ABC Conducts an “Exclusive” “Interview” about Sentencing Guidelines without Asking about Sentencing Guidelines

Update: Overnight ABC posted the full interview. It does discuss sentencing guidelines without talking about the significance of Barr overriding them. As laid out here, Barr provides three inconsistent explanations for why he intervened.

In its story writing up its “exclusive” “interview” with Attorney General Bill Barr, ABC gets to the core of the issue: The Attorney General not only intervened to override the sentencing recommendation of career prosecutors, but he did so in defiance of the sentencing guidelines recommended by the Probation Office.

In a stunning reversal, the Justice Department overruled a recommendation by its own prosecution team that Stone spend seven to nine years in jail and told a judge that such a punishment – which was in line with sentencing guidelines – “would not be appropriate.”

Yet ABC didn’t ask Barr about the sentencing guidelines, at least not in the clip posted. Nor did Pierre Thomas ask any of the follow-up questions about that:

  • How he could ever justify overriding line prosecutors on a sentencing recommendation that deviated from guidelines.
  • Whether he had ever done so in the past.
  • How he could be–as he claimed to be–surprised that prosecutors resigned given that this action is unprecedented and not justified by sentencing guidelines.
  • Whether he believed sentencing guidelines were too harsh and should be amended downward, even while he maligns District Attorneys around the country for advocated lesser sentences.

In short, in this “interview” ABC didn’t ask Barr the first question that needs to be answered. As a result, Thomas waltzed through this interview to its typical Bill Barr conclusion, where others are at fault for asking why guidelines designed to prevent precisely this kind of politicized tampering were overridden, where Bill Barr has a right to be “irritated” for being called out for engaging in such a naked political act.

Instead of asking that basic question, ABC allowed the Attorney General to claim that the problem was not Barr’s actions, which have rightly been described as unprecedented, but instead the President’s tweets.

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99 replies
  1. Jenny says:

    Thank you Marcy. Excellent questions you listed. ABC needs to consult you first.
    LOL when Barr say Trump’s tweets makes it “impossible for me to do my job.”

  2. Fran of the North says:

    EW, Thank you for the insights.

    When this story broke earlier, first blush reaction could be that Barr was complaining about Trump getting in his grill. A much more troubling take could be the interpretation that Barr is defending his action as ‘perfect’, and the only reason that he’s taking flack is a completely unrelated tweet from the twit-in-charge.

    Don’t believe yer lyin’ eyze, trus’ me to do the right thang.

    • orionATL says:

      I think you’re pretty much on the mark.

      my thought is that barr is pulling a fake complaint to use prez to cover barr’s IMMEDIATE obedience to prez.

      note that after his very public complaint about presidential interference, barr changed nothing about his commutation of the most serious criminal part (threatening) of Stone’s recommended prison term.

      note also that Trump has gone after judge Amy B. Jackson and barr has said nothing.

      barr was simply constructing an alibi, like any criminal would do.

  3. Rapier says:

    Only those not depending on a paycheck from a corporation don’t understand.

    I don’t suppose any HJC member is going to ask Barr why he visited Murchoch’s townhouse after a busy busy day? Couldn’t he get his orders over the phone?

  4. BobCon says:

    When David Stockman caused an uproar by speaking too freely about the cynicism behind Reagan’s budget games, the White House got through it by staging a fake session of Stockman getting “taken to the woodshed” by Reagan. They turned a substantive policy scandal into a personal drama, knowing the press corps would lap it up.

    The same playbook is at work here.

    What is galling is that DC press gaggle makes a show of its savvy, but never ever exposes obvious stage managing like this. What is more, they pat themselves on their backs for their aggressiveness and competitiveness, but they never actually blow up a rival’s false narrative.

    They’re not serving the public’s interests They’re not serving the ideals of journalism. They’re enforcing the norms of the clique.

    Meanwhile, Barr is using what he sees to hone his strategy for dropping manufactured pre-election bombshells, learning which outlets will go the farthest in complicity with the lies he will be spinning. This is only a test.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Agree. Barr is sharpening and testing his tools. He is as determined to re-elect Trump as Trump. He must complete God’s work now, before the Democratic infidels return to frustrate it.

      • BobCon says:

        Barr knows there is nothing the DC press loves more than a personality conflict.

        It makes them feel absolved of the need to address policies where average people and norms are targeted by elites, and they can instead spin endless, stakes-free speculation about the names they drop.

        • John K says:

          If this little kerfuffle has not been orchestrated with Trump’s awareness, he will respond with an ugly tweet aimed at Barr. He could never tolerate such a public display of insubordination. If Trump does not retaliate, it’s a dead giveaway that he was in on it from the beginning.

          • BobCon says:

            Even if he does, I wouldn’t read too much into it. Trump also knows from his tabloid encounters about the value of a public spat about personalities when he wants to change the subject.

            Like the headline writers of the NY Post, I think today’s TV producers and DC press corps know the game too. They’ll just deny they’re playing it.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    How could the Attorney General justify interfering personally in a single criminal prosecution? What was the programmatic or policy interest that justified this novel intrusion?

    Normal, day-to-day functioning of the DoJ is the province of his subordinate, the Deputy Attorney General. And he does not normally interfere with and second-guess the work of individual US Attorneys.

    That second guessing was aimed both at the district’s top management and with regard to sentencing. Moreover, the interference did not go through channels. It was made public with nary a word to the prosecutors handling the case. Why was that?

    • Alaska Reader says:

      Institutional norms and conventions aren’t recognized by Trump, or, for that matter, any of his various henchmen and hangers on.

      Barr certainly doesn’t feel constrained by protocol or custom, he’s a fascist just like his boss.

      • BD Mac says:

        Love your site Marcy. You’re anything, but empty.

        May I point out the obvious of explanations, which some seem to have forgotten temporarily.

        As punishment for his callous treatment of Echo, Nemesis required Narcissus to stare at his own image in a pond. … When the “water sprite” didn’t return his love, Narcissus was so distraught that he pined away, dying of sorrow beside the pool that held his unresponsive reflection.

        Watch them wither friends!

        Not long to go.

  6. drouse says:

    They(there is like eight names on the byline)were probably told they ran the risk of being NPRed. So we ended up with a lie fest without any pushback.

  7. Hika says:

    If the President gets a free pass from Congress for naked abuses of power for political advantage, why would anyone holding the office of US AG feel in any way constrained?
    Apparently, fearless leader Pelosi has already declared that the House will be too busy doing stuff to worry about at least going through the motions of trying to hold Barr to account. I know there are donations to chase and some elections to win. At least Pelosi is running true to form … (sigh).

  8. Eureka says:

    On this element:

    […] even while he maligns District Attorneys around the country for advocated lesser sentences.

    Marcy retweeted a Chris Geidner thread (12:26 PM · Feb 13, 2020):

    “BIG NEWS: In the midst of AG Barr’s Trump-aiding attack on DOJ, he *also* found time to attack progressive prosecutors. Today, in a rare statement, nearly 40 elected prosecutors from across the country are fighting back.[link, screenshot]”
    https://twitter.com/chrisgeidner/status/1228007639759626241

    “”We will not go back to the fear-driven “tough on crime” era. We will not adhere to policies that failed to make our communities safe and punished poverty, mental illness or addiction ….” [link, screenshot]”

    “MORE: “This is our vision of safety and justice. And it is working. … We will not deepen the divide and distrust between law enforcement and communities of color. The voters and our communities demanded better, and so do we.” LOOK AT ALL OF THESE ELECTED OFFICIALS: [screenshots]”

    Discussion here links back to Barr’s speech in question:
    https://www.emptywheel.net/2020/02/11/three-things-when-the-hangover-ends/#comment-827179

  9. Molly Pitcher says:

    https://mail.aol.com/webmail-std/en-us/suite

    Digby says that : “President Donald Trump has rehired his former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former press secretary Sean Spicer almost three years after both men unceremoniously departed the White House.

    Priebus and Spicer will each join the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships, according to a White House announcement Tuesday. As a part of the commission, the pair will interview and recommend to their former boss national finalists for appointments.”

    But wait, there’s more !! If you haven’t found that perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your special someone, “(Sean Spicer) announced on Cameo that he would record Valentine’s Day messages for people who were willing to pay him $199.”

    Who could ask for anything more ??

  10. Molly Pitcher says:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/13/bar-goes-after-barr/

    From the Waashington Post: “In a rare act of public challenge to the Trump administration, the New York City bar has written a remarkable letter to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz as well as the chairs and ranking minority-party members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees — Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.), Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).”

    “The letter recounts the facts surrounding Stone’s crime and conviction, the sentencing recommendation and revision, and Trump’s public intervention. The letter bats down the notion that this is any way normal. The bar writes: “The Department of Justice is not in the habit of taking one position in court and then, without explanation, taking a startling different position on the very next day. … We would applaud a generalized initiative by the Department of Justice that encourages judges to depart from those recommendations when justice requires. But this is not what the Department of Justice has done here.”

    Instead, the bar says this appears “from all external circumstances to be an instance of President Trump and Attorney General [William P.] Barr acting in concert to protect Stone from punishment.” The letter argues that “the mere fact and timing of the Department of Justice decision to overrule the prosecutors who handled the case — just hours after President Trump’s tweet — is itself suggestive of improper influence. Even this appearance of improper influence is detrimental to the fair administration of justice, the rule of law and the public’s trust in the justice system.”

    Bazinga

  11. Eureka says:

    Presidential historian Donald Trump told Geraldo Rivera today why sending Rudy to do his dirty work in Ukraine was the perfect call. Sure, he apparently failed to watch the impeachment-related testimonies about the damage Rudy was doing viz US policy. But at first blush, Trump’s appearance with Geraldo and Barr’s with ABC appear to be perhaps coordinated, aimed to take heat off Barr and transfer it to Rudy. Recall Trump used to highlight the notion of an in-pocket AG as his personal attorney, specifically citing JFK-RFK. Check out the differences below (via CNN). [I didn’t listen to Geraldo’s podcast; not sure if there’s any additional worth in comparing the two interviews.] CNN is emphasizing the ‘news’/change-in-story aspect re Trump’s directing Rudy, which is also significant:

    Trump contradicts past denials, admits sending Giuliani to Ukraine
    https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/13/politics/trump-rudy-giuliani-ukraine-interview/index.html

    Emboldened after his impeachment acquittal, President Donald Trump now openly admits to sending his attorney Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to find damaging information about his political opponents, even though he strongly denied it during the impeachment inquiry.

    […]

    “Here’s my choice: I deal with the Comeys of the world, or I deal with Rudy,” Trump said, referring to former FBI Director James Comey. Trump explained that he has “a very bad taste” of the US intelligence community, because of the Russia investigation, so he turned to Giuliani.

    “So when you tell me, why did I use Rudy, and one of the things about Rudy, number one, he was the best prosecutor, you know, one of the best prosecutors, and the best mayor,” Trump said. “But also, other presidents had them. FDR had a lawyer who was practically, you know, was totally involved with government. Eisenhower had a lawyer. They all had lawyers.”

    (internal link removed)

    • P J Evans says:

      Big, big difference: Those earlier presidents weren’t enriching themselves at the expense of the country.

  12. Eureka says:

    An excellent essay; strong words from the clear and understated Chuck Rosenberg:

    This is a revolting assault on the fragile rule of law
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/12/this-is-revolting-assault-fragile-rule-law/

    […] being asked by that leadership to allow politics to corrode our work is not remotely normal or permissible. And it is treacherous.

    […]

    This is not normal and it is not right, and it is dangerous territory for the rule of law.

    Safeguard or surrender. You choose.

    (emphasis added)

    Adding: I saw someone earlier quote an excerpt of this excerpt from an old book. It’s useful reading to compare and contrast elements of what’s going on today:

    They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45 by Milton Mayer, an excerpt, 2017 edition
    https://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/511928.html

  13. Vicks says:

    Someone on the tv last night reminded me that democracy is not a natural state for human beings.
    An simple observation that imho our founders seemed to incorporate into every word of our constitution.
    They say no problem can be solved without empathy and those fighting to protect democracy may do better if they acknowledge that thanks to human nature the fight will never end and their opponent will always have an edge.
    IMHO we are at a bend or break point.
    If we get though whatever history ends of labeling the Trump period intact, it will be more than a test of our constitution, it will be a test of how much work the people of this country are willing to do to defend it.

    • Rayne says:

      Someone on the tv last night reminded me that democracy is not a natural state for human beings.

      Who said this when?

      How was this determined? Was there research?

      Don’t expect us to simply believe this even if you do. This is the test itself. Are you willing to simply be told this and accept it?

      • Mooser says:

        “Someone on the tv last night reminded me that democracy is not a natural state for human beings.”

        That’s all right, can’t be helped, after all human beings aren’t entirely ‘natural’ to begin with. We each and every one have a spark of the Divine in us.

      • Vicks says:

        Not an expected response but I will go through through all my recordings and get you a name by tomorrow.
        While you are waiting, please tell me why you won’t consider the validity of what I am saying?
        (IMHO) Democracy is an evolved state and until the human brain catches up, it will always need to be protected from a motivated person who has the skills to develop a “following” and build power using primal triggers.
        I’m pretty sure history backs me up on this, perhaps I am misinterpreting your issue with my comment?

          • Rayne says:

            I hope you don’t think that a justification for keeping one’s sensitive bits covered from the elements is a justification for doing something “unnatural” like an inequitable form of government.

            One could argue an intelligent creature naturally develops personal protection methods like standing in the shade during the heat of the day or flinging dust at one’s body to discourage pests or cover tender skin. Or naturally develops cooperative, collaborative behaviors like grooming each other to remove pests, or gather and share food.

        • Rayne says:

          Children younger than three years of age, even as young as 12 months, understand fairness.

          … We are now sitting on a mountain of evidence from our studies as well as those conducted by others that suggests fair behavior has deep roots in development. Infants as young as 12 months expect resources to be divided equally between two characters in a scene. By preschool, children will protest getting less than peers, even paying to prevent the peer from getting more. As children get older, they are willing to punish those who have been unfair both when they are the victims of unfairness as well as when they witness someone else being treated unfairly. Older still, children show what we described above: They would rather receive nothing than receive more than a peer. …

          Source: McAuliffe, Katherine, et al. “Do Kids Have a Fundamental Sense of Fairness?” Scientific American, 23 Aug. 2017 – blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/do-kids-have-a-fundamental-sense-of-fairness/.

          Here’s another study: Li, Jing et al. “Young Children’s Development of Fairness Preference.” Frontiers in psychology vol. 7 1274. 30 Aug. 2016, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01274 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5004411/

          I’m not going to add +60 more citations because they’re all available at that previous study at the bottom of the page. The three researchers who wrote the Scientific American essay I’ve excerpted above are among those cited in Li’s study.

          Fairness is the universal value which underpins democracy — every citizen has a voice, every citizen has a vote. Children already grasp the concept of fairness before they are verbal and likely before caretakers consciously teach them fairness. Fairness is our innate standard; inequity is not.

          When somebody says democracy isn’t natural, they’d better bring the goddamn receipts and explain why they are undermining democracy with their disinformation.

          Ball’s still in your court. Bring it.

          • Vicks says:

            If fairness, is, as you argue, “the innate standard” what does it say about human nature when you close your argument fairness being a natural state, by accusing me, a person you know nothing about, of “undermining democracy with their disinformation.”?

            In Hamilton’s words
            “It’s the people themselves, not the legislators, who are to blame. The people murmur at taxes, clamor at their rulers but then elect demagogues who appeal to our worst instincts

            Our worst instincts,
            We ALL have them, and even though most of us know better, and a lot of us spend much of our lives trying to DO better, when we get triggered, they come out.
            THAT, is human nature.

            Allow me to repeat my words that came AFTER my first sentence.
            “IMHO we are at a bend or break point.
            If we get through whatever history ends up labeling the Trump period, intact, it will be more than a test of our constitution, it will be a test of how much work the people of this country are willing to do to defend it.”

            Rachael Maddow show 2/13/2020
            “It’s not normal to be a democratic country,” Yale professor Timothy Snyder says. “It’s tough to be a democratic country and while we still are a democratic country, people should make explicitly how grateful they are to have these kinds of chances.”
            https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/2020-campaign-an-opportunity-to-celebrate-democratic-freedom-
            He wrote a couple of books, neither of which I have read, his words in his interview simply resonated.
            I stand by my comment that democracy is not a natural state, it takes work, and motivation and being willing to go to battle once in a while to protect it.
            Just like the guy said on tv.
            I’m taking my ball and going home now.

    • Eureka says:

      Reply to Vicks 145a:

      This is a really hard thread to attempt to step into (ugh and I have a _head_ache_!). You are mixing things at different scales and kind of changing the playing field, while making some inherent / natural-state type claims about humans that are more properly seen as being from a specific historic and ethnocentric point of view.

      When you say things like this:

      thanks to human nature the fight will never end and their opponent will always have an edge.

      I understand exactly what Rayne is responding to.

      You are hewing to a “competitive” view of human nature as if it is the true default, when ample evidence of “cooperation” is just as — if not, in some cases and situations, more — persuasive. It’s a framing problem. If cooperation and competition tango together, competitive frames get all the spotlight, with cooperation framed — falsely — like some kind of secondary reactivity.

      A much stronger argument could be made that the same Republican talking points that characterize humans as innately vicious are the ones that make and keep societies like ours “vicious:” justification, in so many words. (Don’t get me started on the “is-ought” bullshit.)

      You are then conflating it (your opinion of human nature, I guess) with (someone else’s comments on) our current situation. Those are two different scales. (And by ‘conflating’, I mean the issues Rayne responded to: obviously you or anyone as a person would commingle what you take in with how you see the world.)

      To say “democracy is not a natural state” and talk innateness is entirely different than saying to be a democratic country is not normal (or normative, or average) — and regardless of that’s source’s POV. It’s not innate to be a country, either. However, at those different scales, cooperation vs competitiveness within and between countries or states plays a huge historical role in any extent to which ~”democracy is not normative.”

      Also, anyone making claims about human innateness and social organization needs look beyond western history and other ethnocentric models.

      Snyder is an historian with a lot of valuable things to say; it’s also true that no one need add the weight to his words (or anyone else’s) of some mythical past and present of forever and everywhere human badness to have to countervail.

      So at the scale of the “human nature” issue, I’d suggest looking into cross-cultural anthropology and so-called “egalitarian societies” to widen your ideas of what is possible for human social organization, besides the primatological and developmental research Rayne referenced.

      And at the historic scale of what is going on in our country: “a republic, if you can keep it” is a good aphorism, also borne of a specific historical context.

      • Eureka says:

        PS (re your quote below): if you do look into some other human societies besides ours (which aids towards having an informed opinion of “human nature”), you’ll see some rich social inheritances* where behavior like this is checked (i.e., humanity — or the human brain, as you call it here — has already caught up):

        (IMHO) Democracy is an evolved state and until the human brain catches up, it will always need to be protected from a motivated person who has the skills to develop a “following” and build power using primal triggers.

        I’d say the problems come more when group size — or some other structural change, like social media — allows these checks to be escaped (i.e. the solutions are already there, we have overgrown them).

        *Also I am not making some argument for the ‘idyll of the other’, just for breadth about how life can play out.

        • vicks says:

          I am not conflating nor am I reframing my statement. I am however feeling the self-consciousness of interrupting someone else’s conversation.
          Democracy is NOT a natural state. It will NOT survive if left on it’s own, it can’t be taken for granted, and it must fed and watered and tended to constantly to thrive.
          I AM familiar with many of the studies Rayne cited; what is being left out is the big ole “BUT” that follows most discussion of these studies.
          Yes. Children DO have an innate sense of fairness and even at a young age their little brains are able to light up with the joy that comes from sharing.
          BUT
          Far too many children go home to broken adults, and it doesn’t take much contact with these people for the “innate standards” for fairness shown in these studies to be recalibrated.
          Even when you set aside the type of brokenness that leads to the type abuse most of the population agrees is horrific, there are children raised in homes with adults that withhold or are incapable of love, or tell them they are special because they are white, that walls will protect them from brown people coming to take away what is theirs, only a sucker would tell the cashier he/she didn’t ring up the items on the bottom of the cart, or that their favorite teacher is a socialist who wants to take away their guns.

          For this part of the population protecting what is “mine” is woven into the culture, and because of this, they are preyed upon by the worst among us, manipulators who know that ‘fear sells” and anger remains the easiest emotion to access.
          I will argue that hierarchy of needs is a real thing, most republicans are not viscous just easily aroused and as long as the “opposition” is using fear as a motivator/justifier to interrupt the democratic process, they they will continue to have the advantage.

          • Eureka says:

            OK, Vicks. In this discussion, I tried to meet you (and all) where it seemed like you were, and you have changed the terms again. Also you are arguing against points quite different from those I made or intended. I am not convinced that this is an honest miscommunication that I’d otherwise attempt to repair, and neither am I going to argue with you.

            After initially responding, I was able to watch that Timothy Snyder appearance on Maddow. His advice for surviving tyranny included getting out of your own culture and beliefs. Perhaps you’ll take his authority on that.

            Godspeed.

            We’ll all need it.

        • Vicks says:

          Considering “where we all were” was an illogical rabbit hole, perhaps your decision to meet us there created some of the problems with our back and forth?
          Clearly an argument is flawed when one side resorts to name calling and perhaps you miss the irony that even in this tiny snapshot of human interaction power was being misused in an attempt to win, in of all things, an argument about human nature and Democracy.
          You appear to be trying to paint yourself as the reasonable one (a good look on anyone) but considering the weirdness of the argument we’ve both acknowledged I suggest that taking the time to understand my comment, in its original context and then expressing whether you agree or disagree would have been the reasonable route.
          Obviously writing is not my strong suit, so I want to clarify that my intent is not to poke, but simply draw attention to the shit we all do.
          Because we are human, and it’s our nature.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    My vote is that Barr’s criticism of Trump is as real as big time wrestling. He is too self-assured and too much a fan of executive power, and too aware of Trump’s personality, to have said these things without coordinating with the White House.

    They’re playing the media – and their critics – like Lucy Susan Collins and her football full of mythical progressive votes.

    • Vicks says:

      The more they play that interview the more obvious the attempt at a cleanup is.
      Why is Barr blaming Trump’s tweets for this political spectacle and not his own people?He should be outraged, it was their defiance that made him look like a tool.
      Trump knew before he did that Barr had lost control of his people.
      Heads should be rolling instead they are saying fu and walking out the door.

  15. OldTulsaDude says:

    Bill Barr has gone from hiding the rot of the “shining city on a hill” to actively converting it into a gated community of Trump condos.

  16. Molly Pitcher says:

    I have been struggling to identify whom Barr reminded me of, and then hearing him speak in his ‘interview’ it struck me. He reminds me of a character created by the comedian Jonathan Winters, “Chester Honeyhugger”. He was a mischievous little boy who worked hard a looking innocent.

  17. harpie says:

    Ransomware, Palm Beach County, Florida, election office, mid-September, 2016:

    Linking to an NPR story, today:

    https://twitter.com/jennycohn1/status/1228319814428479489
    9:07 AM · Feb 14, 2020

    In sum, there was a ransomware attack on Palm Beach County’s election office in [mid-September] 2016, & the IT manager at the time was into child pornography & didn’t tell authorities about the attack, which we are learning about for the 1st time now. I’m sure he handled it. Move along now. [links to a long thread]

    • harpie says:

      …also want to say that the that random list of words makes me think of the subject of Marcy’s next post, [in Marcy’s phrase] TRUMP’S RAT-FUCKER

  18. punaise says:

    begging bmaz’s forgiveness:

    Trumpty dumped, he, shat on a scroll
    Trump, he’d hump tee, took a great toll
    All the king’s arses in all the king’s   fen    
    Couldn’t put Trumpty together again.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Seems to me a large-scale walkout or refusal to work is past due at Bill Barr’s DoJ. The organized bar should refuse to work with it, and instead, it should join DoJ staff on the Mall in protest.

      “Outside prosecutors” performing unannounced “audits” of “politically sensitive cases” – those involve Donald Trump and his criminal associates – must be a candidate for the biggest criminal cover-up in US legal history.

      This.Is.Not.Normal. You perform a surprise, outside audit because you think an office, a team, a prosecutor – and those managing it – are seriously corrupt. You don’t do it to cherry pick cases involving the president.

      It’s no coincidence that Bill Barr started his career in the CIA. He is implementing measures one would use to consolidate a coup, something at which the CIA is a past master. This is hair-on-fire stuff.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        This three-alarm fire conduct is also a measure of just how much evidence of Trump’s serial criminal corruption is out there.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Trump and his associates must have concluded that the only sure way to keep themselves out of prison or being made destitute is for Trump to remain in office.

        If these are the measures he’s willing to take, that must mean he intends to stay for life – and possibly hand off to a chosen successor, because maintaining control in the family is the only way to keep their crimes and their corrupt winnings from becoming public.

        So much for the GOP’s “let the election decide” bullshit.

      • Ruthie says:

        I’m sure I’m not the only one who could see this coming months ago. Barr came out of the gate and immediately revealed his game – to anyone not wearing blinders. It’s now so undeniable that most good faith actors are openly questioning his ethics, and it’s pretty much accepted that anyone who won’t admit how corrupt his actions have been are themselves tainted by that corruption. So where does that leave us? Pelosi has already said she’s unwilling to launch an impeachment inquiry into Barr.

        Do you think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of such an event – mass resignation at DOJ – actually happening? And if not, what can be done to stop it?

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          As much as the sound of impeaching Barr is appealing, do you honestly think that even if the House had the stomach for this, it would go anywhere once it got to the Senate ?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          House Democratic leadership refused for months to authorize an impeachment investigation of the president.

          I think Bill Barr could burn books and crosses on the Mall and dance around the flames and not be impeached.

          • Ruthie says:

            I agree. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough with my question, which I posed to you in response to your original comment because you’re a lawyer and would have a perspective I lack.

            Is it at all likely that there’ll be a response by enough members of the DOJ to change the status quo? And if not, are we really just stuck here waiting out the election?

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              A walk out is unlikely. It takes considerable cooperation and organization, and an individual and group willingness to be ostracized.

              The legal community is pretty tight and has a long memory. Disrupting Bill Barr’s mission would preclude wingnut welfare, not to mention disrupting paying off mortgages and whopping student debts from law school.

              It’s possible there’s a will, but finding the way seems to be a work in progress. I think the same is true across the board, in the House, the MSM, across the country.

              That’s one reason Trump’s screwing with the election is so dangerous – it’s the last safe harbor, everywhere else be monsters.

      • harpie says:

        Mike Scarcella is going through newly unsealed McCabe documents
        https://twitter.com/MikeScarcella/status/1228389186752913408
        1:42 PM · Feb 14, 2020

        Newly unsealed court transcript: DC’s chief public corruption prosecutor told a judge in September, about status of Andrew McCabe investigation: “I expect that there will be a public decision about the matter very shortly.” Court filings [screenshots] [link]

      • harpie says:

        In that thread:

        Judge Reggie Walton, at Sept. 30 hearing in McCabe-related FOIA:
        “I don’t think people like the fact that you got somebody at the top basically trying to dictate whether somebody should be prosecuted. I just think it’s a banana republic when we go down that road.”[screenshot]

        On that page, he also said:
        “I just think the integrity of the process is being unduly undermined by inappropriate comments and actions on the part of people at the top of our government.

      • harpie says:

        via Wendy Siegelman:
        https://twitter.com/CREWcrew/status/1228399524131082241
        2:24 PM · Feb 14, 2020

        BREAKING: We just got unsealed court docs that show DOJ stringing the Andrew McCabe case along while looking for a reason to indict him. It should come as no surprise the announcement they won’t indict happened right before we got the docs. Read them here: [link]

        CREW GETS MCCABE TERMINATION DOCUMENTS
        https://www.citizensforethics.org/crew-gets-mccabe-termination-documents/

    • harpie says:

      When we learned it:
      12:13 PM ET- McCabe will not be charged.
      1:03 PM ET – Barr installed a team of outside prosecutors
      1:17 PM ET – DOJ opens inquiry into Flynn FBI interview

    • harpie says:

      https://twitter.com/senjudiciary/status/1228407690155773952
      2:56 PM · Feb 14, 2020

      Chairman @LindseyGrahamSC seeks interviews with additional DOJ, FBI officials regarding Crossfire Hurricane during the 2016 presidential election. [link]

      FEBRUARY 14, 2020 WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today requested transcribed interviews from a number of individuals involved in the Justice Department and FBI’s handling of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, including the applications and renewals of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant on Carter Page. [list][link]

        • skua says:

          A wacko theory on Crossfire, if it had the bird poop washed off, the missing chassis replaced by a dolly and it was pulled along by wires successfully on Fox News, would justify in part the acquittal of DJT in his Senate trial.

          At least to some.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I am shocked at the range of people who continue to credit Bill Barr with good faith. Former USA and University of Michigan law professor Barbara McQuade, for example. Institutionalizing an “intake procedure” for Giuliani to report his dubious findings to the USA’s office in Pittsburgh, for example, might be:

    a way for Barr to look like he’s “appeasing Trump a little bit, but not really doing anything too unusual, and getting it out of DC so he doesn’t have to deal with Giuliani directly.”

    https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2020/02/scott-brady-rudy-giuliani/

    Appeasing, that is, “managing” Donald Trump makes Bill Barr the most important person in a city of VIPs. Protecting Trump from criminal exposure makes Barr the most important person for Donald Trump.

    The DoJ is the lever and Bill Barr is the fulcrum that allows Donald Trump to move the world. Bill Barr is exactly where he wants to be, doing exactly what he wants to do. “A little bit” doesn’t enter into it.

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