John Durham’s Eternal Crossfire HurriFlame

In recent weeks, Billy Barr seems to have decided that even the softball interviews with reporters he has known since the Poppy Bush Administration were too rigorous. He has sat for interviews with two unashamed propagandists, first Laura Ingraham and this week, Hugh Hewitt, to argue for expansive executive powers in the name of liberty during a pandemic.

In both, however, Barr used the opportunity to do what got Jim Comey fired, talk about an ongoing investigation. To Igraham, he claimed that the investigation into Trump, “sabotage[d]” — and then he corrected himself — “ha[d] the effect of sabotaging” Trump’s Presidency.

INGRAHAM: The president is very frustrated, I think you obviously know that – about Andrew McCabe, and he believes that people like McCabe and others were able to basically flout laws and so far with impunity.

BARR: I think the president has every right to be frustrated, because I think what happened to him was one of the greatest travesties in American history. Without any basis they started this investigation of his campaign, and even more concerning, actually is what happened after the campaign, a whole pattern of events while he was president. So I — to sabotage the presidency, and I think that – or at least have the effect of sabotaging the presidency.

From this, I can only conclude that Trump is a far more fragile man that Poppy Bush, who managed to withstand an investigation — Iran-Contra — and still govern far more competently than Trump. Or perhaps Barr just concedes that covering up for Trump’s crimes is a greater challenge than it was to cover up the sprawling nest of corruption and presidential abuse that Ronald Reagan and Poppy engaged in? Whatever it is, Barr implies that Trump is not the measure of his first presidential boss.

With Hewitt, Barr said contradictory things that surprised even Hewitt about how the Attorney General would interpret DOJ guidelines about announcing indictments during an election.

HH: Now Mr. Attorney General, I want to close with a couple of specific issues. The investigation of U.S. Attorney John Durham into the circumstances surrounding the surveillance of President Trump’s campaign, transition, and early administration, does that investigation remain on track undisturbed by the virus?

WB: Yes.

HH: There are guidelines concerning the announcement of indictments or the closing of the investigations prior to the election. When is that deadline for U.S. Attorney Durham? And do you think he will make it either to disclose indictments or to disclose that the investigation is over?

WB: As far as I’m aware, none of the key people that, whose actions are being reviewed at this point by Durham, are running for president.

HH: But would not the announcement of indictments after a time certain have an impact on an election of the sort that the U.S. Attorney’s manual recommends against?

WB: Well, what is the sort that the attorney manual recommends against?

HH: As I recall, this came up with Director Comey making his announcement, and the concerns in 2016 that he had acted improvidently during the run up to the election. I don’t recall what the exact timing is.

WB: Yeah, well, that was directly as to a candidate.

HH: And so it would not matter, in your view, if there is an investigation, and the day before the election, someone is indicted?

WB: Well, you know, I think in its core, the idea is you don’t go after candidates. You don’t indict candidates or perhaps someone that’s sufficiently close to a candidate, that it’s essentially the same, you know, within a certain number of days before an election. But you know, as I say, I don’t think any of the people whose actions are under review by Durham fall into that category.

HH: That’s big news to me. I had assumed that they would be in the category of people that could not be indicted given the obvious connection to President Trump, but I’ll take the news and I’ll put it away.

Barr’s comments undermine every single thing any Fox commentator (as he seems to have become) has said about the investigation into Carter Page, suggesting that DOJ rules protecting elections only apply to the candidate himself, and not even if the candidate was targeted for electoral purposes during an election, as Hillary was by the Clinton Foundation investigation.

But it also suggests that Barr imagines this might extend at least past August, when the deadline would normally trigger.

Later in the interview, Barr got snippy (again, this is with a propagandist, not even a softball real interview) when Hewitt asked if any results were imminent.

HH: Are you shocked by what you have found to date or have been briefed by U.S. Attorney Durham to date about?

WB: I wouldn’t use the word shocked, right? You know, I’m very troubled by it, but you know, I think the reason that we have this investigation is because there are a lot of things that are unexplained. And I think we’re getting deeply into the situation, and we’ll be able to sort out exactly what happened.

HH: I’m not going to ask you, because you wouldn’t answer whether there will be indictments or not. But when do you expect that the public will know a definitive assessment of where the U.S. Attorney Durham is going?

WB: As soon as we feel we have something that we are confident in to tell the people about.

HH: Is that imminent?

WB: No, it’s not imminent. But I’m not sure what imminent means. I’m not sure what imminent means, but it’s not imminent.

But in suggesting nothing will happen right away, Barr admitted that, in spite of his bold claims about how bad all this is, they don’t yet have confidence in any story to tell the American people.

With Ingraham, he even suggested there might not be evidence to support the claims he was making to his propagandists.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: What can you tell us about the state of John Durham’s investigation? People have been waiting for the final report on what happened with this –

ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: Well, I think a report maybe – and probably will be a byproduct of his activity, but his primary focus isn’t to prepare a report. He is looking to bring to justice people who are engaged in abuses if he can show that they were criminal violations, and that’s what the focus is on. And as you know, being a lawyer you yourself, building these cases – especially the kinds of sprawling case we have between us that went on for two or three years here, it takes some time – it takes some time to build the case. So he’s diligently pursuing it. My own view is that the evidence shows that we’re not dealing with just mistakes or sloppiness. There is something far more troubling here, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it. And if people broke the law, and we can establish that with the evidence, they will be prosecuted. [my emphasis]

That is, Barr is suggesting he has found a smoking gun. But even sitting with his propagandists, he is also backing off any claim there’s evidence of a crime.

Barr made this statement before SSCI reported their unanimous verdict that the Intelligence Community Assessment of the Russian attack, produced for Barack Obama during the same period the investigation into Trump started by the same Deep State people Barr claims were trying to sabotage Trump, correctly found that Vladimir Putin was personally in charge of the effort and one goal of the effort was to support Trump. The report is highly redacted, and the unclassified summary released back in July 2018 is, in some ways, actually more informative. The report notes that those who did the ICA were not briefed on the investigation into Trump’s people or any other ongoing investigation and didn’t know of Christopher Steele’s ties to the Democrats. Nevertheless, the report makes clear that Putin set out, in part, to help Trump.

Meanwhile, actual journalists at CNN report that — almost a year after Barr appointed Durham to investigate the first six months of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation — Durham has continued to expand his team.

Amid the pandemic, Durham and a team of prosecutors and investigators have continued their work, even requesting witness information after the country largely shut down in March because of coronavirus restrictions, according to people briefed on the investigation. Leading up to the lockdown, Durham’s team had spent many days a month reviewing classified intelligence inside a special facility for reviewing classified documents known as a SCIF.

In recent weeks Durham has added to his team of investigators who operate in Connecticut and Washington, DC, including FBI agents and the chief of the violent crimes and narcotics section in the US Attorney’s Office in Washington, Anthony Scarpelli, people familiar with the probe said.

Durham needs a DC-based prosecutor to make any prosecutorial decisions on Kevin Clinesmith, the FBI lawyer who altered an email. So it’s unsurprising there is a prosecutor involved; what’s surprising is that he’s a violent crimes prosecutor, not a white collar crime one. And even there, Durham got a referral for Clinesmith at least by December 9, over four months ago, and yet DOJ hasn’t decided either that Clinesmith committed a crime (unless they gave him a plea deal to implicate others).

To be sure, the scope of Durham’s investigation has expanded, reportedly to include at least the early 2017 investigation. But if even if that scope continues through the Mueller appointment on May 17, 2017, it would mean Durham has been investigating ten months of an investigation for eleven months, with resources (including multiple prosecutors) that the investigation in question didn’t even have before Mueller’s appointment. Barr’s suggestion that this investigation will continue at least until August means that the Durham investigation will easily last longer than the known temporal scope of the investigation it is investigating. And all the while, we have no transparency on budget or FTEs that we had from the Mueller investigation.

Instead, we have only the claims of a guy breaking DOJ’s own rules about ongoing investigations who has already been rebuked by a judge for lying to help Trump.

37 replies
  1. MB says:

    Trump has got be a much more difficult “client” to work for than Poppy because of the sheer volume of matters that Trump demands his involvement in. With his CIA background, Poppy was professionally circumspect. Trump is the WYSIWYG president wearing transparent emperor’s clothes. Besides, the coronavirus situation is currently sucking up way too much oxygen and would steal a lot of limelight from anything Durham might have to disclose. So he’s reduced to making promotional appearances touting upcoming attractions to remind the public that big things are in the works. C’mon, he’s got much more important and pressing things to be doing, like threatening legal action against governors who believe in public health.

    • Rayne says:

      What if Barr’s true role was to ensure the intelligence community’s bacon wasn’t exposed during the course of Poppy’s presidency, because Poppy had been part of the IC and some IC ops could be at risk if anybody looked too closely?

      What if Barr’s true role is the same thing today, but this time protecting a particularly nasty criminal-as-intelligence-asset and what the dementia-addled asset might expose about the IC’s bacon?

      Which means some of the bullshit nonsense Barr does like threatening legal action against governors is designed to provide a smoke screen for the lack of action into investigating the investigation into the IC’s nasty criminal-as-intelligence-asset.

      IC’s bacon is covered, barely, but at what price?

      • MB says:

        That’s a pretty cogent set of what-ifs you propose there.

        I despair of ever knowing the actual truth, though. I’m reminded of Arlen Specter’s proposal of the single-bullet theory in the JFK assassination when he was DA in Philadelphia, accepted by the Warren Commission as fact, and there ya go – let the conspiracy theorists argue among themselves for all eternity. Meanwhile he went on to a have a long career in the Senate as both a Republican and a Democrat. Maybe the most cynical definition of a politician is “one who creates the most effective smokescreens”. Sigh.

        • ducktree says:

          And Poppy Bush is reported to have stated he did not recall where he was when JFK was assassinated. Seriously?!

          There’s a good reason why Poppy never wrote a memoir – so many secrets to conceal!

          • MB says:

            Poppy Bush was just starting his political career when JFK was assassinated. He was Chairman of the Harris County Texas GOP at the time, so he was in Texas the day JFK was killed, most likely.

            • ducktree says:

              Yes, prexactly . . . I know* that, and you know that. So why didn’t Poppy spill?

              *I once saw a shadowy snap purportedly of Poppy standing outside the Parkland Hospital ER entrance on the very day*

              [bmaz ~ wet clean up on aisle 3…]

              • Stealth says:

                Come on. If you wanna deviate from the Warren Report, I’m all for it, but don’t do it by dipping into all that cherry-picked hack literature about former presidents and their whereabouts. House Select Committee on Assassination, people. Taxpayer funded. Good stuff for skeptically minded people. Tampa mob don Santo Trafficante Jr. (who had the CIA by the balls enough to where he could piss them off with impunity) named in there alongside southern mob don Carlos Marcello. And all their friends, including Jack Ruby, who was caught on national TV. All backed up by later confessions from Trafficante’s defense attorney.

            • P J Evans says:

              He was still running an offshore drilling company at the time, so he might not have been in Texas that day.

              • ducktree says:

                Yes, that’s also possible; but the idea that an event of such international moment escapes his memory? It’s monumentally memorable for anyone alive at the time…

                So what’s he got to hide? It would be irresponsible not to speculatte [sic].

              • Geoguy says:

                The offshore oil company was Zapata Offshore headquartered in Houston. By some accounts it was a CIA front or at least cooperating with the CIA. According to the Wikipedia page for HRG Group, “Zapata’s filing records with the U.S.Securities and Exchange Commission are intact for the years 1955–1959, and again from 1967 onwards. However, records for the years 1960–1966 are missing…
                During the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis, Zapata allowed its oil rigs to be used as listening posts.[15] In 1988, Barron’s said Zapata was “a part time purchasing front for the [Central Intelligence Agency].”[15]

            • dwfreeman says:

              There is no doubt about his whereabouts that day. He was in Dallas. There is photo evidence of that. He also sent a note to the FBI that was deliberately sent from another part of Texas to quell future questions about his movements that day.

              Later, a memo dated Nov. 29, 1963 from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to the state department surfaced through a FOIA request
              as the only known document which officially describes Bush as affiliated with the CIA more than a decade before his actual 1976 appointment by Gerald Ford as the agency’s director.

              Hoover’s memorandum, appearing under the subject heading “Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” downplays a state department concern that Kennedy’s death might spur an anti-Castro group to launch an unauthorized raid against Cuba, believing that the president’s killing might lead to a change in US policy. FBI sources, the memo assures,
              “knows of no such plans. The foregoing information was orally furnished to Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency.”

              Bush widely engaged in CIA adventures that predated his official ties to the organization, which may have begun during his WWII service, even before startup of the OSS, a precursor of the CIA. During the period before the Kennedy assassination, Bush was working for the agency clandestinely through the cover of his Zapata Petroleum misoffshore oil company business activities.

              And he learned an early valuable lesson about secret work that he would carry on through the rest of his public life: no names, no paper trail, no fingerprints. Unfortunately, for him, historical documentation and accounting would eventually unmask his hidden life that he never fully acknowledged.

              Every US president from LBJ to Bush was connected to the Kennedy assassination in some fashion, either as an on-site witness or post-assassination investigator of the case. This was not by coincidence. Though out of office, Nixon who had lost to Kennedy by a razor thin margin in the 1960 election, was in Dallas the morning of the assassination before flying out to New York. He’d been in town as a guest speaker for a business convention.

  2. Willis J Warren says:

    Whatever has Trump in a tizzy lately, I suspect it’s the unredacted version of the recent Senate report, he’s really unhinged (I know, hard to tell the baseline). Mazars and Deutsche Bank are still coming up, too. No one knows what’s gonna happen there.

    • Peterr says:

      As Marcy noted the other day, the DOJ recently complied with Judge Reggie Walton’s order to turn over the unredacted and complete Mueller Report, so that Walton can judge for himself the extent to which DOJ properly evaluated the items that were redacted from the publicly released version. Walton made it clear in his order that he was not pleased with what has seen already with how DOJ in general and AG Barr in particular have handled things to this point:

      In the Court’s view, Attorney General Barr’s representation that the Mueller Report would be “subject only to those redactions required by law or by compelling law enforcement, national security, or personal privacy interests” cannot be credited without the Court’s independent verification in light of Attorney General Barr’s conduct and misleading public statements about the findings in the Mueller Report, i d., Ex. 7 (April 18, 2019 Letter) at 3, and it would be disingenuous for the Court to conclude that the redactions of the Mueller Report pursuant to the FOIA are not tainted by Attorney General Barr’s actions and representations.

      The fact that the author of those sentences now has in his possession the unredacted Mueller Report has to be giving Trump nightmares, especially when you consider that this same judge is the one who sentenced Scooter Libby to prison for trying to carry out his boss’ orders and cover up misconduct at the highest levels of the executive branch.

  3. drouse says:

    I think that they are going with the old tried and true. Leak like hell and cajole the media into the casts a shadow or overclouds on whomever is being attacked.

      • Peterr says:

        “You know the thing about you, Mr. President? It isn’t so much that you cheat. It’s how brazenly bad you are at it.”

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Why should his performance at cheating be better than his performance at anything else? Trump is a frail, desperate, mentally ill guy. He clutches at any straw in the wind and asks Americans to clutch at razor blades. One is his deranged notion of swallowing or injecting bleach or alcohol. They can sanitize a kitchen countertop, so why wouldn’t they rid the human body of Coronavirus? I’m surprised he didn’t suggest pouring a can of Sterno on breakfast cornflakes.

          Trump’s ideas about science and public health are a wee bit stunted. But an entire political apparatus would have him as president rather than disturb its hold on power. Excuse me while I amble out to the proverbial manure pile to retrieve my pitchfork.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Trump’s bleach and alcohol regimen demonstrates his defining characteristic: He doesn’t think and he doesn’t give a shit. If people are dumb enough to follow his advice, they deserve their fate. He cares only that they put no other god before Him.

  4. Tom says:

    With the President’s negligence and dereliction of duty having directly contributed to the deaths of upwards of 50,000 of his fellow citizens over the past several months, whatever acts of commission or omission Trump may have carried out in the past with regard to collusion/conspiracy with the Russians, obstruction of justice in the Mueller investigation, ongoing corruption, criminality, and incompetence issuing from the Oval Office, and anything else you might care to add to the steaming pile suddenly seem to shrink to insignificance. That’s how I’m feeling right now, anyway, though I realize we can’t let the current tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic cause us to lose sight of the bigger picture of Trump’s wrongdoings.

    • Yancy says:

      Wish there was a Like, or Agree, or Me, too! button.

      Assuming we 1) survive the pandemic, and 2) elect a president to replace Trump, we are going to dedicate so much time, energy, attention, money, and personnel to properly address COVID19 and to trying to restore US public confidence in our national institute
      institutions and our previous reputation & credibility in the world, and examining every regulation, rule, EO, policy, procedure, etc., for every office of the federal government, I really don’t see us pursuing many of the answers needed to uncover the truth.

      We are going to have so much work to do to restore some sense of order. We’ll need to rewrite the tax code, create plans for reducing the trillions in deficits, resume smart free trade, address climate change, and so much more.

      I’ll be so thrilled to get the country out of the danger I believe it’s in right now that exacting justice (or revenge) might be low on my list of priorities.

      Or maybe not.

  5. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    But it also suggests that Barr imagines this (the investigation) might extend at least past August, when the deadline would normally trigger…

    At least past August?

    Well shucks, I’m guessing it’ll run well past August… maybe September… and on into October…

    I’d trust Bill Barr at this point about as far as I could drop kick the man, and from pictures I’ve seen of him, that isn’t very far…

      • P J Evans says:

        If he’s 176 lb, he’s a lot shorter than 5’9″. (Willie Mays was officially 5’10” and 180 lb, in his prime, and he wasn’t skinny – but he was definitely muscular and not at all fat.)

      • TooLoose LeTruck says:

        I just looked at some more pictures of Barr, other than head shots, and there’s no f’in way in the world that man only weighs 176 if he’s 5’9″… and if he does weigh 176, he’s not 5’9″ tall…

        And I didn’t say I couldn’t drop kick him… I just said I couldn’t drop kick him very far.

        I think this is an issue to bring up w/ the Weighs and Means Committee….

        • MB says:

          Well, with WWE now declared to be an “essential” business in Florida, I’d love to see him in the ring down there!

          • TooLoose LeTruck says:

            Hey… I did say there’s no f’in way he only weighs 176 if he’s actually 5’9″ AND that if he does only weight 176, which I seriously doubt, there’s no f’in way he’s 5’9″ tall…

            More like 5’3 to 4, tops… and in pictures when he’s standing next to someone, so you can get a better idea of how tall he actually is, he clearly doesn’t appear to be as short as 5’3″ or 4, so I’d say yes, you’re probably in the right neighborhood at 200…

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Matt Damon in the first Bourne film maybe. Bill Barr, however, is closer to 6′ and 290. Like Trump, he is obviously clinically obese.

  6. orionATL says:

    that barf put durhum up to creating a mirror image of the mueller investigation is the most reasonable guess. as to its purpose, the investigation’s report could serve as a distraction for the entirety of the 2020 presidential campaign, a pinata for the earnest mainstream media to flog this way and that while ignoring our president’s 4 years of unrivaled presidential incompetence. there might never be a prosecution arising from dunham’s work of art because barr may understand that if there were he might later lose his law license and spend time in jail for concocting a bogus (political) prosecution.

    on the other hand, a dunham investigation and report might serve as distraction to take attention away from barr’s own shenanigans as an attorney general deeply involved in using the doj’s powers to protect the president who appointed him.

  7. vicks says:

    I would assume that the plan is to use the Durham report to get Trump re-elected.
    It may be a “summary” translated personally by William Barr it may be a product thoughtfully redacted for Fox “news” experts to use for a game of mad libs right before the election.
    I think we have seen the pattern enough to know that it will say whatever the Trump needs to say, and will drop when he needs a bump or a hail Mary.
    I’m sure his “team” has more up it’s sleeve.
    I do not envy Joe Biden or his running mate. Considering the stakes (an I am sure he and his campaign has) I’m not sure that even after 3 point whatever years of Trump has prepared this country for what he and his people are willing to do to get everything they can out of this election

  8. Rapier says:

    I think they are stalling for either of two reasons, which should be understood as options.

    1. Wait until they are sure the GOP will hold the White House. By any means necessary. If not then it presents some personal risk for them.

    2. Haul it all out for the election to retry the Muller case and the impeachment and dominate the narrative.

    I’m sure there are others. Political power isn’t taken by conspiracy to determine outcomes by elaborate means. It’s taken by those with a prepared minds.

Comments are closed.