If the AG Is Involved in a Foreign Influence Operation, Does He Have to Register with Himself?

Way at the end of a CNN story on Rudy Giuliani’s grifters, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, this bombshell appears:

Two weeks ago when they were arrested, Parnas and Fruman were preparing to fly to Vienna, Austria, to meet Giuliani and another key figure in the impeachment investigation, Ukraine’s former prosecutor general Viktor Shokin, according to four sources familiar with their trip. Shokin is the same Ukrainian official who former Vice President Joe Biden — along with other Western leaders — had pushed to have removed over concerns he wasn’t prosecuting corruption.

While questions in Washington swirl around Shokin’s role in this controversy, Giuliani, Parnas, Fruman had specific plans for the former Ukrainian official up until the day of their arrest. According to those four sources, they told others they were headed to Vienna to help with a planned interview the next day: Shokin, they said, was scheduled to do an interview from the Austrian capital with Sean Hannity.

Through a spokesperson, Hannity said that “we never reveal our sources, potential sources, or persons they may or may not request to interview. Sean Hannity takes the first amendment seriously.”

The bullshit about how the First Amendment is why he’s not revealing his “potential source” who the TV star would have interviewed on TV got added overnight.

The news that Hannity was only saved from being a part of this influence operation by the arrest of two of its key players is news enough. But it dramatically changes the import of this news — that the night before this interview was scheduled, and after meeting with SDNY that same day, and probably after the grifters had been arrested as they tried to leave the country, the Attorney General of the United States had a meeting with Rupert Murdoch at the latter’s home.

Attorney General William P. Barr met privately Wednesday evening with Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who is one of President Trump’s frequent confidants but whose Fox News is viewed by the president as more hostile toward him than it used to be.

The meeting was held at Mr. Murdoch’s home in New York, according to someone familiar with it. It was unclear if anyone else attended or what was discussed. Aides to both Mr. Murdoch and Mr. Barr declined requests for comment on the meeting.

So the presumed schedule for the players looks like this:

Lunch: Rudy meets with the grifters across the street from DOJ

Before the arrest: Barr informed they would be arrested (he met with SDNY that day)

Roughly 6:30: SDNY has the grifters as they prepare to fly to Vienna using one way tickets

After the arrest: Barr meets privately with Sean Hannity’s boss

This story from Parnas and Fruman’s arraignment yesterday revealed that SDNY has been monitoring twelve different phone lines.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebekah Donaleski told Oetken that evidence in the case that will need to be turned over to the defense was “quite voluminous.” She mentioned about 50 bank accounts and more than a dozen cell phones that were monitored in some fashion, as well as search warrants and subpoenas.

Admittedly, this number is across four different defendants (thus far), but twelve is a lot, and that word, “monitor” sure sounds like wiretapping. Which may be why Rudy is finally shopping for a defense attorney.

Wiretaps might be the kind of thing SDNY would brief Barr on if he met with prosecutors the day of the arrest. Prosecutors might also tell Barr what kind of high profile people had been caught up on the grifters’ encrypted texts, as Hannity was with Paul Manafort. In either case, it is virtually certain that Hannity was caught in the surveillance of the grifters, even if contacts between him and Rudy weren’t already obtained.

It looks bad, but given how much Barr has mainlined Fox propaganda over the last two decades, it wouldn’t be surprising if Barr attempted to protect the propaganda channels’ top entertainer.

All of which leads me back to something else: the Attorney General’s very narrow denials that he was pursuing Ukrainian dirt in the wake of the release of the Trump-Zelensky call on September 25.

At the end of August, when two top intelligence officials asked a Justice Department lawyer whether a whistle-blower’s complaint should be forwarded to Congress, they were told no, Attorney General William P. Barr and his department could handle the criminal referral against the president of the United States.

About four weeks later, the department rendered its judgment: President Trump had not violated campaign finance laws when he urged Ukraine’s president to work with Mr. Barr to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.


The rough transcript showed that Mr. Trump believes he has that man. In a single sentence during the call with Ukraine’s leader, Mr. Trump said that he would have Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer, and Mr. Barr reach out to help further an investigation of Mr. Biden and his younger son, Hunter Biden, who had served on the board of a Ukrainian corporation.

“I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call, and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call, and we will get to the bottom of it,” Mr. Trump said.

A Justice Department official said that Mr. Barr had no knowledge of the call until the director of national intelligence and the intelligence community’s inspector general sent the department the whistle-blower’s criminal referral late last month, and that Mr. Trump has not spoken with the attorney general “about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former Vice President Biden or his son.”

Mr. Trump has not asked Mr. Barr to contact Ukraine for any reason, Mr. Barr has not communicated with Ukraine on any topic, and Mr. Barr has not spoken with Mr. Giuliani about the president’s phone call “or anything relating to Ukraine,” a Justice Department spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec, said in a statement.


But Mr. Barr is also closely overseeing a review of the intelligence community’s decision to start a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, which is being led by John Durham, the United States attorney in Connecticut. As part of that review, Mr. Durham is exploring what role, if any, a number of countries including Ukraine played in the investigation of the Trump campaign.

“While the attorney general has yet to contact Ukraine in connection with this investigation, certain Ukrainians who are not members of the government have volunteered information to Mr. Durham, which he is evaluating,” Ms. Kupec said.

According to DOJ, the following is true (or was true, as of September 25):

  • Barr had no knowledge of the call until Joseph Maguire sent the whistleblower complaint “late last month” (subsequent reporting probably moves that date back to when John Demers reviewed the transcript on August 15, and not knowing about the call is not the same thing as not knowing about the extortion attempt)
  • Trump has not spoken to Barr “about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former Vice President Biden or his son,” which doesn’t exclude Trump asking Barr to investigate 2016, which is what the transcript more directly references
  • Trump has not asked Mr. Barr to contact Ukraine for any reason, nor has Barr communicated with Ukraine (multiple reports have noted that Barr’s wild goose chase has largely bypassed official legal request channels, which would present problems regarding the admissibility of any evidence he receives, but also would be consistent with the public reporting that he is pursuing Ukrainian dirt outside of official channels)
  • Barr has not spoken with Rudy about the call “or anything relating to Ukraine,” which doesn’t address whether he has addressed other sources of disinformation with Rudy, nor does it say whether Barr has communicated to Rudy via other channels or received a dossier of disinformation on Ukraine, sent by Rudy on White House stationary, as Pompeo did
  • Certain Ukrainians who are not members of the government have volunteered information to Mr. Durham, which he is evaluating;” this does not exclude Barr speaking to these same Ukrainians, as Barr has been with so many other parts of his wild goose chase, nor does it exclude Barr learning of the Ukrainians when he took a meeting with Joseph DiGenova and Victoria Toensing to discuss the Ukrainian oligarch whose bid to beat a bribery charge involves disinformation created by Viktor Shokin, the guy Hannity was going to interview

Given this narrow denial, it would be more likely than not that Barr knew of Firtash’s effort to use Shokin’s claim that he was unfairly targeted and encouraged John Durham to reach out to Shokin, to say nothing of several other pieces of disinformation Rudy has been floating.

What is absolutely certain, though, is that DOJ’s narrow denial in no way denies that Barr’s wild goose chase has incorporated materials that Rudy obtained as a result of the extortion attempt with Ukraine.

Indeed, back in the halcyon days before the grifters were arrested, frothy right wingers — up to and including close Rudy associate Michael Mukasey — keyed on DOJ’s confirmation that Durham was reviewing materials from Ukraine, as if that validated Rudy’s efforts. Back before Parnas and Fruman were arrested, the frothy right boasted that Durham had received these Ukrainian “leads.”

Which may be why Bill Barr’s DOJ did two things — consider the call transcript, and not the full whistleblower complaint, as the referral, and not forward the complaint to FEC as required under a standing MOU — that prevented others from identifying the ties between Parnas and Fruman (whom DOJ has repeatedly said Barr knew were being investigated) and the President’s July 25 call. To say nothing of the way his OLC treated his implication by the call as Top Secret, even though the White House itself considered it less classified.

Already, we have three solid pieces of evidence that Bill Barr’s DOJ engaged in a cover-up in a failed attempt to prevent anyone from tying the Parnas and Fruman influence campaign, his own wild goose chase, and the President’s extortion of Ukraine together.

But if Barr shared information learned about an ongoing investigation to prevent Hannity from embarrassment or even legal jeopardy, that would be a far more significant step.

Update: In the wake of Mick Mulvaney’s confirmation that Trump withheld duly appropriated funding from Ukraine to coerce it to cooperate in the Durham investigation, three different outlets did articles on what Durham is up to (NYT, NBC, CNN). Although all three provided new details on the investigation generally, none provided details describing from which Ukrainians Durham has received information.

74 replies
    • PeeJ says:

      Billy Barr doesn’t want Firtash. He can’t have real investigators interrogating him. The truth might come out. Someone needs to follow up with the DOJ and find out what’s taking so long to get Firtash a ticket to the US. If it’s because of budget cuts, maybe they can get a refund on Rudy and his boys tickets to Austria..

      • bmaz says:

        It has nothing to do with tickets. The extradition process, if challenged by the defendant, is quite lengthy.

        • Naargh Nargo says:

          “Lengthy”, indeed, but hasn’t Firtash already been fighting extradition for *years*, having been placed under house arrest by the Austrian authorities for the duration? And haven’t said Austrian authorities recently given their approval for the extradition? So what’s the hangup? If Firtash has no higher Austrian authority to appeal to, doesn’t that indicate a DOJ slow-walk at the very least?
          Asking for a friend…

        • Avattoir says:

          Back in the day, I was involved with a number of extraditions, including some engaging countries lots closer to the U.S. than Austria. My experience was that more often than not there really had to be a strong, good faith, dedicated effort by someone at both ends to get the thing done, and even then it could takes not just months but years to complete the process.
          It really wouldn’t take a positive effort at gumming at the works to delay or even kibosh an extradition; it could take as little as there not being anyone at a senior level positively motivated to push the case thru.
          But regardless, the TIME an extradition takes is not a sound measure of how hard or soft are the efforts to get it done.

        • bmaz says:

          Well, yes and no. Extradition was denied the first round under a finding that it was a political prosecution. It was then taken up again apparently in 2017 and the lower court found in favor of extradition, but Firtash appealed. The Austrian Supreme Court did not rule upholding that finding until June of this year, and the necessary signify by the Justice Minister not until mid-July. What is going on in the intervening three months, I do not know exactly. But it is sure not a problem with air fares as the other commenter deadpanned.

        • Pete T says:

          I probably missed this, but “our friends” Di Genova and Toensing rep Firtash.


          “Toensing and diGenova also represent Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian gas magnate who lives in Vienna and is fighting extradition to the U.S. on bribery charges. Firtash paid the lawyers $1 million to uncover dirt on Joe Biden and to win help in his legal case from Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, according to Bloomberg News.

        • rip says:

          That duo seem to show up like vultures hoping to glean something from the remains. Maybe they’ve had some successful cases but all I’ve seen are obstructive.

        • Naargh Nargo says:

          Clarification much appreciated, thanks. So it looks like matters are pretty much done & dusted on the Austrian side, and the ball’s in DOJ’s court.
          Idly curious, also, about the physical arrangements that would obtain if & when Big Fish Firtash gets on that plane– would he be handcuffed to an air marshal for the duration, for example? Would DiG&T be allowed to accompany him/them? Could turn into a bit of a caravan.

        • Naargh Nargo says:

          Hmm. Maybe “done”, but not entirely “dusted”– just re-read Pete T’s VOA article linked upthread, citing an ‘extensive’ bid to reopen the case (sorry bmaz, I shoulda checked this before), which could drag on into the fall “or even longer”. Plus, BFF’s defence team is headed by the * former Austrian Justice Minister * (talk about the biggest guns money can buy!), who has specifically cited a “far-reaching political US political motivation”, presumably as a countervailing factor in the case.
          So, looks like we shan’t be seeing him take that plane ride anytime soon.

    • HermanNewticks says:

      Now that Barr has opened a criminal investigation, can he offer all the characters In the actual Ukraine mess immunity in exchange for their testimony in the sham investigation?

  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Sean Hannity should still be in trouble for being a part of this influence operation. Attempting a crime is, for example, just as criminal as completing one.

  2. George E. Marcus says:

    So, if the two, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were going on one-way tickets, they were fleeing (getting out of the country) – so who tipped them off to get out before they were arrested)? The initial purpose might have been the supposed meeting with Guiliani and Shokin – but if so why one way tickets?

    • vicks says:

      I’m not sure that a one way ticket is a clear indicator they intended to flee, especially if the was taking them to Vienna for a meeting involving multiple players that had been planned in advance?

      • P J Evans says:

        One-way does indicate they weren’t planning to come back any time soon. (It gets attention. Also, they reportedly paid cash for the tickets – something else that gets attention.)

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Their tradecraft is poor. Paying cash for one-way tickets, to an eastern European entrepot no less, was guaranteed to attract attention.

          Maybe it’s hubris, or something simpler: a sign that little of the money in their accounts is actually theirs. They have a string of bad debts, some quite small.

  3. John Forde says:

    There are very few things in this world that are more politically delicious than Rupert as a fugitive.

  4. OldTulsaDude says:

    It almost seems as if Durham is a cutout allowing Barr deniability. The question to ask Barr is: were you aware or had you been informed in any manner of what was transpiring? That gives Barr the trifecta of stumbling over “aware”, “informed”, and “any manner”.

  5. Bri2k says:

    Impeach Barr for tailing to recuse himself. Cripple him as much as possible. I’m puzzled why the House hasn’t taken this step.

    • Ruthie says:


      And following on from EoH’s comment above, Barr can shut down investigation into Hannity’s role the way he did (if ultimately unsuccessfully) with the whistleblower complaint. In the latter case DOJ said it wasn’t a campaign finance violation, but even if that was a fair judgment I would imagine there are various other charges that should have been considered.

    • Peacerme says:

      If they don’t tie up Barr soon, our government is going to war with itself in the guise of the new investigation. All those fighting to get info on trump and Ukraine and whistleblower risk prosecution from Barr investigation. House needs to impeach Barr so his attempt to chill the investigation of trump is stopped. In my view this is getting very dangerous.

  6. harpie says:

    I checked out Media Matters to see what Hannity came up with on 10/08/19 and 10/09/19 instead of his interview in Vienna [more links in reply]:

    1] Watch: Fox News blames the “deep state” for the Trump impeachment inquiry
    10/08/19 2:23 PM EDT

    2] Sean Hannity announces that he will only refer to the impeachment inquiry as an “attempted coup”
    10/08/19 10:02 PM EDT

    3] Sean Hannity demands House Republicans “don’t even bother to show up” to impeachment hearings Hannity:
    “Don’t show up. Don’t show up to the hearings, don’t vote on the floor. Here’s your mandate: Focus on we, the people that put you in office to be servants. Be servants”
    10/09/19 9:44 PM EDT

    4] Sean Hannity and Eric Trump agree “there is no question” the Ukraine scandal “starts with Obama”
    10/09/19 10:29 PM EDT

  7. Michael says:

    “The question to ask Barr is: were you aware or had you been informed in any manner of what was transpiring?”

    That would also give Barr some (temporary?) stall ammunition, specifically an opportunity to wax philosophical over “what ‘what’ is”. Interrogator expands. Barr parses. Repeat.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The WSJ has resurrected the, “He’s too dumb to have committed the crime” defense. This time, it’s to argue that Trump should not be impeached.

    If Trump is too dumb to commit acts that merit impeachment – an argument that does not stop the prosecution, conviction, and punishment of people with IQs far below Trump’s meager number – surely, he’s too dumb to remain president.


    • BobCon says:

      This is a defense that is guaranteed to infuriate Trump, maybe more than a lukewarm disapproval. What are the WSJ editors doing here?

      Deliberately poking the beast with the classic WSJ editorial smirk? Signaling an endgame that the finance subset of the GOP can use to distance themselves short of a clean break? Offering an olive branch to the Bret Stevens types? Sending a signal from Murdoch?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        It was used with Trump juniors. Maybe it’s as simple as, “Don’t mess with Hannity,” or we’ll return the favor.

    • 200Toros says:

      The defense that boggles me is Sondland’s, since used by other GOP-ers, that “the president said there is definitely no quid pro quo, so there isn’t. (But everything depends on the deliverables.)” OH, OKAY. So every criminal defense attorney in the nation needs to use that one. All you have to do, whilst committing a crime, is to state clearly and for the record, that you are NOT committing a crime!

      Victim: You’re choking me and I can’t breathe!
      Thug: Yes, but it’s NOT A CRIME.
      Stable Genius Defense Counsel: Your Honor, my client clearly stated, at the time, that he committed No Crime. This is a witch hunt. Move to have the case dismissed.

  9. harpie says:

    New from Washington Post:
    White House delayed Ukraine trade decision in August, a signal that U.S. suspension of cooperation extended beyond security funds https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/white-house-delayed-ukraine-trade-decision-in-august-a-signal-that-us-suspension-of-cooperation-extended-beyond-security-funds/2019/10/24/a42b8992-f67d-11e9-8cf0-4cc99f74d127_story.html
    Oct. 24, 2019 at 4:19 p.m. EDT

    The White House’s trade representative in late August withdrew a recommendation to restore some of Ukraine’s trade privileges after John Bolton, then-national security adviser, warned him that President Trump probably would oppose any action that benefited the government in Kyiv, according to people briefed on the matter.

    The warning to Robert E. Lighthizer came as Trump was withholding $391 million in military aid and security assistance from Ukraine. […]

  10. dwfreeman says:

    We know that Trump was withholding assistance until the Ukrainians played ball because the comms between the diplomats themselves were projecting that message through early September. The only real confusion about the whole scandal is how the Ukrainians perceived the situation and what they thought they should do about it.

    But the salient issue not being addressed by anyone is the impact of withholding the funds while the Russians threatened Ukraine, and to what extent Trump was aware of and acting on Putin’s pressure on the Zalensky government and pending negotiations with Moscow. By not releasing those funds, Zalensky’s position was weakened militarily and diplomatically. And that aspect of this scandal hasn’t really been addressed head-on.

    Trump and Rudy had been dealing with former Ukrainian authorities, so Zalensky’s election changed the whole complexion of events and the timeline of their influence campaign. I mean the most critical piece of Trump’s effort to pursue this Ukrainian plot was removing Yovanovitch as ambassador, so they could operate hands-free. The biggest mistake they made was appointing Taylor to replace her. He turned out to be no broken arrow replacing Yovanovitch’s straight arrow work on the ground there.

    He made a point of documenting the email chain between himself and Sondland, making plain his position on the matter while Sondland, who was brought in to oversee the diplomatic operation because Trump and Pompeo knew he could be trusted to do Trump’s bidding.

    Because DOJ was never supposed to be connected with this matter on any level, except for Barr’s oversight of the Durham counter intelligence origin probe, the monkey-wrench of the whistleblower complaint is the key to knowing who did what when and in response to what action.

    As Marcy points out, DOJ tried to bury the WB complaint and acted on the president’s call record in denying any criminal referral and reviewing the matter only as a potential campaign finance violation, which it dismissed. That decision, however, was not impacted by the WB complaint, because Justice was never supposed to have seen it. But because it did, it still had to pretend as if it hadn’t, and thus the timing of the WB complaint process and how certain authorities responded to it, remains an open issue. The complaint was also viewed as a secondhand report at best, which White House officials thought would enable the call summary transcript to be made without consequence.

    What they didn’t know was that the WB wasn’t acting alone. And so when the WB made the second attempt to bring the complaint to Congress attention, and it still got sidelined at Justice and WH by the inspector general and DNI, now they were caught in a timeline dilemma, they couldn’t really answer with any supportable response. Here’s the other issue still plaguing the timeline, making the plot work around less than on-board officials like Maguire, whose hiring played a key role in how WB complaint was officially handled. And by that time, both Justice and WH both were aware of problems surrounding Trump’s July 25 call.

    That is why Barr’s official knowledge of the

  11. David Karson says:

    Probably purely coincidental, but Sean Hannity was unexpectedly absent from his radio program yesterday which is unusual and his guest host replacement talked about how he was called in at the last minute to fill in for Sean.

  12. fpo says:

    How badly must Schiff want to hear testimony from Zelensky directly?!

    Wondering…is there any precedent for a foreign leader giving Congressional testimony? Certainly not re impeachment inquiries, that I know of. Would he even agree to testify?

    • Midwest says:

      That strikes me as completely unimaginable, although it momentarily reminded me of when Trump appeared to contemplate sending–who was it, McFaul–to Russia when they wanted to interrogate him. And even if if it could be imagined from the point of view of the committees, it would fundamentally weaken the foreign head of state.

    • P J Evans says:

      I’m sure they’re going to try to use it that way – but since the FBI investigation didn’t find anything criminal, it’s going to require that they make shit up.

      • Vicks says:

        I was thinking since they seem to be losing (among other things) executive privilege battles they may have found a way to say “no” that replaces what has been the “make me” justification for not cooperating.

  13. Lazlow K. Hud says:

    Tough days here right now, with Barr morphing the review into a criminal investigation.

    Worried about where this is going, want to read Marcy’s explanation. Need some reassurance.

  14. OldTulsaDude says:

    Is the reason behind this Russian investigation beginnings an attempt to save Trump from prosecution after he is either impeached and removed or voted out in 2020? It doesn’t seem to fit with this present impeachment inquiry.

    • Vicks says:

      Trump did rip into them for not working hard enough to defend him, and he did draw a clear line between those who gave him cover and human scum.
      If Trump was demanding loyalty tests it appears his people in Congress responded first with their stormtrooper performance yesterday.
      Lindsey had a special offering of his own today when he decided to bring up his resolution condemning the inquiry. Now it’s William Barr’s turn to show how high he is is willing to jump.
      This has to be seen a giant indication of guilt by some of the more reasonable republicans and continuing to say they want more information may no longer provide sufficient cover, they may be forced to pick a side real soon, especially if there is a vote on Lindsey’s resolution.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    In a non-criminal investigation, staff must answer investigators’ questions or face disciplinary action, including dismissal.

    In a criminal investigation, they lawyer up and can, among other things, plead their constitutional rights. People do not freely cooperate, they hunker down. It causes more departmental disruption, which can spread to other agencies, and potential witnesses and whistleblowers.

    Disrupting what is probably the single most important government agency – the DoJ – with knock-on effects elsewhere in government, is a wet dream for a lifelong criminal like Trump, a national enemy like Putin, and a religious authoritarian like Pompeo. Otherwise, it’s a clusterfuck.

  16. joel fisher says:

    Unless I’m missing something, the whole Ukraine matter is composed of criminals, witnesses, and cops.
    Doesn’t it seem that some of Trump’s lackys are either on the border or all the way across it into crime country? Lawyers, but not Fox personalities, can know about criminal behavior after it’s committed and not be compelled to talk about it. If they’re helping set crimes up—obviously looking at you, Mr Mayor, but, more interestingly, at you Mr Barr–all bets are off and you stop being a lawyer and start being a conspirator. Sounds to me like Barr is working the messaging piece of a criminal conspiracy. Pretty soon smart people are going to want to start looking like witnesses: “Oh my heavens, Officer, I had no idea these bad men were helping Trump; I did see them…..”. I’m sure Barr is thinking he has many years of cashing in as a licensed lawyer in his future. A professional responsibility investigation, even in the absence of criminal charges, will have him off the Gulfstream and into Delta Business Class before you can say “disbarment”.

  17. sproggit says:

    There’s a related but perhaps even more significant question to ask about the activities of the AG.

    We know thanks to this testimony from Peter Strzok as part of his hearing:-


    (fast forward to the 27 minute mark and listen to Strzok’s reply to Gowdry)

    quite a bit about the amount of oversight that a routine FBI investigation will have applied to it. That doesn’t mean that all FBI work is perfect, however [look at Comey’s decision to make public statements about the Clinton email inquiry right before the 2016 election], but it does show how regular investigations are subject to thorough oversight.

    Here’s my question: if the person conducting the investigation is AG Barr *himself*, who applies the oversight? Who is present in the room to record the conversation? Does AG Barr take a second DoJ officer to be present in meetings, or does he work alone?

    Even better, if or when AG Barr presents his findings from the “investigation of the investigation”, we can reasonably expect the discussion of the more sensitive intelligence to be held in a closed door session. How can the public be assured that what Barr gives as evidence or testimony will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Oh, I know, we can look to past behavior as a guide to future acts. I know, let’s consider the 4-page summary of the Mueller report, oh, wait. That wasn’t a very accurate summary, was it?

    At this point it is pretty obvious that what Trump has asked Barr to do is to prepare a counter-narrative, so that when the Russians meddle in the 2020 election and the Democrats cry foul, Trump will pull out this counter-claim that the accusations of 2016 meddling were nothing but lies and fabrications from sore-loser Democrats who worked in collusion with Ukraine.

    At the moment I think we’re getting distracted by the improper influence and coercion Trump tried to bring to Zelensky, but I think the picture might be both larger and darker than that.

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