Bill Barr Issued Prosecution Declinations for Three Crimes in Progress

On March 24, 2019, by judging that there was not evidence in Volume II of the Mueller Report that Trump had obstructed justice, Billy Barr pre-authorized the obstruction of justice that would be completed with future pardons of Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, and Roger Stone. He did so before the sentencing of Flynn and before even the trial of Stone.

This is why Amy Berman Jackson should not stay her decision to release the Barr Memo. It’s why the question before her goes well beyond the question of whether the Barr memo presents privileged advice. What Barr did on March 24, 2019 was pre-authorize the commission of crimes that ended up being committed. No Attorney General has the authority to do that.

As the partially unsealed memo makes clear, Steve Engel (who, even per DOJ’s own filing asking for a stay, was not permitted to make prosecutorial decisions) and Ed O’Callaghan (who under the OLC memo prohibiting the indictment of the President, could not make prosecutorial decisions about the President) advised Bill Barr that he should, “examine the Report to determine whether prosecution would be appropriate given the evidence recounted in the Special Counsel’s Report, the underlying law, and traditional principles of federal prosecution.”

In her now-unsealed memo ordering the government to release the memo, ABJ argues, “the analysis set forth in the memo was expressly understood to be entirely hypothetical.”

It was worse than that.

It was, necessarily, an instance of “Heads Trump wins, Tails rule of law loses.” As the memo itself notes, the entire exercise was designed to avoid, “the unfairness of levying an accusation against the President without bringing criminal charges.” It did not envision the possibility that their analysis would determine that Trump might have committed obstruction of justice. So predictably, the result of the analysis was that Trump didn’t commit a crime. “[W]ere there no constitutional barrier, we would recommend, under Principles of Federal Prosecution, that you decline to commence such a prosecution.”

The government is now appealing ABJ’s decision to release the memo to hide the logic of how Engel and O’Callaghan got to that decision. And it’s possible they want to hide their analysis simply because they believe that, liberated from the entire “Heads Trump wins, Tails rule of law loses” premise of the memo, it becomes true deliberative advice (never mind that both Engel and O’Callaghan were playing roles that OLC prohibits them to play).

But somehow, in eight pages of secret analysis, Engel and O’Callaghan decide — invoking the entire Special Counsel’s Report by reference — that there’s not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump obstructed justice.

We can assume what some of these eight pages say. In the newly unsealed parts, Engel and O’Callaghan opine, “that certain of the conduct examined by the Special Counsel could not, as a matter of law, support an obstruction charge under the circumstances.”

As Quinta Jurecic’s epic chart lays out, the potential instances of obstruction of justice before Engel and O’Callaghan included a number of things involving Presidential hiring and firing decisions — the stuff which the memo Bill Barr wrote as an audition for the job of Attorney General said could not be obstruction.

To address those instances of suspected obstruction, then, Engel and O’Callaghan might just say, “What you said, Boss, in the memo you used to audition to get this job.” That would be scandalous for a whole bunch of reasons — partly because Barr admitted he didn’t know anything about the investigation when he wrote the memo (even after the release of the report, Barr’s public statements made it clear he was grossly unfamiliar with the content of it) and partly because it would raise questions about whether by hiring Barr Trump obstructed justice.

But that’s not actually the most scandalous bit about what must lie behind the remaining redactions. As Jurecic’s chart notes, beyond the hiring and firing obstruction, the Mueller Report laid out several instances of possible pardon dangles: to Mike Flynn, to Paul Manafort, to Roger Stone, and to Michael Cohen. These are all actions that, in his confirmation hearing, Barr admitted might be crimes.

Leahy: Do you believe a president could lawfully issue a pardon in exchange for the recipient’s promise to not incriminate him?

Barr: No, that would be a crime.

Even Barr admits the question of pardon dangles requires specific analysis.

Klobuchar: You wrote on page one that a President persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction. Is that right?

Barr: [Pause] Yes. Any person who persuades another —

Klobuchar: Okay. You also said that a President or any person convincing a witness to change testimony would be obstruction. Is that right?

Barr: Yes.

Klobuchar: And on page two, you said that a President deliberately impairing the integrity or availability of evidence would be an obstruction. Is that correct?

Barr: Yes.

Klobuchar: OK. And so what if a President told a witness not to cooperate with an investigation or hinted at a pardon?

Barr: I’d have to now the specifics facts, I’d have to know the specific facts.

Yet somehow, in eight pages of analysis, Engel and O’Callaghan laid out “the specific facts” that undermined any case against Trump for those pardon dangles. I’d be surprised if they managed to do that convincingly in fewer than eight pages, particularly since they make clear that they simply assume you’ve read the Mueller Report (meaning, that analysis almost certainly doesn’t engage in the specific factual analysis that Bill Barr says you’d need to engage in).

The far, far more problematic aspect of this analysis, though, is that, of the four potential instances of pardon dangles included in the Mueller Report, three remained crimes-in-progress on March 24, 2019 when Barr issued a statement declining prosecution for them.

By then, Michael Cohen had already pled guilty and testified against Trump. But Paul Manafort had only just been sentenced after having reneged on a cooperation agreement by telling lies to hide what the government has now confirmed involved providing assistance (either knowing or unknowing) to the Russia election operation. Mike Flynn had not yet been sentenced — and in fact would go on to renege on his plea agreement and tell new lies about his conduct, including that when he testified to the FBI that he knew he discussed sanctions, he didn’t deliberately lie. And Roger Stone hadn’t even been tried yet when Barr said Stone’s lies to protect Trump weren’t a response to Trump’s pardon dangles. In fact, if you believe Roger Stone (and I don’t, in part because his dates don’t line up), after the date when Barr issued a declination statement covering Trump’s efforts to buy Stone’s silence, prosecutors told him,

that if I would really remember certain phone conversations I had with candidate trump, if I would come clean, if I would confess, that they might be willing to, you know, recommend leniency to the judge perhaps I wouldn’t even serve any jail time

If that’s remotely true, Barr’s decision to decline prosecution for the pardon dangles that led Stone to sustain an obviously false cover story through his trial itself contributed to the obstruction.

Barr’s decision to decline prosecution for obstruction crimes that were still in progress may explain his even more outrageous behavior after that. For each of these remaining crimes in progress, Barr took steps to make it less likely that Trump would issue a pardon. He used COVID as an excuse to spring Paul Manafort from prison to home confinement, even though there were no cases of COVID in Manafort’s prison at the time. He engaged in unprecedented interference in the sentencing process for Roger Stone, even going so far as claiming that threats of violence against (as it happens) Amy Berman Jackson were just a technicality not worthy of a sentencing enhancement. And Bill Barr’s DOJ literally altered documents in their effort to invent some reason to blow up the prosecution of Mike Flynn.

And Barr may have realized all this would be a problem.

On June 4, a status report explained that DOJ was in the process of releasing the initially heavily redacted version of this memo to CREW and expected that it would be able to do so by June 17, 2020, but that “unanticipated events outside of OIP’s control” might delay that.

However, OIP notes that processing of the referred record requires consultation with several offices within DOJ, and that unanticipated events outside of OIP’s control may occur in these offices that could delay OIP’s response. Accordingly, OIP respectfully submits that it cannot definitively guarantee that production will be completed by June 17, 2020. However, OIP will make its best efforts to provide CREW with a response regarding the referred record on or before June 17, 2020

This consultation would have occurred after Judge Emmet Sullivan balked at DOJ’s demand that he dismiss the Flynn prosecution, while the DC Circuit was reviewing the issue. And it occurred in the period when Stone was using increasingly explicit threats against Donald Trump to successfully win a commutation of his sentence from Trump (the commutation occurred weeks after DOJ gave CREW a version of the memo that hid the scheme Barr had engaged in). That is, DOJ was making decisions about this FOIA lawsuit even as Barr was taking more and more outrageous steps to try to minimize prison time — and therefore the likelihood of a Trump pardon — for these three. And Trump was completing the act of obstruction of justice that Barr long ago gave him immunity for by commuting Stone’s sentence.

Indeed, Trump would go on to complete the quid pro quo, a pardon in exchange for lies about Russia, for all three men. Trump would go on to commit a crime that Barr already declined prosecution for years earlier.

While Barr might believe that Trump’s pardon for Mike Flynn was righteous (even while it undermined any possibility of holding Flynn accountable for being a secret agent of Turkey), there is no rational argument you can make that Trump’s pardon of Manafort after he reneged on his plea deal and Trump’s pardon of Stone after explicit threats to cooperate with prosecutors weren’t obstruction of justice.

This may influence DOJ’s decision not to release this memo, and in ways that we can’t fathom. There are multiple possibilities. First, this may be an attempt to prevent DOJ’s Inspector General from seeing this memo. At least the Manafort prison assignment and the Stone prosecution were investigated and may still be under investigation by DOJ. If Michael Horowitz discovered that Barr took these actions after approving of a broad pre-declination for pardon-related obstruction, it could change the outcome of any ongoing investigation.

It may be an effort to stave off pressure to open a criminal investigation by DOJ into Barr’s own actions, a precedent no Attorney General wants to set.

Or, it may just be an effort to hide how many of DOJ’s own rules DOJ broke in this process.

But one thing is clear, and should be clearer to ABJ than it would be to any other judge: Bill Barr issued a prosecution declination for three crimes that were still in process. And that’s what DOJ is hiding.

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52 replies
  1. OmAli says:

    It’s an outrage that there isn’t already an investigation into Barr, precedent be damned. This post could serve as the roadmap.

    I am sickened that Garland is attempting this coverup.

    • Peterr says:

      A couple possibilities come to mind:

      1) “Look forward, not back” – in the same way that Obama/Holder declined to look back at the CIA torture of detainees, for fear of being tagged as settling scores with the former administration, Garland could be operating out of the same fear.

      2) Preserving the pre-decisional exemption from FOIA — Yes, as ABJ noted, calling this memo “pre-decisional” is a load of crap. Even so, Garland may be loathe to let *any* case involving this exemption go unchallenged, for fear of having the exemption narrowed or even rolled back in the future.

      Neither of these ought to hold any water, mind you, if Garland’s mind was set on justice in the case at hand. They both strike me as parallel to arguments made by Catholic bishops who tried to hide abuse by priests and (more to the point here) the efforts of other bishops (either their predecessors or their current colleagues elsewhere) to cover up the crimes of priests. “We’ve got to let bygones be bygones . . . we’ve got to protect the institution . . . ”

      Sorry, but those arguments have proven to be impotent — or worse — in the case of the bishops. Rather than making the problems go away or protecting the institution, they made matters worse for the bishops. (See Cardinal Law in Boston or Bishop Finn in KC.) Garland may want to take note of that precedent.

    • emptywheel says:

      There are four in the post:
      1) Preserving b5
      2) Keep this from Horowitz
      3) Keep this from the public which might push for charges against Barr
      4) Hide DOJ breaking its own rules

      I also think it’s possible that DOJ has stuff related to this in the works and doesn’t want to fuck it up, but that’s the least likely.

      • OmAli says:

        2 and 5 make me want to be sick. Seriously. I know the ‘Biden shouldn’t step in and intervene’ argument. And maybe it wouldn’t make any difference, Garland might continue on this path. But, as cynical as I have become about the DO”J” over the last few years, this was still a kick in the teeth. I know I have said it, ad nauseam, but, this shit has got to stop. We didn’t sign up for this.

        • Peterr says:

          You would think that Garland, a former federal judge, might be a bit more sympathetic to a federal judge who is rather pissed at being lied to by the Attorney General.

          Sadly, you (and I) appear to be wrong.

          • OmAli says:

            Especially after Roger Stone helpfully posted her photo marked with a bullseye, just so his stans could be sure to identify her.

            I know. Different case. But it all part and parcel of this whole fetid business.

      • Xboxershorts says:

        And…Everything Trump touches turns to shit.

        The United States Dept of Justice is not exempt from this truth.

      • Vince says:

        It would seem an alternative, that DOJ knows it can’t preserve b5 or from IG, but is going through the motions to have the judge make them and then relent at a later time. Then Garland can claim that he was following the rule of law when he indicts Barr for OBJ. Else they have another ongoing case that they don’t want to prematurely tip the targets.

      • klynn says:

        I saw those. I guess I should have asked, are those compelling enough and fair reasons to give to a judge seeing “a whole lotta-o-wrong in documents?

        Or are we watching a dance of “we know what you know but we cannot be a party to the broader knowing because of appearances. Since you know the contents, it is on you – in fact we are counting on you – to not hear us. We are just here to protest too much. We are throwing a fake punch.”

      • Timmer says:

        If my prayer to ANYone would work, I would pray “that DOJ has stuff related to this in the works and doesn’t want to fuck it up…”

  2. Joe says:

    The line about “pre-authorize the commission of crimes” has a certain historical resonance. I’ve just read Canto 27 of Dante’s Inferno, in which we find a damned rat-fker in the 8th circle. He tells the story of the Pope who came to him for immoral political advice, saying, “Your heart must not mistrust: I now absolve you in advance.”

    • Jenny says:

      “The problem is not that religion is being forced on others, the problem is that irreligion is being forced – secular values are being forced on people of faith.” William Barr

      • Drew says:

        Dante was a very very devout Catholic. But he was exactly on the opposite side of Catholicism as Bill Barr. He put several corrupt popes in the deepest circle of hell.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      I have been thinking about the Inferno, specifically that Eighth Circle, all the time too. (In college I memorized the first section in Italian, just for the beauty of Dante’s language.) One of its themes is that people we consider leaders may convince us to follow a path that’s in their interest, not ours, like Odysseus. Dante’s Odysseus feels remorse, unlike the sociopaths we’re talking about, who don’t care if all their followers die pursuing their narcissistic quest.

  3. Zirc says:

    Barr has gotten and continues to get away with a lot of things. What bothers me though is that he had help. Not just from Trump political appointees but from career people who should have known better. Were they fellow travelers? Were they just afraid of losing their jobs? If the latter, I suspect that a high profile resignation could have furthered their careers as some law firms somewhere would have hired them. I’m sure I’m missing something, but the deep state seems to have assisted Trump and Barr’s crimes rather than stopped them . . . in this case at least.

    Zirc

  4. John Forde says:

    ABJ ordered the release of the memo. Now DOJ is appealing, I assume to a higher court. Has the higher court issued a stay? Does ABJs court possess the document, & could she release it? Without a stay from a higher court what is the legal and professional consequence to ABJ of her releasing the doc?

  5. Rapier says:

    Barr is a member of that singular tribe of perverts, the American Catholic fascists. A tribe that includes converts like Newt and mild heretics like Rod Dreher who migrated to Eastern Orthodoxy, I am not sure which flavor as Orthodoxy now has a schism between Russian and Ukrainian versions and perhaps others. Dreher has a permanent chaste hard on for Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. Go figure. Well as I said they are perverts.

    I always figured that Barr found politics distasteful, a thing best not seen like sausage making, but lowered himself to doing the dirty work for the greater good. Leading the DOJ to stand back and stand by so the rough crowd could do the distasteful dirty work of taking The Nation back to God, or something. Thus the 12/23/2020 exit to await January 6th.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Bill Barr finds everyone else’s politics distasteful, not his own and that of the elite who think as he does. He has a patina of sophistication and objectivity about him. But he’s a dyed-in-the-wool reactionary, who thinks he’s earned the elite status he was born into, and who seriously dislikes mass participation in politics – democracy.

      • gmoke says:

        Bill Barr’s history teacher at Horace Mann School, Alfred Briggs, called Roy Cohn his best student and was known to have said that the world needs more Roy Cohns.
        https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/10/22/1988172/-I-Went-to-High-School-With-William-Bully-Barr-and-He-Never-Changed

        Horace Mann has a many decades long history of teachers, staff, and administrators sexually abusing students, including the years when Barr attended, which is “interesting” given Barr’s father’s relationship to Jeffrey Epstein.
        Great Is the Truth: Secrecy, Scandal, and the Quest for Justice at the Horace Mann School by Amos Kamil and Sean Elder (NY: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2015 ISBN 978-0-374-16662-5)

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Roy Cohn was precocious and academically brilliant. It’s his other attributes that were destructive. Bill Barr is merely exceptional, but mightily destructive, despite his Baloo Barr public demeanor.

    • Rayne says:

      Just realized Barr left DOJ the last business day before the Christian observation of Christmas holiday began on Christmas Eve, to wait for Twelfth Night, the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6.

      ~shudder~

    • Greg Hunter says:

      The intersection of religion and politics should really be questioned by the 4th estate, as my Southern Baptist heritage has me worried that all these groups are coalescing to make things happen to their own ends. You may see Dante where I see The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey.

      From Pompeo to Barr to Paul Singer of the Washington Free Beacon; Putin’s re-embracing of religion in Russia and the downright creepy group outlined in Netflix’s The Family, where both of my Congressmen show up (Tony Hall (D) replaced by Mike Turner (R)), they are really trying to change America for the worse, and all but Putin are driven by religious zealotry. They have captured most of the Republican Party and a majority of SCOTUS in a world where I thought religion would decline through my life, but it has only grown worse.

      I realize that people exposed to other Christian sects or Judaism have not been immersed in the evangelical tradition or its beliefs, but for me the crazies like Pompeo are actually trying to bring about the supposed conditions that result in the Rapture and Jesus’s return, while the rest of the passive christians are going along for the ride. The conditions I mentioned are also the goals of some of the jewish faith which enhances the relationship between all these groups.

      The idea that we cannot questions one’s beliefs whom enter the public arena is really hamstringing our ability to expose what these beliefs may result in for humanity. It is not good.

  6. Robert Sexton says:

    I’m not entirely surprised that Barr’s actions were corrupt.

    The thing that I’d like to understand is whether or not these action are likely to lead to prosecution.

    Is there any chance that the DOJ is going to strengthen its prohibitions against political tampering an impose consequences on the people who engaged in it?

  7. Rugger9 says:

    Does Judge ABJ have to stay the memo release because DOJ asked for one? It might be possible that she’s so annoyed by all of these too-clever-by-half machinations that she lifts the stay, releases the whole thing and renders the appeal moot. Not routine, but it would stop the nonsense and Judge Jackson certainly has grounds. Or, she could go the route of Judge Sullivan and hire an amicus to dig where DOJ will not and that person releases a public report.

    Before we pin too much on Garland here (though every day he lets this fester he will own more of it) the note above about career types (like Rosenstein and Durham, who we know turned to the dark side) also must consider the burrowed Bushies and Trumpkins who will obstruct anything they can. Gentility, comity and “norms” are all right as policies but all of these goals require that all parties adhere to the same set of standards. The GQP refuses to do so, and therefore no deals can be made with any of them until they renounce all of their conduct, no excuses.

    HJC needs to get cracking on this topic.

    • timbo says:

      Sigh. She’ll wait and follow regular procedure of the Federal Courts, whatever that’s determined to be with regard to release of this memo.

  8. greenbird says:

    ABJ is so good.
    i’m only a quarter way through the unredacted version (excepting the contentious memo).
    this could end better than i anticipate. i hope it does. i hope it does.

  9. Michael Pappas says:

    If I were Garland, I would offer Barr complete immunity in exchange for full and forthright cooperation on all of Trump’s crimes. That would solve many problems and thorny political issues Marcy outlines above. A fully cooperative Barr now is far better that prosecuted one who remains silent at least for the next 2-3 years. Eyes on the real prize.

    • timbo says:

      Hmm. Better yet would be to bring Barr to testify under oath before the Senate, frankly. If he starts invoking the right against self-incrimination, that might be interesting politically… only after that might it be palatable to offer him some sort of limited immunity with regard to matters related to Trump and pardon dangling.

      “I took every effort to isolate myself from the President’s thoughts on pardoning those who were close to him who were in legal tussles with my own DOJ!”
      “Why did you do that, Mr. Attorney General?”
      “Because I didn’t want to give the impression of a… of a… er…let me consult with my counsel for a bit, Senator…uh…because, um, I am not the President!”
      “But you will agree that at the time you were still Attorney General of the United States, correct?”
      “Senator, the cabinet heads, of which I was one at the time, must defer to the President. I sought to avoid any appearance of taking sides on any legal matters that were politically sensitive in nature.”
      “Can you provide us with at least a partial list of specific instances, naming a person or persons who might have fallen into the category of cases and pardons that you didn’t want to be involved in who were close politically tied to President Trump? And was it the President’s understanding as well that you should not involve yourself in these matters? Or was the President constantly encouraging you to get involved in resolving matters that might be politically and/or legally damaging to him and members of his family or others in his inner circle?”
      “We’ve been through this before, Senator…”
      “Refresh our memories as to specifics then having to do with the following persons:
      1. With regard to Manafort
      2. With regard to Flynn
      3. With regard to Stone
      On second thought, scratch 1 above—we may get back to that later when we go over your understanding of what had occurred in the case of your predecessor in the office of Attorney General. Now about General Flynn’s case…”
      “Senator, can we take a break for a bit? I have to check with my Russian handlers.”

      Purely theoretically, of course.

      • OmAli says:

        I think the odds of Barr honoring a subpoena from any congressional committee are slim to none.

        And THAT’s a problem. What do we do about that?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That’s pot of gold at the end of the rainbow stuff. Without evidence for sure convictions resulting in real prison time, the odds of obstruction junky Bill Barr flipping on a President are about as good as the pope becoming an atheist.

  10. Rayne says:

    Damn it. Just went and re-re-read Barr’s “Pick-Me!” June 2018 memo.

    This time I didn’t see it as a job application for a guy who believes in the unitary executive, but a How-To-Commit-Obstruction-And-Get-Away-With-It instruction to the White House.

  11. Tom R. says:

    1) This is excellent work. It connects the dots and calls attention to the importance of releasing the memo. (This stands in contrast to other articles that merely fuss over the “legality” of releasing it.)

    2) Klynn asked why the Garland DoJ would oppose the release. Several good answers have been given.

    I would add that all the answers can be summarized under the unsurprising headline “DoJ Acts to Protect DoJ”. More generally, it is the prime directive of any bureaucracy to protect the bureaucracy. Some spectacular examples of this spring to mind:

    2a) James Comey wrote an entire book in which he argued that slagging Hillary on the eve of the election wasn’t selfish in the narrowest personal sense. However, consider which Higher Loyalty he chose to uphold: He did not defend the election, even though he was warned, and even though there were rules in place to cover this. He did not protect democracy, justice, or public safety. Instead he did what was best for the FBI bureaucracy.

    Even now, years later, he is not sufficiently self-aware to understand the destruction caused by his sanctimonious reasoning.

    2b) Consider the infamous pair of OLC memos (Sep. 24, 1973 and Oct. 16, 2000) that argue against indicting a sitting president. They feature puerile pettifoggery that would be frowned upon in a high-school term paper. They do not serve to protect democracy, justice, or public safety. Instead they maximize the comfort of the DoJ bureaucracy.

    • Drew says:

      Correct. Some of those whose actions ABJ called “disingenuous” or worse continue at the DoJ. For the AG to simply agree with her & release the whole memo would put them in a difficult position, at best. In fact, I would have expected that, if DoJ didn’t appeal this, that one or two would have resigned before the release date.

  12. CD54 says:

    I think all Republicans were shaken by an independent DOJ sending Nixonites to prison and collectively internalized their commitment to never let it happen again — to THEM.

    And Bill Barr has spent a career on that battlefront. Either complete avoidance or guaranteed soft landings. Yet, their MAGAt rubes consider Democrats to be the Deep State.

    “WhattaCountry!”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That argument applies to much of the MSM – including the WaPo, which broke many of the Nixon stories – and to the Democratic establishment. David Rockefeller formed his Trilateral Commission in 1973, for example, staffed by the best and the brightest from both parties, explicitly in opposition to an “excess of democracy.”

  13. OldTulsaDude says:

    The Big Lie seems to have evolved into The Big Crime – acts so egregious that no one can believe they were purposeful but instead were acts based solely on policy differences and thus legal.

  14. Mister Sterling says:

    Barr belongs in a Federal prison for the rest of his life. It won’t happen. But clearly we now know he committed serious crimes. Those crimes, frankly, endangered us. Garland’s DOJ delaying the final release seems to be a useless attempt to seem non-partisan. We’re going to see everything sooner or later.

  15. Epicurus says:

    I noted in a past Ed Walker post that institutions have a life cycle from a sociological perspective. They start as some urge to perform a continuing beneficial community or political act. The individuals in what might not even be an institution at that point are focused on the outward beneficial act. As time progresses the institution’s people start to treat the institution as in service to their own agendas, usually unrelated to the community beneficence. The institution comes to serve them and their agendas. Anyone can look at history and see it. Some instances are noted above, such as the Catholic Church protecting its child molesters.

    This particular act brings to light two thoughts. The first is Orwell’s essay on politics and the English language. In that he notes “doublespeak”, a language that according to Wikipedia “deliberately obscures, disguises, distorts or reverses the meaning of words”. So I don’t know what anyone here’s definition of “justice” is but I am willing to bet it isn’t anything like an appeal of Judge Jackson’s ruling by the “Justice” Department of the US government. The Department of “Justice” has literally become something like the Ministry of “Truth” in Orwell’s 1984. And, sociologically, the DO”J” is simply fulfilling a given sociological process. It is out to protect itself.

    The second thought elides concepts of FDR and Justice Brandeis. (I spent many hours in the Brandeis University library.) “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself “and “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.” Judge Jackson isn’t afraid of full and open disclosure. She is begging for it so we can see what we have become at the highest levels and perhaps do something to change it. Why should the US government be afraid? There are watershed moments in history. This one belongs to President Biden and AG Garland. It’s binary. Either protect the American people or protect the individuals in the institution of the DOJ. What do you really think of your “oaths” of office? Maybe McConnell had it right for the wrong reason. Maybe Garland wasn’t up to the SC Justice job and the understanding of Constitution and justice.

  16. GKJames says:

    It seems the often-lauded Garland, too, has a greater loyalty to the institution than to the law and the public it serves. So much for the facts leading the way. There’s no dispute that it’s his decision to prosecute (or not) Barr, Trump et al for obstruction. But to use secrecy (on whatever rationales busy DOJ beavers can contrive) to prevent a complete understanding of the facts only furthers the rot. And, I suspect, people like Barr and Trump are only too aware of the hesitation to prosecute. Effectively, all along they’ve dared Democrats to come after them. It looks like Garland’s the last guy to call their bluff.

    • Rayne says:

      Argh. We are 136 days into this administration and Garland’s been on the clock much less than that. Consider his background prosecuting a conspiracy related to the white supremacist militia attack on Oklahoma City; do you think perhaps he might be able to see where limited protection of DOJ at this point into a huge rat’s nest of interrelated investigations might help over the long run?

      I think it’s too soon to say what’s going on with this situation; I hope ABJ has a strong enough grasp with what she has seen which the public hasn’t.

  17. Jeff Ellison says:

    Is it a coincidence that Barr resigned effective Dec 23rd 2020, and that Trump’s pardon of Manafort and Stone occurred that same day? The timing feels curious. I never really understood why Barr felt he had to go. Now I wonder whether he did so to reduce his own liability for obstructing justice.

    • Rayne says:

      I strongly doubt the timing was a coincidence. Barr needed to stay as long as possible and yet not be on the government payroll when the pardons happened; Trump needed Stone out of the woods as soon as possible, given the role Stone may play with organizing.

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