Bill Barr Keeps Pretending (Falsely) That He Didn’t Encourage Yesterday’s Insurrection

Disgraced former Attorney General Billy Barr has released two statements condemning yesterday’s terrorist attack on the Capitol. First, a comment released via his spox,

Then he released a statement to the AP’s Barr-chummy DOJ reporter:

Former Attorney General William Barr says President Donald Trump’s conduct as a violent mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol was a “betrayal of his office and supporters.”

In a statement to The Associated Press, Barr said Thursday that “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable.”

Barr was one of Trump’s most loyal and ardent defenders in the Cabinet.

His comments come a day after angry and armed protesters broke into the U.S. Capitol, forcing Congress members to halt the ongoing vote to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election and then flee from the House and Senate chambers.

Barr resigned last month amid lingering tension over the president’s baseless claims of election fraud and the investigation into Biden’s son.

Of course, Barr himself encouraged the violence yesterday.

That’s because, less than a year ago, he treated a threat against a sitting judge issued by some of the men who organized yesterday’s actions as a “technicality” not worthy of a sentencing enhancement for Roger Stone.

Two years ago, after Roger Stone posted a picture of Amy Berman Jackson with crosshairs on it, Jonathan Kravis asked Stone who came up with the picture. The President’s rat-fucker named two of his buddies who are key leaders of the Proud Boys, Jacob Engles and Enrique Tarrio.

Amy Berman Jackson. How was the image conveyed to you by the person who selected it?

Stone. It was emailed to me or text-messaged to me. I’m not certain.

Q. Who sent the email?

A. I would have to go back and look. I don’t recognize. I don’t know. Somebody else uses my —

THE COURT: How big is your staff, Mr. Stone?

THE DEFENDANT: I don’t have a staff, Your Honor. I have a few volunteers. I also — others use my phone, so I’m not the only one texting, because it is my account and, therefore, it’s registered to me. So I’m uncertain how I got the image. I think it is conceivable that it was selected on my phone. I believe that is the case, but I’m uncertain.

THE COURT: So individuals, whom you cannot identify, provide you with material to be posted on your personal Instagram account and you post it, even if you don’t know who it came from?

THE DEFENDANT: Everybody who works for me is a volunteer. My phone is used by numerous people because it can only be posted to the person to whom it is registered.


Jonathan Kravis. What are the names of the five or six volunteers that you’re referring to?

Stone. I would — Jacob Engles, Enrique Tarrio. I would have to go back and look.

Not only did Stone appear at the rally before yesterday’s insurrection, but Tarrio was arrested on his way to the riot for crimes he committed during the last demonstration in support of Trump, an attack on a historic Black church in DC and possession of weapons.

Prosecutors asked Judge Jackson to add a two-level sentencing enhancement for this action, in which Stone’s Proud Boys associates crafted a threat against her.

Finally, pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3C1.1, two levels are added because the defendant “willfully obstructed or impeded, or attempted to obstruct or impede, the administration of justice with respect to the prosecution of the instant offense of conviction.” Shortly after the case was indicted, Stone posted an image of the presiding judge with a crosshair next to her head. In a hearing to address, among other things, Stone’s ongoing pretrial release, Stone gave sworn testimony about this matter that was not credible. Stone then repeatedly violated a more specific court order by posting messages on social media about matters related to the case.

This enhancement is warranted based on that conduct. See U.S.S.G. § 3C1.C Cmt. 4(F) (“providing materially false information to a magistrate or judge”); see, e.g., United States v. Lassequ, 806 F.3d 618, 625 (1st Cir. 2015) (“Providing false information to a judge in the course of a bail hearing can serve as a basis for the obstruction of justice enhancement.”); United States v. Jones, 911 F. Supp. 54 (S.D.N.Y. 1996) (applying §3C1.1 enhancement to a defendant who submitted false information at hearing on modifying defendant’s conditions of release).

The sentencing memo that Bill Barr had drawn up to justify a more lenient sentence dismissed this enhancement which it admitted “technically” applied.

Notably, however, the Sentencing Guidelines enhancements in this case—while perhaps technically applicable— more than double the defendant’s total offense level and, as a result, disproportionately escalate the defendant’s sentencing exposure to an offense level of 29, which typically applies in cases involving violent offenses, such as armed robbery, not obstruction cases. Cf. U.S.S.G. § 2B3.1(a)-(b).


Second, the two-level enhancement for obstruction of justice (§ 3C1.1) overlaps to a degree with the offense conduct in this case. Moreover, it is unclear to what extent the [defendant’s obstructive conduct actually prejudiced the government at trial.]

When ABJ gagged Stone in response to him posting the picture, she talked about the possibility that Stone’s post might incite his extremist followers to take action.

What concerns me is the fact that he chose to use his public platform, and chose to express himself in a manner that can incite others who may feel less constrained. The approach he chose posed a very real risk that others with extreme views and violent inclinations would be inflamed.


The defendant himself told me he had more than one to choose from. And so what he chose, particularly when paired with the sorts of incendiary comments included in the text, the comments that not only can lead to disrespect for the judiciary, but threats on the judiciary, the post had a more sinister message. As a man who, according to his own account, has made communication his forté, his raison d’être, his life’s work, Roger Stone fully understands the power of words and the power of symbols. And there’s nothing ambiguous about crosshairs.

She repeated that sentiment when she overruled the Barr-authorized memo, judging the enhancement was appropriate.

Here, the defendant willfully engaged in behavior that a rational person would find to be inherently obstructive. It’s important to note that he didn’t just fire off a few intemperate emails. He used the tools of social media to achieve the broadest dissemination possible. It wasn’t accidental. He had a staff that helped him do it.

As the defendant emphasized in emails introduced into evidence in this case, using the new social media is his “sweet spot.” It’s his area of expertise. And even the letters submitted on his behalf by his friends emphasized that incendiary activity is precisely what he is specifically known for. He knew exactly what he was doing. And by choosing Instagram and Twitter as his platforms, he understood that he was multiplying the number of people who would hear his message.

By deliberately stoking public opinion against prosecution and the Court in this matter, he willfully increased the risk that someone else, with even poorer judgment than he has, would act on his behalf. This is intolerable to the administration of justice, and the Court cannot sit idly by, shrug its shoulder and say: Oh, that’s just Roger being Roger, or it wouldn’t have grounds to act the next time someone tries it.

Effectively, ABJ was warning against precisely what happened yesterday: that Stone (and Trump) would rile up extremists and those extremists would, predictably, take violent actions. ABJ judged that you can’t let the incitement go unpunished.

Barr, on the other hand, suggested that unless there was proof the incitement had an effect, it was just a technicality.

Bill Barr had a chance to stand against the incitement-driven terrorism led by the Proud Boys last year. And he chose to use his authority, instead, to protect Trump.

48 replies
  1. Joseph Andrews says:

    …appropriate dot-connecting. Nice work.

    Methinks Barr’s two statements here indicate he is worried about his own reputation (and perhaps even legal exposure) regarding yesterday’s events.

    What do the lawyers call it…consciousness of guilt?

    • What Constitution? says:

      In these circumstances, lawyers hopefully would refer to Barr’s “comments” as “wild-ass silliness from a world class fool”. This would be because Barr’s well-documented history, as articulated by Dr. Emptywheel here extensively and within a matter of minutes, reveals the obvious reality that this guy is complicit a dozen ways to Sunday and could only think this comment might somehow redeem his own reputation if he had been sniffing glue for the entire time since he “resigned”.

      I would be less surprised to learn that Barr was among the intruders at the Capitol yesterday than I would be to learn that his weak effort at distancing himself from Trump’s orbit had any actual impact. Barr is one of the people — and in the top ten at that — whose actions need to be investigated and prosecuted. Turning the Office of the Attorney General and the United States Attorney’s Office into the President’s personal law firm is one of the most odious enablings of Trump’s effort at dictatorship that we have been witnessing.

    • timbo says:

      Yeah, like actively curtailing intelligence gathering of folks that Trump thought of as allies in his struggle to remain in power maybe? I’m guessing that occurred but we need to find out for sure whether or not the government itself is actively involved in >not< prosecuting white supremacist domestic terrorists.

  2. Chris.EL says:

    Remember Enrique Tarrio was in the White House at Christmastime, reportedly taking a tour — yeah right!

    Reality: getting marching orders!
    From New York Daily News:

    “Facebook and Instagram will block President Trump’s accounts indefinitely — and at least for the next two weeks, Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday.

    “The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful unlawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden,” Facebook CEO Zuckerberg said Thursday morning in a statement on Facebook.” …

    (This quote is problematic; specifically, “unlawful.”)

    • Worried says:

      Maybe off topic,

      I still don’t understand how a few hundred (maybe a thousand) people could storm the Capltol and take it over. It didn’t appear that they were heavily armed or could successfully threaten to blow everything up.

      Just doesn’t make sense.

      Maybe someone in “the podium” at the Trump rally recognized a few of the people in the crowd and somehow passed word through a grapevine something like “hey, some of my friends will be paying a visit, be kind to them”

      The actions of the police in dealing with that rabble is very confusing.

      • Epicurus says:

        All successful violent actions have at their heart one basic element. The victor has found a way to mass force and power at a point where the to be defeated cannot adequately respond. Could be a spousal assault, could be a raid, could be a battle, could be an attack on the capital. In this attack the capital police were too widely spread, had obviously inadequate riot control training, and I assume no standing orders about where and how to use deadly force. The Capital building and its occupants were sitting ducks, to use a phrase. None of the defense elements (training, use of force, strategic physical deployment) had taken place that could have stopped the attack. Most importantly the members of Congress had not prepared for their own protection because they believed the American citizenry would never turn on them violently as I would say much like an unsuspecting spouse getting abused the first time. There were signs all over the place but they still refused to believe.

        It’s not talked about enough. It’s not that the Congressmen and women that were there to prevent Biden’s election were willing agents of Congress’s destruction as a viable Constitutional guardian. It’s that they don’t and literally can’t see it for what it is. It’s truly a Cruz and Gohmert madhouse.

        • BroD says:

          I think that’s good analysis, Epicurus. It’s worth noting that, in DC, defensive, law & order preparations require close coordination between a multiplicity of law enforcement agencies. The mixed, muddled (and in some cases, malicious) motivations among those who typically make defensive preparations and decisions not surprisingly led to what is known in the trade as a cluster-fuck .

  3. Ginevra diBenci says:

    Thank you, Dr. Wheeler, for so incisively reminding us of Barr’s recent complicit actions, which is to say nothing of the predicate he laid down in his first tenure as AG, letting another bunch of self-serving hypocrites off the hook. I continue to wonder why MSM reporters allow Barr and other Trump enablers to leak “comments” that make them seem “concerned” and responsible. It’s worse than nonsense. They should not be given access to these forums to promote their image-rehabilitation tours.

  4. Raven Eye says:

    A legion of enablers, all of them now trying to back into the shadows, and digging into their stash of Shinola and Brasso. They’re going to rub until they shine.

    When you add up all the threads of support from all of Trump’s enablers, you could lift the Titanic.

    • ducktree says:

      Don’t forget the Barr Keeper’s Helper to make it sparkle just like new ~ or even better than before!

  5. Badger Robert says:

    A warning might have been nice, but Soulless Billy Barr wasn’t up to anything risky. He hid, like Gorbachev in the Crimea, while the army assaulted Yeltsin.

  6. PeterS says:

    Neither Barr nor Graham can get off that easily after being complicit for so long. And before anyone gives any of the Republicans an ounce of credit for discovering some principles at the last possible minute, let’s keep in mind that they had just lost Georgia; so the usual self-interest was no doubt at play too.

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      Yeah, losing Georgia impacts this especially for Kelley Loeffler. She lost & didn’t need to object to the state ballots anymore. She also had a fig leaf in the form of a riot behind which she could backtrack. I’m sure she’s relieved that she no longer has to pretend that objecting to the ballots is a moral choice for her. What a sleaze.

  7. Raven Eye says:

    So regardless Trump’s pardoning of Stone, there is a lot of testimony and investigative material already in the system, and new information from period following the pardon.

    Has Stone opened himself to a new prosecution based on his activities leading up to and during January 3rd? Can any of that historical material be used if there is a new prosecution?

  8. joel fisher says:

    It’ll be entertaining—pardons or no pardons—to hear Barr and others try to perjure themselves out of their involvement in the shitshow. Speaking of pardons, people who need one–Barr–may have just offended Trump enough so he’s off the good boy list, while Stone’s back in the cross hairs for his presence at yesterday’s treason festival. It might set some sort of a record to be pardoned 2 times in 6 months.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Several things, actually. AG Barr lied in his confirmation hearing, lied about the Mueller report, interfered in Flynn’s case, messed around with USAs that wouldn’t play ball, directed the bible photo-op clearance, etc., etc., et al.

        Please don’t pretend to be stupid here.

  9. BobCon says:

    It’s worthwhile for the entire judicial branch to listen to ABJ and ask themselves what happens when they are hearing a case involving Trump or a key member of his orbit. Do they feel safe from the mob? Do they trust their security?

  10. milestogo says:

    What do the folks here think of the Merrick Garland / Lisa Monaco / Vanita Gupta nominations to fix all theTrump/Barr damage? I was thinking Jones had the edge but that may have changed with GA allowing a quick backfill of Garland.

  11. OldTulsaDude says:

    Well, well. Nancy Pelosi has found a red line and called for either the 25th Amendment removal or impeachment.

    • AndTheSlithyToves says:


      Bandy X Lee, MD, MDiv | @BandyXLee1
      It cannot be emphasized enough: inaction sends the message of PERMISSION TO ESCALATE. Delay of the first impeachment already showed a ballooning in delusions of grandeur and conviction of impunity. These personalities do NOT remain still.
      Quote Tweet
      John O. Brennan | @JohnBrennan
      · 4h
      What else must Trump do before he is removed from office? Are VP Pence, the Cabinet, and Republicans in Congress waiting for a disaster of unimaginable proportions to take place before they come to their senses? They must act now.
      11:55 AM · Jan 7, 2021·Twitter Web App

  12. Savage Librarian says:

    I think an argument could also be made that Barr’s actions are all of one piece with his treatment of the Mueller Report, as well. It would be a mistake to separate the insurrection from the actions of Russia and Barr’s entire cover-up in this regard. These are all very entwined.

    As I noted during the Amy Coney-Barrett hearings, Sen. Kennedy (R-LA) made what seemed like a dog-whistle comment when he noted that she was from Metairie, LA. That is where David Duke promoted the KKK and started the National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP.)

    David Duke also rented out a Moscow apartment in 1999. He lived in Russia for about 5 years. He was a speaker at the international “White World’s Future” conference in Moscow in June 2006.
    In February 2016, Duke urged people to vote for Trump.

    The following articles provide some insight:

    “Confronting Russia’s Role in Transnational White Supremacist Extremism” – Just Security, 2/6/20

    “More European Far Right Conferences in Russia”
    Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 11 Issue: 155, Richard Arnold,
    September 5, 2014
    “As early as 2006, American white supremacist historian David Duke joined a number of prominent Far Right leaders from throughout Europe in Moscow at a conference on the “White World’s Future.” That conference was followed up by a meeting in Ukraine, in 2007, that brought the same extremist crowd together again.”

  13. tinao says:

    IMHO billy is just like cheney, after their considerable contribution to the destruction of the rule of law they try to exonerate themselves with cheap words.

  14. gmoke says:

    That picture of an idiot (in the Athenian democractic sense, as a person who has no regard for the polis but only his own interests) with his feet up on that desk reminds me of the picture of a Columbia University student in a Dean’s office smoking a cigar back in 1968 during that little scuffle (in which Billy Barr bragged he fought protesters with the cops).

    For a few years back in the 60s©™allrightsreserved, there was a breakthrough to the light, a sense of possibilities that was killed, burned, and staked to the ground by Nixon and his hard-hat rioters, among others. Our nation has been in reaction against those possibilities ever since. As is inevitable in such cases, the reactionaries have become exactly who they are reacting against. Except this time, it’s not some 20-year-old who can be excused because of his youth but a “mature” man who definitely should have known better.

    This is where we’ve been heading all along. Billy Barr has reached his apotheosis.

    • What Constitution? says:

      THAT GUY! That was a “wtf moment” during the TV coverage of the occupation of the Capitol, for sure. And this morning, THAT [IDIOT] GUY is identified and it turns out he’s got some really great “explanations” to offer. Apparently he is now saying this:
      “I didn’t do anything. I didn’t breach the doors. I got shoved in. I didn’t mean to be there. Hell. I was walking around looking for a bathroom. We went to peacefully protest and that’s what we were doing. They started it. Our own police started it.”

      Hard to believe anyone could channel Belushi’s Jake Blues any better. Let’s see if it works for him.

  15. e.a.f. says:

    In my opinion, Bill Barr was one of Trump’s enablers. He did nothing to end the track Trump was on. He just made it easier for Trump and Trump is dangerous. What he did is of no surprise to me. Bill Barr’s early exit, maybe because he, at some level knew this is what would happen in the final days and he wanted to ensure he was well out of the way, if things did not go as planed, which would have led to charges against him. now Bill Barr is in the clear.

    The new administration of Biden/Harris have their work cut out for them. First they have the COVID crisis and the vaccine distribution to work on. There are repairs to be made internationally. Yes, they will have a good team in place but they may not have time to deal with all of those who ought to be dealt with, i.e. crimes

  16. tinao says:

    Oh god, just watched steve what’s his name of the Lincoln project try to hold liz cheney up as some kind of hero. Are you fucking kidding me? HELL NO ASSHOLE! It’s sooooo weird when people you have agreed with for a while come out with stunning BULLSHIT.

    • e.a.f. says:

      Saw the interview. Cheny did have a line she would not cross and her written article is quite good. Don’t agree with her politics and she was one of Trump’s enablers. She did nothing to deter Trump from his course of action over the past 4 years, that I’m aware of, but finally she too has come to her I won’t cross that line moment and would go no further.

      Both “steve” and Chenney are Republicans. they have different views from us, but if we are to get along and build something more stable, it is better to congratulate Cheney for what she has written then get pissed off with steve and her. I have found the best way to do things is to find common ground about an issue you can both agree on and build from there. No point in bashing the opposition if at some time in the future you will need their help with something or you can find common goals to work on.

      Steve’s interview, in my opinion, was very good. His points solid. The project he co founded did good work.

      Lots of people never thought Trump would do half the things he has. Some eventually saw what he truly was, and they founded The Liberty Project. Some knew what Trump was and what he would do from the get go. Many of those have studied history, seen thugs work in their chosen “profession”, etc. Lets not forget as Trump went from one awful action to the next you simply did not see Americans taking to the streets to protest beyond those who worked with and supported BLM. they were about the only real opposition to Trump, in the U.S.A. along with some late night comedy show hosts. When Trump separated children from their parents, caged them, kept them in what can only be considered concentration camps I did not see the MSM saying much about it until some time later. No one really cared, who ought to have cared. I didn’t see all of those Democratic politicians go to these sites and protest or try to get in except for the odd one. didn’t see all those “good” Christians take a stand against it. Didn’t see them protesting outside these concentration camps like they do abortion clinics. there are blogs such as this one who worked hard against Trump and what he was doing, but the MSM not so much. Each time Trump did something, it got passed off not only by Republicans but the public in general. The nation emboldened Trump. They never thought it would effect them, but like in Germany in the 1930s, it eventually bit everyone in the ass. Just based on what Trump did over his 4 years in office, I expected what happened on 6 Jan. as did my siblings, but then our parents had told us what happened in Europe prior to WW II and we all took history in school. I’d bet next month’s pension cheque, this isn’t over by a long shot, even if trump is removed from office tomorrow morning.

      When you look at the terrorists, they mostly white males. They all looked well fed and clothed. They had money for weapons. they had money to travel to the rally. How did all these people get to this point? Gutless politicians, MSM, the education system, etc.

      The line many would not cross and would no longer stay silent about was what happened 6 Jan. Perhaps now the U.S.A. can work towards becoming what they used to be and tried to be.

  17. e.a.f. says:

    It has been my experience that those who go around saying they “love jesus” usually don’t seem to love other humans all that much or do that much to help them through difficult times in their lives. Never could figure out how a country with so many “born agains” didn’t care if others died due to a lack of health care.

    As a kid I figured out an atheist with some standards was usually a safer bet. Not much has changed my mind over the decades.

  18. PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

    Barr leaving when he did must have at least partially been because he started overhearing whispers about this planned insurrection. He just decided to keep his mouth shut and leave early rather than speaking out. No doubt he and a lot of others condemning the violence two days ago would be singing a different tune if Trump succeeded in his coup.

    As an aside, hopefully he has lost all credibility to the media at this point.

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