Billy Barr Admits, for the Third and Fourth Time, that He Intervenes without Knowing the Facts

Billy Barr’s statement for his testimony today is here. It is as cynical and dishonest as you might imagine.

In his first paragraph, he pays tribute to John Lewis, without mentioning the ways he personally is trying to roll back the ability for every citizen to vote (most notably, of late, by falsely suggesting that the only safe way to vote during a pandemic is susceptible to fraud).

In his second paragraph, he suggests only politicians are political, and then suggests “mobs” are among those pressuring DOJ to take political decisions.

We are in a time when the political discourse in Washington often reflects the politically divided nation in which we live, and too often drives that divide even deeper. Political rhetoric is inherent in our democratic system, and politics is to be expected by politicians, especially in an election year. While that may be appropriate here on Capitol Hill or on cable news, it is not acceptable at the Department of Justice. At the Department, decisions must be made with no regard to political pressure—pressure from either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, or from the media or mobs.

Then he spends five paragraphs addressing what he calls “Russiagate,” a term used exclusively by those who like to diminish the seriousness of an attack on our country.

Ever since I made it clear that I was going to do everything I could to get to the bottom of the grave abuses involved in the bogus “Russiagate” scandal, many of the Democrats on this Committee have attempted to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I am simply the President’s factotum who disposes of criminal cases according to his instructions. Judging from the letter inviting me to this hearing, that appears to be your agenda today.

Four paragraphs later, Billy Barr admits that the sole reason he returned to government was to avenge what he believed — as an admitted outsider!! — to be two systems of justice.

But as an outsider I became deeply troubled by what I perceived as the increasing use of the criminal justice process as a political weapon and the emergence of two separate standards of justice. The Department had been drawn into the political maelstrom and was being buffeted on all sides. When asked to consider returning, I did so because I revere the Department and believed my independence would allow me to help steer her back to her core mission of applying one standard of justice for everyone and enforcing the law even-handedly, without partisan considerations. Since returning to the Department, I have done precisely that. My decisions on criminal matters before the Department have been my own, and they have been made because I believed they were right under the law and principles of justice.

Remember: Billy Barr has repeatedly stated that the investigation into Trump’s associates (not Trump himself) was unprecedented, proving he’s either unaware of or uninterested in the two investigations into Hillary, both of which involved abuses (the ostensible reason for the firing of both Jim Comey and Andrew McCabe) and leaks. The only evidence that a biased FBI Agent was running an informant on a candidate during the election involved the Clinton Foundation investigation which — unlike the Russian investigation — is understood to be entirely predicated on dodgy opposition research. Clinton did sit for an interview in the investigation into her actions; Trump refused.

In other words, every complaint floated about the Russian investigation actually applies more readily to the two Clinton ones, the treatment of investigations which had some effect, however unmeasured, on the election.

Yet the Attorney General of the United States has now admitted that he came into office planning to avenge what he sees as the opposite. Importantly, he admits he formed this conclusion an outsider! That means he formed the conclusion in spite of — by his own repeated admission — not knowing the facts of the investigation. “I realize I am in the dark about many facts,” he admitted in his memo on what he believed Mueller was doing on obstruction. As part of his confirmation process, he told both Dianne Feinstein and the Senate Judiciary that, “As I explained in a recent letter to Ranking Member Feinstein, my memo was narrow in scope, explaining my thinking on a specific obstruction-of-justice theory under a single statute that I thought, based on media reports, the Special Counsel might be considering.”

Billy Barr decided to become Attorney General based off what he admitted then and has proven since to be badly mistaken understanding of what the Russian investigation entailed. That’s it. That’s why he agreed to become Attorney General.

Barr may think he’s working from an independent standpoint (a laughable claim in any case given his outspoken hatred for anything progressive), but he keeps admitting that he’s doing something worse, working from an understanding based off media portrayals rather than an understanding based off the public, much less the investigative, record.

No wonder Reggie Walton ruled that Attorney General Barr had spun the real outcome of the investigation. Barr, by his own admission, formed conclusions when he was “in the dark about many facts.” There’s no evidence he has revisited those conclusions since.

Billy Barr performs his own toxic bias in numerous other ways in his opening statement, for example by focusing on Antifa’s potential threat to law enforcement rather than Boogaloo’s much greater threat.

Most cynical, though, is the way he explains the storm troopers in Portland as an effort to defend not just Federal property (which it is, if counterproductively heavy-handed), but Article III judges.

Inside the courthouse are a relatively small number of federal law enforcement personnel charged with a defensive mission: to protect the courthouse, home to Article III federal judges, from being overrun and destroyed.

Barr has demonstrated his disdain for Article III judges over and over: by overriding the decisions of Emmet Sullivan on the Mike Flynn case, by lying to courts on census cases, by ignoring Supreme Court orders on DACA.

Most importantly, however, on issues pertaining to Trump’s flunkies — even the Roger Stone case that he has twice said was righteous — Barr completely dismissed the seriousness of an actual threat to a Federal judge. As I have noted, contrary to Barr’s repeated claims that Amy Berman Jackson agreed with the sentencing recommendation DOJ made after he made an unprecedented intervention to override a guidelines sentencing recommendation, she did not agree that his revised sentencing included the appropriate enhancements. Not only did Barr dismiss the seriousness of making a violent threat against a witness, but Barr’s revised sentencing memo eliminated the sentencing enhancement for threatening a judge, opining (as Barr has a habit of doing) that DOJ wasn’t sure whether Stone’s actions had obstructed his prosecution and trial under ABJ.

Moreover, it is unclear to what extent the defendant’s obstructive conduct actually prejudiced the government at trial.

This is why we have judges: to decide matters like this! Indeed, that’s the justification for recommending guidelines sentences in the first place — so the actual judge who presided over the case, rather than an Attorney General who has admitted to repeatedly forming opinions without consulting the actual record, makes the decisions based off the broadest understanding of the record. Even in this, his most egregious action, Billy Barr’s DOJ weighed in while admitting it didn’t have the knowledge to do so. And did so in such a way that minimized the danger of threats against Article III judges.

Billy Barr thinks the moms defending protestors in Portland are a threat to judges. But his repeated, acknowledged intervention on matters he knows fuckall about is a bigger threat to the rule of law, up to and including when that record includes threats against judges.

127 replies
  1. John Forde says:

    He’s a ‘low information AG’. So low he couldn’t respond to Kamala Harris’s questioners to whether or not if he had been asked by Trump intervene in a criminal investigation.

    • bmaz says:

      Oh, no, he is high information, it is just that it is all Fox News and Breitbart information.

  2. Jeff Andrade says:

    Billy Bar intervening without knowing 5he facts is not a bug but a feature. Like Trump, then he can say, oh I didn’t know, nobody told me, I never told them to do that. It’s all about plausible deniability.

  3. BayStateLibrul says:

    The chances of nailing Barr today are less than exhuming Ted Williams’s body from that cryonics company in Arizona

      • BayStateLibrul says:

        How is Teddy Ballgame, Number 9, is he still on ice. His body hasn’t melted in 18 years? His swing is like no other, except for Mike Trout and a few others….
        The 2020 Sox edition could use some starting pitchers….
        but not Roger Clemens?

        • bmaz says:

          Still on ice, but it is not just his head by my understanding, but his torso and limbs are in a separate chamber there too.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      One of the most disturbing films I ever saw was “Possible Worlds,” directed by Robert Lepage in 2000, with Tilda Swinton and Tom McCamus as the main actors. After seeing it, I am now terrified of any possibility of a brain (especially my own) existing after its body no longer does. Very creepy!

  4. AJJ says:

    Barr showed who he was as the architect of the Iran Contra pardons….I am inclined to think without Fox News to circulate the memo, he wouldn’t have gotten the AG job but all this Russiagate talk isn’t just Fox News brain rot.

  5. OldTulsaDude says:

    The Barr Paradox: stating the DOJ is non-political while using the politically-charged term Russiagate.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Yeah, and in case you missed that–unlikely given the inexplicable quotation marks–he throws in “bogus” and “scam” to boot. Which prompts me to wonder, don’t those terms cancel each other out, like a double negative? It can’t be bogus *and* a scam. Unless it’s Barr himself.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        I can’t help but wonder if someone will monetize the phrase “Bogus Barr.” There must be some creative options there. Nothing nourishing, though. Lumpy I’m guessing. And loopy.

  6. Jenny says:

    Thanks Marcy.
    Yep, I have to agree with Barr when he admitted, “I realize I am in the dark about many facts.”

  7. Rugger9 says:

    I for one will have my popcorn ready, it looks like AG Barr is spoiling for a fight.

    OT, but I wonder what DJT’s petty snub of avoiding paying respects to John Lewis will do to his plans of fracturing the Black vote. Lewis was one guy everyone (except DJT) could agree was worth emulating. Pelosi didn’t try to improve his words, either.

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      He may have been told Lewis’ family didn’t want him there. But that’s just a guess, maybe it was simply a petty snub. But I agree that it will not help him fracture the black vote.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As Marcy notes, Bill Barr is deeply cynical and dishonest. I expect no more from a former telecoms general counsel; only a drugs company’s top lawyer could beat one for cynicism. If I had had higher expectations, Barr’s first stint at OLC and as AG destroyed them. He orchestrated much of the Iran-Contra cover-up – protecting his former agency, the CIA – and arranged pardons for six of its top actors, which removed the need to further protect Reagan and Bush Sr.

    Bill Barr’s statement is throwing shade at a gelded Congress. He is the most political of Attorneys General. He far surpasses his Republican predecessors, including ‘Fredo Gonzales, Ed Meese, and John Mitchell. Under him, the DoJ reeks with political corruption. That’s a happy state of affairs for any future defendant.

    Barr knows that neither the GOP Senate nor the Democratic House will do anything about it, not now, not later. But being a good lawyer, he has a Plan B. By claiming to be underinformed or to know nussink, he sets the stage to move claims against him to negligent rather than intentional conduct, which carries a much lower price tag.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Being a lifelong defense counsel, Barr is setting the stage to defend Trump and his whole administration. Barr’s argument that it was the Obama administration that attacked its opponents, using criminal prosecutions, is a non-denial denial that Trump does it. It is also a preemptive attack, directed at any prosecutions by Biden’s DoJ.

    • FL Resister says:

      Perhaps William Barr sees himself as a heroic figure in the Republican Party a la Harvey Keitel, the fixer in Pulp Fiction.

      • Re entry says:

        Thank you all

        but my head is spinning re the kaleidoscope of bs and horror this AG throws out there

        Full disclosure, i don’t buy into con theories -but who or what sends Barr to the plate? He says Trump is the consummate professional. He isn’t and he knows it

        is Barr the face of deep state ?

        • bmaz says:

          “Deep State” is a phrase only mugs bite off on. He is a current face of the government; there is nothing “deep” about him.

  9. harpie says:
    11:30 AM · Jul 28, 2020

    Given how many errors HJC’s GOP made in their prebuttal, really looking forward to the debunking of this [Jim Jordan] video.
    11:32 AM · Jul 28, 2020

    GOP rolling lengthy footage of expletive ladened video of protesters burning cars and buildings, looting, throwing projectiles at police….

    Someone is saying “Turn the sound down,” appears to be a congresswoman speaking over the video.

    GOP not showing any footage of law enforcement using tear gas, rubber bullets or flash grenades against protesters.

    Every incident in the video shows aggression against police.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This is another whopper from Bill Barr:

    The President has not attempted to interfere in these decisions. On the contrary, he has told me from the start that he expects me to exercise my independent judgment to make whatever call I think is right. That is precisely what I have done.

    Trump doesn’t use words like that or speak in complete sentences, and he doesn’t think that way. Roy Cohn would leap in his grave at the assertion that Donald Trump would ever want to play in a straight up game. He only plays when he’s rigged the game ahead of time. Even then he often loses. But that statement is the sort of thing that Cohn or a corporate general counsel would always say about his client, no matter how bent they were.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Bad news for Democrats when Louie Gohmert gets to score points off them. But characterizing Portland and BLM protests as being built on the Soviet and Chinese revolutions? JFC

    Bill Barr denies that he has wanted or considered shutting down these protests altogether. His nose will be three feet long before this hearing ends.

    • bmaz says:

      The bad news for Dems is not Gohmert scoring a couple of points, it is that they are scoring none. This hearing is a disaster. And Nadler is a dope for having called it.

      • FL Resister says:

        Nadler is past his due date.
        Putting him in charge of such a proceeding is a folly we seriously cannot afford. It is definitely not business as usual in Washington under the current administration. As has been said here before, the rules to deal with the current GOP in DC have got to change before it’s too goddam late.

  12. Peterr says:

    I’d love to hear one of the Dems read Reggie Walton’s comments about Bill Barr into the proceedings, then ask a couple of pointed questions about how a line prosecutor is supposed to represent a department whose head has been deemed to be an unreliable witness by a federal judge.

    • FL Resister says:

      It would have taken careful, strategic planning to effectively question an official they knew would be as slippery as an eel in lubricating jelly (borrowing from Rick Wilson’s description of Jared Kushner).

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Cong. Cohen should stop electioneering and start asking the witness questions. His rant is crap, his delivery undercuts his own points, and does no one any good. When will the Dems assign experienced counsel to ask questions over a longer period of time of characters as powerful and deceptive as Bill Barr?

    • Geoff says:

      Never. This is just kabuki. We all should know by now that none of these (will) ever come to anything.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      But it could and should.

      Meanwhile, Steny Hoyer just said that his position is not $600/week aid or bust, by which he identifies what he’s willing to throw away in order to get some mythic deal with the GOP. He will aid corporations but not aid Americans made unemployable during a pandemic induced near depression. Thanks, Steny. Do us all a favor and retire.

      • Geoff says:

        I don’t disagree with the theoretical possibility. I’m just tired of getting my hopes up. If we know that this could be useful, and have pointed it out here in which ways that could be achieved (e.g. preparing with any of the publicly available sets of questions, using good followups, using Barr’s own words and writings against him…etc) then the only possibly conclusion is that that the power behind the democratic party (lay it on Pelosi if that be the case) has no interest in dealing with these problematic characters, or fixing anything they destroy, or ever holding them responsible for any of their actions. They just want to move on. It’s really not a great strategy putting all your chips on the re-election when the person you are interviewing today is actively working to corrupt that election and lay the ground work for denying the result if it goes against his candidate.

        As for Steny, yeah, he will trade bailing out people’s lives now for bailing out banks later when millions more end up defaulting. But yeah, I suppose corporations are people, so it’s equivalent, right? Sigh…

  14. Sandwichman says:

    Could the HJC Democrats be any more unprepared, inept and incoherent in their “questioning” of Barr? Who’s side are they on?

    • bmaz says:

      Ted Lieu may still come through, he is good. But Barr is very slippery and never answers the question a Dem asks.

      • BobCon says:

        Can you imagine any kind of legal inquiry involving 30 different attorneys questioning a witness with only a few minutes per attorney? We wouldn’t accept this format for dealing with a $522 car insurance dispute.

        One thing that drives me crazy is that the Dems are doing this stuff in the hopes of going viral, and nobody ever is going to think Hakeem Jeffries reading some disconnected talking points is worth going viral.

        The Democrats have the power to fix this, but they cannot understand even the most basic elements of effective fact finding or PR.

        • bmaz says:

          Well, it is a crappy format, that is for sure. But 30 real trial attorneys, especially criminal ones, would adapt, coordinate and ask good questions with followups, and set each other up.

          • BobCon says:

            It would be an interesting exercise, but I am sure even within the limited format of college debate a debate team that was the size of the Dems on the House Judiciary Committee would break down. Still, there is a lot of room for improvement.

            One thing that struck me about AOC’s question of personal privilege speech is that her content and delivery was so much better than almost any other speaker in Congress. It’s depressing how the current system of campaign financing, gerrymandering, and incumbency advantages really filters out people who can think on their feet. Her speech really ought to be the norm for the institution, not the exception.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              It would break down if the members as a group refused to assess its strengths, determine a questioning strategy based on the goals for the debate, and choose its best members to make the critical presentations.

              • ducktree says:

                As BobCon has often pointed, out the House needs to budget for a competent staff force! The members themselves cannot be expected to or expect to get it done by themselves…

                  • BobCon says:

                    Justin Amash tweets:

                    The United States doesn’t have a functioning legislative body. A few congressional leaders decide almost everything substantive. The rest is mostly a show for the public.


                    The context is the coronavirus relief package, but it applies here too. Pelosi wants power centralized in the Speaker’s chair and almost nowhere else — weak committees, weak chairs, take it or leave it mega legislation.

                    It shows in the way the House has unfocused, uncoordinated committee hearings led by weak chairs like Nadler and Neal. This makes life easier for her in the short run, but it is deeply harmful to the institution of Congress and the country at large.

                    • bmaz says:

                      Fuck Justin Amash. He was a founding member of the tea party that perpetuated all of this. He was always part of the problem, and never the solution.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Interesting what Bill Barr claims not to know and what minute information he has at the tip of his fingertips. He is also a master time waster, who can derail most questioners at will. The Dems have set out on a big game safari with a couple of Remington .22s.

    Roger Stone’s sentence ended up similar to Barr’s revised recommendation, but for wholly different reasons than Barr argued. The judge did not agree with Barr’s reasons or recommendations. Barr dismisses the idea that Stone threatened anyone – not like a mafioso – and throws his line prosecutors under the bus.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Cong. Bass’s statements mostly relate to state actions, not federal, and Barr has no control over them. This is not effective at getting at things Barr has done or is responsible for. Even so, Barr is deflecting rather than answering her few questions.

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Matt Gaetz has a new tailor and a Kris Kobach hairstyle. Everything else is the same.

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Cedric Richmond from Louisiana is good. Intense, controlled, articulate, directed.

    AG Barr has “no reason to think” that the 2020 election will be rigged. He does think “wholesale mail-in voting” substantially increases the risk of fraud. No evidence for that or for voter fraud claims in general. It is a rare thing. State voter disenfranchisement games are as common as the cold, though.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Bill Barr thinks that police are ‘less likely” to shoot at black suspects.

    I should be speechless.

    • OldTulsaDude says:

      I’m pretty certain that in Barr’s worldview “shoot at them” means to purposefully miss. African-Americans are not “shot at” they are just shot.

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Bill Barr claims the poor federal Covid-19 response is Obama’s fault.

    It’s not the fault of the guy who disbanded the pandemic task force at the NSC, who for months denied the disease and the need to take basic steps to combat it, who denies federal responsibility to obtain a more secure pipeline for PPE, who argues in favor of massive re-openings, with no precautionary steps, and whose legislative goal is to immunize corporations who take inadequate measures to protect their customers, suppliers, and employees from avoidable contagion.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Barr’s concern is tribal loyalty, not factual argument. But, yes, I think he does know Covid-19 was not spreading round the world when Obama was president or for several years thereafter.

    • FL Resister says:

      Republican statements are configured to play as Fox News clips that will make the Toddler in Chief happy and feed favorite disinformation bytes to his base.

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Barr is uncomfortable with Swalwell’s questions. He is more louder, defensive, and putting more effort into interfering with his questions.

  22. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Ted Lieu, remotely.

    Barr disputing the nature of probable cause in the context of the arrests in Portland. As with Swalwell, Barr is more combative with Lieu, anticipating a harder time.

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Ted Lieu would make an interesting Attorney General. His line of questioning relates to guilt by association, the apparent widespread practice in Portland – and predictably elsewhere – which does not meet the probable cause standard for an arrest. Barr then draws a great distinction between being interrogated, and being involuntary held and asked questions.

    MSNBC’s “breaking news” chyron says that Bill Barr agrees that probable cause is required for arrest. As if it were a novelty. As AG, Barr is responsible for enforcing that particular constitutional norm, along with all the others. What might be news is that Bill Barr actually thinks so. But nothing in this hearing or his conduct generally suggests that.

    • Rugger9 says:

      I would agree and I doubt Lieu would be OK with “looking forward, not backward” as a policy. That’s a good thing.

    • Stephen Calhoun says:

      When you retained the protester in Portland by putting him in an unmarked van, was it the understanding of the Federal police that the protester could have chosen not to get in the van?
      Did his detention cause a paper trail?
      Please share with us the policies of the DoJ about documenting detentions for any and all purposes.

      (Excuse me in advance. I’m a layperson.)

  24. ButteredToast says:

    Is anyone going to bring up the Friday “resignation” of Berman? Barr can’t talk himself out of that lie.

  25. earlofhuntingdon says:

    MSNBC’s Toddler Chuck claims that HJC is populated by the most partisan and radical members. He’s also surprised at how “comfortable” Bill Barr is at being a partisan. For Todd, Barr has kind of let his non-partisanship “blur.” JFC. Is Chuck Todd as dim and uninformed as Donald Trump? Or is he laying the “whocouldaknowed” foundation, should anything untoward happen between now and the transition of power from Donald Trump.

    “Depends what kind of assistance,” is Barr’s first response to a question about a president accepting foreign electoral assistance. Under sustained questioning, Barr later admits that, no, it’s not appropriate.

    • Rugger9 says:

      To answer your question, Todd is that stupid. He’s someone that exemplifies the Peter Principle where his only qualification is to be basically a political groupie.

      So, for Todd, the political game is all that matters, not truth or actual journalism, and that is why he never cares about anything other than who scored political points that day.

  26. Sandwichman says:

    “Is it ever appropriate for a presidential campaign to accept or solicit foreign assistance?”

    BARR: “It depends what kind of assistance.”

    Russia, if you’re listening…

    • FL Resister says:

      Perhaps Mr. Barr was caught between jobs. There’s the one where he collects disinformation against Joe Biden and is the intake guy for whatever Giuliani drums up. Barr was mentioned by Trump as a go to person with Biden disinformation in the infamous call with Zelensky that Barr tried to squash. And Barr has spent a lot of time trotting around the world with the purpose of discrediting the Mueller investigation.
      Does that count?
      You mean that kind of foreign assistance?
      Appears Bill Barr isn’t quite sure.

  27. Jenny says:

    The early exchange between Nadler and Barr. Of course, AG doesn’t know. He claimed 200 arrests and only one happened. He lies with ease.

    Nadler: Operation Relentless pursuit targeted familiar list of cities, places like Albuquerque, Baltimore coming Kansas City, correct?

    AG: Correct

    Nadler: At the same press conference, you claimed 200 arrests have been made under operation legend. Correct. A. G. Barr but you misspoke — correct. But you misspoke. The U.S. Attorney’s office confirmed only a single arrest had been made under the auspices of Operation Legend. Correct?

    AG: I don’t know.

    • harpie says:
      10:31 AM · Jul 27, 2020

      “An Army National Guard commander who witnessed protesters forcibly removed from Lafayette Sq last month is contradicting claims by the attorney general & the Trump admin that they did not speed up the clearing to make way for the president’s photo opportunity minutes later.” [WaPo link]

      “A new statement by Adam DeMarco, an Iraq veteran who now serves as a major in the D.C. National Guard, also casts doubt on the claims by acting Park Police Chief Gregory Monahan that violence by protesters spurred Park Police to clear the area…w/unusually aggressive tactics.” […][thread]

      • ButteredToast says:

        Barr snidely remarks on DeMarco’s Democratic party affiliation. Clearly the President’s political appointees are so much more trustworthy.

    • Jenny says:

      harpie thanks. Jayapal helped to get rid of my headache. She was strong with solid statements. Ready to open up a bottle of wine.

  28. ButteredToast says:

    Not a lawyer, but maybe a follow-up to Barr’s statement that removing head of SDNY wouldn’t affect ongoing investigations: then why did you try to install a new “interim” U.S. Attorney rather than letting Berman remain until Senate confirmation of a nominated successor?

  29. harpie says:

    2:56 BARR: This is a hearing. I thought I was the one who was supposed to be heard. [approx. quote]


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Barr is wrong there, too. He’s a witness before a congressional committee. He’s there to answer questions, not be heard on topics of his own choosing.

  30. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Poor Billy is getting tired. The repeated eye rolling, his voice and posture, his talking over Democratic congresscritters when not asked a question, ad nauseum. The questions are getting better, they are more pointed, and he’s more argumentative than normal. He’s finding it harder to keep up his friendly bear persona. Watching Barr is like watching a scene from Supernatural, where the friendly companion’s eyes suddenly become yellow and their iruses pointed, and you know something wicked this way comes.

  31. civil says:

    Well, it was really frustrating listening to that (too many crappy questions, dishonest answers, grandstanding, …).

    The HJC members have 5 days to submit additional questions to be answered in writing. My Rep. isn’t on the committee, but I’ll have to write and ask him to forward questions to someone who is on the HJC. I’ll include the question Dr. Wheeler posted yesterday, and I’ll look through comments here and the previous column (including the Just Security, … links) for other ideas.

    • bmaz says:

      Post them here. My congressman is on the HJC, and I know him a little, and will try to get them to him. Hopefully in one ready to go package if possible.

      • civil says:

        OK, I looked at the 3 columns about Barr’s testimony, including people’s comments, and here’s a pass at the questions I was able to pull out:

        Questions for HJC to follow up:
        (The other Just Security link isn’t to questions, but to topics of discussion. If someone else wants to turn that into questions, great.)
        * In Principal Deputy Solicitor General Wall’s argument before the 3 judge CADC panel and the DOJ’s filing opposing an en banc rehearing, the DOJ argued that it would irreparably harm the DOJ if Judge Sullivan were permitted to hold a hearing on DOJ’s motion to dismiss. Why would answering questions from Judge Sullivan about the motion irreparably harm the DOJ?
        * In the motion to dismiss, Mr. Shea refers to “newly discovered and disclosed information.” Do you agree that none of this information was new to the DOJ? If not, please identify the material that was new to the DOJ and how they were discovered.
        * The FBI transcript of the Flynn-Kislyak phone calls shows that Flynn did not criticize Russia for its election interference, and the exhibits to the motion to dismiss show that more than one person noted that VP-Elect Pence indicated that Flynn had lied to him about Flynn’s calls with Kislyak and therefore might be either be secretly working for Russia or subject to blackmail from Russia. Why is that not a sufficient reason to interview Flynn?
        * Has the DOJ ever before claimed that it cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone lied to the FBI when that person has already stated under oath that they lied to the FBI?
        * The motion to dismiss asserts that Flynn’s false statements weren’t materially false. As of Jan. 24, 2017, the FBI had not yet obtained the call logs and texts that would make it clear that Flynn lied to the FBI about having been in touch with the Transition Team and was aware of Obama’s sanctions prior to talking with Kislyak. Why does the DOJ assert that Flynn’s false statements were not material, given that they impeded the investigation?
        * Re: the events in Lafayette Square on June 1: Who gave the on-site orders to Park Police, BOP, and Secret Service, and what were those orders? What did you say to anyone on site? What force was authorized, when, and why?
        * What do you think the impact was of Pres. Trump saying “I wish her well” about alleged sex-trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell?
        * Why did you falsely claim that Judge Amy Berman Jackson agreed with your view on the Stone sentencing, when she pointedly disagreed with your argument that Stone should not be punished for threatening her?
        * Did you read Vol. 2 of the Special Counsel’s report in its entirety before concluding “that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense”? In response to Rep. Swalwell’s question “Are you familiar with the December 3rd, 2018 tweet, where Donald Trump said Stone had showed ‘guts’ by not testifying against him?,” you said “No, I’m not familiar with that.” How do you explain your lack of familiarity with the President’s statement, when Vol. 2 the Special Counsel’s report has several sections devoted to the President’s conduct towards potential witnesses, and the section discussing his conduct towards Roger Stone repeatedly noted things such as “the President commended Stone for having the ‘guts’ to say that he would not testify against the President”? [Perhaps also: include a copy of that section of the Mueller report along with other evidence, such as Stone’s July 10, 2020 statement “I had 29 or 30 conversations with Trump during the campaign period. Trump knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn’t. The prosecutors wanted me to play Judas, I refused.” and then ask: is this combination of evidence a sufficient predicate for opening an investigation into whether Trump committed a crime, pardoning Mr. Stone in exchange for Stone not incriminating him? If not, why not?]
        * [Present a copy of Reggie Walton’s comments about Bill Barr’s dishonesty.] How is a line prosecutor supposed to represent a department whose head has been deemed to be an unreliable witness by a federal judge?
        * Why did you try to install a new “interim” U.S. Attorney rather than letting Berman remain until Senate confirmation of a nominated successor? [Lawfare has a similar Q]

        • ButteredToast says:

          Respectfully, I offer a question that’s unlikely to get useful information, but to which it still might be good to get a response on record: Have you spoken to or communicated with Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, since your confirmation as AG (either personally or through an intermediary)? If so, how many times, and did he lobby for your department to take steps in any ongoing investigations or open new ones?

  32. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Barr says he is using “common sense,” not evidence, when he predicts an increase in voter fraud coming from large-scale mail-in balloting. That’s an admission of unacceptably bad management, given the DoJ’s obligation to protect voting, along with all other civil rights. But I think Barr is being smarmy and wittily defensive.

    Barr is mimicking Trump by claiming to think with his gut. He’s also establishing a defense of ignorance to hide his voter suppression. Barr would know there’s no correlation between widespread mail-in ballots and voter fraud – despite it being a major plank of the Republican Party. Voter fraud is exceedingly rare, but voter suppression is not. Ignorance and bad management are reasons to remove Barr, but they’re not crimes. Intentionally suppressing the vote, on the other hand, is another level of culpability altogether.

  33. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Poor Bill wanted a break near the end of the hearing. He’d been checking his phone frequently, which suggests he needed to take a call rather than grab a drink or snack or take a potty break. One would think the only call he would take – short of a massive emergency – would be a call from the president.

    Barr was miffed that Nadler wouldn’t call a break the moment he asked for one and whined: “I waited an hour for you [this morning]. I haven’t had lunch, I would like to take a break.” Nadler would have been within his rights to respond, “That’s because it’s my hearing. We’ll take a break in a few minutes.” Instead, after more whining from Barr and Gym Jordan, Nadler called a break.

  34. greengiant says:

    Exploded with the death of George Floyd and police violence across the US in May.

    WallofMoms came out after Donovan La Bella’s mom took pictures of her son’s injuries to a protest.

    Wish someone had made Barr look at a set of photos of the damage Federal forces have been doing in Portland. Both of these injured moms have made statements being shared on Facebook.

    Maureen Healy
    Kristen Jessie-Uyanik

    These images are now being used by GOP supporters. I am not going to try to understand that. The racist, xenophobic, misogynistic GOP panders to uneducated white males at it’s own risk.

  35. sand says:

    The company you keep: When Barr hears the Republicans on Judiciary speak, does anyone believe he’s thinking, “This is a group of giants. I’m definitely on the right side of history here.”

  36. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A federal district court judged slapped Barr’s DoJ on the wrist with a yardstick over throwing Micky Cohen back into prison. The reason they did that – and rejected as unconstitutional by the court – was that Cohen supposedly violated a condition of his release by criticizing the president and planning to write a book about him, both protected speech.

    Undeterred, Barr’s DoJ is at it again in Portland, with a slight twist. As a condition of release, it is imposing a requirement on “arrested” protesters that they not attend protests or rallies. They are also imposing curfews, to keep people away from nightly protests. They are using a once rarely used federal law, 40 USC 1315, which federalizes certain crimes as misdemeanors, including “failure to obey a lawful order,” and “disorderly conduct” when they happens on federal property.

    While the feds could require people not to commit further crimes, they cannot prohibit them from engaging in First Amendment protected speech. But this administration’s version of “protected speech,” is pretty much the same as the rogue Senator in The Shooter, “It’s whatever I say it is.” Combine that with its enhanced use of facial recognition s/w (and possible collection of other bio-data from arrestees), and Trump and Barr are creating another fine mess that will take a lot of effort to unwind. Joe Biden’s pick for AG is likely to be more important than his pick for VP.

    • OldTulsaDude says:

      More than |Biden’s AG pick will be his instructions to his new AG: prosecute all crimes discovered. Nothing is off limits.

    • P J Evans says:

      Since the fence around the federal courthouse in Portland goes out to the street, no one is on federal property unless they’re *inside* that fence. Which is all the unmarked camo-clad guys.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Claiming private or restricted ownership over traditionally public spaces is an old game. Every mall does it, for example, precluding assembly in or near them. Many of the sidewalks in Salt Lake are owned by the church, which eliminates space for assembly and protest. Sounds like the feds do the same around some of their buildings.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          That was the point. Malls are an example because all the space in and around them, some of which would ordinarily be considered public space, is private. The same with Salt Lake, where the church owns nearly all sidewalks and streets, making them private. Ditto with the story about the feds claiming ownership of sidewalks outside its buildings, which means passersby are there only by virtue of limited, revocable permission.

          • P J Evans says:

            I suspect that the buildings might not go to the property line – that’s not unknown – so some of the sidewalk is private property. The line is usually marked somehow; I’ve seen brass medallions embedded in the concrete. If that’s the case, then they need to put the fence on or close to the line, so that it doesn’t block actual public property.

    • greengiant says:

      Two US magistrates did the ban on all protests. It is now a do over. The DOJ has been asking and getting a 10 to 8 hour curfew and not going to with 5 blocks of the federal courthouse. Which is a ban on protesting at the courthouse. One possible reason for the emphasis on federal charges is that Oregon law requires all arresting officers to be certified in the state of Oregon. Remains to be seen if anyone detained by federals has been charged with local crimes.
      Portland police have made over 460 arrests. Federals around 90.

  37. Scott says:

    Dark days for those Americans who still cling to the fantasy they’ll be able to vote Trump out of office. Barr and the GOP have a plan to discredit any defeat, delay certification in GOP controlled states with phoney investigations until past the deadline for the EC thereby throwing it to the House where the GOP will prevail.

    Lol Merry Christmas America you deserve it.

  38. Molly Pitcher says:

    Gee, I’m really disappointed I missed this party. I actually chose to do work over subjecting myself to the excrement extravaganza of another HJC hearing. It also saved me from having to buy a new TV after throwing things at dis-Barr’s face.

    After the last few weeks of emotional assault, I need to see something in the positive column in the ledger of life. How can we possibly be only half way thru this year ? 98 days till the election.

    • P J Evans says:

      close to 7/12s of the way through this year. It does feel like it’s been seven years, though.

  39. foggycoast says:

    for barr it’s all a word game. “i’ll follow the law” simply means that the words of a law will mean what i say they mean and then i will follow that. guarantee when ross redefines “inhabitant” barr will support not counting undocumented people as “just following the law”. he’s clever and repugnant.

  40. jv says:

    What stuck out for me during Barr’s uneasy moments was, in sum, that the decision on whether to count undocumented people in the census as per Trump’s E.O. (promised or made, I don’t know) will be up to, first, Wilbur Ross, and second, Republican governors on behalf of their states. Since Ross was used in the Republican attempt to change the 2020 census, it appears the administration is looking to Round Two at the Supreme Court. Do the lawyers here have opinion on this?

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