Bill Barr’s Bullshit Claim that Trump Obstructed the Investigation Out of Frustration and Anger

I’ve grown increasingly bothered by the justification William Barr made for Trump’s obstruction of the Russian investigation. Basically, the Attorney General of the United States argued that because the President was “frustrated and angered” about the investigation into the Russian ties he kept lying about, his obstruction was not corrupt.

In assessing the President’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context.  President Trump faced an unprecedented situation.  As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as President, [1] federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates.  At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the President’s personal culpability.  Yet, as he said from the beginning, [2] there was in fact no collusion.  And as the Special Counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, [3] propelled by his political opponents, and [4] fueled by illegal leaks.  Nonetheless, [5] the White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, [6] directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims.  And at the same time, [7] the President took no act that in fact deprived the Special Counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation. Apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the President had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.

There are, of course, a slew of errors in this passage, which I address by number.

  1. Federal Agents and prosecutors weren’t investigating the President until after he had committed several acts of obstruction
  2. The report doesn’t address collusion, it addresses a criminal conspiracy; Roger Stone’s actions, done at the behest of Trump, probably reach any measure for “collusion”
  3. There’s no evidence that the Steele dossier drove the FBI investigation — and certainly not the Mueller investigation that Trump obstructed
  4. The only leak that had a substantial effect on this investigation was the one about Flynn being picked on Sergei Kislyak’s FISA intercept, but it may not have been illegal (if John Brennan authorized the leak, for example, it would have been done with the consent of an original classification authority), and Flynn’s actions would have been included as part of the already-predicated counterintelligence investigation into him in any case
  5. Trump personally refused to cooperate with the investigation; his responses to Mueller’s questions are outright contemptuous
  6. Trump knew several of his aides were lying and encouraged that
  7. Trump was probably involved in withholding key emails about the Moscow Trump Tower project and probably had a role in attempts to withhold Transition emails possessed by GSA

But the thing that has really begun to irk me is the Attorney General’s claim that, “as the Special Counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency,” which is the core of Barr’s excuse for the President’s obstructive acts: the President was frustrated and so it’s cool that he totally undermined rule of law.

Barr is largely wrong about what the report says about the President’s anger and frustration, though, and to the extent he’s not, he’s basically arguing it’s cool for the President to be angry that the system worked as it should.

To show how much he exaggerates that, I reviewed below what the Mueller Report says about the President’s:

  • Frustrations
  • Anger
  • Motivations for obstructing the investigation

There are several categories of references that are on-point to Trump’s feelings about the investigation. In the two most persistent cases, Trump was angry that people engaged in ethical behavior. He was angry and frustrated that Jeff Sessions followed ethics guidelines and recused from the investigation.  He was angry that Comey adhered to DOJ guidelines (both general and specific with respect to this investigation) about confirming or denying targets of an investigation (though the report also describes Trump denying he was angry). So one category of evidence that shows Trump was angry or frustrated — which the Attorney General claims justifies his obstruction — involves Trump reacting emotionally because people did the ethically correct thing.

In one case, he was angry that his administration got caught doing something improper. Trump was angry that Mike Flynn’s totally inappropriate secret efforts to undermine Obama’s policy towards Russia got exposed. He also was angry at Flynn for other reasons, though. Yes, Trump may be right to be angry if this was illegally leaked (something that hasn’t yet been proven), but ultimately he’s pissed that he got caught doing something wrong.

In the sections that deal with Trump’s motives for obstructive acts, the report describes what might be described as frustration about two things. First, that the focus on Russia (both the investigation and the press coverage of it) delegitimized his victory. If Barr thinks this justifies obstruction of justice, it suggests that he thinks Trump is entitled — after having cheered Russia’s hacks of his opponent — not to have it reflect on his own victory. Effectively, the Attorney General seems to think Trump should be able to benefit from help from a foreign adversary — with his encouragement!! — and then have no one mention that, which is an alarming prospect.

The report also describes how Trump was frustrated that he was stymied in foreign policy, most especially in his desire to work with Russia, by the focus on the Russian investigation. This is particularly interesting, as some of the policies Trump was thwarted in pursuing — reversing sanctions on Russia — might have been proof of a quid pro quo (remember, Trump refused to answer all questions about sanctions, even one covering the election period). Given the report’s silence on the most alarming interactions with Trump (such as Putin’s involvement in writing the June 9 statement), there could be more to Trump’s frustrations, which any Attorney General pretending to care about American national security should attend to. In any case, while the Constitution permits the President great leeway to set the country’s foreign policy, it does expect the President will be subject to political pressure on those decisions. That Trump is frustrated that the manner in which he won — plus his encouragement of it and his subsequent lies about it — has constrained his ability to work with Russia is not something that should justify obstruction of justice.

Some of the other descriptions of Trump’s response to the investigation describe him making false claims — denying that Russia did the hack, preferred him, and also denying he had business with Russia. That is, Trump was not denying the allegations in the dossier, but was denying other things that were, in fact, true. That’s also not a basis to obstruct an investigation, that it will expose your lies.

For most of the instances after Trump himself became the subject of the investigation, the Mueller Report concludes Trump was motivated out of a desire to shield his own conduct — that is, pure corrupt obstruction.

In short, even to the extent that the Mueller Report confirms Barr’s claim that Trump was motivated out of frustration, in the most justifiable case (that Trump was prevented from working closely with Russia), Barr is excusing obstruction of justice because Trump got political pressure he deserved for his actions. But in most cases, Trump was frustrated by the ethical actions of others, that he got caught doing something wrong, that winning while cheering the interference of a hostile power aiming to help you undermines your legitimacy. That any lawyer would think such things — which basically amount to a democracy holding someone accountable — would justify obstruction of justice is downright insane.

Nevertheless, that’s where Attorney General Barr has taken us.


Four of six references to frustration in the report describe Trump directly.

In the context of reaching out to WikiLeaks, one described Trump’s frustration that Hillary’s deleted emails had not been found.

Gates recalled candidate Trump being generally frustrated that the Clinton emails had not been found.

Chris Christie hypothetically describes Trump as being “frustrated” with the investigation.

The President asked Christie what he meant, and Christie told the President not to talk about the investigation even if he was frustrated at times.222

Trump was frustrated with Comey before his March 20 testimony, which got worse afterwards.

According to McGahn and Donaldson, the President had expressed frustration with Comey before his March 20 testimony, and the testimony made matters worse.318

Trump was frustrated that the Russian investigation made relations with Russia difficult.

The President expressed frustration with the Russia investigation, saying that it made relations with the Russians difficult.348 The President told Rogers “the thing with the Russians [wa]s messing up” his ability to get things done with Russia.349


The following are the nine of ten references to “angry” and all eleven references to “anger” in the Report involve Trump directly.

A double instance describes Trump being angry — but he was angry that the WaPo had correctly reported that Flynn undermined Obama’s sanctions on Russia. Trump is described another time as being angry that Flynn’s actions were exposed.

On January 12, 2017, a Washington Post columnist reported that Flynn and Kislyak communicated on the day the Obama Administration announced the Russia sanctions. 122 The column questioned whether Flynn had said something to “undercut the U.S. sanctions” and whether Flynn’s communications had violated the letter or spirit of the Logan Act. 123

President-Elect Trump called Priebus after the story was published and expressed anger about it. 124 Priebus recalled that the President-Elect asked, “What the hell is this all about?”125 Priebus called Flynn and told him that the President-Elect was angry about the reporting on Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak. 126 Flynn recalled that he felt a lot of pressure because Priebus had spoken to the “boss” and said Flynn needed to “kill the story.” 127

The President paid careful attention to negative coverage of Flynn and reacted with annoyance and anger when the story broke disclosing that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Kislyak.

Trump was angry with Flynn that his behavior with Sergey Kislyak was causing him trouble again.

The President instructed McGahn to work with Priebus and Bannon to look into the matter further and directed that they not discuss it with any other officials. 154 Priebus recalled that the President was angry with Flynn in light of what Yates had told the White House and said, “not again, this guy, this stuff.” 155

Trump was also angry at Flynn for other things, including his stupid spawn.

Hicks said that the President thought Flynn had bad judgment and was angered by tweets sent by Flynn and his son, and she described Flynn as “being on thin ice” by early February 2017.

The Report describes Trump being angry at Jeff Sessions four times for following DOJ guidelines on recusal.

Hicks recalled that after Sessions recused, the President was angry and scolded Sessions in her presence, but she could not remember exactly when that conversation occurred.

The President became angry and lambasted the Attorney General for his decision to recuse from the investigation, stating, “How could you let this happen, Jeff?”505

And after Sessions announced his recusal on March 2, the President expressed anger at the decision and told advisors that he should have an Attorney General who would protect him. That weekend, the President took Sessions aside at an event and urged him to “unrecuse.”

The President became very upset and directed his anger at Sessions.393 According to notes written by Hunt, the President said, “This is terrible Jeff. It’s all because you recused.

Trump was also angry at McGahn because Sessions recused.

The President expressed anger at McGahn about the recusal and brought up Roy Cohn, stating that he wished Cohn was his attorney.294

One instance reports Trump denying that he fired Comey because he was angry about the Russian investigation.

The next day, the President acknowledged in a television interview that he was going to fire Comey regardless of the Department of Justice’s recommendation and that when he “decided to just do it,” he was thinking that “this thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.” In response to a question about whether he was angry with Comey about the Russia investigation, the President said, “As far as I’m concerned, I want that thing to be absolutely done properly,” adding that firing Comey “might even lengthen out the investigation.”

But two other references describes Trump being angry that Comey complied with DOJ guidelines and instructions and did not specifically say Trump was not under investigation.

After Comey publicly confirmed the existence of the FBT’s Russia investigation on March 20, 2017, the President was “beside himself’ and expressed anger that Comey did not issue a statement correcting any misperception that the President himself was under investigation.

But during his May 3 testimony, Comey refused to answer questions about whether the President was being investigated. Comey’s refusal angered the President, who criticized Sessions for leaving him isolated and exposed, saying “You left me on an island.

Trump claimed others were angry that Hillary was not being investigated.

On October 29, 2017, the President tweeted that there was “ANGER & UNITY” over a “lack of investigation” of Clinton and “the Comey fix,” and concluded: “DO SOMETHTNG!”756

Trump claimed others were angry because Mike Flynn was prosecuted for lying to the FBI and DOJ.

On December 15, 2017, the President responded to a press inquiry about whether he was considering a pardon for Flynn by saying, “I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet. We’ll see what happens. Let’s see. I can say this: When you look at what’s gone on with the FBI and with the Justice Department, people are very, very angry.”845

Trump twice accused Mueller’s prosecutors of being angry (and being Democrats).

On July 31, 2018, Manafort’s criminal trial began in the Eastern District of Virginia, generating substantial news coverage.862 The next day, the President tweeted, “This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!”86

“While the disgusting Fake News is doing everything within their power not to report it that way, at least 3 major players are intimating that the Angry Mueller Gang of Dems is viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts & they will get relief. This is our Joseph McCarthy Era!” @rea!DonaldTrump 11/28/ 18 (8:39 a.m. ET) Tweet.


As far as motive, the report has several discussions of Trump’s motives after every act of obstruction it analyzes, but it also suggests that those motives are different before and after he fired Comey and made himself a focus of the investigation.

Although the series of events we investigated involved discrete acts, the overall pattern of the President’s conduct towards the investigations can shed light on the nature of the President’s acts and the inferences that can be drawn about his intent. In particular, the actions we investigated can be divided into two phases, reflecting a possible shift in the President’s motives. The first phase covered the period from the President’s first interactions with Comey through the President’s firing of Come. During that time, the President had been repeatedly told he was not personally under investigation. Soon after the firing of Comey and the appointment of the Special Counsel, however, the President became aware that his own conduct was being investigated in an obstruction-of-justice inquiry. At that point, the President engaged in a second phase of conduct, involving public attacks on the investigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation. Judgments about the nature of the President’s motives during each phase would be informed by the totality of the evidence.

The Flynn section includes a passage that describes Trump being angry that Russia’s interference tainted his own victory.

Evidence does establish that the President connected the Flynn investigation to the FBI’s broader Russia investigation and that he believed, as he told Christie, that terminating Flynn would end “the whole Russia thing.” Flynn’s firing occurred at a time when the media and Congress were raising questions about Russia’s interference in the election and whether members of the President’s campaign had colluded with Russia. Multiple witnesses recalled that the President viewed the Russia investigations as a challenge to the legitimacy of his election. The President paid careful attention to negative coverage of Flynn and reacted with annoyance and anger when the story broke disclosing that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Kislyak. Just hours before meeting one-on-one with Corney, the President told Christie that firing Flynn would put an end to the Russia inquiries.

The confirmation of the investigation section includes a lot of language about protecting himself but also concern about the legitimacy of his victory and his ability to work with Russia.

Evidence indicates that the President was angered by both the existence of the Russia investigation and the public reporting that he was under investigation, which he knew was not true based on Comey’s representations. The President complained to advisors that if people thought Russia helped him with the election, it would detract from what he had accomplished.

Other evidence indicates that the President was concerned about the impact of the Russia investigation on his ability to govern. The President complained that the perception that he was under investigation was hurting his ability to conduct foreign relations, particularly with Russia. The President told Coats he “can’t do anything with Russia,” he told Rogers that “the thing with the Russians” was interfering with his ability to conduct foreign affairs, and he told Corney that “he was trying to run the country and the cloud of this Russia business was making that difficult.”

The Comey firing passage does suggest Trump was frustrated he couldn’t work with Russia, but also shows that he had reason to worry an investigation would show he had broken the law, and he worried the investigation would delegitimize his victory.

We also considered why it was important to the President that Comey announce publicly that he was not under investigation. Some evidence indicates that the President believed that the erroneous perception he was under investigation harmed his ability to manage domestic and foreign affairs, particularly in dealings with Russia. The President told Comey that the “cloud” of “this Russia business” was making it difficult to run the country. The President told Sessions and McGahn that foreign leaders had expressed sympathy to him for being under investigation and that the perception he was under investigation was hurting his ability to address foreign relations issues. The President complained to Rogers that “the thing with the Russians [ was] messing up” his ability to get things done with Russia, and told Coats, “I can’t do anything with Russia, there’s things I’d like to do with Russia, with trade, with ISIS, they’re all over me with this.” The President also may have viewed Comey as insubordinate for his failure to make clear in the May 3 testimony that the President was not under investigation.


As described in Volume I, the evidence uncovered in the investigation did not establish that the President or those close to him were involved in the charged Russian computer-hacking or active-measure conspiracies, or that the President otherwise had an unlawful relationship with any Russian official. But the evidence does indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal and political concerns. Although the President publicly stated during and after the election that he had no connection to Russia, the Trump Organization, through Michael Cohen, was pursuing the proposed Trump Tower Moscow project through June 2016 and candidate Trump was repeatedly briefed on the ro ress of those efforts.498 In addition, some witnesses said that Trump was aware that [redacted] at a time when public reports stated that Russian intelligence officials were behind the hacks, and that Trump privately sought information about future WikiLeaks releases.499 More broadly, multiple witnesses described the President’s preoccupation with press coverage of the Russia investigation and his persistent concern that it raised questions about the legitimacy of his election.500

The report describes his efforts to fire Mueller, efforts to limit the scope of Mueller’s investigation, attacks on Sessions, and attempt to get McGahn to write a false statement denying he tried to fire Mueller as an effort to stop the investigation into himself for obstruction.

Substantial evidence indicates that the President’s attempts to remove the Special Counsel were linked to the Special Counsel’s oversight of investigations that involved the President’s conduct- and, most immediately, to reports that the President was being investigated for potential obstruction of justice.

Substantial evidence indicates that the President’s effort to have Sessions limit the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation to future election interference was intended to prevent further investigative scrutiny of the President’s and his campaign’s conduct.

There is evidence that at least one purpose of the President’s conduct toward Sessions was to have Sessions assume control over the Russia investigation and supervise it in a way that would restrict its scope.

Substantial evidence indicates that in repeatedly urging McGahn to dispute that he was ordered to have the Special Counsel terminated, the President acted for the purpose of influencing McGahn ‘s account in order to deflect or prevent further scrutiny of the President’s conduct towards the investigation.

The report explains that Trump wrote the June 9 statement in an attempt to avoid public disclosure about the meeting.

The evidence establishes the President’s substantial involvement in the communications strategy related to information about his campaign’s connections to Russia and his desire to minimize public disclosures about those connections.

While the analysis on floating a pardon for Flynn is inconclusive and that on Stone is redacted, the report does say that Trump floated a pardon to Manafort to encourage him not to cooperate and also to influence his jury.

Evidence concerning the President’s conduct towards Manafort indicates that the President intended to encourage Manafort to not cooperate with the government.

And the report concludes that Trump’s efforts to discourage Cohen from cooperating were an attempt to cover up Trump’s own conduct during the campaign.

In analyzing the President’s intent in his actions towards Cohen as a potential witness, there is evidence that could support the inference that the President intended to discourage Cohen from cooperating with the government because Cohen’s information would shed adverse light on the President’s campaign-period conduct and statements.

Update: Fixed mention of Trump Tower meeting when I meant Trump Tower Moscow.

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. 

91 replies
    • William Bennett says:

      “And the fact you are not queen, my dear – is that the greatest injustice of all?”

      It’s the entitlement defense, same unspoken assumption underlying SCOTUS handing the election to W. For some reason, he would be the injured party if they allowed a recount in FL to decide who actually won the election. As opposed to, y’know, the other guy who also might have won it, that being the point at issue. Question begging in all its glory. Well but one of them was the Republican candidate, so it was sound reasoning. Only don’t ever use this decision as a precedent, m’kay, because um, just don’t.

    • Katherine M Williams says:

      When the person having a tantrum is 2 years old? And even then one puts them in their room for a time-out.

      • Peacerme says:

        When you use, fear, guilt and anger to control people, anger is a perfectly legitimate defense. In fact it is predictable. Soon tho, he will need to put a bite behind his fear mongering, because he’s not scary enough to move those with the ability to defend themselves. In the mean time, children, innocents are dying. This keeps a nice low level fear in the back ground. Ugh. Barr makes me nauseas. In fact, there is something different about him. He’s Cheney as compared to Bush.

    • roberts robot double says:

      C’mon, man. Barr et al are professional liars, professional gamers of the system. Oh, he gets it alright and just does not give a single fuck.

  1. OldTulsaDude says:

    This has to be the best title I’ve seen in ages and I would love to see it as a book title. Maybe shorten it for a book: Bill Barr’s Bullshit.

    • Lulymay says:

      Old Tulsa Dude: I truly enjoy your comments: succinct and to the point! I don’t know what you Americans (my neighbours) are going to be able to do about a grifter who knows no bounds. Both of your official ‘parties’ are in a dilemna, but it depends on which party honestly has the care and concern of their country its citizens that will determine your future. I wish all of you a heartful “Good Luck”.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “The President faced an unprecedented situation” because it was preceded by his unprecedented behavior.

    Mr. Barr’s logic resembles nothing so much as the twins who asked a court for mercy because, having murdered their parents, they were now orphans.

    Mr. Trump’s many predicaments are entirely self-inflicted, but Americans are supposed to change their culture and institutions to excuse and immunize him. It is a wonder Mr. Barr retains his license to practice law. Perhaps, in future, that can be remedied.

    • William Bennett says:

      It’s one of those times you can actually say that someone’s logic begs the question and not be harassed by the usage police.

      • LeeNLP says:

        I am honestly impressed when I hear someone say “This begs the question” without requiring an argument clause. :)

  3. William Bennett says:

    I’m sure Mr Capone was frustrated and angry about the investigation into his taxes because it threatened to undermine his position too.

  4. RWood says:

    Frustration and Anger are now legal justifications for illegal behavior?

    Allow me to recommend the movie “Falling Down” staring Micheal Douglas.


  5. Peterr says:

    So if I were to be angry and/or frustrated after receiving a letter from the IRS raising questions about my math skills, I can just tell them that the AG says I’m fine and don’t need to worry about their letter?

    Good to know.

    I’m sure President Trump’s accountants and tax attorneys will be pleased to learn this as well.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump doesn’t do cover ups. So he says in petulant defiance of Nancy Pelosi’s charge to him. The most superficial analysis of Donald Trump’s career supports her claim. In fact, cover ups are all that he does. The ubiquity of his draconian non-disclosure agreements is but one example.

    The argument that Ms. Pelosi makes, however, that impeachment – more properly, an impeachment inquiry – would be wrong, is mistaken. It could not be more right to confront the abundant wrongs of this president, for which there is ample probable cause, through formal congressional investigations.

    The best legal foundation for those, the best counter to Trump’s blanket refusal to permit Congress to inquire into his conduct, would be an impeachment inquiry. What would be wrong would be the Democratic leadership failing to make that case for the American people.

    However self-destructive Mr. Trump has always been, neither he nor his party will do that without muddying the waters so much that the electorate could not distinguish between Democratic dithering and the wrongs of Mr. Trump. It would be expecting a hard problem to fix itself. In my experience, that’s not a solution that fixes hard problems.

    • Bay State Librul says:

      Earl is right.

      But we knew this would happen.
      Pelosi should nail a copy of the articles of impeachment to the door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
      The beginning of the Presidential Reformation Act of 2019

        • Rayne says:

          Immediately there’s really just three, same as for Nixon, though five articles were drafted back in 1974.

          Article I: Obstruction of Justice – passed by 93rd Congress || This article could be cloned for Trump.

          Article II: Abuse of Power – passed by 93rd Congress || Every Hatch Act violation by Trump and his subordinates, every Emolument Clause violation, every neglectful appointment, the unlawful orders, all fall under abuse of power.

          Article III: Contempt of Congress – passed by 93rd Congress || Oh, Trump is definitely working on this one by refusing to comply with House requests+subpoenas.

          Article IV: Cambodia Bombing – not passed by 93rd Congress || Trump’s actions with regard to Yemen may parallel this article; if he screws up any further with Iran it should likewise be added to this article.

          Article V: Failure to Pay Taxes – not passed by 93rd Congress || We won’t be certain if an article mirroring this one could be drafted against Trump but there’s a strong likelihood his refusal to release his returns is hiding tax fraud if not failure to pay taxes.

          Trump might well merit a sixth article beyond the parallel five drafted against Nixon. His administration’s systematic violations of ratified and signed treaties on refugees, human rights, and possibly space merit specific attention beyond abuse of power as these actions are offenses against the world and not just the U.S.

        • RWood says:

          Some bribery would be nice.

          The $35k Pam Bondy got for making the Trump-U case in Florida go away would be a good starter.

          Just not sure who was bribing who….?

    • Sandwichman says:

      “I don’t do cover-ups!” — says the man who combs over his bald top with hair from the sides. Says the man who refuses to release his tax returns because of an alleged audit that wouldn’t prevent him from releasing his tax returns. Says the man pays off a porn star to cover up a tryst and does it through the National Enquirer to cover up the pay off. Says the self-publicist who used to call reporters using a sock puppet name. “I don’t do cover ups!” says the man who hired cover-up Bill Barr to cover-up the stench of his obstruction of justice. Cover-Up Donald Cover-Up Trump.

      Would be a shame if Cover-Up stuck as his nickname.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump is also frustrated and angry because he has no clue about what to do as president. Hard place to be for such a stable genius. So, like Shrub, he continues to campaign and let the bits of government he doesn’t like – nearly all of it – atrophy or self-destruct. The things he does work at are how to make money off the presidency, hiding that he’s doing so, and hiding his incompetence. Exposure is his greatest fear.

    • Geoff says:

      Even when he may have a clue about what to do, his racism and contempt for the less well off prevents him doing so. Two years later, after so much blathering about how they were going to handle the situation, a synthetic opioid crisis continues to spiral out of control, and they haven’t even gotten to the point of having a plan. I mean, if it saves the life of one dark skinned person, he can’t bring himself to do the right thing, even as it utterly destroys large swathes of his base. He is a prisoner to his own worst impulses. Truly a petulant child. This is one of those problems that could be made a whole lot better by simply throwing money at the problem for starters, yet, the only thing he will throw money at is the rich and the military, or things to keep non-whites out of the country. And meanwhile, Pelosi thinks that she is somehow going to get legislation through this idiot and his supplicants in the Senate. Nagana happen. How many years of falling for his BS on infrastructure is she going to endure? It’s embarrassing. If I read one more article on their constructive discussion about the BS that is public private partnership and trillions of imaginary dollars, Im going to puke.

    • P J Evans says:

      At least Shrub had some idea of what was required by the job, even if he wasn’t really up to it.

    • William Bennett says:

      What bugs me about all this frustration ‘n’ anger stuff is: here’s a massively overweight guy in his 70s who lives on fast food and bile, full of hatred and resentment based on a truly monumental sense of entitlement, who is a giant walking bolus of rage incarnate. I mean, isn’t he about due for a goddamned embolism or stroke or thrombosis or something by now? How are we supposed to believe everything medical science has to tell us about cardio health when this guy is still walking around upright, unpoleaxed by his own vascular system?

  8. Bay State Librul says:

    Barr played for a sap by a humorous Adam Schiff?

    Adam Schiff: “I think Bill Barr has all the duplicity of Rudy Giuliani without all the good looks and general likability of Rudy Giuliani.”

      • Jockobadger says:

        LOL! I needed that, Rayne. Thank you.

        Thanks to you also Marcy for the brilliant work – esp lately. The naked criminality of this bunch is just appalling. 10 years ago, if a screenwriter had tried to pitch something like this, he would’ve been laughed right out of the room. JFC

  9. MattyG says:

    If the DA had such an easy time deducing exonerating innocent states of mind associated with angry frustrated behavior, why the claimed difficulty (“a virtual impossibility!”) in discerning corrupt intent associated with all the lying, witness intimidation, document destruction, and mountains of circumstantial pointing to cooperation and coordination in Russia’s election interference operation?

  10. Ruthie says:

    “That Trump is frustrated that the manner in which he won — plus his encouragement of it and his subsequent lies about it — has constrained his ability to work with Russia is not something that should justify obstruction of justice.”

    ^ This

    Of course, Barr’s arguments are not actually made in good faith, so arguments of fact and logic will never work to rebut them with their target audience – the GOP faithful. That they’re laughable on their face to the rest of us is immaterial.

  11. punaise says:

    I have grown so “frustrated and angered” about my inability to win the Mega Lotto that I feel justified in robbing a bank or two.

  12. Tom says:

    In April of 1859, New York Congressman (and future Civil War general) Dan Sickles avoided a murder conviction for killing his wife’s lover when his legal team was able to persuade a jury that the Congressman was temporarily insane when he pulled the trigger. This was the first time in U.S. history that a plea of insanity as a legal defense was successful. Now AG Barr seems to be trying to convince the public that emotional immaturity can be a legal defense as well.

  13. Vicks says:

    Another tell of a weak hand.
    Isn’t the “hurt people hurt people” defense usually used in a trial or a plea?
    Alternate conspiracies, calling everyone a liar and every story fake news, attacking the reputations and institutions of those responsible for presenting unflattering information…
    How much more obvious can it be that NONE of this would be necessary if there were ANY factual defense available for the accusations made against Trump and his associates?
    “You will never lose money betting on the stupidity of Americans” is what I imagine to be the mantra of this White House and it continues to piss me off on so many different levels

    • bmaz says:

      “Isn’t the “hurt people hurt people” defense usually used in a trial or a plea?”


      • Vicks says:

        Good to know. Chalk it up to watching too much Law and Order. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought in real life defense would use the fact that a wife was abused by her husband or that the accused was beaten as a child to help sway a jury or get a lighter sentence.

        • Vicks says:

          Had to google it.
          I wasn’t referring to “character” or behavior patterns as 404 seems to describe “The guy’s a liar so he must be lying in this situation too” Regardless the description of 404 states an exception for the defendant in a criminal case.
          Turns out what I described as “hurt people hurt people” is called the “abuse defense” or the “abuse excuse” according Alan Dershowitz. Seems like that dude weighs in on everything but I’ll use his words to support the point of ew’s post which was to point out how stupid Barr’s claim that Trump’s anger and frustration justifies his bad behavior

  14. RWood says:

    In keeping with the “Frustration and Anger” theme we have going here.

    Where is Rob Porter in all this mess? How has he escaped the flying subpoenas? According to Wolfe, and a few others who have written about this White House, he was knee deep in the Trump pigsty.

    Is he hiding out in Hicks garage, or in some cave in Utah?

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Donald Trump threw a temper tantrum today. He didn’t walk out of a meeting – it hadn’t started and he refused to let it begin – and he continued his tantrum in the Rose Garden. (It should be replanted in honor of Trump: white roses on the right, black on the left, sharp stones in the middle.) Now, one might expect a tantrum from a three year-old. In a seventy-two year-old man, it is embarrassing and ought to be professionally debilitating.

    Trump says he can’t work with people who don’t like him. What he means is that he refuses to do his job until everyone strokes his, um, ego. That’s not about governance or principle or anything else. It’s a tantrum, (with a little theater thrown in: the Rose Garden props were set up ahead of time). Trump was determined to do this regardless of what Nancy Pelosi did or didn’t say this morning or afternoon. Lil’ Donny should join Lil’ Lindsey in the corner for a time out.

    Trump’s is the sort of behavior elementary schoolers are trained to grow beyond. It’s behavior that would not survive basic training, a fraternity, or professional school. It would not survive the first few weeks of a job at McDonald’s or Amazon, let alone at Jones Day or Goldman Sachs. Trump survives because he inherited so much money even he couldn’t lose it all. But there’s nothing brave or principled about it.

    • CapeCodFisher says:

      Trump is such a genius that he canned the meeting after 3 minutes, not allowing anyone else to speak. Also he’s so stable that he probably didn’t allow any questions at his press conference. He’s not going down two tracks at the same time, investigations and investments. He only wants to handle one track. A one track president. No wonder Pelosi is praying.

      • CapeCodFisher says:

        My bad. Apparently he let Pelosi speak for 2 minutes before he ran away. So that’s 5 minutes on a 2 trillion dollar infrastructure package.. let’s see, I guess that works out to @6 billion dollars per second. At a rate of 125-150 words per minute (which is average) .. that would be roughly 2 billion dollars per word.

        • P J Evans says:

          Apparently he had a tantrum because of stuff she said before that meeting, and didn’t allow them to say anything during it. That’s what I heard, anyway. And he did it intentionally, as witness the props in the Rose Garden thing. (Which were lying: he left out the money brought in by the forfeitures and fines, and he also ignores the massive amount of money it’s costing taxpayers for his weekly golf games.)

        • e.a.f says:

          if trump is such a sensitive flower, perhaps they ought to look at having him declared so mentally unbalanced he isn’t fit to be president.

    • Jenny says:

      Word for the day is “extortion.” Extortionist in chief said no infrastructure spending, or any other legislation until all investigations into him are stopped.

      It is astounding he does this in real time on camera. Extortion, obstruction and lies up close and personal. Stabs you in the chest rather than the back.

      Where are the GOP? Oh yes, they wear the jackets that say, “I really don’t care, do u?”

  16. Rita says:

    Barr made a declination decision instead of the Special Counsel. Doesn’t Barr owe Congress a formal, written explanation?

    According to Barr’s oral explanation, Trump obstructed the investigation into Russian election interference because he was angry and frustrated.

    So, at best, Trump has been unable to carry out his duty to defend the country because he is emotionally incapacitated.

    Is this supposed to make us feel better?

    Barr says the investigation interferes with Trump’s Russia agenda. Americans should feel good about a President who has an agenda with a hostile foreign power, without having a full understanding of what the Russians did and are doing?

    Barr (and Trump) have some strange ideas.

    • P J Evans says:

      “So, at best, Trump has been unable to carry out his duty to defend the country because he is emotionally incapacitated”

      That’s 25th Amendment/impeachment country: if he can’t carry out his duties, he’s not competent to be in that office and must be removed.

  17. K-spin says:

    Angry, frustrated, entitled, petulant child, narcissist, compulsive liar… DJT’s response to the SCO was consistent with all of the above. That is simply who he is, and I do hope his stay in the WH is short.

    What I find more shocking – as MW highlights – is that the AG, by supporting and excusing this narrative, is so corrosive to both the rule of law, and the perception that this is applied impartially.
    Why actually reference appropriate legal terminology when making a prosecutorial decision?
    Why even read the evidence?
    Why not bag/blame officers who are doing their job, following the evidence?
    Why comply with a subpoena?
    Why tell the truth? To congress no less…
    And of course, why not just excuse someone from criminal investigation /responsibility because essentially, they ‘don’t like it’?
    Each is such a dangerous precedent, and reprehensible behaviour from someone whose job is to not just apply the rule of law impartially, but ensure public faith in the justice system. US citizens should expect and DEMAND much, much more from Bill Barr.

  18. Nehoa says:

    I think Barr would have a stronger argument by going with dementia. Having been a dementia care-giver to both my mother and mother-in-law, I thought it would be interesting to see where DT is at. Taking the Alzheimer’s Association’s “Know the 10 Signs”, I did my own assessment of DT as shown below. Enough positives to warrant a professional assessment I would say.

    1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
    a. 30 times did not recall or remember in written responses to Mueller’s questions
    b. Don’t know anything about WikiLeaks
    c. Remembering people associated with him that are in trouble
    2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
    a. Too many things to list
    3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure – not sure
    4. Confusion with time or place – not sure
    5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships – likes illustrations over words
    6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
    a. Oranges vs. origins
    a. Rambling word salad is much more common than when he was 10 years younger
    7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps – don’t know
    8. Decreased or poor judgement
    a. While this is a low bar for Trump, aren’t we all amazed at what new lows he reaches almost daily
    9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
    a. Certainly on the work front, seems to like social activities
    10. Changes in mood or personality
    a. Definitely, but may be because he has real issues to worry about

    • P J Evans says:

      #4 is covered by him missing the limousine that’s parked at the foot of the aircraft stairs, and (at least twice) walking out of the room without signing the papers that he has everyone there to see him sign.
      (I’m not sure which one covers his difficulties with going up and down steps. Possibly that’s his vanity keeping him from getting the corrective lenses he needs.)

      • e.a.f says:

        there was that time he forgot how to close an umbrella as he was getting on the plane.
        One of the symptoms of dementia, such as Louie body syndrome, people forget those simply tasks.

    • K-spin says:

      Not only are such symptoms worrisome, it looks like they’re contagious. Thinking of BB stating he ‘doesn’t recall’ when he became aware that RM’s letter had been leaked to the press… “Sir, are you saying you don’t recall what has happened in the past 24 hours?”

    • Ruthie says:

      Maybe because my grandmother was deeply into Alzheimer’s at the time, I thought Reagan’s symptoms were crystal clear even in his first term. I just had no doubt. And so it proved. Since then, I’ve had a grandfather and father die of AD, so I’m all too familiar with its symptoms and progression. Trump’s behavior pattern is consistent with AD, but to me it’s not yet persuasive. I would expect the enormous pressure he’s under to cause faster cognitive decline than I see, for one thing.

      • P J Evans says:

        I figured it in the second term, but then my family doesn’t have a history of dementia. (My father’s older sister, who died at 102, was clear-minded at 101. And their mother, who died at 97, was aware of what was going on, even if she rarely spoke.)

      • AndTheSlithyToves says:

        Reagan’s AD was one of those well-kept, party-over-country secrets that was probably hastened by his nearly being assassinated by John Hinckley just 3 months into his presidency. He should never have run for a second term. Reagan also came from a dysfunctional family–his father was a raging alcoholic and he developed a strategy of denial in early life for coping with unpleasant reality.

  19. fpo says:

    Ironically, it may be Trump’s deep-seated anger and frustration that are his ultimate undoing.

    Recent court rulings would indicate that his tax returns and information from e.g., Duetsche Bank, will be provided to Congress. And New York state is prepared to release state tax returns, presumably both personal and business-related.

    Should details of his financial circumstances be made public, perhaps including evidence of illegality (tax evasion, laundering schemes, who knows?), Trump will have lost the only thing that has, up to now, been able to support his “brand” imagery and, as President, his standing with the base – the so-called deal-making expertise and business acumen, as evidenced by his self-proclaimed (and self-made) wealth.

    Unfortunately, numbers aren’t fungible. And there won’t be any pseudo “audits” or “deep state” conspiracies to cloud the facts – or rally the base. And given Barr’s recent releases of previously redacted MR material – that he said he wouldn’t do – Trump’s ‘Roy Cohn’ may not be of much help either.

    Once it becomes clear to Trump that his financial information is indeed going public, I believe anger and frustration over his inability to manage (read cover-up) its release and the likely consequences that will follow on, together with his survival instinct, will lead him to resign.

    If the courts choose to expedite proceedings, and they likely will – and rulings consistently go against Trump – it may happen sooner than later, and perhaps even independent of whatever formal Impeachment activity the Dems can muster in the meantime.

  20. e.a.f says:

    next time I get angry, frustration, etc. and am arrested for aggressive driving, I’ll be sure to tell the judge I’m using the Trump defense. Next time a kid hits a sibling, they can tell their parents, they can’t be grounded, they’re using the trump defense. OMG, is Barr that stupid or think we are that stupid. no one buys that. If you are elected the leader of a major world power, you are supposed to do the job of leader, and not let your immature emotions get the best of you.

    this evening’s news was discussing things which Nixon and Clinton accomplished while they were under investigation and there were “I” processes at work. If these two men could do their jobs, then why can’t trump. If he can’t he isn’t fit to be President. Barr really must be desperate to use these “excuses”.

    Wonder how any criminals will get away with using the Trump defense.

  21. e.a.f. says:

    perhaps Barr is so “protective” of trump and all things Russian because he once worked for a law firm which had Russian linked clients? it would be interesting to do a deep dive into Barr and Russia and the company he used to work at (Kirkland & Ellis). How many Russian clients did they have and what are they up to. where have other Kirkland and Ellis lawyers gone and what are they doing to day?

    • fpo says:

      Yeah, seriously. I’m looking forward to the appointment of a special counsel by the (new in 2020) AG – for the purpose of investigating issues related to the criminal activities of ________ (too many to pick from here) as relates to RU “banks” and money laundering, pay-to-play, and to include stock manipulation, insider trading, tax fraud, etc. and so on. Hopefully the Dems will have learned a few things from the Mueller exercise.

      “…The need to appoint special counsel will be greatest when serious allegations are made concerning the President or Attorney General, although allegations against others personally or politically close to either may also merit an appointment in unusual circumstances….”

      [ ]

  22. Bay State Librul says:


    “Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wants to pass the buck to the next administration on putting famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman on a redesigned $20” – The Huff Post

    Comment: My guess is that the Donnie told Stevie to “hold the presses”. He want his picture on the twenty…. Mar-a-Lago in the background, along with a Confederate Flag, MAGA, and Bill Barr caddying for the Con Man.

    • P J Evans says:

      My guess is that Tr*mp sees Andy Jackson as a Real Man and a Real President, and he can’t stand the idea of anyone on “HIS” currency who’s either non-white or female.

      • Rayne says:

        That and Andrew Jackson’s genocidal Indian Removal Act obliterated a swath of indigenous Americans through ethnic cleansing over the Trail of Tears, not to mention his other outright elimination of Creek and Seminoles during the War of 1812 and the First Seminole War. Jackson is wink-nod code to the white nationalist base that they will remain embedded in culture while a heroic black woman will not.

        (If you look at Jackson’s presidency there’s probably more parallels with Trump — like his trash talking during campaigning against J Q Adams and his attitude toward tariffs and banks.)

  23. Ed Walker says:

    This is the “cloud on the Presidency” defense, which the the toad Antonin Scalia made into law in his opinion on granting a stay of vote counting in Florida:

    The counting of votes that are of questionable legality does in my view threaten irreparable harm to petitioner Bush, and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his election. Count first, and rule upon legality afterwards, is not a recipe for producing election results that have the public acceptance democratic stability requires.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      But Shirley, the S.Ct. made clear that Bush v. Gore was to have NO precedential value.

  24. OldTulsaDude says:

    In the Barr corollary to the unitary executive theory, the chief executive is the chief law enforcement officer, which is about as valid as saying the CEO of a conglomerate that happens to own a hospital is its chief surgeon. The unitary executive theory is a compelling argument, but only if you also understand that the powers of the president were vastly less then than now. You can’t argue it both ways. Original theory; original powers. If not, you are making it up on the fly.

  25. ivaluemyprivacy says:

    I feel that I must have missed something. What role did Putin have in authoring the June 9th statement?

  26. Bay State Librul says:

    Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Infrastructure
    I want construction and jobs!
    Heading to the Cape this summer, bring a three hour Emptywheel podcast, along with
    Section 1 and 2 of the Mueller Report.
    “The Massachusetts Department of Transportation this week proposed adding or moving several highway ramps, reconfiguring rotaries, and creating signalized intersections around the Bourne and Sagamore bridges. The more than $200 million in work hinges on an even bigger project under consideration by the federal government — the $1 billion overhaul or complete replacement of the bridges themselves.” Globule

    Trump and Mrs McConnell would wipe out this project in a Massachusetts heart beat….

  27. Bay State Librul says:

    Calk indictment

    A spokesman for Mueller, Peter Carr, declined to comment. The bribery charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison

    Comment: This is really pissing me off. Mueller and his gang must comment. The country needs to know what the fuck is going on. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Tell us what is behind the curtain

    • P J Evans says:

      It may not have come out of Mueller’s investigation.
      And in any case, it’s not his job to comment on every case out there.

  28. Bay State Librul says:

    Jack McCoy a/k/a Sam Waterston, once said “It’s more fun to play a lawyer than to be one.”
    The choice by Mueller to appear in public is a tough choice, but one, I believe is required

  29. David says:

    Politics is a dirty business at the best of times. But in the end the best way for Trump to have handled the Russia investigation was to ignore it and just do his job. He has been incapable of doing either of those.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. This is your second username; please use the same username each time you comment so that the community gets to know you. You’ve commented as ‘David Caldwell’ in the past. It’s better to use a differentiated name as we do have more than one ‘David’ commenting here. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • Rayne says:

      Trump’s inability to focus on his job may reflect what he believes his job to be (and it’s not consistent with Article II of the Constitution) and his guilt.

      An entirely innocent man would have little to worry about since investigators would have wrapped up shop months ago, finding little to merit more investigation.

  30. Ancient Mike says:

    According to Mueller, “the evidence uncovered in the investigation did not establish that the President or those close to him were involved in the charged Russian computer-hacking or active-measure conspiracies, or that the President otherwise had an unlawful relationship with any Russian official.”

    I confess that I initially noticed only he first point – no involvement in the hacking, etc. That didn’t seem to cut much ice, inasmuch as there would have been no reason for such involvement. The Russians were doing it all (along with Assange); the Trump people just had to sit back and watch.

    Now I notice the “unlawful relationship with…Russian official” part, referring to Trump only and not his associates. My question, then, is this: What would have constituted an unlawful relationship? (Also, might he not gave had an unlawful relationship with Russians who weren’t officials? Or with others acting on behalf of Russia?)

    Suppose it were established that there was in fact a quid pro quo, or perhaps several of them. E.g., we’ll get you elected (and no need for you to get your hands dirty; we’ll do it all), and then you’ll lift sanctions, repeal Magnitsky, etc. And also, we’ll not reveal ____ or ____. Would that have involved an unlawful relationship? Maybe the question reduces to: Is the recipient of a bribe criminally liable? Or: Is the victim of blackmail criminally liable if he accedes to the blackmailer’s demands?

    Just asking.

    • Rayne says:

      If the campaign was negotiating with a foreign power conducting foreign policy, it’s a Logan Act violation. The problem as I see it is that we haven’t prosecuted this very often — but then no president-elect or presidential candidate was ever so corrupt that they ignored the fundamental premise that this country only has one president at a time.

Comments are closed.