Attorney General Bill Barr Has a Higher Opinion of George Papadopoulos’ Dirt than Steve Bannon Does

I’m working my way through the Mueller 302s that Jason Leopold liberated. But given current events, I thought it worthwhile to elevate this passage from a February 14, 2018 interview Mueller’s office had with Steve Bannon.

Bannon never worked with Papadopoulos on setting up the meetings despite Papadopoulos’s offers through email. Bannon would generally blow off Papadopoulos and thought to himself “I don’t need this guy.” Flynn would be on the hook for the meetings Papadopoulos was suggesting, and Bannon did not need Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos never told Bannon about the Russians having dirt on Clinton, and Bannon never heard Papadopoulos tell anyone else in the campaign, such as Sam Clovis, that the Russians had dirt on Clinton. Bannon had all the dirt he needed from Clinton Cash and Uranium One, he didn’t need any more dirt. Bannon didn’t need any more dirt from “clowns” like Papadopoulos and Clovis. (PDF 125)

Bannon, who remembered virtually nothing about his extensive interactions with Erik Prince (whom he admitted to respecting), remembered distinctly that he blew off all George Papadopoulos’ offers to help set up a meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, even though he admitted knowing he had to find a way to make Trump look credible as a Commander in Chief.

After stating (months after Papadopoulos’ plea deal was announced) that he didn’t remember hearing anything about Papadopoulos offering dirt, Bannon then said he didn’t need dirt from Papadopoulos, as if it had been offered.

Anyway, Steven Bannon, who hangs out with some pretty dodgy types, calls Papadopoulos and his investigative leads a “Clown.”

That would mean that the Attorney General of the United States, who has been traveling the world on a wild goose chase for something — anything!! — that might corroborate Papadopoulos’ conspiracy theories, has a higher estimation of Papadopoulos’ dirt than Steve Bannon.

34 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    I think Barr is trying to protect himself at least as much as he’s trying to protect his boss.
    I hope both efforts fail.

    • Katherine M Williams says:

      Barr is blowing a lot of smoke around, hoping everyone will conclude there must be a fire. But it’s all coming from the Trumpsterfire.

  2. klynn says:

    Bannon has been making the media rounds.

    He should be nervous.

    Barr is showing weakness as he ran around the world.

    • bmaz says:

      Eh, I dunno. Out of all those asshats, Bannon was the most meticulous at not being directly involved in the crime wave. I don’t see that he has much, if anything, to be worried about.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Stone’s trial should be interesting, though. I wonder who will be witnesses. Bannon? Alexandra Preate? Erik Prince? Rick Gates? Corsi? Credico? I wonder how much we will learn.

        • BobCon says:

          The latest docs suggest how Bannon is still tight with a lot of the mainstream press and Breitbart, and the connection between them is troubling.

          Bannon’s ability to dodge the conspiracy and avoid knowing things ought to make it clear to legitimate reporters that he’s not just a liar, he’s a fabulist and a manipulator. But insteadn of shunning him, they think they can use him, and end up getting owned.

          I suspect a number of journalists will be finding out more times when he hasn’t lived up to his side of the bargain when he was given anonymity. They really ought to burn him. But doing so will expose them as credulous hacks, and that won’t happen.

      • emptywheel says:

        I found it interesting that DOJ included Cohen’s proffer agreement (with both interview notes), but not Bannon’s, which means it must be his later testimony that he did under proffer.
        He lied his ass off in this first one. Which may be why Stone is looking forward to cross. That said, it’s actually not clear the prosecution will put Bannon on the stand. Stone already stipulated Bannon and Bannon’s assistant’s email addresses.

  3. sproggit says:

    I can’t help but wonder if Barr really has such a high opinion of George Popadopoulos’ dirt, or if he and Trump are that desperate for ammunition to deflect from Trump’s continued illegal activities and to help with re-election that the AG will literally go anywhere for the chance to get something he can spin into being useful.

    It kinda reminds me of that con involving Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, when a witch doctor claimed she could produce diesel from rocks…

    Barr wants to find something of substance in these foreign trips just like Mugabe was so desperate for a way out of the 2007 fuel shortage crisis that he was willing to believe that refined diesel fuel could gush from rocks (for those who can’t be bothered to read up… at the top of the rise, behind the miracle rock pile, was an oil tanker and the witch doctor’s son at the valve controls.

    Barr is looking for oil, too.

    A much more interesting question, however, is why is it *Barr* that is conducting these investigations in person:-
    1. Does he have nothing better to do? [Actually, maybe not in Trump’s opinion…]
    2. What experience or qualification does he have conducting a *criminal* investigation like this?
    3. Does he work solo, or take other FBI/DoJ witnesses to participate in his interviews?
    4. If he does indeed manage to land some bombshell story, what is the probability that it will be repeated in public – which would allow the original source to speak up if it were… embellished, or… created from scratch? Or is it more likely that it will be considered “confidential” which gives Congress zero possibility of separating fact from fiction?
    5. Who oversees his work? [ Take a look at the closing minutes of the hearing to which Peter Strzok was subjected, when he was being battered by Trey Gowdry. At the end, Strzok responds with a blistering deconstruction of Gowdry’s argument, pointing out the level of oversight he was subject to, even when he was a senior Counter-Intelligence officer of the FBI. What oversight will Barr be subject to? His own? The President’s?

    I can’t help but think that if Barr genuinely and sincerely believed that there was a shred of truth in the matters he is investigating, he would want heaf of the FBI Wray to put their best team on the job. Instead, it’s Barr, flying solo?

    No. Don’t think so.

    • Tom says:

      Bill Barr will be remembered as the Erich van Daniken of Attorneys General. I expect he’ll eventually claim that it was ancient astronauts, zooming forward in time from another dimension, who meddled in the 2016 election and that the DNC server is hidden in a secret chamber deep in the bowels of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

      • P J Evans says:

        …and the server is powered by sunlight coming down a channel two days a year at noon, and stored in batteries left by aliens?

        • Tom says:

          Sure, something like that! You got it! That’s the ticket! And I wonder if Bill Barr ever has a bar bill at the end of his conspiracy-afying episodes.

      • OldTulsaDude says:

        Christopher Walken as Captain Firtash:

        Five long years, he had that server up his ass. Then when he died of dysentery, he gave me the server. I hid this uncomfortable thing up my ass for two years. Then, after seven years, I was sent home to my family. And now, Billy, I give the server to you.

    • Barb says:

      Meanwhile, Popadopoulos keeps tweeting things like this from 4 hrs ago:

      “First Italy flipped on Mifsud, then Australia on the Clinton errand boy, Alexander Downer, now the UK, feeling the pressure, will out Stefan Halper, Azra Turk, their role in hacking my emails, Tobias Ellwood and more. All roads lead to Brennan and McCabe. Last to be interviewed!”

      as if he’s *in the loop* with what Barr may be uncovering. How the hell would know where Barr investigation stands? #ConMan

    • Vicks says:

      I think Barr is doing his roadshow because it pleases the president and just as important, this “investigation” appears to be a piece of the strategy to keep Trump in office.
      Every day Trump is happy and still in the White House is another day the individual agendas of each of these a-holes gets to move forward.

      • skua says:

        I suspect that Barr’s roadshow is meant to create something that will, to the almost true-believers, look like good enough reasons to reject Mueller’s findings and approve of pardon to jailed Trumpists. And also, by extension, “prove” to the same target audience that everything accepted by Democrats in the House impeachment inquiry is just more witch-hunt.

  4. jonb says:

    russia sending millions in cash to Venezuela and Trump doing nothing. Another part of QPQ for election interference

  5. Matthew Harris says:

    I got a clue about William Barr’s behavior due to a lucky find during a library booksale. For fifty cents, I bought a biography of Spiro Agnew (What Makes Spiro Run by Joseph Albright) and have been reading about Spiro Agnew. I find Agnew an interesting character because he has become somewhat of an afterthought to Nixon and Watergate, although the story of a US Vice-President resigning after criminal investigation would normally be quite noteworthy.

    I have been learning that Agnew was not considered very conservative until after Nixon picked him to run. For years, he was a low-level functionary who seemed to be competent but not spectacular. As a governor, he ran an anti-segregation platform, and was generally about nuts and bolts issues where he was generally not very ideological. But sometime while he was governor, he became corrupt (or more corrupt), and more conservative. And then as vice-president, even more so.

    I guess the summary of what I learned so far is that Agnew was a pretty mature, intelligent functional adult, but that he didn’t seem to have much internal direction or principles. His rationality and moderation was all on the surface, but as soon as something else got woken up in him, he turned into something else.

    And that I guess is what is going on with Barr— to survive in government bureaucracy this long, he can’t have been a fool. But the reasonableness was all on the surface, and as soon as something inflamed him, he became…well, whatever is going on here.

    Just my two cents, not very objective, I know.

    • Monymous says:

      I have a very cursory understanding of this, but I think there’s a strong religious element to it, hard as it may be to understand. Barr is a member of Opus Dei (high confidence) and he’s said some pretty remarkable, one could say extreme things. He’s said that everything he does, including leading the DOJ, is informed first and foremost by his Christianity (or something to that effect).

      A bunch of these current and former White House guys (Sessions and I think Pence) have connections to “The Family” which is an almost cult-like and militant interpretation of Christianity. They view Trump as a kind of “King Cyrus” figure, a very “imperfect vessel” for God’s work and for bringing about their religious aims. Bannon often calls Trump an “imperfect instrument,” so even he might be alluding to the same exact thing… When Sessions almost stormed out and quit that one time, Bannon talked him down, in part by asking if “there was any doubt whether they got here by divine intervention” or something to that effect. That always surprised me.

      I think a lot of the important players around Trump actually see themselves on a super important holy mission, and they will pretty much do anything and everything to further it. This maybe helps explain why even seemingly respectable people get into Trump’s orbit and then spiral down and lose their integrity trying to protect him. I gotta learn more about “The Family” but I think their creed is something like “Jesus plus nothing” … meaning, it’s all super boiled down to basically Us vs Them, there’s no qualification, no real questions of philosophy, ideology or morality, they don’t get bogged down by too many inconvenient specifics in the Bible, it’s 100% ends over means.

      I think this originated during the cold war when they saw atheist Communism as an existential threat to Christian identity, and they had to come up with a kind of brutal and stripped down “field version” of Christianity that would appeal to powerful elites, and enable them to do whatever needs to be done, support all kinds of strongmen and dictators to defeat Communism… Kind of ironic how it’s turned out, given all the Russia stuff.

      I’m sure there’s a spectrum of religious (and non-religious) motivations around the Trump camp, some more traditional, some pretty extreme, and some just baffling… And of course there’s political expediency, loyalty, self-preservation etc…

      • Kai-Lee says:

        100%. That is what motivates people like Barr, Pompeo, Kavanaugh and others of that ilk. A number are Catholic to boot. Catholic OD white supremacist extremists – with Brilliantine hair and passable suits by day… Barr is, however, probably the worst of them, and he has the most power. These people care about posterity only insofar as the individual subscribes to the “values” of their tightly-knit group.

      • stancat says:

        “I think a lot of the important players around Trump actually see themselves on a super important holy mission, and they will pretty much do anything and everything to further it. ”
        But what is their mission? What are they trying to accomplish through Trump?

    • RLHall says:

      Years ago, I knew an old fellow who had run the Patuxent Institution, Maryland’s prison for the criminally insane. I remember him reminiscing once about the Vice President and his petty corruption. In the 1960s, when he would meet with the Governor, if he needed some action, he would have to slip him a twenty. The more things change, the more they stay the same!

  6. mospeck says:

    “A presidential loathing for Ukraine is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry”
    By Greg Jaffe and Josh Dawsey
    November 2 at 3:45 PM

    “We could never quite understand it,” a former senior White House official said of Trump’s view of the former Soviet republic, also saying that much of it stemmed from the president’s embrace of conspiracy theories. “There were accusations that they had somehow worked with the Clinton campaign. There were accusations they’d hurt him. He just hated Ukraine.”

    So trump was always adverse to the Ukraine, eh? ..or at least since the summer of 16, when he and Manafort, and Paul’s sidekick Kilimnik were suspecting Ukraine of trying to subvert the US 2016 for the Dems. All this has nothing to do with Putin telling agent trump early on that he needed to establish antipathy to Ukraine, in order to play the long game, since eventually an alibi will be needed–this for when Russia will require US help to set a bear trap for a future Ukrainian president. Why do the wapo NatSecs Jaffe and Dawsey choose to advance the Russian narrative? Are they unable to see that team trump leakers are playing them to advance a new long con, the ‘corrupt Ukraine’ impeachment defense?

    imo folks need to stop saying that this is just whacko trump advancing another crazy conspiracy theory. Give the man his due. He is a skilled Russian agent, now out in the open trying to destroy western intelligence agencies. Since trump has established that he is “prone to conspiracy theories” he and Barr are actually able to work this game in plain sight, and with plausible deniability. It’s breathtaking. One has to give them credit–Putin and his agent got a lot of chutzpah. And if the agent is able to remain in power and pull it off, Vlad will give him the Order of Lenin.

    • BeingThere says:

      Occam assure,
      Did Trump ever try a hotel or licencing deal in Ukraine that went sour? He’s known to hold a grudge.
      Would Trump send Barr off to try recover/clean up kompromat (aka server?)

      It feels that the efforts being taken by Giuliani and Barr far exceed dirt digging and arm twisting for short-term political gains.

      • P J Evans says:

        Putin wants control of Ukraine and its natural-gas fields. Long-term good for him, not so good for the Ukrainians (who don’t think of Russia with fondness).

  7. Peacerme says:

    Barr should have no credibility as AG. Is there truly no way to impeach him or make some official move (disbarment?) based on his ignoring a subpoena? Trump is far more dangerous to our democracy because of Barr. His “investigations” are splitting the government into 2 factions. If he is not stopped or discredited severely he has the ability to tear this country further apart. Without Barr, trump was less powerful. If we wait for Barr to bring a fake investigation and story conspiracy forward it will have credibility. If we take away his credibility BEFORE he does this, it will be easy to debunk. The house needs to take some sort of action against Barr at the same time as they impeach trump.

    The micro picture of impeaching trump is helpful, but from a macro level we are fighting to save our democracy. Impeaching trump, is good but it’s not enough. It’s like the mob and we need to remove the king pins.

    I have continued to engage in discussions with trump advocates. (I lovingly tell them I am not letting politics hurt our relationship but that I feel it’s important for us to exchange info and talk as part of our duty in a democracy) I have been able to do this on face book and in my process groups. Using techniques I teach for communication. (If relationship is important use GIVE-gentle, interested, validating and easy manner).

    All of my conservative friends and clients see Barr as a hero and as long as I can’t discredit him through an official source, I cannot be effective in dismissing his “work product”. (They love accusing every credible witness as “never trumpers”. I have been able to make 2 points that set them on their heels. One: “are you telling me you think that every single witness is bald faced lying under oath risking penalty of perjury because they hate trump?” The person I was debating had to admit that’s hard to believe. Point number two: if there exists all these “never trumpers” as they refer to anyone who offers testimony against trump, there must also exist “forever trumpers” who blindly support him despite facts that suggest he should not be supported. That also worked as it created a desire in them to appear more objective.

    To them, AG Barr is the new Jesus. (My apologies to true followers of Christ). In my debating, I need some fact that I can use to discredit Barr that takes less than a sentence to explain. They don’t do details but they do hear and are affected by argument that is sweeping. If I could say “AG Barr is being charged, impeached, or sanctioned”, it would stop them. Back them up. It creates a problem in their debate with me. Even though they would argue “it’s not fair and a witch hunt” they can feel they are defending.

    We need to do something that decreases Barr’s credibility, if we are going to save our democracy. Putin is going to do all he can to take advantage of this situation. It is within his grasp to destroy our democracy and he’s already half way there. Planting those seeds in discussion, not winning the debate but planting info helps them see the pattern. But it has to be done lovingly. I let them treat me like I am stupid and I carefully ask questions instead of telling them. It is through disinformation that our democracy falls to fascism. We need to keep a handle on the bigger picture not just the details because trump followers are not interested in details. If we are going to win the narrative we need to completely and thoroughly discredit Barr. And there is valid and factual reasons to do so, in plain sight!!

  8. Vicks says:

    Basic question on redactions.
    When a name is redacted because of an ongoing investigation will it then be redacted every time it is mentioned in an interview or just when it is used in direct context to an investigation?

  9. Mitch Neher says:

    Evidently, there’s no truth whatsoever to the scurrilous rumor that the OLC has recently opined that “a sitting president cannot be impeached while in office.”

    I mean–How could they? The House Republicans–sure. But not the OLC. No!

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