Bill Barr’s Screed Is About Mike Flynn, Nora Dannehy, and Robert Mueller
Bill Barr delivered a remarkable screed last night at the radical right Hillsdale College. Numerous people have and will unpack both the glaring contradictions and the dangerous assertions in it.
But I want to point out that it is quite obviously about Barr’s attempts to overturn the prosecutions of Trump’s flunkies for covering up their efforts to help Russia interfere in the election.
A big part of it is targeted towards independent counsels (though, tellingly, Barr assails the independent counsel statute that used to be, not the one that left Robert Mueller closely supervised by Rod Rosenstein).
As Justice Scalia observed in perhaps his most admired judicial opinion, his dissent in Morrison v. Olson: “Almost all investigative and prosecutorial decisions—including the ultimate decision whether, after a technical violation of the law has been found, prosecution is warranted—involve the balancing of innumerable legal and practical considerations.”
And those considerations do need to be balanced in each and every case. As Justice Scalia also pointed out, it is nice to say “Fiat justitia, ruat coelum. Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall.” But it does not comport with reality. It would do far more harm than good to abandon all perspective and proportion in an attempt to ensure that every technical violation of criminal law by every person is tracked down, investigated, and prosecuted to the Nth degree.
This was of course the central problem with the independent-counsel statute that Justice Scalia criticized in Morrison v. Olson. Indeed, creating an unaccountable headhunter was not some unfortunate byproduct of that statute; it was the stated purpose of that statute. That was what Justice Scalia meant by his famous line, “this wolf comes as a wolf.” As he went on to explain: “How frightening it must be to have your own independent counsel and staff appointed, with nothing else to do but to investigate you until investigation is no longer worthwhile—with whether it is worthwhile not depending upon what such judgments usually hinge on, competing responsibilities. And to have that counsel and staff decide, with no basis for comparison, whether what you have done is bad enough, willful enough, and provable enough, to warrant an indictment. How admirable the constitutional system that provides the means to avoid such a distortion. And how unfortunate the judicial decision that has permitted it.”
Justice Jackson understood this too. As he explained in his speech: “If the prosecutor is obliged to choose his cases, it follows that he can choose his defendants. Therein is the most dangerous power of the prosecutor: that he will pick people that he thinks he should get, rather than pick cases that need to be prosecuted.” Any erosion in prosecutorial detachment is extraordinarily perilous. For, “it is in this realm—in which the prosecutor picks some person whom he dislikes or desires to embarrass, or selects some group of unpopular persons and then looks for an offense, that the greatest danger of abuse of prosecuting power lies. It is here that law enforcement becomes personal, and the real crime becomes that of being unpopular with the predominant or governing group, being attached to the wrong political views, or being personally obnoxious to or in the way of the prosecutor himself.”
And part of it is a restatement of the arguments Acting Solicitor General Jeff Wall made before the DC Circuit, arguing that even bribery was not reason for a judge to override DOJ’s decisions on prosecutions.
I want to focus today on the power that the Constitution allocates to the Executive, particularly in the area of criminal justice. The Supreme Court has correctly held that, under Article II of the Constitution, the Executive has virtually unchecked discretion to decide whether to prosecute individuals for suspected federal crimes. The only significant limitation on that discretion comes from other provisions of the Constitution. Thus, for example, a United States Attorney could not decide to prosecute only people of a particular race or religion. But aside from that limitation — which thankfully has remained a true hypothetical at the Department of Justice — the Executive has broad discretion to decide whether to bring criminal prosecutions in particular cases.
And the rest suggests that career prosecutors have been putting targets on the heads of politically prominent people and pursuing them relentlessly.
Once the criminal process starts rolling, it is very difficult to slow it down or knock it off course. And that means federal prosecutors possess tremendous power — power that is necessary to enforce our laws and punish wrongdoing, but power that, like any power, carries inherent potential for abuse or misuse.
Line prosecutors, by contrast, are generally part of the permanent bureaucracy. They do not have the political legitimacy to be the public face of tough decisions and they lack the political buy-in necessary to publicly defend those decisions. Nor can the public and its representatives hold civil servants accountable in the same way as appointed officials. Indeed, the public’s only tool to hold the government accountable is an election — and the bureaucracy is neither elected nor easily replaced by those who are.
We want our prosecutors to be aggressive and tenacious in their pursuit of justice, but we also want to ensure that justice is ultimately administered dispassionately.
We are all human. Like any person, a prosecutor can become overly invested in a particular goal. Prosecutors who devote months or years of their lives to investigating a particular target may become deeply invested in their case and assured of the rightness of their cause.
When a prosecution becomes “your prosecution”—particularly if the investigation is highly public, or has been acrimonious, or if you are confident early on that the target committed serious crimes—there is always a temptation to will a prosecution into existence even when the facts, the law, or the fair-handed administration of justice do not support bringing charges.
That is yet another reason that having layers of supervision is so important. Individual prosecutors can sometimes become headhunters, consumed with taking down their target. Subjecting their decisions to review by detached supervisors ensures the involvement of dispassionate decision-makers in the process.
And it excuses, in one sentence, calling for probation even after a just prosecution.
Other times it will mean aggressively prosecuting a person through trial and then recommending a lenient sentence, perhaps even one with no incarceration.
Of course, none of this makes sense, and Barr’s own behavior — from removing Senate confirmed US Attorneys to put in people accountable only to him, from seeking prosecution of Democratic officials, and from launching the Durham investigation because he was just certain there was criminal wrong-doing in the Russian investigation — belies his words.
Perhaps it does so in the most basic way. If we hold our Attorney General politically accountable through elections, then we need to make sure elections are fair. We definitely need to make sure that elections are not influenced by hostile foreign powers cooperating with one candidate. The 2016 election wasn’t fair, and Bill Barr is doing his damndest to make sure the voters won’t be able to use the 2020 election to hold him politically accountable for interfering with the punishment of those who worked to cheat.
Because of Barr’s corrupt view on cheating at elections, he ensures that Vladimir Putin has more say over who gets prosecuted than experienced American prosecutors.
“The AG with the Dragon Mouth”
Barr is part of a cult, the High Priest of the Con.
Tactical maneuver: DOJ staff must revolt, en banc
He is getting worse as we slouch toward November.
He is now Public Enemy #1.
In the first half of his speech, Barr says:
“The Justice Department is not a praetorian guard that watches over society impervious to the ebbs and flows of politics. It is an agency within the Executive Branch of a democratic republic…. In short, the Attorney General, senior DOJ officials, and U.S. Attorneys are indeed political. But they are political in a good and necessary sense.”
Then, in the second half of the speech, he says:
“This criminalization of politics is not healthy…. [O]ur prosecutors have all too often inserted themselves into the political process based on the flimsiest of legal theories. We have seen this time and again, with prosecutors bringing ill-conceived charges against prominent political figures, or launching debilitating investigations that thrust the Justice Department into the middle of the political process and preempt the ability of the people to decide.”
There’s an obvious tension between these two claims. At best, the tension is practical– if DOJ’s prosecution decisions are ultimately made by its political leaders, then it’s just *inevitable* that those decisions will end up being based, at least in part, on ad hoc political considerations! At worst, Barr is just straight-up contradicting himself– it’s both “good and necessary” that DOJ is a political agency *and* it’s “not healthy” for DOJ to be involved in politics.
Perhaps there is a way of reconciling one or both of these apparent contradictions. Or perhaps not. Either way, though, Barr seems to be completely unaware that the position he’s advancing comes off as an incoherent mess.
Not sure that they can really be reconciled. The fact that upper DOJ Main and the US Attys are political appointees is incontrovertible. But once appointed and confirmed, they always at least pretended to not be partisan political agents. The Barr DOJ has completely blown that up, even if it was always partially a fiction.
Part of the way it used to be managed was the top politicos set the policy direction but the frontliners handled cases without political direction.
The split didn’t prevent politicization, but it dampened it — an AG might double resources devoted to political corruption in the hopes of ensnaring politicians of one party, but the AG didn’t order an investigation of a particular person.
This wasn’t always followed, but Barr has blown up that kind of delegation. He is no longer saying something like “make sure the FBI is following the letter of the law” and now putting targets on the backs of individuals.
No, the messages are irreconcilable. That’s one reason he delivered his sermon at Hillsdale, where it would be met with applause rather than derision.
For Bill Barr, the crime is to oppose the regime. Those who enable it, by definition, cannot be criminal and do not deserve punishment. They should be pardoned or their prosecution should be withdrawn.
Those who oppose the regime are the real enemy. They deserve our two minutes of hate, and prompt and merciless retribution, however it comes their way. Mr. Barr should have delivered his new testament in Minsk or Manila.
Earl has the sense of it. Barr is trying to claim that democracy means that all politicians (and their appointees) are outside of the rule of law, being solely accountable to the electorate. The statement is frankly ridiculous on the face of it, even before getting to Barr’s hidden subtext that this political imperium rests solely with the party currently holding the executive office. What a jackass.
IANAL, but you all describe the situation well. Do I still get to say the emperor has no clothes?
I’d love to have a sit down open conversation with Nora Dannehy about now. And not just about Durham’s latest so called “investigation”. I’d like to go much further back too.
I’m just hoping that someone gets Jody Hunt to explain why he resigned, given his pushback on Barr this morning.
Ms. Dannehy probably plays by strict informal and formal rules of personal and professional behavior. She seems quite a bit like Marie Yovanovitch seemed to be. Barr, Trump, and I imagine Durham don’t play by any “rules” other than their own. One could read any story of personal betrayal and probably get what one would get from Ms. Dannehy. It’s pretty much been the literary story of the Trump Administration. It’s amusing to listen to Barr rail about prosecutorial malevolence and then listen to him bleat about Dunham’s current investigation. Dunham must be a real piece of work. I think he came off in a PR sense as a lion of integrity in the Mueller Boston FBI case but in reality did little or nothing to condemn FBI misdeeds, but I may not remember correctly.
Meh, I would not be too quick to nominate Nora Dannehy for sainthood. This was her second stint with Durham and DOJ. The first one had more than a few warts. Just ask David Iglesias and Paul Charlton.
Which is why the straw that broke the camel’s back here should be found. I was speculating that it had to do with the announcements last week about more sleazy Russian connections to DJT’s campaign, but as you noted Dannehy went a long way down this path before deciding she no longer could. As abrupt as the announcement was, I would guess a single event was responsible.
A little OT, but given Barr’s recent comments about a nationwide lockdown to help fight the spread of the coronavirus as being an infringement on Americans’ liberties similar to human slavery, I guess he would also have been against food and gas rationing, blackout restrictions, military conscription, and other measures necessary to win WWII.
To borrow a theme about the perfect servant from Gosford Park, Bill Barr is there to provide what his master wants before he knows he wants it. Whim and irrationality are part of the sea on which he sails. Consistency would be an anchor.
Certainly, from our perspective, “consistency would be an anchor”; from his, a millstone grinding utility to dust.
An appellate chief justice once said within earshot that the judiciary strived for perfection, but that predictability would do. Later, when I spoke to him about it after he retired, he confessed that he had forgotten it, but still agreed. It was still a signal moment I will never forget.
We can see some of this last attitude in some of the latest SC decisions, though I’m not sure whether it’s doctrinal or performative.
Tom….yes, indeed. When I was a kid, my mother still reflexively saved rubber bands by making a ball, same with aluminum foil. It was just instinctive. Health and safety regulations have always been around. And are well established in American law, see Jacobsen v. Massachusetts 197 US 11 (1905).
My mother saved fat. There was always a big can of collected bacon grease, lard, assorted drippings, whatever, in our fridge. She used it to make home-made fish ‘n’ ships for supper on Fridays. My sister and I were always lectured on the need to clean our plates because “People in China are starving!” Even now I never, like never, throw food out. Everything gets eaten as is or put into some sort of grab-bag soup or casserole.
nono, saving fat was for rendering and use in the manufacture of munitions. or so my mother said.
fat –> glycerin and glycerin –> bombs.
o, save everything
but do not hoard.
a delicate balance,
thus saith the lord
of canny recycling:
render guns unto sword.
My 92 year old mother-in-law was one of those starving children in China during WW2. She told us how she and some other children found a decaying maggot covered fish and they ate it thinking the maggots were rice.
After the war she had an arranged marriage with a Chinese-American WW2 veteran from Mississippi. She ended up dealing cards in Reno NV and retired to San Francisco.
She’s still fully functional and volunteers in the Tenderloin district as a translator and social services guide for “fresh off the boat” Cantonese people.
The woman’s a saint.
That’s an amazing story and your mother-in-law is an amazing woman. Hope she stays safe.
Then there were his comments about wanting the Seattle mayor arrested – because they kept police and protesters apart. He apparently is in favor of police riots.
Nixon ordered nationwide wage and price controls just because inflation hit 5.8%.
Let’s remember Nixon’s AG went to jail. John Mitchell a convicted criminal went to jail for 19 months. Perhaps Barr will follow.
“I feel I’m in a position in life where I can do the right thing and not really care about the consequences, I can be truly independent.”
– William Barr CNN 7 months ago
Barr’s arguments have little merit. They are obviously special pleading for a corrupt regime – and his career in particular. But I can see why George H.W. Bush’s Attorney General would be worried about some “unaccountable headhunter” having statutory authority to investigate and prosecute criminal abuse of power and office. He is still trying to keep Lawrence Walsh at bay.
Nice preemptive dig at Nora Dannehy and every other non-political appointee at the department he has so corrupted.
I have no clue what “political legitimacy” means. Is that a Barrian oxymoron? Sophistry at best.
lol , “political correctness” ….with papers. Show me your papers please.
I have no problem with the idea of political legitimacy, here, the status and authority to speak for the DoJ. I think that opinion is fundamentally wrong. Senior bureaucrats routinely speak for the DoJ about the matters for which they are responsible, largely individual prosecutions. Bill Barr is reining that in, but only to protect the president and prosecute his enemies.
Barr’s statement illustrates his authoritarianism and outrageous ego. Happily, he is so wrong and so defensive that it’s obvious. Even the MSM noticed it.
“He words me, girls.”
On second thought, I do have problems with Bill Barr’s use of “political legitimacy” here.
Bill Barr is invoking an important Trump meme – along with sedition – to defend Trump and to attack his opponents. By Trump’s definition, his opponents are illegitimate. They have no standing – no political legitimacy – to oppose him, to contest his re-election, or to rule in his stead during his necessarily temporary absence from power. That’s what dictators say after their ouster, while hiding in Switzerland and counting the billions stolen from their people.
DoJ’s civil servants are not political, except at the margin or in their personal lives. They require legal authority, not “political legitimacy,” to do their work – so long as they stick to their work and stay within the norms of the law and the rules of their department.
Bill Barr’s criticism implies that they do require political legitimacy, but haven’t got it. Barr, of course, is throwing out the norms bureaucrats need to function – to the extent they restrict his defense of an unaccountable presidency. So, he has to erect other barriers to keep them in the paddock. That, too, is wrong of Bill Barr, because it furthers the corruption of his department and of government itself.
As you say: “They require legal authority, not “political legitimacy,” to do their work …”. “Political legitimacy” seems a nullity to me.
In a post-Trump world (which is a term constantly mentioned on EW, and which I have serious doubts might occur), what happens with all the “politically legitimate” but illegitimate (acting beyond their term of acting authority) acts of DHS poppets? It would be even worse than what happens when prosecutors mislead the court (as a career choice). The knock-on remedial effects of DHS policy and its outcomes would be a politically untouchable Gordian knot. Some DHS actions don’t even seem to have a plausible color of law.
Sadly, I agree mostly with you.
I would love to see DHS and INS dissolved.
To use your excellent words, I believe that for Barr, “political legitimacy” *trumps* legal authority.
Bill Barr is disgusted at personal restrictions being imposed as a response to a public health emergency, calling them the greatest assault on civil liberties since slavery. Slavery. He is the perfect complement to his master’s voice.
Barr’s rhetoric is itself an assault on people of color, civil liberties, and all Americans. But it is consistent with Barr’s racism and misogyny. And it’s consistent with his 19th century fundamentalist disregard for history, science, human intellect, and human needs.
Ironically, I see Barr’s Hillsdale speech as a concession to reality and the launch of his post-Trump, post-DoJ career.
It is some small satisfaction that Notre Dame was wise enough not to invite him for a second “screeding” of his blatant religiosity. Opus Dei indeed.
The first thing that came to mind was John Adams and the Alien and Sedition Acts.
His minions are now spending time, using his exaggerated and highly dubious laws to
I’m pretty sure the Supreme Court will agree – They believe “Corporations are People”
so why not “Coronavirus is Slavery” meme.
Our democracy is only an experiment.
He’s a zealot. There is no better word to describe him.
Here’s a piece from National Review (!) about Orban and Fidesz which feels relevant on the manipulation of public health, the treatment of career civil servants, and the assertion of control over the judiciary:
In that context, Neomi Rao is not so much an Article III judge as an agent of the (current) executive branch. Same with all of those kiddiwink appointees to the district courts.
Nice, three-point reversal of Bill Barr’s perspective:
I would reverse 7 and 8, but otherwise, spot on.
I thought COINTELPRO fit in there somewhere… certainly ahead of mask wearing.
Of course much less oppressive than several on the list.
“Thus, for example, a United States Attorney could not decide to prosecute only people of a particular race or religion. But aside from that limitation — which thankfully has remained a true hypothetical at the Department of Justice”
This is only true because most drug crimes are prosecuted at the state level?
Eh, maybe. But ALL crime is mostly prosecuted at the state and local level. The DOJ and federal courts are important, but the fact has always been that most law occurs at the state, local and administrative level. I occasionally try to remind people here that such is the case, but mostly to little effect.
Disturbing that it is local except when it comes to political warfare. DHS and DOJ have been making political hay on applying federal law to protesters. Over 700 local arrests in Portland were not enough for the campaign.
The democrat governor of Oregon had the US marshals deputize the Oregon State Patrol with the implied threat that protesters could be federally charged from the moment of arrest.
And more Barr meddling in local affairs in Las Vegas.
Did you mean “Democratic” as opposed to the Trumpian slur “Democrat”?
Thank you, there are only worse options for governor. I think it says something that even Democrats are piling on to the federalization of local laws. Whether that is a tactical necessity to defeat the GOP or a strategic nightmare remains to be seen. Unlike NYC the bail requirements in Oregon are minimal and were crowd sourced. Also the sheriff’s matrix for detaining means a release for almost all property crimes. Mix that in with more than half of the local arrests were bogus there is no wonder here that the new DA chose to dismiss some charges. That does not satisfy the agitated “but mah federal property” folks.
You have been around long enough to know that, in most situations, I am not in favor of federalizing what ought be state/local offenses.
Which is certainly not to say that state and local are always good at this, they are not necessarily. But the over-federalization of common law crime is dangerous. It is sweet that the DA is acting somewhat responsibly, and that it is not easy right now. There are no great answers to any of this, but there are bad ones, and federalizing it all is a very bad one.
Barr’s list of the constitutional rights that protect people and prohibit the DoJ from unjustly prosecuting them seems constipated. His only example is that the DoJ could not, “decide to prosecute only people of a particular race or religion.”
That’s an unusual way to describe constitutional protections. It’s also easy to demonstrate how flimsy those would be. For Barr’s seemingly expansive statement to be true, the DoJ – during its entire history – need only have prosecuted one white person and one person of color, and two people of different faiths. That’s the mark of a good propagandist, and of someone engaging in it.
A bit off topic; however worth viewing.
PBS Frontline: Policing the Police 2020
George Floyd’s killing triggered mass demonstrations nationwide calling for racial justice and police accountability in the United States. In the wake of those protests, New Yorker writer and historian Jelani Cobb returns to a troubled police department he first visited four years ago to examine whether reform can work, and how police departments can be held accountable.
Bmaz speaks above to law primarily occurring at the local level. Policing is inextricably related. I haven’t read Cobb’s piece but I would maintain the great problem with local policing and reform is that the local police reflect the local community’s law ethic both for non-police and police. Those police are also brothers and sisters, high school classmates, sports coaches, youth organizers, neighbors, church members among other relationships. It is insanely difficult to get reform when few are going to call out the police when they don’t see them as police but as something else and do not wish to bear the responsibility of potentially affecting individual police livlihoods and those of their families. I laughed the entire time at the Kavanaugh hearings for a few different reasons. One was the idea that the police would ever not look the other way when some local official’s (judge like Kavanaugh’s mother, police, fire chief, mayor) child – as Kavanaugh was – messed up. Kavanaugh’s chances of a blotter entry were slim and none. That is the real issue of reform and it is cultivated everyday in every way by the police.
Barr doesn’t care about “the law”. He cares only about his kind of “order”. Those that don’t play by the rules, as Barr has been doing, will always have the upper hand over those that do, at least in the short and medium term. Barr weaponizes the law against society. He has no intention of doing anything differently, of deweaponizing. Ever.
It also doesn’t help when police live twenty or thirty miles away from the place where they work.
Epicurus is not wrong though, nor are you. Cops too infrequently live where they police now. It is not the 50’s anymore, as you note.
But, to Epicurus point, sure, there is local paint that is applied as often the local community is sold, even if falsely. As I think Epicurus intoned.
The bigger question is can police, writ large, be “reformed”? I think yes, but not magically and instantly. It starts in how they are indoctrinated in their initial academy. And just as much how they are “trained” once on the probationary job. Enough cycles of this, and reform will be effected. But it will not be easy or quick, yet needs to start somewhere. Now is a good time.
Recruiting more women would help. According to Wikipedia only 11% to 12% of American police are female and the number has been stalled at that level for some time.
I went to a community college where one of my classes shared a room with an “administration of justice” (AKA police training) class. They routinely ignored the “no smoking” sign the room came with. That’s the kind of thing that they should be called on: rules for others, but not for them. (That was in the mid-70s. This isn’t a new thing.)
No, it is not a new thing. But it is a thing that has been increasingly ingrained for 2-3 decades. That is not just me saying it, but experts I am/was familiar with who were formerly very high up in IACP.
Two decades at least with the powerful turn to “law and order” and the militarization/funding of the police that came out of 9-11 and DHS. Prior to that I could have walked into my local police station and talked with any of a number of different police persons, many of whom I knew. Now no one is making it past the bullet proof glass just inside the front door except Arnold Schwarzenegger. So very hard to change an ingrained culture especially when it doesn’t want to be changed or thinks it is under attack.
It is more than two decades. It traces back to Daryl Gates in the mid 60’s. Was a slow burn, but is full on now. If you have not yet read Rise Of The Warrior Cop by Radley Balko, a friend of all here, you should. It is not just an excellent, but a seminal, read.
Gates got support from Yorty. And probably Bradley.
Yes indeed. But it changed history, and not just in LA.
It’s also a question of accountability to standards of conduct. Either someone holds you accountable (i.e. Geneva even applies in a hot zone) or you hold yourselves accountable (i.e. as the Marines generally do for screwups, without NJP). However, with the entrenched unions we have zero accountability between qualified immunity and the union rules for investigations not available to ordinary citizens. When this lack of accountability is combined with power (i.e. guns, etc.) you get the Stanford Experiment.
The thing that this discussion is overlooking is the concerted effort of some malign groups to infest police departments with extreme views. The link is to a Daily Beast article from a couple days ago by the former Neo-Nazi/skinhead that American History X is based on.
He now lectures and advises on how to escape Neo-Nazi groups and how to cleanse them from organizations. It is a chilling article that lays out how it was an intentional policy for Neo-Nazis to remove their tattoos, grow out their hair and infiltrate the police. The heavy handed, quick trigger behavior we are seeing is partially a result of that.
I don’t think that this represents the communities you find these police in, at least for the most part.
“Because of Barr’s corrupt view on cheating at elections, he ensures that Vladimir Putin has more say over who gets prosecuted than experienced American prosecutors.” — Emptywheel
According to the Washington Post, FBI Director Chris Wray told Congress today that Russia is running a misinformation campaign against Joe Biden. And it’s not a stretch to say that Senator Ron Johnson has swallowed their bait hook, line and sinker. To take it even further, the AG is an accessory to Russia’s efforts to discredit Biden with the Durham investigation. Trump is Moscow’s man in DC and Putin wants to keep it that way. And so does the Republican establishment in Washington who are now working hand-in-hand with an active Russian op to steal the 2020 presidential election on behalf of Trump. We still haven’t addressed the DeJoy muckup at the Post Office, either, which is another front from which they’re attacking a free and fair presidential election.
As a shanty Irish child of adult child who lived through the Depression I remember it was a common admonition to anyone who spilt the smallest bit of alcohol, ” Careful, dammit. Don’t youse know there’s sober children in China?”
Barr’s comments seem to be part of the whole right wing attack on the idea of educated elites and professional expertise. If I read him correctly, Barr appears to be saying that it is a mistake to think that there could ever be an independent group of trained and experienced investigators and prosecutors at the DOJ who could be trusted to carry on their work over the length of decades long careers without having their judgement and decision-making influenced by their own personal biases and political beliefs. For these reasons, Barr feels he as the AG should adopt a more hands-on approach in dealing out justice to ensure his people keep to the straight and narrow.
Barr’s criticism of the wearing of face masks and imposing lock-downs as being redolent of slavery demonstrates his willingness to confound the experts and Barrge into the field of public health. After all, those doctors, what do they know! “Just because they save people’s lives, they think they’re important.” The whole idea seems to be to discredit acquired knowledge and professional bodies of any kind if they don’t support the Gospel according to Donald Trump.
The funny thing is, until kind of recently, no matter how hard defense lawyers and DOJ fought, it was rarely in terms of raw and unadulterated politics. Always has been, and always will be, a side tinge of that, but the current state is nuts. And it is sad.
As I see it, Barr is knee-capping his own staff because they may have their own personal and/or political biases, while at the same time claiming that he — and by extension Trump — possess some higher form of authority based on “political legitimacy.” Basically, it’s heads I win, tails you lose.
Or, as Digby noted in her column, it could be that Barr’s kneecapping the DOJ’s ability to go after him later.