Four Ways Bill Barr Fucked Up the Roger Stone Cover-Up

Let me say at the outset that I’m not imagining, with this post, that Bill Barr won’t succeed in helping Trump to bury the Russian investigation. The power of the President is breathtaking, Trump will still be able to commute Roger Stone’s sentence, and neither Barr nor Trump have any compunction about abusing power.

Still, Bill Barr really fucked up the cover-up for Roger Stone. He did so in at least four ways:

  • He intervened after prosecutors advised a guidelines sentence (of 7-9 years) when Judge Amy Berman Jackson was never likely to impose that. She ultimately sentenced Stone to 40 months, solidly within the sentence Barr demanded after the fact. In other words, he intervened when he didn’t have to, but by doing so he put himself on the record stating that 40 months was a just sentence.
  • He personally intervened. At the sentencing hearing, ABJ asked John Crabb Jr, the prosecutors whose name was on the revised sentencing memo, what happened. He made it clear that US Attorney Timothy Shea had bought off on the harsher sentence, and said the Attorney General was personally involved. Among other things, this led ABJ to note that it is “unprecedented” for DOJ not to request a guidelines sentence. Crabb also declined to say whether he wrote the revised sentencing memo or not, establishing cause to demand those details.
  • After prosecutors withdrew in response to Barr’s intervention, he went on TV to try to contain the damage. In that appearance, he stated quite clearly that this was a “righteous” prosecution.

BARR: Well, as you know, the Stone case was prosecuted while I was attorney general. And I supported it. I think it was established, he was convicted of obstructing Congress and witness tampering. And I thought that was a righteous prosecution. And I was happy that he was convicted.

  • The whole scandal probably led ABJ to tailor her comments to address it. On top of making clear how outrageous Stone’s obstruction was, she also alluded to the tweets of the President. She ended her statements by saying, “He was not prosecuted, as some have claimed, for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.” She backed that by noting Stone’s comment to Randy Credico that he, Stone, couldn’t take the Fifth because it would hurt the President. This establishes a legal record that Stone is going to prison to protect Trump — far stronger than what went in for Scooter Libby, who was also going to prison to protect his superiors.

Add that to Barr’s statements during confirmation that pardoning someone because of their false testimony is obstruction, and when the eventual commutation does come, the record will already be developed that Trump is engaging in obstruction by doing so.

Again, this is not to say that Barr won’t still succeed with this cover-up. But along the way, he did a number of things that will significantly raise the cost of it.

84 replies
    • fikshun says:

      I would never trust someone who doesn’t drop f-bombs from time to time. That’s doubly true for journalists.

  1. person1597 says:

    Trump/Barr/Stone to face the music?
    Nawwwww…there’s no music to face!

    “Hey! Yeah!
    Dum! Dum!
    Tra la la
    To to to to the edge
    To to to to the edge
    To be in England
    In the summertime
    With my love
    Close to the edge”

  2. Frank Probst says:

    For @bmaz:
    In general, I don’t understand giving defendants time to get their affairs in order before they go to prison, but I know that it’s common practice for white-collar crimes. But in this case, Stone was found guilty of a crime in which he threatened another person’s life. ABJ specifically made this point during the sentencing hearing. Why isn’t someone like that taken into custody immediately?

    • bmaz says:

      There is a motion for new trial pending still, though it will almost certainly be denied. It is just the common practice, especially in federal court, where there is no threat to the community.

      And, frankly, that is a good thing. There is nothing wrong with this process, and ABJ is making sure of that.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Given what we know about this case from filings and activity, how long would such a motion and hearing take?

        IIRC pjb was saying this could extend all summer, which I think would serve mighty well in making the Palace corruption front and center in public discourse. I therefore think Stone gets pardoned sooner than later to provide some time to bury the story under something else spectacular before the election in November. It’s the reality TV way.

        I pretty sure ew knows this deep down, but I doubt Barr will find it hard to dodge his statements especially if he has someone to protect. And he does. Look how he’s been conducing his business from his confirmation hearings to present.

        • bmaz says:

          The clock is already running on response and reply times. The final timing is up to the court, but I would expect maybe 30 days, 45 max.

        • RWood says:

          Will the pardon come before or after election day?

          That’s my only question. The recent pardons of every swamp creature trump could think of were merely to establish context in my opinion. I’d put my money on “before” at this point.

        • Yogarhythms says:

          Rw, @7:30PM
          I’ll take that bet. If pardoned prior to 3NOV20 the press will be too hot. After 3NOV20 itzalgud.

        • Mickquinas says:

          Acknowledging that nothing is certain, would the safe bet be that ABJ rules within 45 days that there will be no new trial, and therefore Stone must report for prison within 60 days of today?

          Judge Jackson assumed that there would be an appeal, but will there really, and if so, how soon? That seems like an expense that Stone might want to delay just a bit, especially if a pardon or commutation is forthcoming.

          I guess I’m wondering about the likelihood that Stone spends any time in prison. Any thoughts from those who have more insight into how these things go?

        • bmaz says:

          I think so, but who knows. Once the motion is denied, Stone will start screaming to have his release condition continued on appeal. It does not look like ABJ is inclined to do that. Lot of moving parts though.

        • Mickquinas says:

          Thanks. That was pretty much what I imagined the situation was.

          It seems to me that ABJ’s comments at sentencing would indicate that she’s not at all inclined to let him wander around pending appeal.

  3. BobCon says:

    Barr’s intervention ought to give the Democrats and the media ammo to use the next time DOJ intervenes for political reasons.

    It will be dropped by Democratic leadership in Congress, although some of the presidential candidates would use it.

    I am not optimistic that this moves the needle with regard to the media, and they will continue to give him the benefit of the doubt. I also expect some will actually use it as a club *against* Democrats as a warning against any attempt to make the GOP accountable for Barr’s corruption.

    Fixing corruption, they will argue, is just as polarizing as being corrupt.

  4. Savage Librarian says:

    To me, it feels like ABJ has put some balance back into the scales of justice. I’m particularly grateful that she emphasized the following, in reference to Stone’s sentence:

    “He was not prosecuted, as some have claimed, for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.”

    And I agree that Barr really has fallen off his game. What colossal screw ups he made. I guess he doesn’t even have the virtue of patience. But, thankfully, history still does. This wreck of his has been duly noted by Marcy and, no doubt, will be by others in the annals of time.

    Speaking of balance, this next go around, I’d love to see a team of women in the WH. Maybe that could start to address some of the out-of-control toxicity that has set our nation on a downward spiral these past few years. In the end, maybe what we should be aiming for is just a little bit more

    Aretha Franklin – Respect [1967] (Original Version)

    • Frank Probst says:

      I expect Trump’s apologists to really zero in on this particular quote. If you say someone covered up for someone else, you’re implying that there’s something there that needed covering up in the first place. The fact that an Obama-appointed Federal Judge is the one implying this is going to make a lot of heads explode.

    • Frank Probst says:

      Worth noting just for the trivia value of it: The song Respect was written and originally performed by Otis Redding. We he sings it, the song is about a man wanting respect from his woman when he gets home from work. In terms of gender stereotypes, the song is blatantly and obnoxiously sexist. Aretha Franklin took the song and totally reversed the meaning of it. When she sings it, it’s about women getting the respect that they deserve. And she sang it so well that it was pretty much a mic drop on Redding. Most people don’t even know that Redding wrote the song, much less what its original meaning was:

      • Frank Probst says:

        Dammit, when I post links to YouTube, they show up as a giant box in the comments. If this is what other people are seeing, I apologize. Rayne, if could you fix it for me? Sorry for the trouble. It wasn’t my intent. :(

      • Ckymonstaz says:

        Thanks for sharing! Never knew this. I love Otis’s voice but glad his version has mostly been forgotten and Aretha’s is an all time classic!

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Frank, may I make a suggestion about this sentence of yours?

        “Most people don’t even know that Redding wrote the song, much less what its original meaning was:”

        I’m pretty sure your intentions are well meant. Yet it still makes me wonder, what is it with “most people”? Haven’t we been hearing somebody in particular say that a lot these past few years? Hmmm. Who is it that says that?!!

        This is just to say how much power POTUS has, even in the use of language and how much it has permeated society, maybe even unconsciously. Instead of reiterating one of Trump’s favorite phrases (“most people”), which, in itself, may have unintended connotations, it may be more accurate to say “some people may not know.” Yet, to me, even that feels inappropriate. So, my suggestion? Just drop the phrase entirely. Poof, buh bye Trump speak.

        • Frank Probst says:

          Intriguing. I hadn’t considered that. But then what would an accurate rephrasing be? “Few people know…” would work in this case, I think, and it would also be more concise. Something for me to keep in mind for future posts.

        • Mooser says:

          Try “as I’m sure you know” or ” as you are no doubt familiar with” or something which tells your readers you think they are smart, up-to-date, and well-versed and always ready to raise arcana.

      • BobCon says:

        I’d disagree with the angle of Redding’s version being sexist. He’s putting himself in the position of a vulnerable man, and that was a somewhat risky thing for a soul singer in 1965 to do.

        Redding by all accounts was a really decent guy, and Aretha Franklin had a huge amount of respect for him, and vice versa. I wouldn’t see her version as a mic drop, more of a back and forth between friendly competitors, which he openly acknowledged she won that time.

        • Frank Probst says:

          Ah, thank you for the context. I had always thought that it was more acrimonious than that, which had made me wonder why he let Franklin sing a cover version of the song at all. Your retelling makes far more sense.

        • BobCon says:

          Wikipedia says (no direct cite, so believe it or not) “Otis Redding himself was impressed with the performance of the song. At the Monterey Pop Festival in the summer of the cover’s release, he was quoted playfully describing “Respect” as the song “that a girl took away from me, a friend of mine, this girl she just took this song”. ”

          Of course, he had songwriting credit and probably made a mint off her cover version, so he had all the more reason to be glad she crushed it.

        • Mooser says:

          Wasn’t “Respect” among the tracks recorded in Franklin’s first sessions in Muscle Shoals with Wexler producing? Franklin played piano, helped arrange, and chose the back-up singers. A big and welcome change from the ‘jazz stylings’ demanded by Columbia. (I still hear her “Skylark” now and then on the local Jazz station, KNKX or used to.)

        • Savage Librarian says:

          Thanks, BobCon. That’s always been pretty much my take on it, too. But Aretha spelled out the R-E-S-P-E-C-T and put in the “sock it to me.” It gave it more energy and excitement.

    • Katherine M Williams says:

      “And I agree that Barr really has fallen off his game. What colossal screw ups he made.”

      Working for Trump must be nearly impossible. He’s crazy. Erratic, stupid, motivated by rage, fear, and a insatiable craving for admiration; and nearly entirely influenced by the poisonous lies of Fox news. Even the slyest, most cunning manipulator must be frequently nonplussed. Working for Reagan and Bush must have been easy in comparison.

      • Mooser says:

        And Trump has a unique advantage. He is incapable of feeling shame. Nor does he acknowledge it as a factor for anyone else, like his ‘staff’.

  5. bmaz says:

    Heh: “Among other things, this led ABJ to note that it is “unprecedented” for DOJ not to request a guidelines sentence.”

    Welp, dunno about that, it can and does happen. But not normally where there was not some cooperation.

    • Frank Probst says:

      The first motion was denied, and the decision on the second one is pending. The second one is the Fox News Legal Theory on Stone getting a new trial because the jury forewoman said mean things about Trump. That one hinges on whether or not the jury forewoman lied on her juror questionnaire or during voir dire. I don’t think we have any idea what she wrote on her questionnaire, but the jury forewoman is an attorney, so personally, I doubt she did anything wrong, but you never know.

      • John Paul Jones says:

        One of the jurors went on Cuomo last night and made it clear that the foreperson of the jury was the one who basically got the rest of them to slow down, consider the charges, consider the elements, and then make a decision. He said that if not for her, the jury would have been much quicker to convict on all charges. So the whole thing around her supposed bias is just blowing smoke.

      • P J Evans says:

        I think it’s been admitted that she told them during voir dire, and the lawyers and the judge didn’t toss her then.

  6. SteveL says:

    The supplemental sentencing memo was really worthless, at best, as an argument in court. Going with TPM’s summary (
    – the original memo already made the supplemental memo’s primary point, that Credico testified he did not feel directly threatened by Stone, and that it would be reasonable for the court to account for that;
    – I thought that the supplemental memo’s comment on the two-level enhancement for obstruction failed to understand the argument in the government’s original memo, and ABJ apparently agreed;
    – ABJ was evidently not impressed by arguments about Stone’s age or health, or by the supplemental memo’s untethered reference to disproportionality.
    As noted by Ryan Goodman and his co-authors (, the supplemental memo was also a shoddy piece of legal work. Since it was ineffective as an argument in court (though, as Marcy notes, it did serve to place Barr’s imprimatur on a 40-month sentence) it really could have served only as a signalling device to Trump and the Trumposphere — making Barr’s claim that he will operate independently and free of outside influence extremely dubious.

    • viget says:

      I like this argument. Well, not like like it per se, but it makes sense.

      When you couple supplemental memo + willingness to personally intervene + Barr’s “warnings” about threatening to quit if the tweets don’t stop, that to me signals that Barr is saying to Trump, “Don’t worry, I got this. I’m willing to go to the edge for you.” Meaning, Stone’s not the case he should be worried about.

      There’s some other case out there percolating now that really threatens Trump, that Barr needs to fix. And he needs to have Trump be quiet about it for that to work. So what case is it? Is it Flynn? Parnas/Fruman? Possible Giuliani indictment? Maybe something we haven’t even heard of.

      • FL Resistor says:

        I think you’re on to something. The Giuliani case appears to be of particular interest to William Barr since his name was dropped in Trump’s infamous July 25th call in the same breath as Giuliani‘s. Both were ID’d as Trump’s ‘go-to-guys’ for any action by Zelensky regarding Trump’s requests to cast false suspicions on Joe Biden.
        Barr stopping the “urgent and credible” whistleblower report from going to the House Intelligence Committee as happens even with non urgent and credible status has yet to be properly addressed.
        Finally, there is Barr’s refusal to recuse from the Giuliani case but he has cordoned it off in Pennsylvania, away from the prying eyes of the Southern District of New York.

        • bmaz says:

          The problem is that the strongest basis for the House Dems to demand expedited resolution was the formal impeachment inquiry, which they initiated very late, rushed through and terminated very early. They are back to traditional legislative purpose footing now, and in a far weaker position. That article is nearly a month old and still McFadden sits on it. Pelosi and Dem leadership just don’t care.

  7. Das Robot says:

    To me 4 years seems about right. Methinks Barr was running around waving his arms and paper around to pose for El Presidente as much as anything else. Seems odd but that may be the only thing that kept the Orange One from doing more damage.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I wish he’d gotten four years. It would have been heftier than three years and four months.

      The flip side is that ABJ made it hard to argue Stone got a raw deal. That won’t stop the propagandists, but it will make legal arguments on appeal look unpersuasive and pro forma.

      • Das Robot says:

        Right. My mistake. Couldn’t edit after I posted. 2 years probation and 20 grand. Tempting to give him the guillotine but I thought 7-9 was excessive.

  8. gulageten says:

    Am I correct that both the judge and the defendant had access to the unredacted Mueller report and evidence? To what extent might that influence the sentencing and retrial rulings?

  9. brian ed says:

    Wait – Bill Barr intervened because Trump called him and told him to.
    It seems to me, Barr is doing the best that he can to cover up considering the level of difficulty.

    Trump tweeted the other day – to paraphrase – I did not ask the AG to attorney in a criminal case. That does not mean I don’t have the right to, I have just chosen not to.

    That means: I did ask the AG to intervene.

    C’mon folks. We are almost 4 years in – If you cannot yet speak compulsive liar then you have got to be using google translate.

  10. Vinnie Gambone says:

    As much as Trump wants to free Stone before the election, he won’t do it it because he calculates it would go a bit too far, and be used against him effectively. But it must be driving him nuts because he knows Stone would serve a powerful function during the campaign.

    Stone would love to appear at Rallies and do the whackjob Nixon peace sign thing. Not to mention flooding the e-waves with who knows what kind of chaos. That raises the question, can Stone go back to fucking rats if pardoned, or as Trump’s now saying ,
    he is exonerated?

    Exoneration requires a trial? Pardon requires a signature? As much as he may want to, Trump won’t issue any pardons for his flunkies before the election because it would just be so frikking over the line. Or, all the pardons the other day was just him scrunching up the balls to do it as the ultimate fuck you justified by his delusional belief he hasn’t done nothing wrong, the investigations were a hoax, and why should my friends sit in Jail when they did nothing wrong, that the crimes they alleged to have done were only process crimes, yadda yaddda, fill in right wing froth. I wonder if Vegas is giving odds on pardons. It’d be odd if they weren’t. Thoughts?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I think the odds are that Trump will issue a commutation or even a pardon, effective the day Roger is scheduled to show up for his first day of prison, or the day Trump is to leave the White House, whichever is first to occur.

      If that’s after the election, fine. If sooner, Trump will do it anyway.

      • BobCon says:

        If Trump is unexpectedly trailing substantially in the polls in October, I wouldn’t rule out all hell breking loose.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          With so much money and power and liability on the line, I imagine Trump’s managers and foreign patrons have laid out a cascading waterfall of “all hell breaking loose.”

          It’s a secondary reason the Dems’ candidate needs to be able to think outside the box. There will be no precedent for the shit storm Trump will unleash to avoid losing, avoid leaving, and avoid liberty and empire threatening consequences.

          Nor will there be precedent to the work necessary to take possession of the Oval Office after winning. And no precedent for the clean up task. Its scale will only be apparent after it’s their responsibility to do the clean up.

        • BobCon says:

          Win or lose, Pelosi and Schumer need to be thinking now about what their game plan might be in 2021.

          You know McConnell has been thinking through his options in the event of a victory or a loss for a while. I am guessing those two will have figured out 2021 by around June 2023.

  11. Leading Edge Boomer says:

    I had thought that the 7-9 years recommendation was the opening salvo in trying to flip Stone. That of course had to be stopped at all costs.

    • bmaz says:

      No. The effort to flip Stone was long ago. The recommendation of the Federal Probation Office and joinder by the prosecution had nothing to do with that.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Dan Froomkin, writing at Salon, has a nice critique of the press’s coverage of last night’s debate.–but-political-media-remains-focused-on-stopping-bernie/

    The MSM’s bothsiderism is on full display as it conflates Bernie Sander’s generally good showing with Bloomberg’s horrific unscripted debut. The Bloomberg Follies would close on its first night in Provincetown, never open in Hartford, and not get within a venture capitalist’s smile of Broadway.

    Froomkin attributes that false convergence to the MSM’s silent agreement that Bernie is the candidate who would destroy the Democratic Party. Or, more accurately, who would diminish the role of its establishment clique and its Praetorian guard of paid advisers, all of whom are determined to maintain the status quo, their role as gatekeepers to power, and their paychecks.

    They should worry about Liz Warren, too, but one enemy at a time. Warren gets a brief mention, as Linda Hamilton dispatching Terminator Mike. Not bad, but a frustrating caricature.

    Froomkin praises the LA Times’ coverage – – but virtually no one else deserves even an honorable mention.

    • BobCon says:

      It’s interesting to me that circa 2000 the TV world started reinventing itself, and not only the richest players like HBO but second tier networks made major investments in turning out smart, well written and acted shows.

      They gambled that there was a market for high quality, complicated dramas that appealed to smart people and made people think. And the gamble paid off — there was a huge untapped market, and meeting it made our culture better.

      And yet the press has stagnated and drifted down since 2000, hopelessly convinced that there was no way to improve the train wreck of their Bush-Gore coverage.

      Froomkin has been pointing out the same problems year after year. Meanwhile the news execs, producers and editors continue to believe there is no market for smart, sophisticated news coverage, and that the public that switched gears and devoured all of the demanding stories of the latest renaissance of TV drama is somehow instead a bunch of idiot yokels who can only be sated by pundit shouting matches.

    • orionATL says:

      you could waste your time fretting about who was treated fairly or unfairly in media coverage of dem candidates


      you could spend time worrying about the slow dissolving of the corporate base of the american economy and its jobs in what paul krugman calls its ” financialization”:

      question (for example):

      who owns kraft-heinz?

      answer: a brazilian consortium, more or less.

      who becomes the democratic candidate has a bearing on this.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The worst news yet, per MSNBC. The notorious, competence-challenged former Devin Nunes gofer – Kash Patel – is being elevated to Ric Grennell’s top aide at the ODNI. Most recently, he had a vague, moderately senior role on the NSC.

    OMG and LOL. That move confirms again that competence and the processing and use of good intel is not on Trump or Grennell’s to do list.

    Grennell and Patel are political commissars. Their mission will likely be oppo research and to keep Trump’s growing pile from hitting the fan before his re-election.

    Like stupid, exoneration is as exoneration does.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The main precedents for the role of political commissar – apart from BushCheney’s penchant for inserting them into the federal bureaucracy – are from the French and Russian Revolutions, the Russian Army 1918-42 and later, and Nazi Germany.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Update: Kash Patel will apparently be named Ric Grenell’s top deputy, not his aide. The current deputy will return to and continue his long career at the CIA, where he does, you know, intelligence work.

      That is worse. It implies command authority for Patel and full access to the panoply of secrets that come to the ODNI. The source of Patel’s juice remains a mystery. He has been unqualified for all his previous roles, but none more than this one.

  14. Frank Probst says:

    Point #1 is the one that confuses me the most. I think that these people are so corrupt that they can’t miss an opportunity to act corruptly, even though they’d be better off if they did nothing at all. Take the whole campaign to smear Marie Yovanovitch. Why bother with such an elaborate scheme? Just say that the President thanks Ms Yovanovitch for her service and recall her back stateside. If anyone asks why, just say that the President had no complaints about how she was doing her job; he just wanted someone from his own team to be in that position. That’s a totally reasonable reason for a recall.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That would have been the smart way to remove a troublesomely competent and faithful bureaucrat, when what you want is a corrupt one. Quiet, routine, get the job done and move on to the next task.

      Trump, however, is not rational in his addiction to publicly humiliating others – probably what he most fears himself. The high includes having the power to do it, especially to the least deserving, and to get away with it. Passing up an opportunity to do so Trump seems to regard as effeminate and weak.

      • Frank Probst says:

        The other part I don’t get is why they got rid of a troublesomely competent and faithful bureaucrat and then replaced her with…ANOTHER troublesomely competent and faithful bureaucrat. One of Trump’s toadies should have been put in that position. Instead, they went with Bill Taylor, who was arguably the best person for the job.

        • Ruthie says:

          Reading your comment brought to mind a similar feeling I’d had when Taylor testified, but never identified as clearly.

          I’m not the first to observe that without it’s likeness to the Keystone Cops, combined with Trump’s absolute inability to keep the quiet part quiet, the Trump Administration would be infinitely more dangerous. Sadly, even as blatant as their corruption and malfeasance is, the opposition isn’t able to direct a coordinated and sustained effort to counter it. If Dems win in November, it will almost be in spite of party leadership, not because of it.

        • orionATL says:

          trump’s resurrection for another term certainly could come to pass.

          it would be relatively easy to block, however, if there were a concerted barrage of accurate criticisms of his presidential behavior and presidential decisions from january 2017 thru the coming election day.

          each message must start with the quiet but crystal clear message that trump is a persistent and profound liar – no itybity “falsehoods” from our president, on any topic.

          but each attack must contain a simple, clear message invoking presidential ignorance or incompetence and where that has affected or will affect our lives, e. g., covert attacts on the afa and especially its no denial of insurance coverage guarantee; canceling clean air, clean water rules; profound trade and tarrifs ignorance and foolishness; cruel treatment of immigrant children; national defense; damage to national parks; administration rules on abortion, birth control, and “religous freedom”; cruel cuts in the food stamps program…
          to name a few.

          this education of the public must be clearly stated, accurate, humorous where ridicule is apropriate, reflect historical american political values, and be persistent thru election day.

          political parties and candidates (but definitely not merely those), public interest organizations, super pacs, etc can all join in.

          one group must be designed and co-ordinated to high light and ridicule the high-volume trump-thug responses that can be anticipated.

      • Frank Probst says:

        I think she was in the way of a lot of things that people wanted to do. There was/is several grifts going on in Ukraine at the same time, not just one, and she was “bad for business”.

        • Vicks says:

          Yes she was an obstacle to many.
          I guess the point I was trying to make is that Lev Parnas’s version of events makes the most powerful man in the world appear to be the useful idiot for a couple of thugs.
          IMHO The possibility that Trump figured out (after the fact) that his childish reaction to shred the ambassador may give him some sort of advantage over Zelensky only makes Trump look slightly less of a tool.
          According to Parnas, Trump didn’t even know who she was until their conversation that resulted in Trump’s order to get rid of her.

  15. GKJames says:

    Does Barr care? He’s playing the long game … restore virtue to America and all that. If he gets his guy past Nov 3, there’s a good chance of two Supreme Court appointments (think Federalist Society with an Opus Dei twist) in the next term. Everything between now and then is to keep the lid on. It means having his own guys in the right spots to slow-roll, or bury, Russia-related cases. It means signaling to defendants that, if they keep quiet, all will be well eventually (as in, Nov 4). It means keeping the faithful stoked by giving credence to their conspiracy theories about the Deep State’s animus toward their guy. Sure, his client mouths off in ways that most lawyers would think unhelpful. But with the press chasing tweets — while giving Barr benefit of the doubt*** — there’s less focus on the details of what Barr and his guys are actually doing. Barr’s June 2018 memo tells us that he and the president are aligned in their views on presidential power. What’s playing out on the public airwaves is a helpful distraction from the behind-the-scenes work to cement that power in place.

    ***”In Washington, cynicism often passes for wisdom, and there was plenty of the former going around after Attorney General William Barr publicly rebuked the president for poking his nose where it doesn’t belong. Cynics can never be satisfied, but we take Barr’s comments as not only fully justified but most likely sincere.” (Chicago Tribune)

  16. Zinsky says:

    I think Marcy’s analysis is correct, as is so often the case. Barr totally botched this intervention into the judicial sentencing process, but I fear that at the end of the day, it won’t matter. Republicans know that most Americans can’t remember what they had for dinner last night, let alone what the Attorney General said the week or month before. They shamelessly ignore things that just happened or pretend like they never did happen and people forget or lose context. America’s short collective memory and ignorance of current events has been vigorously exploited by the Republican Party in the modern era.

  17. SomeGuyInMaine says:

    Yes, Barr stumbled here, and pretty badly. He does not seem used to operating in the chaosphere Trump constantly generates. Barr seems to be less capable when he has to react fast.

    However, the worst outcome from this debacle is Barr now seems to have little left to lose. He’s weathered 2000+ former DOJ employees calling for his resignation. He has no reputation left to preserve. Before recent events I think he still thought he had some sort of reputation beyond naked partisanship, however eroded. Now it’s clear there’s none. Unfortunately, like Trump, he may now get bolder.

    I hope Congress turns up the heat on Barr and forces him to move quickly one a number of fronts. One never knows what small mistake will start things unraveling.

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