Is Bill Barr Already Feeding Sidney Powell So-Called Evidence Trump Coerces?

The WaPo confirms what was becoming obvious: The Attorney General of the United States is spending his days flying around the world collecting claims that Trump has coerced from foreign governments. It reports that Barr has already had conversations similar to those Trump seeded with Ukraine with the UK, Italy, and Australia.

Barr has already made overtures to British intelligence officials, and last week the attorney general traveled to Italy, where he and Durham met senior Italian government officials and Barr asked the Italians to assist Durham, according to one person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue. It was not Barr’s first trip to Italy to meet intelligence officials, the person said. The Trump administration has made similar requests of Australia, said people who discussed the interactions on the condition of anonymity because they involve an ongoing investigation and sensitive talks between governments.

In a recent phone call, Trump urged Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to provide assistance to the ongoing Justice Department inquiry, the people said. Trump made the request at Barr’s urging, they said.

I raise all this because of something Sidney Powell said on September 10. At the status hearing for her client, Mike Flynn, she said that they had a letter from the British Embassy that “undoes the whole Steele dossier debacle.”

It was an interesting claim for several reasons. Most notably, the only references to Powell’s client in the Steele dossier simply repeat public claims about Flynn’s paid trip to an RT gala in 2015. That is, it’s totally irrelevant to the question of Flynn’s guilt on the charges he pled to or even the counterintelligence investigation into her client. Even if DOJ had such a record, it’d not be discoverable under Brady.

But Powell seemed to be saying she had the letter.

That raises the possibility that Bill Barr is not — as he claims — collecting “evidence” for a John Durham investigation into the start of the Russian investigation, but is instead (or also) collecting evidence he can share with those prosecuted by Mueller to help them undermine their guilty pleas and or convictions (which would raise interesting questions about Roger Stone’s focus on Crowdstrike, given that’s included in Trump’s list of propaganda he wants to extort from foreign countries).

Mind you, Powell could be lying or unclear about this document–she has been caught in both multiple times so far before Emmet Sullivan. But this claim — which was surprising to me at the time — raises real questions about whether Barr is using coerced evidence to undermine his own DOJ.

Update: I think I have the timing of this letter wrong. I think it was sent under Obama, not recently. 

61 replies
  1. SteveL says:

    Trump’s (and thus Barr’s) obsessive focus on these issues is tied to the goal of relieving pressure on Trump allies caught in criminal cases, thus reducing the likelihood that they will talk and relieving the need to issue pardons.

  2. BobCon says:

    Given Italy’s shady intelligence history under conservative governments — Niger yellowcake forgery, rendition — I wonder whether Barr wasn’t just talking about fact finding with Prime Minister Conte’s government, which has a pro-Putin history. I wonder whether the plan had moved to actively faking information.

    • orionATL says:

      yeah that was my thought when i heard that little hands had touched the italian government for help in his free-the-president crusade.

    • Rayne says:

      IMO that’s been the plan all along. Keep hinting broadly enough using financial incentives at the same time and “evidence” will appear.

      EDIT: and in Ukraine’s case, the carrot-and-stick approach — military and financial aid via Trump, increased hostilities via Putin.

    • Tom says:

      “I’m sure you will figure it out.” I thought that was the most significant remark the President made in his July phone call with the Ukrainian president. It came after Trump had laid out the situation for Zelensky: (a) You want Javelin missiles to defend yourself against the Russians. (b) I want “a favor” — an investigation of the Bidens’ “horrible” doings in the Ukraine. (c) I’m going to have my associates Barr & Giuliani contact you to help you “get to the bottom” of things. (d) “I’m sure you will figure it out.” The implication seems pretty plain to me (i.e., I want dirt on the Bidens even if you have to fabricate it) considering how badly Ukraine needs military assistance and how desperate Trump is to get re-elected.

      • Mainmata says:

        But, in the case of Ukraine, at least, other people have come out to discredit Trump’s claims about Biden and his son so I would think any fake evidence to be discredited from the start. I have never understood how Italy and Australia figure into the Mueller investigation. Neither country is even mentioned in the Mueller Report and my understanding is that it was the Dutch, Estonian and other intelligence communities that blew the first whistles on Trump and Russia.

        • Tom says:

          I agree with you about the Biden/Ukraine situation. I’ve seen Ukrainian officials on TV saying that the situation with Joe Biden and the corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor is exactly the reverse of what Giuliani and others have been claiming. But that hasn’t stopped Jim Jordan, Stephen Miller, and other GOP spokesmen from continuing to rant about Biden “corruption” and every time they have a soapbox to spread their misinformation it has a chance to sink into the public consciousness a little bit more just by dint of repetition. Eventually, some people will begin to think there may be something to the story after all, especially when careless news people speak of “allegations of Biden corruption” without adding that there is absolutely no evidence to support such a statement.

          The Australian connection with the Mueller investigation came about because of George Papadopoulos talking to an Australian diplomat, Alexander Downer, in a London bar in May 2016. Papadopoulos told Downer that he had inside information that the Russians had Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. Downer thought this should be reported to the FBI, which he did, which explains Trump’s interest in Australia.

        • BobCon says:

          Papadopoulos blabbling to an Australian diplomat was an early source of evidence, so leaning on Australia makes some sense.

          Italy is harder. The current government has weird ties to Putin, so they may be a source of disinformation. Their Intelligence chief under Berlusconi fed the fraudulent Niger yellowcake documents to Stephen Hadley back in the runup to the Iraq War, so they have some history of doing this kind of stuff. But obviously there could be a different angle, or in theory Barr is just working on helping out orphans.

  3. Rugger9 says:

    That’s why the Palace needs to be cleaned out like the Augean stables. Barr must be impeached as well as Individual-1 and Pence.

  4. Peterr says:

    That raises the possibility that Bill Barr is not — as he claims — collecting “evidence” for a John Durham investigation into the start of the Russian investigation, but is instead (or also) collecting evidence he can share with those prosecuted by Mueller to help them undermine their guilty pleas and or convictions.

    This turns much of the legal process on its head. In theory, when a US Attorney (or AUSA) stands up in front of a judge, they speak for the United States of America and represent the position of the government in the case before the court. This revelation — and I think Marcy is right that Barr is sharing this stuff with Trump-connected defendants and their lawyers — says that in practice, the US Attorney or AUSA is on their own, as the Attorney General is siding with the defense.

    Makes me wonder if the Mueller team prosecutors need to subpoena the AG’s office and Durham’s office, seeking any evidence relevant to these cases that has not been shared with them already, and also any records of such evidence being shared with others outside of the Department of Justice in particular and outside the government in general.

    • bmaz says:

      There is no more Mueller team. To the extent any of them are still in the DOJ, they work for Barr and his cronies now.

      • Peterr says:

        That’s kind of my point, though the use of “Mueller team” may have obscured that. Let me try again . . .

        In theory, the lawyers who are representing the US in the cases against Flynn and Stone (et al.) work for Barr. In reality, Barr seems to be working for the defendants and not supporting his own legal team. If (for example) Sidney has indeed received information via Barr that the US Attorney in the case has not been given, that’s a huge indication of how upside down this mess is. Must the US Attorney now try to subpoena the AG and Durham to discover information that is coming forward in the cases they are trying? I’m trying to picture Sullivan ruling on a motion like this: “Your Honor, we are asking you to compel our superior at the DOJ to provide to us the information he has provided to the defense, as well as records of where else that information has been shared.”

        OK, legally that will never happen. But that’s what the rabbit hole looks like right now.

      • OmAli says:

        Pompeo just used a subpoena as toilet paper and ‪”A spokesman for the committee had no immediate comment.”

        WTF happens now? Are we at the Constitutional Crisis yet?‬

  5. Zinsky says:

    Marcy, you have been and continue to be an incredible resource in this whole tangled Trump/Russia/Ukraine mess! How do we get this information to Adam Schiff and/or Nancy Pelosi? This creepy Sidney Powell person is obviously a liar, right-wing fairy tale spreader and seditious provocateur. She needs to be disbarred at a minimum and probably sent to jail for her malicious and harmful means. Thanks again for all that you do!

  6. ItTollsForYou says:

    What recourse do the govt prosecutors have? If they sense that their own AG is working against their case, what is left to do but give up?

  7. JamesJoyce says:

    Barr would help pardon all of em if H.W. were President after Trump.

    They’re banking on Pence.

    T’was the pattern after Watergate and Iran Contra. This undermined all the indictments and convictions obtained during Iran-Contra.

    Ford pardoned Dick.
    The nightmare actually continues.

    Executive’s abuse of power from enemies lists
    to tapes to arm twisting and burying violations of
    law designed to hide national security, most being violations of law.

    The crooks violated
    the number one rule.

    “Don’t get caught.”

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Quantum Rise

      Now our collective quantum sighs
      smack up against rank wise-guys,
      Time for all to realize
      nothing’s left to theorize.

      Even all those dewy-eyes
      need little else to surmise
      there’s something status never buys:
      Truth is tactile and on the rise.

  8. somecallmetim says:

    This sure brings “we create our own reality” to mind. Barr’s heading in this direction isn’t surprising given his history. But the lengths he’s willing to go to debase the legal system on behalf of the unitary executive are still shocking. And I thought I’d been paying attention during the Cheney/Addington era.

    • OmAli says:

      I fear that this whole experiment in keeping the Republic will turn on the willingness of numbers of whistleblowers and former “adults in the room” to step forward.

      There is safety in numbers. Hold hands, guys and gals, and cross the street. Now. Lots of us waiting to welcome you over on this side….

      • Marinela says:

        If the last line of defense relies on WBs, which affects these people for many years or possibly for their entire life, I think the republic state is pretty shaky.
        We should not have to rely on WB to save the republic. The foundation is crumbling.

  9. AndTheSlithyToves says:

    From Malcolm Nance’s “The Plot to Destroy Democracy” | pg. 34: If there were doubts about Trump’s intention to cover up the Russia investigation for the Kremlin and himself it was (sic) wiped clean within 48 hours. A few days later Trump granted an interview with NBC News’s Lester Holt. During the interview Holt asked a series of questions about the firing of Director Comey. Trump was nonplussed. If he had stayed on message with the story the Attorney General had helped him manufacture he would likely have gotten away with it. But Trump has a predictable pattern of masticating the truth. His usual pattern is to 1} Lie; 2) Dissemble; 3} Spread Disinformation; 4) Confess; 5} Threaten.

  10. AndTheSlithyToves says:

    Perhaps Mr. Barr has found the missing tapes from Jeffrey Epstein’s “suicide” and is on an international mission to get to the bottom of it.
    Oh, and while he’s out there, he might be shopping some of Epstein’s kompromat to party attendees.

  11. Ollie says:

    So I’m concerned: Pompeo has now publicly stated he will NOT appear before the congress. Now what? If all of them do this? Are the charades then going to become clear: Trump is our new dictator? Seriously, now what?

    • MB says:

      Congress has yet to exercise its power of “inherent contempt”. The mild form is imposing fines. The more severe form (and long unused) is to throw Pompeo or whomever into the Congressional pokey. I think it still exists physically – might need some cleaning up first…

      • P J Evans says:

        It hasn’t been used in a century, as bmaz keeps reminding us, and the jail cell isn’t there as such – they’d have to use the DC jail.

        • MB says:

          OK, OK. Then Pompeo should be required to report to some jail every night, and be let out at daybreak to do his day job as S of S. He could hang out with his lawyers and empty the vending machines. If he gets lonely, it could be arranged to have Henry Kissinger visit him.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        Here is the story on the Congressional jail, including a picture.

        Cold shoulder and cheese
        “…the last time Congress detained a member of the administration – in 1934 – he was “imprisoned” overnight in a hotel room near the White House before being transferred to a Washington, D.C., jail.

        “William P. MacCracken Jr., was a prisoner in a hotel room last night, held on charges of contempt of the Senate, after a day of legal merry-go-round probably unprecedented in court history,” the Washington Post reported at the time. The paper later noted that MacCracken’s first meal at the jail included “cold shoulder, cheese, fried pineapple, creamed potatoes, fruit, jello and coffee.” ”

        Yeah, unprecedented legal Merry-go-round. And it has barely begun.

      • Nehoa says:

        I think they should try the fines approach. Obviously under Barr the DOJ will not enforce. If there is a change of leadership (President, AG) though, that could change. It will give the person hit with the fine some concern that the fine may be enforced in the future. Better than nothing.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    George Papadopoulos is a moron. He was a perfect addition to the 2016 Trump campaign’s so-called foreign policy team.

    Downer was a fool. I played him the entire meeting that I knew was designed to spy on my energy related work and then to ask a bizarre question about Clinton-Russia. The transcripts will prove it all, folks. They exist. The Australian already flipped on him.

    Alexander Downer is one of the Commonwealth’s most experienced politicians and diplomats. The idea that Papa “played him” is LOL funny.

    At the time they met, Papa’s energy-related work would have fit into Carter Page’s earbud. The prospect of learning more about it would not have been worth the cost of a round of drinks. But Papa believes that meeting him put him on the A-team. Has no one ever told him that when you look around the card table, but can’t spot the patsy, it’s you.

    • Tony says:

      The craziest part, to my mind, is Papadopoulos trying to smear Downer as being some left-wing liberal stooge when the guy is actually one of the most rightwing politicians in Australian history.

  13. Lazlow K. Hud says:

    I bet Powell just has that letter of unknown provenance that’s been floating around allegedly from British Intelligence saying they do not have confidence in Christopher Steele. Can’t see how that’s going to aid the Flynn case.

  14. Molly Pitcher says:

    Very interesting. I just did a quick Google search to see who can initiate the impeachment of the Attorney General and as I am typing, the first choice auto fill is “who can initiate the 25th Amendment”. Think there has been a change in the collective conscience ?

    So the Cliff notes version is that the House initiates impeachment of the Attorney General. I guess that Schiff, Nadler and Co. are going to be very busy over the holidays this year.

    • Lazlow K. Hud says:

      That’s pretty much my sense too. Why would Barr care about someone who has already plead guilty? Powell’s just doing this so she can write another book and stay one TV.

  15. OldTulsaDude says:

    When I try to look at the big picture I feel like I should be wearing a tinfoil hat and bouncing rubber balls into a cup.
    I hate to sound like a crackpot but I am genuinely concerned for the future of American democracy and the Republic.
    Could someone please convince me that I am wrong. Thanks.

  16. OmAli says:

    A friend posted a Sept 23, 2019 Atlantic article on my FB page, by Jonathan C. Rose, “JONATHAN C. ROSE served as special assistant to President Nixon from 1971 to 1973, associate deputy attorney general from 1973 to 1975, and assistant attorney general at the Office of Legal Policy from 1981 to 1984.”

    Here are a couple of paragraphs:: “The Supreme Court has, in several decisions, affirmed the power of Congress to enforce its own subpoenas via its sergeant at arms. Ervin’s credible threat to do just that produced a complete retreat by the Nixon White House. To command the attention of the Trump White House, the actual arrest of an appropriate witness or two might well be required.

    It is clear that until the House fully implements its oversight powers, relevant witnesses will never testify in public and relevant documents will never be produced in a timely fashion. Instead of the complete story of Trump and his administration being documented for the American people, the false claim will be made that no evidence exists.

    Rather than indulging in a futile and divisive debate over impeachment, the House should fulfill its constitutional responsibility, and provide effective oversight of Trump and his administration before, not after, the next presidential election.”

    Trying to figure out how to post the link, sorry…

  17. harpie says:

    2:25 PM – 1 Oct 2019

    IMPEACHMENT LATEST: After @SecPompeo told Ds his officials won’t comply w/their requests, State employees appear to be DEFYING Pompeo. 1st: Volker says he will testify. Yovanovitch too. & now @karoun @John_Hudson report the State IG is coming 2 Hill tomorrow to turn over docs

    3:10 PM – 1 Oct 2019

    BREAKING EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that Pompeo’s office in recent days asked State Department HR/IG if they could “discipline” officers for “failure to follow direction” if they cooperate with Congress.
    This, I’m told, is PART of the IG’s urgent request to Congress.
    There is written documentation.
    State Department staffers were truly shocked by the directive, which the IG denied. It appears that Pompeo is threatening his officers if they comply with Congressional inquiries.
    The IG and HR teams wouldn’t go along with Pompeo’s ask.
    For when this is confirmed please credit me as the founder of @forensicnewsnet
    The IG for State was appointed by Obama. Not sure about the HR people but the IG and HR are in lockstep against Pompeo’s ask.

  18. punaise says:

    Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or more
    The Boldly Led Barr-on was rollin’ up the score
    Eighty men tried lyin’ to end that spree
    Of the Boldly Led Barr-on of Wash DC

  19. Tom says:

    Bill Barr is going to return from his global jaunt in search of evidence to counter the findings of the Mueller Report and, like the White Queen in “Alice in Wonderland”, will expect us to believe “six impossible things before breakfast.”

      • Tom says:

        Jimmy Kimmel had a good line the other night, too: “Trump could be the first American president to get impeached by a whistleblowjob.”

        Which got me thinking, what if every federal employee, right across the government, agreed that on a certain day they would all come to work wearing a whistle around their necks as a show of solidarity with the original whistleblower.

  20. Desider says:

    SDNY getting more involved in Cyrus Vance’s case to get Trump’s taxes – isn’t clear if they’re doing this as gov representatives or Trump’s personal lawyers – just all sorts of claims of absolute privilege. Will the judge let this stand?
    Odd how a president who can’t be investigated can still run a dozen businesses – Trump Corp and all his Delaware LLCs, et al…

    • P J Evans says:

      Barr and his unitary effing executive theory, where the president is so far above the law that we can’t do anything when he’s actively breaking it.

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