Bill Barr Trying to Dig Sidney Powell out of the Hole She Dug for Mike Flynn

Both NYT and NBC are reporting that Bill Barr has gotten yet another US Attorney (after he gave CT’s John Durham and WDPA’s Scott Brady similar politicized errands), St. Louis’ Jeffrey Jensen, to politicize DOJ. Jensen has been tasked — along with some of Jeffrey Rosen’s aides — to second guess the investigation of Michael Flynn and other non-public cases (though probably ones that include Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort).

This latest assault on judicial independence started two weeks ago.

Over the past two weeks, the outside prosecutors have begun grilling line prosecutors in the Washington office about various cases — some public, some not — including investigative steps, prosecutorial actions and why they took them, according to the people. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive internal deliberations.

That’s about the time Sidney Powell submitted what amounted to a second motion to dismiss for prosecutorial misconduct, which prosecutors correctly explained included no new claims of misconduct but a whole bunch of things that Emmet Sullivan had already dismissed in a meticulous 92-page opinion, with appendix.

That — plus the fact that Powell flip-flopped on whether or not prosecutors should get a continuance to be able to get Covington lawyers to explain how much Mike Flynn lied to them for his FARA filing — likely means Sidney Powell got a heads up about this.

Back in June, it seems clear, Bill Barr told Sidney Powell it would be safe to blow up Mike Flynn’s plea deal, perhaps believing that things he saw on Fox News — including a bunch of hoaxes that Sara Carter had started, and which FBI had already investigated multiple times. Powell proceeded to make Flynn’s legal woes worse and worse and worse. Alarmingly, she had Mike Flynn submit a sworn statement that radically conflicts with other sworn statements he already made. In other words, based on Bill Barr apparent reassurances that Flynn should pursue an absolutely insane legal strategy, Flynn turned his probation sentence into additional perjury exposure.

And so now Bill Barr is sending off his minions to try to undo the damage that Flynn and Powell created for themselves by trying to suggest that multiple lies to the FBI somehow amounted to an ambush because Flynn was so sure the FBI was on his side that he lied convincingly.

62 replies
      • Philip Webster says:

        For those as I of the denser kind:
        The adage has been attributed to a number of sources. It appeared in print on page six of The Washington Post dated October 25, 1911, in the form: “Nor would a wise man, seeing that he was in a hole, go to work and blindly dig it deeper…”[3] In The Bankers magazine, it was published in 1964 as: “Let me tell you about the law of holes: If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”[4]

    • Salt of the Earth says:

      If Barr is an honorable guy trying to bring honor back to the FBI, he may need to look at all of the political prosecutions.
      McCabe lies to the FBI; no charges. Flynn lies to the FBI; bankrupted, charged and destroyed. Papadopoulos lies to the FBI; serves time.
      According to Kim Strassel, the prosecutors in the Stone case went rogue, saying they would quit if they were not allowed to recommend excessive punishment.
      An FBI agent falsified information on Carter’s FISA warrant; no charges filed.
      Clapper and Brennan lie to Congress; no charges filed. Stone lies to Congress; 5-7 years recommended.
      Maybe we need to look at things objectively, not through the lenses of ideology and hate. Maybe Barr is just doing the job we all expect him to do.

      [link shared by user: ht tps:// ]

      • P J Evans says:

        And maybe Barr is trying to protect the guy who gave him real power. Also Barr isn’t the head of the FBI.

      • R young says:

        “Maybe we need to look at things objectively, ”
        I would put forward this is what emptywheel has spent several years doing, in excruciating detail, while you have managed to deplete the handbook of rhetorical falicies in one paragraph…

    • Salt of the Earth says:

      If Barr is an honorable guy trying to bring honor back to the FBI, he may need to look at all of the political prosecutions. Maybe we need to look at things objectively, not through the lenses of ideology and hate. Maybe Barr is just doing the job we all expect him to do.

      [link shared by user: ht tps:// ]

      • pacific says:

        Right. Your mistake is even beginning to believe Barr is an “honorable” guy.

        Where were you when Barr repeatedly lied to the American people about the contents and findings of the Mueller report before its’ release, stated and concluded that Trump did not obstruct justice, when in fact it was clear from the Mueller report that Trump repeatedly had obstructed justice, and has corruptly and ;repeatedly run interference for Trump to this day.

    • Salt of the Earth says:

      Barr has to show fairness since both the Flynn case and the McCabe case are flimsy.

      [link shared by user: ht tps:// ]

      • bmaz says:

        Lol, you are a bad troll. There is nothing whatsoever flimsy about the case against Flynn. That is a laughable and idiotic statement by you.

      • P J Evans says:

        The Flynn case is rock-solid.
        The McCabe case was invented to pacify the orange idjit in the WH.

  1. Mister Sterling says:

    So knowing now that barr was going to interfere in both the Flynn and Stone cases on Trump’s behalf, was it wrong for the Democrats to get impeachment done in December rather than March? For the next 10 months at least, we are being ruled by a president and his DOJ.

    • taluslope says:

      I’ve gone round and round in my head about Pelosi’s decision on the date of impeachment. For me it comes down to the fact that he who shall never be named crossed a line and impeachment was the required remedy. Might as well get it quickly done with. Take longer and it really does interfere with the election and makes the case that the decision should be left to the voters not senators.

      To me the final outcome was a reasonable one. He was justifiably impeached and voters get to decide on his fitness for office. G*d help us if we reelect him.

      When I was younger I couldn’t imagine the end of our democratic experiment. Yeah sure, perhaps in many many centuries something could happen. Now i fear I’m witnessing the end.

      I’ve said several times that we were lucky that nameless was such an idiot. What havoc could be raised by a competent autocrat? Now, yuk, it appears that nameless is extraordinarily effective in relentlessly breaking our norms of civil behavior. Attack, drive out, and fire anyone who gets in his way and replace them by adoring ones. And who knew that if you could just lie enough times, the lies would linger in our brains until the sound of them on our tongues would make them most believable.

      • BobCon says:

        He’s crossed plenty of lines, but Pelosi has put a lid on investigations to tamp down the pressure to do anything.

        She declined to build a staff to investigate and she declined to hire attorneys to fight in court — the office of the House Counsel has only nine attorneys, one of them literally working out of a closet.

        Moving agressively on Ukraine would make sense if this was a one time affair, but seen in the larger context, it’s a sign of Pelosi’s failed strategic vision and judgment of the scope of the threat to our way of life.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I agree with your analysis. There might be many reasons for it. The powers that be, and rich donors in particular, seldom care for federal investigsations: they are usually directed at their kind.

          Investigations would encourage the demand for change. Pelosi knows any attempts to do so would meet the same fate in the Senate as Trump’s impeachment and the 400-odd House bills sitting on McConnell’s desk.

          Rather than focus on how weak that might make the Democrats look, she could focus on how bad that rampant obstruction makes the GOP look. But that might be rude.

          Separately, I think taluslope’s description also applies to a good part of American corporate culture.

          • ducktree says:

            OT – my new favorite malaprop: federal investigsations

            Whatever it is: they’re against it! Cue the chorus…

      • P J Evans says:

        The impeachment was reasonable.
        The Senate trial was a kangaroo court. (In case you missed it, the GOP-T senators made it obvious before they even got the articles that they would not vote to convict and would continue to ignore all the evidence.)

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “That…likely means Sidney Powell got a heads up about this.” From the get go.

    Giving defense counsel a heads up, but not one’s own prosecutors, seems a tad bass ackwards.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    OT, I agree with bmaz about Chicago’s Terry Kath’s talents. A string of his songs are among my favorites, including Pete Cetera’s Wishing You Were Here. The Beach Boys back-up vocals add a ghostly flair. Pity that Kath shot himself in the head with what he thought was an empty-chambered 9mm.

    My Zen question of the day is, if rock stars never played with matches, spoons, hypos, pills, or guns, would they be rock stars?

    • Eureka says:

      No. At least that’s the answer I’ve come to any time I’ve contemplated it in the past.

      Related: now that they are all in recovery, some have been captured by the Raptured variant, ruiner of many songs.

        • diggo says:

          “Oh Lord wont you buy me a Mercedes Benz
          My friends all drive Porches I must make amends
          Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends
          So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?”

          • Mooser says:

            I’ve always liked sports cars, but I wouldn’t buy a car built in GM’s Bowling Green factory unless antimassacres for the headrests were included at no extra charge.

    • BD Mac says:

      That’s not quite a Zen question brother. Nor a koan.

      Shamanistic techniques are not required 4 1 2 muse. A heart is.

      Sober is best (for the best of us), but when 1 lets the hero in; 1 tends to take the hero’s way out.

      IF is the middle word in life. That’s the real answer to your question, but u already knew that.

      Have a good night.

  4. Anonymous Cowherd says:

    Crikey, this season needs better screenwriters. These Trump and Barr characters are just re-heated Crabbe and Goyle, oafs to distract us while Voldemort plots his subterfuge in secret. Rowling should sue for plagiarism.

  5. OldTulsaDude says:

    Slightly OT but I can’t help but dwell on the question of: how do you stop this administration? How do you stop a criminal enterprise when it controls the law? I’m not confident of voting them out Then what? The only tool of value is the House’s ability to alter the money flow. Now is the time to use that tool, before it is taken too.

    I would urge the House to play hardball, but to play hardball one must first have balls. I’m not optimistic.

      • Ruthie says:

        Sadly, so do I. The House will grill Barr in March, and he’ll give non-answers just like he did in his confirmation hearings. Then they’ll throw their hands in the air and say “We did what we could”.

        Democrats in Congress seem to be more concerned about being called partisan than the consequences of failure if they treat this like the “in case of emergency break glass” situation that it actually is.

    • roberts robot double says:

      The only solution to the current situation is something along the lines of Ainsley Lowbeer’s position in William Gibson’s last two books, The Peripheral and Agency.

      Realistically, I think the best we can do is figure out how to prevent it from ever happening again, i.e. what legislation or even constitutional ammendment(s) can be constructed to ensure oversight of the Executive.

      In this burgeoning Age of Information, there needs to be *serious* and personal criminal consequences for what Barr and the WH have been doing to oversight.

      What makes these corrupt assholes so dangerous is that they have no fear.

  6. Eureka says:

    Reported by NYT, followed by WSJ:

    Caitlin Dickerson: “NEW: The administration is sending Border Patrol tactical units to sanctuary cities for a supercharged arrest operation starting this weekend. With @KannoYoungs & @mirjordan, @anniecorreal, and ⁦@viaSimonRomero⁩ [nyt link]”

    Zolan Kanno-Youngs: “In @WSJ match of our scoop, @MHackman smartly notes BORTAC was the unit that conducted the raid to seize Elián González in Miami in April, 2000.[links wsj reporter tweet/story]”

  7. Bunnyvelour says:

    Barr is only concerned with expanding the powers of the executive branch because it makes HIM more powerful. I’m really tired of hearing how, as a thoughtful, knowledgeable legal mind, he has certain views on Presidential powers, and those views may be both valid and debatable.

    It’s more gaslighting, distracting, obfuscating bullshit. Barr wants power for HIMSELF, end of story. His comments during that disgraceful interview a few days ago were similar in tone to when he remarked that Mueller’s reply to his summary of the report last year was “snitty.” When Barr loses his composure (which he always does when he’s being questioned), he reacts this way.

    I hope he doesn’t get a moment’s respite-not from anyone. Not the press, not Congress, not trump. Just PILE ON, relentlessly, and he’ll collapse like a deflated bounce house.

    • Raven Eye says:

      I don’t look at what Barr does in a pro-Trumpian context. I find the most interesting context is his long, long goal of realizing that Unified Executive / Imperial Presidency thing.

      I give him credit for not being in the first couple of waves with the more obvious Velcro-nosed toadies (let the D-Day landing craft in the first couple of waves find the offshore obstructions and land ashore in the kill zones). I think Barr thought the Trump was the Golden Baby, and his ego told him that he could control Trump enough to accomplish his own ends. Now Barr is facing a Trump unchained.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but Trump’s program has expanded. It has moved on from getting him off the legal hook to geting his government off the hook for whatever it might do.

    Trump wants to join the dictators’ club. He needs to join it. He made that clear when he walked into the Oval Office. Maya Angelou’s warning is worth remembering: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

    • P J Evans says:

      Give Trmp Epstein’s island retreat, get him and his buddies to go there for winter vacation, and then block all travel to and from it.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Border Patrol has an “elite tactical unit,” a kind of hard, relentless, well-trained special weapons and tactic unit. Trump is sending detachments of it to several so-called sanctuary cities.

      Their presence will put them in direct opposition with local and state law enforcement, potentially setting up both violent conflicts and protracted federal court cases, plus lots of media coverage. But the fear comes before the dawn – and the opening of voting booths.

      Coincidentally, the preliminary list of those cities — San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, New Orleans, Detroit, and Newark, NJ — has something else in common: their potential to vote heavily for Democrats.

      • OldTulsaDude says:

        The quality that separates this president from all past presidents and makes him so dangerous is his ruthlessness, ruthlessness normally associated with descriptions of sociopaths.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I don’t think his ruthlessness is unique. His criminality is, as is his man-childish rebellion against rules and constraints.

      • Eureka says:

        Chicago and New York will get ‘reinforcements’ as well, per a snippet from NYT. In addition to the (pre-)election staging, there are also concerns about ‘discouraging’ participation in the census.

      • Rapier says:

        I suggest learning the correct pronunciation.

        Let me suggest your wrong that, “Their presence will put them in direct opposition with local and state law enforcement”

        Huge swaths of police are Trump people. I think the proper way to understand the process and the intent here is to liaise with local police. To establish personal, political and organizational support for The Party, to recruit as well. I believe there is already a strong trend for non loyal MAGA people in Homeland Security and police departments on every level to quit. Thus filling the ranks with loyalists. As well as to garner and help organize political support among local MAGA.

        The term schutzstaffe is not a wild exaggeration.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The Heimatsicherheitsdienst has not yet turned itself or its Border Patrol into Himmler’s SS, his Schutzstaffel. He is moving in that direction, though, which is why I cited the reporting.

          Trump knows no limits. He built his life around being unconstrained by money, taste, the law, ethics, good business practice, and social obligation. He lives by the mocking description applied to the fraternity jerk, “I want it, I need it, I have to have it.”

          Trump is rigid, stubborn and not very bright. But he knows that he and his empire (and his party, which he doesn’t care about) are in serious jeopardy should he loses his bid for re-election.

          Trump happily cheats at golf, in business, on his taxes, the law, and his families. He thinks its smart and that he’d be an effeminate loser if he didn’t do it. He won’t hesitate to cheat in bigger and better ways to win re-election. Some of them will be violent.

  9. McShane says:

    OT: Is Geoffrey Berman — the Trump-appointed AUSA for SDNY — quitting his office?

    That’s how I’m reading it, but that would be such huge news that we should be seeing it reported everywhere. A quick cruise around likely outlets yields not a whisper, though.

    You can read the doc he filed today at the link (Big Cases Bot twitter). He’s asking the court to let him withdraw from a case (no biggie) but as reason he writes: “I write to inform the Court that I will be leaving the United States Attorney’s Office.”

    This is crazy. I think he’s resigning. I don’t see any other way to read this.

    We don’t need this. Ungood.

  10. taluslope says:

    >>> perhaps believing [the] things he saw on Fox News

    Has it really come to this? A US AG believes stuff he hears on Fox News? I had always expected that lawyers know when they make crap up — that they actually live in a reality based world.

    I can say that as a scientist, I just don’t (well perhaps rarely) see this type of reality distortion. The closest thing I’ve witnessed is a fundamentalist Christian colleague of mine trying to justify his belief in a young (6000 year old) Earth (as a professional geophysicist no less). Even then his arguments were framed in terms of acceptance of existing physical laws.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I think your humor confuses sexual with political identity. One of them is a fruitful line of argument.

  12. orionATL says:

    you stop Republican and presidential erosion of American political laws, customs, and moral rules by making American citizens aware of these breeches of our traditions. having made citizens aware, the next step is to heighten their concern about the seriousness of the breeches. this one does by repeatedly and clearly telling the story, showing the example of serious breeches. repetition is essential.

    1. of laws, there are probably a number that are important enough to cite as evidence of presidential and party feckless and illegality.

    – laws intended to disallow or discourage voting stand high on this list.

    – as do laws which prohibit presidential moving of congressionally appropriated funds to other projects.

    – as do laws protecting immigrants first entering the u. s. from arrest and prosecution (asylum laws).

    – laws involving a member of one’s family making money off of holding office. presidential activities involving background solicitation of bribes.

    2. customs being breeched.

    – the attack on states for their activities in protecting their citizens, e. g., on California in setting more stringent emissions rates than trump federal standards.

    – the physical attack on certain cities with “specially trained” federal troops because of sanctuary positions taken in the immigration conflict.

    – our president treating his political rivals with at least some formal courtesy. our president willingly and fully participating in symbolic ceremonies. our president appearing courteous and engaged in meetings with foreign leaders.

    – allowing and using assistance from foreign governments and individual foreign nationals in American federal elections.

    3. transgression of moral rules.

    – lying to the public repeatedly and egregiously for the evident purpose of misinforming the public about the president’s intentions regarding the policies he has enacted or proposes to enact.

    – the president behaving vindictively toward those who criticize his general conduct or specific activities, for example, federal judges who rule against his policies or against him personally.

    – the president and his party’s ongoing, persistent effort to undermine the affordable care act, the no denial of insurance for preexisting conditions rule, medicaid (including must work to gain help rules), and the shrinking of the good stamps program, the intention to cut medicare despite promises tongue contrary.

    – republican senate majority refuses to allow witnesses to testify in trump impeachment trial.

    – engaging in gaslighting propaganda in order to confuse citizens

    doubtless more could be added to each of these three categories to form a strong, legitimate critisim of the president and his party.

  13. Reader 21 says:

    @Salt—Barr has thus far proven himself to be the furthest thing from “honorable.” The only remaining question is how deep the rot goes. And why anyone would cite Kim Strassel—for anything—is beyond me.

    PS. Errors abound in the examples you cite, but the maybe the most egregious was Roger Stone—convicted by a grand jury of every manner of witness tampering, including threatening harm. Federal courts typically frown on such, just fyi.

  14. Tom R. says:

    Speaking of holes, and knowing when to stop digging: In Flynn’s declaration (document 160-23) he says near the bottom of page 3, in the context of the Kislyak calls:
    “Frankly, of the national security
    dangers and concerns that weighed on our minds at the time, “sanctions” on Russia were
    far from the most pressing threat or concern. We were dealing with many more serious
    crises around the world.”

    That’s just not credible. Getting those sanctions lifted is critical to the personal and political well-being of Flynn’s boss’s boss (Vladimir Putin), and indeed to the economy and security of Russia as a whole. Flynn surely knows this, and knew it at the time.

    Anybody who wants more details on the importance of sanctions can read chapter 27 of Rachel Maddow’s _Blowout_ book and/or the recent (January 17, 2020) Congressional Research Service report.

    The prosecutors’ reply brief didn’t pick up on this particular lie, but if Flynn ever goes to trial (for the original false-statements charge and/or additional perjury charges) I imagine they would whack him with this. How stupid does he think we are? Maybe I’m naïve, but I was expecting higher-quality lies from Flynn and Powell.

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