brooks. In it, Brooks shames Beto and Brennan for not apologizing to Trump for having accused him of being a “traitor,” but supposedly lacking the evidence to back it up.

    It is laughable for David Brooks to give anyone lessons in etiquette or intellectual honesty. More laughable is his support for Trump, who regularly accuses others of being traitors. He just made that accusation against Bob Mueller. He accuses everyone in the press but Faux Noise of it almost every day.

    Rayne’s right. Never let David Brooks onto your twtr feed.

    • Tom says:

      And he’s the same fellow who wrote “The Road to Character” book a few years ago. Physician heal thyself.

    • Rayne says:

      I still can’t get over just how effing bad that op-ed was. I have no idea why Brooks would have made such a gross unforced error. The ratio on the his tweet says a lot; the only thing I can figure is that he’s fighting for relevancy and he needed a shit post like that to retain his gig. NYT is really struggling if management thinks keeping Brooks is a benefit to their brand.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Brooks is wrong about as often as Donald Trump. The thing he gets most wrong in that awful, let’s come together and forget ideology column, is not that we should forget ideology, but why we should do that.

        Ideology has been dramatically and crudely manipulated, cynically and most successfully by Republicans, to keep us apart and themselves in office. Brooks occupies no middle ground there: he ordinarily fights for that side.

        But like a stopped clock, he is occasionally correct. Democrats should focus on bread and butter issues: jobs, food, healthcare, education, the environment (which means regulating business), and consumer protection (which means regulating business).

        Fighting for those things is good for the common weal, it brings us together and it reins in capital. It is why Republicans want us to shout about ideology, because that drives us apart.

Comments are closed.