Bill Barr Is Resigned to Spending Time with His Family

Bill Barr was either just fired or quit, partly as a way to distract from Joe Biden’s resounding Electoral College win.

Barr wrote what may be the most insipid resignation letter in history.

Jeffrey Rosen will be Acting Attorney General. Richard Donoghue, who was swapped with Seth DuCharme in July, will be Acting Deputy Attorney General.

I’m particularly interested in what upcoming events — like a self-pardon — Barr didn’t want to have a role in.

122 replies
      • Albert says:

        I agree. It is all orchestrated. No one writes a resignation letter including all those things about Trump, not connected to the work of the DOJ. It was written by a staffer or Barr did write it as a parting gift to Trump so that Trump can tout his accomplishments as pointed out by the respected outgoing Attorney General Barr. There is always a reason for what they do, even if the reason is ridiculous, unethical, or filled with lies. There is no doubt in my mind that the seeds of the cry of “fake news” everytime Trump’s lies were pointed out was purposely developed by him and his political team. They knew he was a serial liar and such a mantra gave him 4 years of cover. It worked on his followers to the point where they believed his lies and did not believe the actual truth.

        [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named Albert/Al/Bert/Alberta. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • Jon says:

      It’s possible that Barr destroyed a lot of DoJ material, and wants several weeks of absence to be able avoid responsibility.

  1. Matthew Harris says:

    My only thought is: William Barr is going to be smart enough to hire a real lawyer, and he will need a real lawyer for a lot of things in the next few years.

  2. Peterr says:

    On the second page of the letter, there are two more sentences. The last is where Barr wished the Trump family a Merry Christmas, but his penultimate sentence is “As discussed, I will spend the next week wrapping up a few remaining matters important to the Administration and depart on December 23rd.”

    I think at least a couple of those few remaining matters involve the words “a full and unconditional pardon”.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yes, when a paper version is avail I’ll link bc I think that’s one of the few interesting bits.

      I don’t think Barr will accept a pardon though. And if he does, I’ll fly back there and lead the effort to disbar him as a result.

      • Peterr says:

        I was thinking of Barr shepherding the pardon documents with the names of other people on them (Manafort, Don Jr., etc.), not for himself.

        • emptywheel says:

          Yes. Christmas Eve pardons.

          Makes sense. Though I do think he would balk at Assange and/or Snowden ones.

          • Mwwa says:

            History repeating itself. Since Barr is leaving, these Christmas Eve pardons must not be defensible in his mind.

        • Valley girl says:

          I thought about the line at the end of post- Barr wouldn’t want to be there when Trump pardons himself. With “a full and unconditional pardon”.

        • harpie says:

          The final two sentences:

          As discussed [today at the Mall], I will spend the next week wrapping up a few [more of the items on your wish list, for] remaining matters important to the Administration. Wishing you, Melania, and your family, and depart [with Donner and Blitzen, etc, as usual] on December 23.

          [Ho! Ho! Ho!] Merry Christmas [to ALL!]
          and a Blessed Holiday Season. God Bless.
          Sincerely, William P. Barr, Attorney General [SANTA]

        • Peterr says:

          A long time ago, when Marcy was part of FDL, Dana Milbank would whine from time to time about his tough workload of having to churn out four columns a week (750-800 words each). This became known among the FDL writers as “the Milbank Unit” in backstage conversations, and Marcy wrote it up after hearing Dana whine once too often. [Let the record show that Marcy regularly filed a full Milbank Unit of four posts a week before lunch on Monday. Most weeks, she did it before the mid-morning coffee break.]

          IOW, don’t worry. She’ll have time.

          • bmaz says:

            There was that brief time when we were supposed to keep them at 500 words or less. But math is hard, and that did not happen often.

            • Peterr says:

              I think Gregg still has scars from trying to herd loquacious writers, dealing with endless versions of “But someone on the internet is wrong, and if I write just a few words over that limit, I’m sure I’ll convince them.”

              • bmaz says:

                Naw. Can’t speak for others, but always wrote what felt appropriate (I kind of tried. A little maybe.) Never worried about it.

                • Rugger9 says:

                  Kind of like the movie “Amadeus” when Emperor Joseph complained there were too many notes and to cut a few. Mozart replied he used as many notes as required.

                  • bmaz says:

                    Heh, that was kind of it. I couldn’t remember if it was Gregg Levine or Dave Niewart during the 500 word thing. But I know we frustrated the hell out of one of them.

                    And we already had a “don’t even think about editing our EW posts!” informal policy. It is a pretty funny story now, but it worked fine. Both are great people, that had a hard job at a difficult time in history, and both are fantastic journalists and good friends to this day.

  3. PeterS says:

    There was supposed to have  been some tension between Barr and Trump, and this level of sycophancy was committed to writing; good grief, what would the letter have looked like if they’d parted on the best of terms?

    • ducktree says:

      Not quite yet. I’m familiar with this ploy: the garbage has merely bagged and sealed itself tightly so as to conceal the growing stink, and is now waiting near the door to be carted out at the appropriate moment.

    • Ryan says:

      I expect Ed Whelan is rweeting what Barr would say if he felt free to talk. He seems kind of happy to be rid of Trump.

  4. John Langston says:

    This is bigger than Brad and Jenn’s divorce. Or was it Brad’s and Angelina’s ?

    I can’t keep it straight.

    Maybe Liz and Richard’s? You all know what I mean.

  5. sand says:

    It didn’t occur to me that the timing of this might be to distract from the electoral college, but leave it to Trump. Jumping through hoops to distract from things that no one used to care about.

    • skua says:

      We can turn this around and use these distractions to get a view of what Trump sees as important.

      And now we know that the electoral college casting their votes was important to Trump.

  6. Rugger9 says:

    I do not think that AG Barr is all that concerned with the inevitable EC news, and I would suspect this resignation has been in the works for a while with the positioning of Durham and the other lawyers. I think this is more of a CYA exercise, hoping no one will remember what AG Barr did as AG but the House awaits with questions.

    AG Barr did get his money’s worth out of the job, as well as DJT (who is unaware of what the next five weeks will bring without Barr to protect him).

  7. skua says:

    I didn’t know that “insipid” was a euphemism for “hagiographic ****-licking, BS” in America.

    Perhaps this new turn towards civility will bear a less divisive culture.
    “Elected Republicans displayed an insipid approach during Trump’s Presidency”.

    • coriolis says:

      Personally, I read this as a plea to the qanon nutters, after they’d Photoshopped Barr burning down the whitehouse, following Barr’s claims that there was no election fraud, and disagreeing with Trump. Barr knows exactly what kind of hornets nest he’s been kicking, and seems to be begging for them not to sting him or his family. Just my 2p. IANAL.

      • skua says:

        You’re ahead of me in thinking about why Barr would sign this.

        Options visible:
        To placate the qanoners.
        Under duress from Trump.
        In belief that it is true.
        In a fit of nihilistic despair in which creating a sycophant-clown legacy was not worth avoiding.
        As a joke.
        Barr signed a blank letter (and Trump produced the content) as punishment for not supporting Trump’s electoral coup attempt fully. (But why did Barr agree to be punished?)


        • coriolis says:

          Well, when you put it like that.. all of the above. (I’m clearly not ahead of you). I also believe he has reasons for concern for lots of his actions. But I think the scariest and most uncontrollable thing, to him, would be the nutters (excuse my terminology, but am a mental health patient myself, long term depression due to reality).
          Agreeing to be punished? I’d guess because the alternative was worse. And given the circumstances of Barr’s arrival.. Wasn’t an actual debt paid off on someone close to Barr’s behalf? Yeah, that’s not a good look. Doesn’t the carrot also usually come with a stick?
          Finally, not really the place, I know, but it’s been driving me nuts(er). Why do I mentally see the lung from Last Week Tonight when I see your name? Does “cup and taste” invoke an image of a Japanese lucky snow cat (as in snowman) for you?

          • skua says:

            I’ve managed to escape watching TV. Which has a lung and LWT as mysteries to me. And cup and taste haven’t featured in my Ghibli or Natsume viewings. If you want a changed image then imagine a larger seagull/smaller albatros living on the wing above the southern oceans. Your initial explanation is the most concerning and the most powerful one I’ve seen.

            • coriolis says:

              Ah, ok, must be someone else with the same user name. Thought maybe I recognised you from cracked (pre g.g) or wonkette. But thanks for answering, and considering my comment to have merit.I tend to feel like a plank here. Lol.

  8. Zinsky says:

    That is the most obsequious piece of tripe that I have ever seen written. I felt physically nauseous reading it. If this is genuine, Barr must have spit-polished Trump’s elevator wingtips every morning – with his tongue! Hideous. My guess is Trump dictated it to someone and forced Barr to sign it. On a professional level it is ridiculous. Who has ever lavished their boss with lies, exaggerations and campaign-style rhetoric for a full page and then, in the last sentence, essentially said, “Oh by the way, I will be leaving my job next Wednesday”? Preposterous. Only Trump could come up such florid nonsense. It will be interesting to see what happens to Barr, as he probably has the goods on Trump and could put him behind bars for the rest of his repulsive life.

  9. Epicurus says:

    I always thought the Brady/Belichick argument about who was more important was silly. I saw the situation as synergistic. Each was and is great but together they could accomplish much more than separately. Their current situations seem to bear that out.

    Barr and Trump were much the same, i.e. accomplished much more together than separately. Unfortunately their synergy was debilitating for the country. I see them as their own virus and creating their own epidemic. I hope we can at least socially distance ourselves quickly because there seems no vaccine in the offering.

    • BobCon says:

      Speaking of Belichick, his letter endorsing Trump in November 2016 sure sounds a lot like this one.

      It is weird how Trump can collect smart people willing to lower themselves like this. And I don’t think it’s Kompromat. For all of his idiocy, Trump has a certain type of cunning that a lot of people miss.

      • Bay State Librul says:

        Belichick is a good coach but a complete dickhead.
        He treats the press with such disdain.
        I listen to his wooden interviews each week on WEEI and
        want to throw my cell phone at his arrogant puss

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Plus, who in this scenario is analogous to Bob Kraft? Without him, Brady-Belichek would’ve been . . . well, without the pairing Kraft engineered, who knows? Putin’s very rich, but too much of a dullard and without the reach for Kraftiness on the level of a Patriot.

          • Epicurus says:

            Kraft was the beneficiary of the B/B synergy. Team value, fame, power among the owners. McConnell is the beneficiary of the T/B synergy. Republican value, fame, power among the Senators – the shadow President really.

  10. Bay State Librul says:

    “A doctor is awarded his diploma; a lawyer is admitted to the bar; a preacher is given a pulpit; an actor rises from understudy to the leading role; a newspaper reporter is given a “by-line” and sees his name over a story for the first time.” James Richardson, Spring Street, a story of LA

    Barr should be awarded a name plate and subpoena to appear before the court for his
    mawkish behavior.

    His resignation begs the question…. who will be the new AG, and why is it taking so fucking long?

    Accountability first, prison second

    • Mister Sterling says:

      Biden has to be careful. Even a left-wing socialist like me knows that Biden can’t choose Adam Schiff, Andrew Cuomo, Sally Yates or Preet Bharara without the GOP and Right Wing news machine crying and screaming for the next 4 years. Then again, they will cry no matter who he chooses. My money is on Yates. She’s a conservative southerner and doesn’t have a motive to personally go after Trump. She will leave that to the SDNY. Why not give Bharara his old job back so he can do just that?

      • bmaz says:

        Because Sally Yates would be a fucking horrible choice. I’ll ask you the same thing I ask everybody who slathers over Yates…What has she ever done, other than piss off Trump for a couple of days, that you admire? I’ll be waiting.

        • Desider says:

          I’m guessing i speak for most when I say i have no clue who most of these people are, aside from some little factoid that’s supposed to explain their relevance. In short, we work from a lot of trust that you the vs the shmucks on the other side are feeding proper info. And i mean that positively, but still, people with more personal interaction n with any of these characters are likely light years ahead in evaluating the situation. A couple headlines is hardly enough to know someone.

          • bmaz says:

            It is hard to know sometimes. There is no one perfect information source, not even here, even though we try. There is a reason I keep asking what people love about Yates other than the one Trump early thing. There is also a reason there is never a good and substantive answer.

            • madwand says:

              I suppose Yates could have sat on the Flynn stuff, but she didn’t or she might not have opposed the Muslim ban and let it ride, but she didn’t. So first on my list is courage in the face of being dismissed. People who gamble their job for ethics. Another guy like that is Christopher Krebs. I look for courage and honesty in public officials, courage to be honest and stand up for what you think is right. So that’s my answer bmaz, mock it as you will.

  11. Mister Sterling says:

    We don’t think Barr will appoint another Special Counsel before he goes next week? That’s the most he can do in the 7 business days he has left. But shat happens after is going to be bonkers. A self pardon is more than possible. A presidential resignation, less so.

    • Nord Dakota says:

      More like it turns into a hissing, steaming, noisome pile. (Always wanted to use the word “noisome” in a sentence)

    • Epicurus says:

      There is a plant disease called phytophthora caused by water molds, It causes havoc in the plant world. The Irish Potato Famine was caused by phytophthora infestans in potatoes. The name means “plant destroyer”. Trump is a form of social phytophthora, specific to and destroyer of democracy.

  12. Sandy says:

    Bob Costa / WaPo said last night on MSNBC that his sources say the real news is what’s coming next (as Marcy noted) and that one possibility under discussion is appointment of a new special counsel to investigate Biden, of course including Hunter.

  13. Bay State Librul says:

    BMAZ @ 9:43AM

    I think she is Irish, a Bulldog, maybe a “pit bull” and knows the halls of justice, what else do you need?

    White Collar Crime -she got the opportunity to handle several cases including white collar frauds and corruption in politics. In 1994, she was appointed as the Chief of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section. During this time she was the lead prosecutor in the hearing of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing. She introduced a policy known as ‘Yates memo’, which gives priority to the legal proceedings of corporate crimes.

    Took on Flynnie – During this time, she warned the Trump administration that acting National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn had not been truthful about his contacts with Russia and that he was vulnerable to pressure or blackmail by the Russian Intelligence. This warning was reported by ‘The Washington Post’ and immediately afterwards Michael T. Flynn resigned.

    Took on the Con Man -Sally Yates ordered the Justice department of USA, against defending President Donald Trump’s executive order on travel and immigration. Later that day, she received a hand delivered letter, informing her of her dismissal.

    Took on terrorists – She was the lead prosecutor in the case of Eric Rudolph, a terrorist who carried out a series of anti-abortion and anti-gay bombings across the southern United States between 1996 and 1998. Yates got him convicted

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      If Yates is nominated, she may serve as token sacrifice to GOP. They crave their shiny object, and her exposure in 2017 (along with her gender) make her shiny to the frothy right. Whoever got nominated next (Rosenberg, Gupta) would face a cleared field.

      • bmaz says:

        If Yates is nominated, she will not need to worry about the GOP. I will fight her from every inch right here that I can. And there are a lot of people on the left that understand and will do the same. Sally Yates is shit. If she is the next AG, then what in the world have people here been yammering about? Anybody that wants Yates as AG may as well want Rahm Emmanuel as President.

    • bmaz says:

      BSL….Yates did not really do jack shit on Rudolph. But Doug Jones did. You are engaging in gross hagiography on behalf of a truly bad person that should never come close to being the AG. Just go ahead and support Barr if that is your choice.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    WTF does Mayor Pete have that qualifies him to be a member of Biden’s cabinet and secretary of transportation – barring a few years as a junior management consultant? There are scores of well-credentialed young to middle-aged, experienced Democrats who have done more than run a small city in Indiana and run for president.

    The nomination appears to be an afterthought and a cynical ploy to round out the field – and boost Mayor Pete’s odds at bigger things tomorrow. It comes at the expense of those reliant on the DoT to get things right now. Have the Democrats no one else who could actually run the DoT for the benefit of average Americans, rather than using it as a stepping stone for “something better”?

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      I think it is a gesture to the LGBTQ community in an area that is not very controversial or high profile. But if we are going to address the crumbling infrastructure such as the D and F rated bridges, he might have more visibility than recent Transportation Secretaries

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Visibility and being able to achieve things with it are two different things. Trump has left America digging itself out of so many holes, it would seem more useful to hire senior executives who know how to use shovels, rather than tell winning tales about them.

    • MB says:

      By that token, WTF does Elaine Chao have that qualifies her to be a member of DJT’s cabinet as Secretary of Transportation, barring Chinese shipping connections and being Mitch McConnell’s wife??

      I know, I know, the only qualification to be a member of DJT’s cabinet is unswerving loyalty…

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Have we sunk so low as to use Trump’s hiring practices – and his incessant self-dealing – as a measure of whom to hire for public service jobs across America? I didn’t think so.

        • MB says:

          Hopefully not! But as you see from Biden hiring Pete for SoT,
          the incoming administration’s hiring standards, though certainly less loathsome than Trump’s hiring standards, is still about “doing favors” in some cases. I had heard Pete was being considered for a number of positions, including ambassador to China. Or is he being hired in an effort to boost the optics of “diversity” of the Biden admin? First woman VP, first Latino secy of HHS, first black woman at HUD, and now…first gay Sec. of Transport? I wouldn’t put it past them as being a significant factor. As opposed to strictly looking to experience and competence…

          • P J Evans says:

            He isn’t completely inexperienced. And it’s a job as an overall manager, not a specific-field manager, where experience in the field is really needed.

            • vvv says:

              As well, he worked for the Biden campaign, and is said to have raised a lot of money. Those are the kinds of things that get rewarded.
              He’s no dummy, and if he’s not the best pick at that position for the immediate future, he’s highly motivated (by his ambition) to get good fast.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              A tired retort. All experience is not fungible. Dentists do not normally deliver babies. Investment bankers do not make good managers of automotive companies – unless you want to sell them to a rube without their capital assets. And I would not hire a B-52 pilot to land aircraft on a carrier: the runway is a bit shorter than they’re used to and shifts a bit on all its axes at the same time. Hitting the fantail once can ruin a good day.

              It’s all well and good for Biden to fill up his bingo card with diverse players, but that’s political messaging. It’s important, but there are still real jobs to do, and his hires need to be well-matched to the work.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Lol. Demanding what you want is the only way you get half of it. Less with establishment Dems. The GOP offers nothing in return.

    • Valley girl says:

      Oh thank you for that, PJ. That is quite a trouble to add to add to Trump’s long list of troubles. i hope the neighbors are as serious about this as they sound to be in the article.

      • P J Evans says:

        It seems to go back to when he first bought the place – and it’s just stayed at a low simmer until now.

        Maybe he can move into one of those mansions that didn’t sell to a Russian.

        • AndTheSlithyToves says:

          Jarvanka just bought a big lot from Julio Iglesias on Miami’s Indian Creek Island–no doubt they could add on a little Step-Mother-In-Law/Daddy Suite for Donald and Melania for a once-a-week stayover to get around the contract stipulations on Mar-A-Lago.

          • Eureka says:

            Reminds me of a quid-pro-quo joke:

            Trump offers Jared a pardon.

            The price?
            One night with your wife.

  15. Bay State Librul says:

    BMAZ @7:33PM

    As a Catholic Boy, I’m familiar with the greatest hagiography of all “The Lives of the Saints” but to suggest that I indulge in “gross hagiography” is an overstatement.

    Yates is no saint, but rather a University of Georgia grad “bull dog” when faced with
    judicial bullshit.

    Perhaps you engage in “gross hamartography” labeling all contenders not meeting your expectations as “sinful” or in your words “a bad person”

    My Massachusetts drivers license doesn’t read ST.BARR, so your flippant remark “Just go ahead and support Barr if that is your choice” caught me by surprise.

    I do agree it was a “good zinger”

  16. Bay State Librul says:

    Earl@ 3:03PM

    Maybe inexperience is a good quality. Mayor Pete will bring new ideas and a 38 year old energy to the job of — Infrastructure! Infrastructure! Infrastructure!
    Management consultants, without a Romney-esque view of rich and poor, can be an asset in managing a department of 55,000 employees.
    Sure, it will be a on-the-job, learn as you go adventure, but he will bring new life to the Democratic Party.
    He won’t be spending over two years studying the lyrics of “Louie Louie” as one Government Agency did many moons ago.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Maybe inexperience is the last thing you want, so long as you can find experience not corrupted by the lure of capital. The need to rebuild government is profound, and inexperience does not necessarily mean fixing it with “a fresh pair of eyes.” It’s not generally desirable, for example, in obstetricians – dropped babies are a downer – neurosurgeons, defense lawyers, or engineers of bridges, dams, or automobiles.

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