William Barr Absolved Trump of Obstruction without Having the Faintest Clue What He Obstructed

Bill Barr just finished testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

It was remarkable.

Among the opinions the Attorney General espoused are that:

  • You only need to call the FBI when being offered campaign assistance by a foreign intelligence service, not a foreigner
  • It’s okay to lie about the many dangles hostile foreign countries make to a political campaign, including if you accepted those dangles
  • Because Trump was being falsely accused (it’s not clear of what, because the report doesn’t address the most aggressive accusation, and many other accusations against Trump and his campaign are born out by the Mueller Report), it’s okay that he sought to undermine it through illegal means
  • It’s okay for the President to order the White House Counsel to lie, even about an ongoing investigation
  • It’s okay to fire the FBI Director for refusing to confirm or deny an ongoing investigation, which is DOJ policy not to do
  • It’s okay for the Attorney General to call lawfully predicated DOJ investigative techniques “spying” because Fox News does
  • Public statements — including threatening someone’s family — cannot be subornation of perjury
  • You can exhaust investigative options in a case having only obtained contemptuous responses covering just a third of the investigation from the key subject of it

The Attorney General also got himself in significant trouble with his answers to a question from Charlie Crist about whether he knew why Mueller’s team was concerned about press reports. His first answer was that he didn’t know about the team’s concerns because he only spoke with Mueller. But he later described, in the phone call he had with Mueller, that Mueller discussed his team’s concerns. Worse still, when called on the fact that the letter — as opposed to Barr’s potentially suspect representation of the call — didn’t mention the press response, he suggested Mueller’s letter was “snitty” and so probably written by a staffer, meaning he assumed that the letter itself was actually from a staffer.

But that’s not the most amazing thing.

The most amazing thing is that, when Cory Booker asked Barr if he thought it was right to share polling data with Russians — noting that had Trump done so with a Super PAC, rather than a hostile foreign country, it would be illegal — Barr appeared to have no clue that Paul Manafort had done so. He even asked whom Manafort shared the data with, apparently not knowing he shared it with a guy that Rick Gates said he believes is a Russian spy.

That’s remarkable, because he basically agreed with Ben Sasse that Deripaska — with whom Manafort was sharing this campaign data — was a “bottom-feeding scum-sucker.”

So the Attorney General absolved the President of obstruction without having the faintest clue what actions the investigation of which Trump successfully obstructed by floating a pardon to Manafort.

There may be an explanation for this fairly shocking admission on Barr’s part. He also admitted that he and Rod Rosenstein started making the decision on obstruction before they read the report. Indeed, several times during the hearing, it seemed he still has not read the report, as he was unfamiliar with allegations in it.

In short, the Attorney General said it was okay for Trump to obstruct this investigation because (he claims) Trump was falsely accused, without being aware that the report showed that several of the key allegations against Trump — including that his campaign manager coordinated with Russians, including one Barr agrees is a bottom-feeding scum-sucker” with ties to Russian intelligence — were actually true.

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. 

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135 replies
    • Anvil Leucippus says:

      If he had, it would make it harder to get “in front of the story” (not quoting anyone in particular); that thing is a beast to get through! I got through a little more than a dozen pages in a week (some of that is how much free time I have, in case you were worried about my ability to read). So almost a year for me to get through it at my current rate.

      But I am not the Attorney General summarizing the report!

    • Desider says:

      He came to bury the report, not to praise it. But least Antony knew who Caesar was…

      • phaedrus says:

        And the modern day GOPers want to crown their own Caesar, so they can finish the transformation of our republican form of government based on democratic voting into the Aristocratic Plutocracy they dream of.

        They seem to be willing to allow tRump to be their current vessel towards that goal.

    • viget says:

      Of course he hasn’t. If he had actually read it, he wouldn’t have let lines like the “Oh My God that’s the end of my Presidency! I’m F—ed.” from Don McGahn be left unredacted.

      He hasn’t read it, because he wants plausible deniability from both Trump (regarding embarrasing details “That was Mueller’s call”) and everyone else (regarding culpability of knowledge of the details pointing to criminal acts). It’s clear that this is eventually going to come down to either the “I was only following orders” defense or “It’s not illegal if the President does it” defense. Or maybe both, because if the President orders it, it can’t be illegal.

      We’re already at the President can’t be guilty of obstruction, because he committed no underlying crime defense.

      Now it will be “I can’t be guilty of lying about the President being guilty of of obstruction because he told me to say that, and it’s not illegal if he President tells me to do it, and by the way, the whole thing is moot because the President never committed any crimes anyway.” defense.

      • chicago_bunny says:

        Your first sentence made me wonder: who did actually review it for redactions then? And also, if that’s the kind of material that slipped through, what have they hidden with some of their facially hard to accept redactions related to “privacy interests”?

        Barr’s performance today was remarkable. The fact that he did not even try that hard to cover his contempt for the Democrats or to provide responsive or consistent answers suggests he has no fear of any consequences. We’ve got to find a way to hold people in this administration accountable, or they are only going to be further emboldened.

        • viget says:

          Bingo! Whatever is redacted under those PP’s, it’s gotta be pretty damning.

          Also I suspect the GJ redactions are a little overzealous too. There are lots of instances in the report where the substance of the GJ material is unredacted, but the footnote to the GJ is, AS LONG as the info was also sourced to a 302, which is not protected under Rule 6(e). Similar to how we treat personally identifiable info (PII) under HIPAA, it’s not a crime to disclose medical information as long as it’s deidentified. It’s only a violation if the the medical info is disclosed in the context of PII.

          So I suspect a lot of the supposed GJ redactions were of politically inconvenient material that also had 302 sourcing, that the AG office insisted be redacted. I bet Mueller fought long and hard for every GJ non-redaction.

        • AMG says:

          i was just reviewing mueller’s 3/27 letter to barr and it speaks a bit to your question of, “who did actually review it for redactions then?”

          in the letter, mueller writes:
          “I previously sent you a letter dated March 25, 2019, that enclosed the introduction and
          executive summary for each volume of the Special Counsel’s report marked with redactions to remove any information that potentially could be protected by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure that concerned declination decisions; or that related to a charged case. We also had marked an additional two sentences for review and have now confirmed that these sentences can be released publicly.

          Accordingly, the enclosed documents are in a form that can be released to the public
          consistent with legal requirements and Department policies. I am requesting that you provide these materials to Congress and authorize their public release at this time.”

          and later in the letter:
          “While we understand that the Department is reviewing the full report to determine what is
          appropriate for public release – a process that our Office is working with you to complete – that
          process need not delay release of the enclosed materials.”

          • chicago_bunny says:

            It leaves unknowns big enough to drive a truck through though. We know that Mueller’s team provided summaries that it believed were appropriately redacted and ready for release. We don’t know what additional redactions were made by others in DOJ, or who those people were, or whether any of Trump’s personal lawyers weighed in with suggestions of their own.

            • bmaz says:

              Eh, actually, we do kind of know that. And it is little to nothing. An analysis that could have been done in a few hours. At most.

        • Katherine M Williams says:

          The Kavanaugh/Thomas defense: to be loud, aggressive and insulting to questioners. To behave as their leader, Trump, would behave. Because it works for Trump: his followers see such bullying and lying behavior as “strong man”.

          • forget says:

            It’s the same ugly, sour, tactic used by the press secretary, to attack and smear attempts to ascertain information, to demean, belittle or cast doubt upon the motives of the questioner in the response, instead of providing an answer. And a thousand times, what is left in the eyes of the press is the drama of the fight, and not the more important matter of a question going unanswered by someone whose job is to answer them.

            [Welcome to emptywheel. While you may be striving for anonymity, the word “forget” is too commonplace for a username. Please modify it if commenting in the future so that community members recognize and get to know you. Thanks. /~Rayne]

              • Savage Librarian says:

                Thanks for this, Rayne. Maybe Congress can work on legislation to require all federal employees to have training to recognize and reduce this kind of behavior. And the training could extend to local and state governments that accept federal funding of any kind.

      • Tracy Lynn says:

        You know, @viget, that didn’t occur to me until you mentioned it, but that makes sense. Why wouldn’t he have redacted the comment, “…that’s the end of my presidency!”? Plausible deniability!

  1. Kelly says:

    Barr is like most of the right; pre-judged everything to fit his dogma and ain’t shifting from that view.

    Evidence? Shared polling data? With who? Why bother! If the president calls foul, it’s over.

    Jeezus I loathe these people.

      • 200Toros says:

        Exactly! I think that the report, to Barr, is largely irrelevant, since he knew what he was going to say about it when he got his marching orders upon accepting the job. Or rather, agreed to as a requisite for being offered the job.

        • pjb says:

          The Report wasn’t totally irrelevant. But, all he needed to know was that Mueller was not going to charge Trump on conspiracy. Once he had that in hand, his 20 page BS memo about presuming non-corrupt Presidential intent kicked in. Pre-judged yes, but need that one thing to fall into place.

  2. Peterr says:

    Repeated from the prior thread . . .

    The exchange at the end of the hearing, with Barr’s revelation that he has notes that were taken by a staffer in his office of his conversation with Mueller, was huge. First, the exchange demonstrated that there is at least one additional witness to that conversation, and second, there are contemporaneous notes from the conversation.

    I suspect that in the time it’s taken me to get here and make this comment, Jerry Nadler has drafted a new subpoena for Mr. Barr.

  3. Peterr says:

    Also brought forward . . .

    In Mueller’s letter, he has this to say about his own work and how he has spoken about it to the AG:

    As we stated in our meeting of March 5 and reiterated to the Department early in the afternoon of March 24, the introductions and executive summaries of our two-volume report accurately summarize this Office’s work and conclusions.

    OK — so far, so good. He then pivots to what Barr said about his Office’s work and conclusions:

    The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.

    There’s nothing here about the press getting it wrong, and that being a problem. Mueller is politely but firmly objecting to the way in which Barr and his office personally mis-stated the work of the OSC.

    And he did it in writing.

    This is a very big deal. This is the ultimate defense of a subordinate who is not willing to be thrown under a bus by a superior: Put It In Writing. This is what a subordinate does when that person believes that there will be a subsequent investigation of potentially illegal conduct and wants to make clear that they had nothing to do with it.

    Beyond objecting how Barr rolled out the report and mis-characterized Mueller’s work, I think Mueller’s letter was a shot across Barr’s bow in the broader sense. When the redacted report finally came out weeks later, many were pleasantly surprised at what was and was not redacted, fearing that much more was going to be withheld. After getting this letter and the subsequent phone conversation, Barr had to be thinking “If Mueller would do this after reading my letter, I shudder to think what he might do if I don’t release the full report, or if I over-redact stuff when I release it.” Thus, this letter may have encouraged Barr to take a lighter hand with respect to redactions.

      • bmaz says:

        Based on what, exactly? Mueller does not have to do squat, he can hide behind all kinds of exceptions, if he wants to. And he probably does.

    • Vicks says:

      The “save the Trump crew” is deliberately conflating what Mueller (or a staff member) wrote in his letter and what Barr CLAIMS was discussed during his phone conversation with Mueller.
      Since no Trump chump will bother to read Mueller’s letter It is now being brushed off as desperate democrats “clutching their pearls” (or some other passive aggressive description) over Mueller’s letter which is now being described by Trump’s good little soldiers as mostly Mueller telling Barr he was worried about how the media was spinning the whole thing.
      It’s never more than a two step pivot to the media for these assholes.

        • vicks says:

          Well he must have gotten the memo reminding him who he works for. …
          This AM (Sunday) he was pimping the theory that democrats were attacking Barr because they were afraid of what he will turn up in BARR’s investigations.
          I just want to shake these reporters and panelists sometimes.
          Why has no one asked why the democrats would go to these incredible (an implausible) measures for a guy no one thought would win?
          If they wanted to spy on the Trump campaign why on earth would the “deep state” choose Carter Page or the campaign’s coffee boy Papadopoulos? If the entire FBI was doing my bidding I would have chosen actual active member of the campaign….
          Just saying..

        • P J Evans says:

          I wish the idjits who keep saying that “Mueller is a Republican, therefore he’ll agree with Barr on everything” would pay attention to stuff like this.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If the president does it, it can’t be illegal. When you believe the Nixon defense, all else is commentary.

    But i find it hard to accept that Barr really knows as little as his performance today suggests. He has worked inside the Beltway since Nixon’s resignation. He started his career at the CIA’s legal counsel’s office. He has seen a string of politicos claim ignorance and admit incompetence, knowing they carry less liability than intentional misconduct and knowing falsehoods.

    Plus, Barr is there primarily to be the principal in the GOP’s (and thus Trump’s) protective detail. It is hard to do that and really be as uninformed as Barr portrays himself as being.

    • Eureka says:

      Right. For ‘proof’ we may look at his pointed (and pointedly-helpful to Trump as to conspiracy) redaction choices.

    • Peterr says:

      I actually disagree.

      Barr’s time at the CIA (73-77) straddled the Church Committee’s groundbreaking work. True Believers at the time were astounded and angered that the Congress would reveal and condemn the work that the CIA was doing to keep America safe (see “breaking eggs to make omelettes”).

      Barr is a True Believer, and as such, he has difficulty putting himself in the mind of anyone who isn’t a True Believer. Regardless of the subject, the True Believer’s approach to investigative reports is the same: “I know what the report ought to conclude, and don’t confuse me with the facts.”

      The fact that Barr was shocked by Mueller’s letter of March 24 strikes me as proof that Barr is indeed uninformed. “How could you be upset at what I said?” is what one says if one hasn’t read the full original report. Barr’s flip from “here’s my summary of the Mueller report’s conclusions” to “this wasn’t meant to be a summary” only adds to my sense that Barr is uninformed. He just didn’t expect to be called on his lack of information in any substantive way. Sure, Dems will whine and complain, but that’s only to be expected. But Mueller’s letter was different, and it definitely got Barr’s attention.

      Kind of like a 2×4 across a mule’s nose.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The essence of the CIA’s position then and now, and Bill Barr’s position then and now, is insincerity masquerading as sincerity.

        I agree that Barr, like Dick Cheney, is a believer in the idea that true power is unrestrained and unaccountable, and that lying to the public is a small price to pay when in mortal combat against one’s existential enemies.

        But in the shifting sands of DC politics, that requires being able to act a part. As Pia Lindstrom said in denying the rumor that Bogie and Bergman had an affair during the filming of Casablanca, “That’s acting, it’s called acting.”

        Barr wouldn’t know what to hide if he were as uninformed as his performance suggests. And he’s there to be Hider-in-Chief, a role he perfected thirty years ago.

        • Peterr says:

          Acting requires the ability to understand someone else’s point of view so well that you can present it as your own. I don’t think Barr understands any point of view but his own.

          • Peterr says:

            Nicolle Wallace tweet:

            Has Barr been asked under oath if he’s read the entire text of the Mueller report? He can’t answer basic questions from Republicans about anything. I’ve briefed a lot of politicians-he speaks like someone who has been briefed by staff.

        • BobCon says:

          I think it’s a fair question whether the Cheneys and Barrs of the world don’t see the public and their enemies as essentially the same thing.

      • Eureka says:

        “How could you be upset at what I said?” is what one says if one hasn’t read the full original report.

        Or what one says if one didn’t expect to be called out (for additional reasons beyond ignorance). Hubris. Also, I don’t know that he was actually shocked.

        I’m of ~ what could seem to wash out to a middle-ish ground because: (1) there are so many facts and (2) Barr’s knowledge-level depends on which facts one is talking about. He certainly does not have Marcy’s command of the facts.

        With what EoH said here:

        But i find it hard to accept that Barr really knows as little as his performance today suggests.

        I heartily agree.

        Even the Booker-Barr polling data transaction* could be read either way, as Barr being unwilling to assent until Booker clarifies that the data shared was polling data (and when Barr asks ‘with who’– which goes unanswered– I am not sure that is an information-request question of the naive, as it could be an attempt to nail down where Booker was going). But I agree with Marcy’s post that Barr gets to own his statements of record, which denote ignorance of key matters.

        * 4:17:07 +/- here:
        https://www.c-span.org/video/?459922-1/william-barr-testifies-mueller-report-senate-judiciary-committee&playEvent

        • Eureka says:

          Watch Bill Barr nod in agreement (ending just at/before 4:13:02*) when Corey Booker says:

          BUT WE HAVE HERE DOCUMENTED A LEVEL OF COORDINATION WITH A FOREIGN ADVERSARY SHARING POLLING DATA.

          *I can see this faster than I can get to the timestamp; cue-up late 4:12:xx seconds.

          Also re the exchange I’d cited leading into 4:17 mark, Barr could also have been simply trying to derail Booker, as he attempted to do throughout this Booker round, including at 4:16:24 ish mark where Barr starts the Clinton foreign approaches by Chinese BS. I think Barr knows exactly what’s going on, at least here, and that Booker makes important points that need smothering, as shown by Barr’s efforts.

          • Eureka says:

            i.e. he nods that he knows, agrees, before the exchange where he asks ~ what data (~ polling data) ~ with who?

            They don’t make ‘beta-blockers’ for that, William Tell.

            • Mitch Neher says:

              Barr’s question–“with who”–could be an instance of aporia. Barr might be willing to admit that the Ukrainians got the polling data but only for the purpose of raising doubt that Kilimnik sent the polling data to Deripaska or to the Russian government in its election-interference activities.

              By putting it as a rhetorical question, Barr didn’t have to fill-in the blank. Just leave it dangling there.

      • Ed Walker says:

        I’m not so sure. He’s supposed to be a good lawyer. No half-assed lawyer would show up at a hearing withoug having read the material. At the very least, he had staffers read it and summarize it and they have no stake in lying about it; quite the contrary, if they lie they will be ruined as lawyers.

        I think Barr is a bald-faced liar, and I think he’s really bad at it.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Barr would insist his staff never “summarize” anything. They might distill it, they would never summarize it. Right about now, I need something distilled and it needs to be older than my car.

        • orionATL says:

          I think this is about right. barr is lying. he knows he’s lying. he’s lying for the cause and that is o.k. by the rules of his partisan game.

          i can’t understand why folks want to give this guy some leeway, e.g., maybe he didn’t read it himself, didn’t fully comprehend staff briefing, etc.

          barr and trump are playing pure, bald power politics – lying thru their teeth manufacturing false claims of innocence, and running over anyone who gets in their way.

          • orionATL says:

            I don’t know why anyone would assume either trump or barr would behave in any other ways than the ways they have throughout their careers.

            in trump’s case this means blustering, lying, threatening, and legal maneuvering when he has been caught engaged in llegal or improper behavior.

            in Barr’s case it means being a devotee of Republican presidents and their unfettered power.

            can you think of anything illegal or improper that trump has done in his life that his defense has not been to mount an attack on those who expose his corruption?

            can you think of anytime in Barr’s life when he has not manufactured and printed a legal pass for a republican president engaged in illegal or improper activity in order to cover up that corruption?

            • bmaz says:

              No Orion, this is exactly right. And welcome back, we missed you. It is always concerning when very long time friends disappear for a bit. We really do worry.

      • Mulder says:

        Track back to his confirmation hearing when he appeared to be offering answers based on watching Fox bloviators re: criminal justice policy issues for the last 25 years.

  5. OldTulsaDude says:

    This can’t be much different than the parliamentary follies of faux democracy banana republics.

    • Eureka says:

      Glad you reposted– as I noted when happening upon it, this is an important detail, not to be incidentally buried in the rest of today’s events.

    • Pat says:

      Resisted three efforts? I wonder what they offered him the fourth time to induce him to join the fold.

  6. Rapier says:

    Meanwhile Barr’s DOJ and the GOP Senate are teeing up investigations into Obama “spying” on Republicans and of course Hillary’s Emails.

    “when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do'”

    I know this Karl Rove, ‘reality based community’ thing is considered banal now. Sorry.

    • Geoff says:

      Banal, perhaps, but not when you take it to the next level, which is what we are dealing with now. It’s one thing to create your own actual reality by acting out. It’s another to take actions, and then lie about what reality is, and make those lies the new reality, then force others to disprove your lies and prove the actual reality even exists. We’re kind of failing at that right now, and that is downright scary.

    • Stacey says:

      It is always interesting to see the ‘baby pictures of psychopaths’ or the beginnings of the paths that the GOP has taken over MANY years to get where they are. Lee Atwater…Roger Stone…Paul Manafort…Karl Rove…Donald Trump, et al,…it was like watching a deadly virus mutate and react to the body politic’s anti-bodies in an even more resilient and hardy way each time, until now they are some sort of super-virus that is quickly killing its own host–the GOP–not that I’d be sorry for that host to die of its own disease creation, I kinda think that’s how karma works, so I’m good with that. But no serious observer of politics in America can say that those things we remember as the Bushies’ “reality-based community” memes were not the clear and obvious pre-cursor to the GOP in its current form.

      The problem with being able to look back and see that that little baby grew up to be a ‘mass-murdering psychopath’ is that there was really nothing that could be done at the time, pre-manifestation awareness being what it is. It’s only on THIS side of the evolution of that kind of crazy that we go, Holy Shit! How did THIS happen? Oh, yeah, I see, how this happened! We LET this happen over time.

      And I honestly don’t know what it will take for the Dems in leadership to yank up this progression into irretreivable loss of our democracy and stop it. Perhaps, it has to get much worse before it gets any better. Barr’s sure laying the ground work for an awfully scary future of a Presidency I don’t want to be here for. The distance between “If a President does it, it’s not illegal” and “I can shoot someone (literally) on 5th Avenue and not lose any voters” is not that far, my friend!

      • Greg Hunter says:

        It happened because no news organization had a daily segment pointing out the lies spewed to the public by Rush Limbaugh. It is really that simple.

        • Pat says:

          Or perhaps because the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine opened the door for Limbaugh’s continued lies.

          • David B Pittard says:

            I have thought the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine was a huge factor and Rush Limbaugh was the camel’s nose. He projects every weakness he has onto his political adversaries. Now most conservatives do that. And repetition of lies, credited by Hitler to the British, are just as effective today as Hitler noticed they were when he wrote Mein Kampf. When Fox took note of this technique and began almost continuous propaganda using this technique, it didn’t seem like it would be effective. But anyone who sits in front of Fox television day after day for ten years is going to be affected a lot, and some, extremely affected. The frailty of our minds, almost every one of our minds, is a part of our human condition and once understood is a toe hold for Orwellian thought control. The Fairness Doctrine was a challenge to objective thinking and made to go away. Something like it, as well as a re-analysis of freedom of speech when used for deploying intentional lies may be in order. Contrary opinions, fatuous, illogical, lacking in evidentiary support, should be protected as other types of speech. But weaponizing techniques of mind control in the guise of free speech is undermining us all. Victims include Trump supporters who truly believe the scary liberals and the over-reaching government but are already vanquished by the likes of Murdoch, who has stolen their souls. They do not understand their truths are lies. They are our brothers, unlike the Murdoch and Limbaugh types. But we have no certain ways to perform political exorcism. At the least we should consider protecting those who have yet to climb into that soft chair with a side table furnished with munchies, and hold the remote for hours for no purpose other than to pump up the volume. Don’t ask me how.

            But the first step is always identifying the problem. The next is understanding it. And the problem is . . . our minds are way to primitive to resist this onslaught without help. Maybe not everyone is that vulnerable. Most of us who despise the propaganda put out by the right probably think we are better than its victims. I suggest this is hubris and a serious mistake – we may just be lucky.

            The right-wing true believers deserve both our unflinching opposition and our pity, and if it possibly can make a difference, our help. But we cannot let down our guard against something similar from extremist wherever they are on the political spectrum. There may be fewer extremists on the left today, or maybe we just don’t notice them because they are not riding the wave of political power like right wing extremists do, currently. But Right and Left extremists are equally willing to indulge in mind control and lies. The left-wing extremists will establish their own FoxNews if they can get away with it. And if the tables are turned on the conservatives today, we should understand how they fell from respectable conservatism to Ever-Trumpers and figure out how that same deterioration could happen to the non-extreme on the left.

            • timbo says:

              How does that deal with the current problem in Washington DC right now? Right now, it ain’t the left that’s the problem. And even the center in Washington is endangered by the coordinated effort of four decades by the right to gain control of the organs of government. The rhetoric that is preached from the President on down by those on the right is increasingly obnoxious and brazen.

  7. sand says:

    I shudder to think . . .

    Once I was in the car with a friend who comes from a family of cops. As we were sitting at a red light, the cruiser beside us looked both ways, then rolled through. No siren, just went right through it. I said, “That’s such bullshit.”

    My friend said, “No, he’s on patrol. He shouldn’t have to waste time sitting at lights. I’d rather he get about his business. It could save a life.”

    I said, “I don’t know about that. I figure, he’s supposed to be enforcing the law. If he doesn’t show any respect for the law, why should anyone else?” My friend disagreed at the time, but many years later, brought it up out of the blue to tell me that he had changed his mind. That will always stick with me, because the conversation stuck with him.

    . . . I shudder to think of the corruption that will be encouraged by the Attorney General’s testimony today.

    The GOP is writing a guidebook on how to lie, cheat, steal, and get away with it. My notes read: If you commit a crime, take a look at whether obstruction could successfully thwart proof of that crime. If so, obstruct. Once you’ve obstructed proof of the underlying crime, argue that there was no underlying crime in the first place. Thus, you had no reason to obstruct. This effectively makes obstruction not a crime, only attempted obstruction. If you’re successful, DOJ should not charge obstruction. To ensure success, compromise as much of the justice system as possible. Maximize available resources through use of foreign funds from anti-American interests. Don’t be afraid to threaten violence in a pinch. IANAL.

    What future does the GOP want for America? Any?

    • Ed Walker says:

      Sorry, dude, that only works for the filthy rich. Us plebes can’t do that. Two-tier system of justice, ya know.

      • sand says:

        Good point Ed. I forgot: Be filthy rich.

        For some, that shouldn’t be too hard if they’re corrupt enough. If you can’t be filthy rich, at least be filthy. Reference Trump Organization et al.

        Agreed that the rest of us are screwed. But we’re still here and still planning to fight back.

        Also, please keep the GND stuff coming. Very good commentary.

      • J R in WV says:

        You don’t have to be filthy rich, you just need to be Republican. It’s OK if you’re a Republican, always has been.

  8. Jenny says:

    Reviewing the hearing, seems to me Graham and Barr rehearsed that little exchange of agreeing with each other. Perhaps they got together ahead of time for a round of mint juleps.

    Barr stating there is no underlying crime. Isn’t the Stormy Daniels payment a crime under the finance campaign laws?

    Curious about Barr receiving a waiver to investigate 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a Malaysian company for alleged money laundering. Barr’s former firm Kirkland and Ellis represented 1MDB. The waiver was from the Assistant Attorney General Crime Division, Brian A. Benczkowski, who was a partner at Kirkland and Ellis. Emmet Flood, WH lawyer, gave the waiver to Benczkowski in November. So Flood gives waiver to Benczkowski who then gives a waiver to Barr. How convenient. Can you say, conflict of interest, unethical?

    https://www.politico.com/story/2019/04/23/barr-trump-inauguration-fund-1287657

    In case you missed Senator Harris questioning Barr, here it is the entire exchange. She was EXCELLENT!

    https://twitter.com/kylegriffin1/status/1123662318930399233

    Today’s Senate hearing was a warm up under Graham. Tomorrow Rep. Nadler hearing will be taxing for Barr. I hope the House Democrats took detailed notes. They need to ask the question Marcy brought up in her tweets about Barr claiming that Trump was falsely accused. Ask Barr directly, “What is Trump allegedly falsely accused of?”

    Oh – from Marcy’s twitter:
    https://twitter.com/Yamiche/status/1123701826421968896

    Yamiche Alcindor – BREAKING: Per a congressional source, the House Judiciary Committee has been notified by the DOJ that Attorney General Barr is NOT coming to testify tomorrow. DOJ has told the committee to expect a letter officially stating that shortly, according to my source.

    So much more to be revealed …

    • harpie says:

      Poor Barr…just can’t handle the pressure! WEAK!
      Yamiche continues:

      My source has made it clear that the next step is to subpoena AG Barr to make him come testify before the House Judiciary Committee and compel him to answer questions posed by congressional attorneys. A reminder: The hang up is that Barr only wants Qs to come from lawmakers.

      Marcy adds:
      https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1123702439570550790
      2:35 PM – 1 May 2019

      Time to start defunding his office.
      He’s acting as Trump’s personal defense lawyer here, not the AG, so his office should be funded by Trump or not at all.

      Time to play hardball!

      • BobCon says:

        There is going to be a long list of offices facing funding cuts when the end of the fiscal year comes.

        I expect Trump is already hearing from Mulvaney that forcing a shutdown over this will be a big winner.

    • RWood says:

      House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “I’ll wait and see…”

      Somebody needs to ask her what exactly it is that she’s waiting to see!?!

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Bill Barr continues his stand-up routine, claiming that Rep. Nadler’s decision to have staff attorneys question a witness is, “unprecedented and unnecessary.”

        Barr and his staff are lying. Having committee staff attorneys question witnesses is boringly routine. It was done not long ago by the GOP-controlled Senate judiciary committee in interviewing Christine Blasey Ford. Barr’s performance for the Senate today makes prolonged direct questioning by staff counsel manifestly necessary.

        Like his boss, Bill Barr is becoming a lie a minute.

  9. Savage Librarian says:

    Bin Sass: “In a digital cyber era, you don’t need a bar and a hooker anymore.” Just a Barr and a Catch-22…”and we know we’re going to be having these kinds of attacks in the future and we need to up our game.”

  10. JD12 says:

    Barr keeps saying there’s no underlying crime, but should that even matter?

    The Mueller report says, “proof of such a crime is not an element of an obstruction offense […] Obstruction of justice can be motivated by a desire to protect non-criminal personal interests, to protect against investigations where underlying criminal liability falls into a gray area , or *to avoid personal embarrassment*. [my emphasis] The injury to the integrity of the justice system is the same regardless of whether a person committed an underlying wrong.”

    • P J Evans says:

      He knows damned well there was an underlying crime, and that Tr*mp would be indicted if he weren’t President, and that Tr*mp should be impeached and convicted for what he’s been doing for the last three years.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Bill Barr has not changed his stripes or put his supposedly vaunted reputation at risk. He is doing for this White House what he did for Bush Sr’s White House and what he did for his private clients. As for accountability, he knows that he’s safe unless and until the House and/or state attorneys general get to Trump. By then, Trump and Barr will be out of office and Barr will still be safe.

    Trump and his party will have to keep up the victimhood schtick in order to deter future attempts to hold Trump accountable. That will be harder to do with a Senate and White House in Democratic Party hands, which suggests Trump’s rhetoric will ratchet up in decibels and in violence. Keeping his Jenga block empire from collapsing in a heap depends on it.

    • Mitch Neher says:

      At times Barr sounded like a witness for Trump–albeit a hearsay witness testifying about Trump perceptions, thoughts, feelings, desires, motives and intent on Trump’s behalf and at Trump’s behest so that Trump, himself, wouldn’t have to answer the remaining 3/4ths of Mueller’s questions with more confessions of amnesia.

      Are there any rules against the U. S. Attorney General testifying in lieu of the sitting President?

  12. Badger Robert says:

    I would rather they asked him He does not deny that Russian interference was substantial and systematic. And that conclusion was the embarrassing thing that Trump was trying to conceal.
    But Barr must know that more and more pieces will come out. He’s just hoping Trump will disintegrate before the House votes for impeachment.

  13. Badger Robert says:

    Trump’s lucid moments will be further and further apart. I’ll give him 120 days, but I don’t see him lasting until Thanksgiving.

    • Eureka says:

      There’s nothing new yet under the HJC dems or Nadler twitter accounts. Couple of HJC reps have this:

      Congresswoman Madeleine Dean: “Barr has disqualified himself as a legitimate Attorney General and should resign. We will see him in court. I look for HONEST brokers of information. That’s why I look forward to seeing Special Counsel Mueller in front of the House Judiciary Committee – to learn the truth.”
      https://twitter.com/RepDean/status/1123719256330387457

      Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon: “We were just notified that AG Barr will not be appearing before @HouseJudiciary tomorrow. He has also ignored our subpoena for the full #MullerReport and underlying evidence. This is a continuation of efforts to stonewall Congressional oversight. 1/2”
      https://twitter.com/RepMGS/status/1123714130769215490
      “We are talking to the Department of Justice and if they do not comply, we will be forced to start contempt proceedings. (2/2)”

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Puhleeze, Chris Matthews, get better writers and make sure they know what a good analogy is.

    Bill Barr did not “walk into a minefield” today in a Senate hearing. Any land mines he encountered, he brought with him. Any wounds were entirely self-inflicted.

  15. MattyG says:

    No way Barr didn’t read, or read enough, of the report to be able to plan his offensive – part of which is to claim he didn’t read it. Distraction, deflection and passive aggressive defense. He read enough to know what to push and what to avoid. I call BS on this. And we will find out that he was far more versed in the guts of the report than feigned – one more body shot and discredit to the whole GOP garbage campaign

    • MattyG says:

      So Mueller’s letter to Barr came out this morning… just read it, Snitty?!? Barr is garbage. Not even a black hat – a russet brown turd hat if there ever was one.

    • bmaz says:

      Matty G at 7:07 pm. Baloney. We do know that Barr did not read fully and comprehend the Mueller report in full, if he did he is incompetent and addled, or flat out lying, about it. And he admitted today he was working ahead of time to clear Trump.

      • MattyG says:

        We will see. His motivations are clear enough – help DT, but I’m deeply suspicious of his technique in “dealing” with the report. Besides smelling rat in general, I smell liar with respect to his knowlege about the substance of the report.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          But then, I don’t believe Bill Barr was really “grappling” with the meaning of “suggest” when Sen. Harris asked him whether anyone at the White House “asked or suggested” that he start an investigation into anyone. He was looking for an implausible excuse to imply that the good Senator could Cheney herself before Barr would give her any other answer.

          • Stacey says:

            In light of Sen. Harris’ dealing with Barr’s version of “It depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is” regarding the word “suggestion”…since the House will have some extra time on its hands tomorrow, absent Barr’s appearance, maybe they should just invite Michael Cohen over to school them on ‘Trump Speak’ and discuss candidly all the ways in which they can better recognize when one of his minions is under the influence of it. Comey did a good installment of that lesson in his Op-ed on the eating of the soul bite by bite by Donald Trump.

            Couldn’t you just see Barr thinking of those conversations where Trump might say something like ‘wouldn’t it be nice if the DOJ would investigate Hillary again?’ and Barr sitting right there, is like, ‘well, it’s hard to characterize that as an ORDER or even a suggestion, really. He’s just musing out loud, isn’t he?’ And unless the Senator hits right on that phrase, ‘did the President muse out loud about investigating anyone in particular?’ then no problemo!

            • Mitch Neher says:

              Did the President muse out loud about making Barr’s testimony consistent with the President’s Tweets?

              Did the President muse out loud about granting a pardon to Barr in the event that he might someday need one?

  16. outhousecounsel says:

    Given the evidence of Barr’s lying to Congress in addition to his misleading representations about the report to the public, how farfetched is it to charge Barr (or any AG) in an obstruction of justice prosecution? What is the mechanism (if any) for pursuing such a charge at DoJ? Is the only mechanism impeachment?

  17. fpo says:

    Well, there’s no need to bother talking with Barr any further. He’s as much as said that there are no limits to his inclination/intention to stonewall, lie and provide cover for the Resident. Would he draw the line at…hostage payments? Illegal nuclear equipment or arms sales? Secret agreements with hostile nations? Money laundering? Tax evasion? Elections manipulation? What about circumstances where lives are at stake – or lost? We know where he stands on obstruction of justice.

    It’s time to put some teeth to the co-equal branch argument and let the chips fall where they may. I believe the same people that made their voices heard in 2018 will join arms with any Dems that step up and do what has to be done. The cost of delay is to embolden – if not to appear to legitimize – Barr, et al.

    “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”/Frederick Douglass

  18. GrumpyOldMan says:

    The problem with Konstatin Kilimnik is not simply that Rick Gates believed he is a Russian agent, or even that the FBI assess that he maintains links with Russian intelligence. You are talking about a man who sometimes travels on a Russian diplomatic passport. There are records of this from other countries. See the Daily Beast report by Adam Rawnsley on 4.18.2019. The question of why Manafort repeatedly met with him, and told Gates to supply internal polling data, at a time when he was busy with the campaign, deserves answers.

    This makes Barr’s apparent ignorance utterly implausible. Only the most incompetent attorney would go into an interview without knowing the most damaging facts of the case against his client.

  19. Rugger9 says:

    Let’s also point out that the Palace story line is also about how Kaiser Quisling was angry because of illegal leaks. However, Mueller’s office didn’t leak, the Palace attorney team did. I’d like to see Nadler, et al point that out.

  20. Fran of the North says:

    Upthread (this post or Raynes??) someone suggested that Mueller could be prohibited from congressional testimony by his employer, the DOJ.

    Is there truth to this assertion? If so, might this factor into Rosenstein’s decision to retire? To enable his testimony? That last line in his resignation letter is odd given his recent behavior, but holds promise:

    We keep the faith, we follow the rules, and we always put America first.

    • viget says:

      The eternal optimist in me thinks RR leaked the Mueller letter (it came from OAG, the handwriting proves it). I’ve been saying that last line is an Andy Dufresne f— you to Barr and Trump (go see Shawshank Redemption if you don’t know the reference).

      • Fran of the North says:

        I saw your reference to Andy Dufresne and that last line of Rosenstein’s resignation in another thread, and didn’t have the slightest idea . Good thing that Google thing exists.

        We can hope now can’t we?

        Barr’s attempt to throw RR under the bus yesterday probably won’t encourage him to be reticent when he goes before the committee.

      • Tech Support says:

        Comey called RR a “survivor.” He’s certainly put on a good show in the last few months. At this point I refuse to hang any hopes on the behavior of any individuals in the administration, but it would be nice if it turned out his good show was in service to keeping his seat long enough for some well timed backstabbing of Trump/Barr etc.

        There would be some GLORIOUS schadenfreude if Barr stuck his foot in it by being overly trusting of RR.

        • Mitch Neher says:

          Whitewash row the boat ashore, hallelujah.

          Whitewash row the boat ashore, hallelu-u-u-u-jah.

  21. Kick the darkness says:

    Tomasky’s take on today (https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-trump-white-house-is-loving-itself-some-bill-barr-he-dismembered-democrats?ref=scroll) is remarkably somber.

    “May 1, 2019 will go down as one of the dark days in the history of this republic…..a sitting attorney general said in effect to the American people whose interests he is supposed to be defending, “No, I truly do not give a fuck” …..(the) 18 months until Election Day…may well be the most consequential and frightening stretch in the history of the country…since Reconstruction. This racket known as a political party (R’s) will try to pervert the law in ways we’ve never seen.”

    I’d like to think its hyperbole, but…..

  22. Rugger9 says:

    So, can Nadler successfully subpoena Mueller without DOJ approving the request? It seems to me that the Palace’s walls have been built like a teetering Jenga stack and removing one more stick brings it all down. Mueller, Weisselberg, DJTJ (for comic relief), Ivanka (for “glamor” and to piss off KQ) can fill in details as can Miller Michael Cohen, Reince Priebus, etc. and the treatment meted out by the Palace should make it clear that KQ will demand but not give loyalty.

    Did anyone really expect anything different from Lindsey and AG Barr today? Neither AG Barr or Kaiser Quisling will be convicted in the Senate if impeached, but at least KQ’s impeachment hearings should only leave the slightly smaller base behind. That’s why they need to happen with all deliberate speed. Also, the D’s do need to make sure no third party diversion like Nader or Jill Stein will create a situation similar to how LePage (The “human bowling jacket” according to Charlie Pierce) got elected twice in Maine by pluralities. Parscale will know just how much will be needed and Vlad will do his best to make it happen. Parscale for his part needs to be subpoenaed as well since he had to run the social media in collaboration with the Russians to make it work in 2016.

  23. Pete says:

    This was one of the most pathetic hearings I have ever witnessed. Is this guy our Attorney General? Saying basically that if I am frustrated and feel i have done nothing wrong, I am entitled to knock down the police car chasing my speeding vehicle. When will this nightmare end?

    • Fran of the North says:

      Katyal’s op-ed offers hope that the antibodies can fight the infection and win. The body politic needs to be strong for that to work however, and we’ve seen that a goodly portion of that body is gangrenous.

      The publication of his piece would be more powerful if the Times had published other critical op-eds from the staff and editorial board. Will they be willing to move away from the pablum of ‘This, but That…’? We’ll see what gets published over the next couple of days.

      • Greenhouse says:

        Problem is the glycocalyx in Barr is sufficient enough shield for the viral rethugs, thus rendering the antibody, phagocytic, democratic response feckless.

  24. PeteT says:

    SO Barr ignored the subpoena for the unreacted report? What’s next? Hologin Barr in contempt is in order, but a time waster.

    Can Nadler petition the Court directly and/or does an Impeachment Inquiry have to be launched in order to firm up his grounds and standing?

    • timbo says:

      Nadler could take the vote to the full House and have the Sargeant of Arms fetch Barr. That’s kind of how the Constitution works—Congress is the most important of the three “co-equal” branches.

  25. Rugger9 says:

    How could Barr issue his 4-pager without reading the report, and how could he have signed off on the redactions? Or, is this a case of “it doesn’t fail if we don’t measure it”?

  26. OldTulsaDude says:

    To safeguard norms and precedents, I believe it imperative to immediately and completely reject and dismantle Barr’s deleterious co-mingling of his personal unitary executive beliefs with his public power.

  27. Tom says:

    So in Barr’s opinion, the President’s efforts to derail and shut down the Mueller investigation can be justified because Trump was feeling frustrated, though I’m not sure how the AG could be privy to the President’s thinking on that subject. It seems much more likely that Trump knew he was engaged in shady dealings with the Russians and was trying to cover it up. Barr doesn’t seem to have given much thought to the possibility that the President’s display of outraged innocence was just for public consumption, even though you would think that, as a law enforcement officer, Barr would automatically consider whether things were perhaps not as they appeared and that the President may have had an ulterior motive.

    Even more extreme is the AG’s position that the President can shut down an investigation into his actions if he (Trump) believes–or says he believes–the investigation is without merit. This seems to amount to saying that the President is above the law, that the law is not to be found in legislation or legal texts but in the mind of Trump and however he thinks the law should operate. And once that position is allowed to stand as precedent, then you’re on your way to personal rule. The way the President is ignoring Congress and pulling up the White House drawbridge reminds me of the British Royal House of Stuart in the 17th century. Charles I and his son, James II, had similar grandiose ideas of monarchical rule, but James ended up losing his throne and Charles ended up losing his head.

  28. Jockobadger says:

    Well, I just read Emmet Flood’s April 19 letter to Barr re: the MR and I was forcefully and somewhat sickeningly reminded why I love this country. I don’t know if what I read (and understood it to say) is legally sound bc ianal, but it made a sort of awful sense to me. I’ll wait to read what other more erudite folks here think.

    It gave me pause because in spite of the obvious criminal shenanigans that center on the occupant of the WH, we are a nation of laws and at the last we need to stick to legal redress of grievances. I have a boatload of grievances right now, but I want them dealt with in accordance with the law – even if the source of my grievances does everything in his power to twist the law to meet his contemptible and venal requirements. I just hope my side has the legal/intellectual firepower adequate to the task because Flood seems pretty damn sharp.

    PS – It also reminded me why I volunteer at my Congressman’s office to get out the damn vote. JHFC.

    • OldTulsaDude says:

      Which again is reason to forcefully engage in disallowing AG Barr to use his personal adherence to the Unitary Executve Theory as a basis for creating precedent. We are in a mortal fight not only for the present but for our future, as well.

      • Jockobadger says:

        I’m with you OTD. Mortal fight is right. I believe that complacency got us where we are today which is why I’m getting involved for the first time (other than voting, which I always do.)

        • Ruthie says:

          The first time I ever canvassed for a politician was on election day 2016. While not originally an ardent Hilary supporter, I was excited at the prospect of electing a woman president. We all know how that turned out…

          In 2018 I canvassed for my local congressional rep, which fortunately turned out much better. I VERY MUCH DISLIKE doing it, but know I can’t afford to stop.

  29. Jonathan Barker says:

    From the April 3rd NYT report about Mueller team members’ dissatisfaction with Barr’s summary:

    “However, the special counsel’s office never asked Mr. Barr to release the summaries soon after he received the report, a person familiar with the investigation said.”

    From Mueller’s April 27th letter to Barr, which he received on April 28th:

    “I previously sent you a letter dated March 25, 2019, that enclosed the introduction and executive summary for each volume of the Special Counsel’s report marked with redactions…. I am requesting that you provide these materials to Congress and authorize their public release at this time…. Release at this time would alleviate the misunderstandings that have arisen and would answer congressional and public questions about the nature and outcome of our investigation.”

    So, um, these seem inconsistent, right? I mean, maybe Barr had not communicated to the NYT’s source that Mueller had been begging him in writing to release the summaries immediately. Or maybe Barr himself is the source, or told someone else to make this comment. If so, then he just straight-up lied to reporters about this…

    NYT piece: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/03/us/politics/william-barr-mueller-report.html
    Mueller letter: https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/01/politics/mueller-letter-to-barr/index.html

    • timbo says:

      Yeah, thank you. Certainly seems like Barr “leaked” that himself, doesn’t it?

  30. e.a.f. says:

    As I watched Barr, a few things flitted through my mind, not sure if I was going in the correct direction. then viola! Read this post and it was all there clear as a bell. That truly is scary.

    When the Nixon thing was going on I felt things would turn out O.K. Congress would do the right thing for the American people and the country. Now I don’t have that feeling and that is scary. Today we have a gentleman eating chicken and along, with the rubber chicken and its funny. The scary part of this is, Barr, Trump, and Republican politicians and hangers on don’t seem to care.

    The man who heads this committee doesn’t look like he will be easily deterred and neither do some committee members. My concern is Trump and his gang truly will walk away from it all and dare the Democrats to do something about it. If the Supreme court takes this under consideration and rules against the Democrats, what happens next? I have the impressions as each day passes, the U.S.A gets closer to a Constitutional crisis.

    Thank you again for the writing you do. I’ve really found all of it helpful and of course scary. My mind goes, ‘how can this be happening’. Then I realize its a silly question because it is happening and I know why.

    • P J Evans says:

      It isn’t “closer to” a Consitutional crisis – that’s already here. The questions is how much of Congress will act correctly, and how much will act as cult members and follow their deranged leader.

  31. JAG says:

    Mueller’s letter is snitty.

    Is it snippy? is it snotty? Whatever it means it was dismissive and disrespectful. More Barr arrogance and rudeness.

    We have a deeper problem than Barr and his arrogant attitude towards Congress and the DOJ Special Counsel. We have expensive investigative dead ends and the failures and weaknesses of the justice system laid bare by the outcomes we see after the release of the Mueller Report.

    Recent history has shaped the current inability enforcing any findings a Special Prosecutor would propose as potentially criminal behavior.

    From Watergate we get the Office of Legal Counsel ruling a sitting president cannot be indicted. The reason was not intended to put Nixon above the law but rather to prevent the loss of the two highest officers in the executive branch from being lost simultaneously. At the time of Watergate, Agnew was being investigated for bribery and was in danger of criminal charges and prosecution. At the same time the Nixon investigation was ramping up and the OLC did not want to contemplate what could happen in our country if the president and vice president ended up under indictment concurrently. Thus the ruling that sitting presidents are immune.

    The Congress passed a new law post-Nixon that created independent counsel whose powers were broadened and less accountable to the DOJ and the executive branch.

    Ken Starr screwed that pooch and independent counsel disappeared to be replaced by a more strait-jacketed Special Counsel who now is supervised by the AG.

    Add in the GOP’s relentless and monocular vision for the legislative branch and their grip on the Senate and a president devoid of morals and ethics with an unending need for power and petty flame wars and we arrive at the perfect storm for AG Barr to step in and navigate our ship of state through the Mueller Report.

    What hope did we have that anything could come from this confluence of shortsighted coincidences? It was a flawed and doomed response to a president who cannot and will not self-regulate and puts no limits on what he will do to attain and stay in power. Without the ingrained respect for the office and the citizens of the US and maintaining the historical dignity of the office, no other outcome is possible. Congress has no teeth to punish contempt; The Senate has no appetite for challenging trump and their future re-election prospects; the DOJ won’t indict; Barr is the perfect AG for trump in these times.

    In another post we can talk about how Barr’s peculiar and trump-friendly interpretation of the statutes of obstruction give Barr cover and trump complete freedom to declare total exoneration with no consequence–ever.

    Let’s end with Mueller’s snitty letter to Barr. It makes clear Mueller was relying on a powerful House capable of investigation and action. Two years ago, Mueller failed to predict how a toothless House and an amoral president, a power hungry Senate majority and the perfect AG for the times would form a contingent capable of sinking our ship of state; obfuscating criminal behavior and allowing this administration to continue business as usual.

    Dear Attorney General Barr:

    I previously sent you a letter dated March 25, 2019, that enclosed the introduction and executive summary for each volume of the Special Counsel’s report marked with redactions to remove any information that potentially could be protected by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e); that concerned declination decisions; or that related to a charged case. We also had marked an additional two sentences for review and have now confirmed that these sentences can be released publicly.

    Accordingly, the enclosed documents are in a form that can be released to the public consistent with legal requirements and Department policies. I am requesting that you provide these materials to Congress and authorize their public release at this time.

    As we stated in our meeting of March 5 and reiterated to the Department early in the afternoon of March 24, the introductions and executive summaries of our two-volume report accurately summarize this Office’s work and conclusions. The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions. We communicated that concern to the Department on the morning of March 25. There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations. See Department of Justice, Press Release (May 17, 2017).

    While we understand that the Department is reviewing the full report to determine what is appropriate for public release — a process that our Office is working with you to complete — that process need not delay release of the enclosed materials. Release at this time would alleviate the misunderstandings that have arisen and would answer congressional and public questions about the nature and outcome of our investigation. It would also accord with the standard for public release of notifications to Congress cited in your letter. See 28 C.F.R. 609(c) (“the Attorney General may determine the public release” of congressional notifications “would be in the public interest”).

    Sincerely yours,

    Robert S. Mueller, III
    Special Counsel

    [This comment was held up in the automoderation system for excess length. PLEASE, I beg you, remember readers who use mobile devices and find scrolling through comments over 100 words in length to be annoying and disruptive. /~Rayne]

  32. Hops says:

    How did anyone expect better? Would not the president who told his FBI director “I expect loyalty” have said the same to anyone he’d nominate? Would Barr have been nominated w/o Trump Inc having leverage on him?

  33. Lisanne Lombardo says:

    He hasn’t read the report. But the most shocking thing is that Barr doesn’t care.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Your username has been reverted to the one you use for your first comment. Please use the same username each time you comment so community members get to know you. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  34. Njrun says:

    We know the president didn’t commit a crime, because

    If the president does it is is legal

    So any evidence the president committed a crime is not worth considering because

    We know the president didn’t commit a crime because

    If the president does it it is legal

    So any evidence….

  35. klynn says:

    So, my hairdresser runs a good size salon in central Ohio. He has clients from Columbus and every suburb. He said that every client in the last two days has mentioned they were disgusted by Barr. He said if he was paid for every client who called Barr a lying sack of s*#@! he would have had a record profit week!

    Democrats…get that? People got the message from the hearing. Move!

    • Vicks says:

      Interesting (to me at least) does he work alone?
      I switched from a salon (for other reasons) about a year ago that was owned by a couple of gals that were quit ”snitty” about not allowing any discussions about politics in the salon.
      It’s been a couple of years now but all of our health clubs and rec centers have a policy of equal numbers of TV’s tuned to CNN or MSN and Fox.
      I hate it but I get it, I’m in a purple state that I feel has remained fairly sane but good grief, remember when most of us could have a fairly reasonable discussion/argument about policies?

  36. kmxydo says:

    Marcy is now promising a post laying out evidence and inferences from the evidence indicating that Rosenstein began pressuring Mueller as far back as September to wrap things up, before the midterm elections, which she will offer as complement and corrective to the emerging view that Barr shut down Mueller’s investigation before it had run its course.

    A lot to say. My observation for the morning concerns one relevant feature of kleptocracy. Namely, that in essence it’s parasitical. A kleptocrat feeds off of the established political economy. To do that, he has to keep his “host” alive, though in a condition weak enough for him to control. Keeping the host alive involves convincing everyone else — us law-abiding, patriotic citizens — that the system still basically works, the rule of law is still basically intact, everything is more or less normal. We have to be persuaded to go about our business, so that the kleptocrat can go about the business of bloodsucking.

    Which explains everything about Trump. Discredit the fourth estate: “Don’t believe what you hear.” Co-opt and silence (i.e., through NDAs) people on the inside who know the truth. Lie and lie and lie: “You haven’t had a raise in more than 10 years! … And I got you a big one.” And above all, (ab)use our legal system to legitimate lawlessness, his lifelong modus operandi. For which see his sophistical minions: William Barr, Rod Rosenstein, Emmett Flood, et al.

    What we are told is this: “Nothing to see here. Just more political wrangling. Move along, folks.” The truth, however, is worse than even people like you may be imagining, because most of us have a normalcy bias, and few of us want to confront the reality that our Parasite-in-Chief will gleefully kill off his host, when he’s finally cornered, or in the alternative, simply on a whim.

    Barr is playing a very dangerous game. He’s got a losing hand, he’s bluffing recklessly, and the stakes are extremely high. We need some of those proverbially “cooler heads” to ultimately prevail.

  37. Fran of the North says:

    Here it is, Friday.

    A full 36 hours since the end of the SJC hearing, and the NYT hasn’t written any editorials about the process. Is it that un newsworthy or are they that far in the tank? My head spins faster than Regan’s.

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