Bill Barr Commits the Bruce Ohr “Crime”

Far be it for me to ever underestimate the possibility of Bill Barr nefariousness (and I’ll almost certainly have to eat these words), but I’m far less concerned about what Barr said the other day about a process to ingest Ukrainian bullshit from Rudy Giuliani than virtually everyone else. That’s because in his comments from the other day, he emphasized the import of vetting information from Ukraine, whether it comes from Rudy Giuliani or anyone else.

We have to be very careful with respect to any information coming from the [sic] Ukraine. There are a lot of agendas in the [sic] Ukraine, there are a lot of cross-currents, and we can’t take anything we receive from the [sic] Ukraine at face value. And for that reason we had established an intake process in the field so that any information coming in about Ukraine could be carefully scrutinized by the department and its intelligence community partners so that we could assess its provenance and its credibility. That is true for all information that comes to the Department relating to the [sic] Ukraine including anything Mr. Giuliani might provide.

This sounds like the kind of thing you’d do to placate your boss even while ensuring DOJ doesn’t accept a bunch of disinformation manufactured by mobbed up oligarchs to mess with America.

The WaPo’s report that Barr is sending all this to the US Attorney in Pittsburgh suggests Barr neither wants this stuff in Main DOJ but also is not sending it to either of the two places — John Durham’s inquiry or the SDNY prosecution of the Ukrainian grifters — where it might be used in an ongoing investigation.

A Justice Department official said Giuliani had “recently” shared information with federal law enforcement officials through the process described by Barr. Two people familiar with the matter said the information is being routed to the U.S. attorney’s office in Pittsburgh.


It is not clear whether Scott W. Brady, the U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh, will play a similar role, or why his office was chosen. A spokeswoman for Brady’s office declined to comment.

So while I hope (again, probably over-optimistically) that this is just a convenient way to deal with a difficult boss and his criminal subject attorney, I also worry that it’s not being shared with the people investigating such information sharing as illegal foreign influence peddling.

Plus, it strikes me as a unbelievably hypocritical for Bill Barr to continue to ingest dodgy information probably sourced to corrupt oligarchs after the entire frothy right has demonized Bruce Ohr for continuing to accept information — some but not all of it sourced to Oleg Deripaska — from Christopher Steele.

Admittedly, no one can complain about the basis for which DOJ’s Inspector General relied on to make a completely irresponsible attack on Ohr — that he didn’t inform his superiors (even though they had, in fact, been informed). Barr is the boss! He has chosen who should deal with this information, in a way that Sally Yates and Rod Rosenstein did not.

But Barr is, nevertheless, doing what the frothy right complains that Ohr did: continue to accept problematic information — deemed partisan (inaccurately in the case of Ohr, because his information sharing with Steele long preceded the DNC project and much of what he shared during and after that involved entirely unrelated topics) — after it had been discredited.

Perhaps, along with issuing orders that suggest Trump can commit any crime he wants between now and November 2020, Barr should issue an order explaining how DOJ should accept such information — including manufactured dirt from Steve Bannon — as a rule, so we can stop working under different rules for different parties.

7 replies
  1. John Forde says:

    So we in the general populace only get to use the FBI tip-line, but Rudy gets to stovepipe, and Barr promises to filter Rudy’s Ukraine effluent in the public interest.

  2. Vicks says:

    Surely Barr knows what in in this information, and doesn’t acting like Russian propaganda suddenly needs to be monitored and vetted just give him an easy cover to repackage and sell any useful nuggets?

  3. viget says:

    Maybe Western District PA was a compromise? SDNY probably wanted to be the reviewers, but perhaps others at DOJ might have felt that any communications from Giuliani could be construed as privileged (atty- client, atty work product, some bs executive privilege, who knows?), so they needed a taint team?

    Not sure how Western District PA was chosen, but that might be a silver lining, as their investigators are very familiar with GRU tactics having worked both the DNC hack case, and the WADA/Westinghouse/Rio Olympics/OPCW case. Interestingly enough, in the OPCW case at least, the GRU folks were caught trying to hack into the org to discredit the Skripal investigation. Having investigators who know what to look for forensically might be useful to sort through any Ukraine data that could be of questionable provenance.

  4. Marinela says:

    Marcy, in the post, you mentioned Steve Bannon. Any information manufactured by Steve B is designed to cause confusion, pushing it to the edge from legal to illegal. Remember from a while ago when he was bragging on how the Trump campaign, then the Trump presidency operates. Lot of miss information purposed for maximum havoc. Hope that the rest of the media is bringing their A game as this blog does.

    Thank you for sorting thru the fogginess.

  5. foggycoast says:

    do get the feeling they’re lining up their ducks for a surprise revelation/leak just before the election depending on who the Dem nominee is.

  6. richard says:

    I did read some speculation as to “why Pittsburg”?

    Hunter Biden’s then business partner was Chris Heinz…and the Heinz family is based in Pittsburg…


    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This is your second user name; your previous one was ‘redtrout’. A more differentiated username is preferred when you comment next as we have several community members named ‘richard’ or some variant. Thanks. /~Rayne]

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