WaPo Gives Bill Barr Platform to Attack Joe Biden without Mentioning Barr’s Role in Framing Biden

WaPo wrote a story on Bill Barr’s statement on Fox News that he would support Trump over Biden because Biden would represent a “continuation of the Biden administration is national suicide.”

On Wednesday, Barr maintained that voting for Trump would still be “Russian roulette” but claimed that a “continuation of the Biden administration is national suicide, in my opinion.”

Nothing in this story is news. It was always clear Barr was going to vote against Democrats, whom he decries (though the article notes that last July, he claimed to not know).

Much of the story simply regurgitates Barr’s own propaganda about how he is a “vocal critic” of Trump, without mentioning that before he criticized Trump’s Big Lie, Barr kicked it off, by attacking mail-in ballots. It doesn’t mention that the same people, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, whose election lawyering Barr attacked, Barr protected and enabled as Attorney General, shielding Rudy from any legal consequences for soliciting campaign dirt from known Russian spies, and helping Sidney Powell attempt to reverse the prosecution of Mike Flynn.

Crazier still, it makes no mention — none! — of the side channel Barr set up to funnel that dirt Rudy obtained from known Russian spies.

As I’ve reported repeatedly, in January 2020, Bill Barr ordered Scott Brady to conduct a side review of the dirt Rudy Giuliani collected from Russian spies and others. Via still unexplained circumstances, that side channel resulted in a claim from Alexander Smirnov being shared first with Brady, and then with Hunter Biden prosecutor David Weiss, a claim that Joe Biden had accepted a bribe from Burisma. After having received the lead in 2020 and not pursued it, Weiss revisited it after Barr made public comments last summer, as Republicans in Congress were chasing the claim.

That push to review what is now known as the Smirnov allegation resulted in David Weiss reneging on the plea deal he made with Hunter Biden and chasing the Smirnov allegation, only to discover Smirnov made it all up.

WaPo knows these details. A long piece on Smirnov described the side channel, though did not mention that Brady claimed to have verified precisely the travel details that Weiss alleges debunk Smirnov’s claims.

In October 2023, several months after Grassley’s release, Scott Brady, the former U.S. attorney for the western district of Pennsylvania, appeared before the GOP-controlled House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about the claims. Brady, who did not respond to a request for comment, had been tasked in 2020 by then-Attorney General William P. Barr to review information about Biden gathered in Ukraine by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Brady characterized the bribery claims as not thoroughly vetted as of 2020. At the same time, he told the committee that it was “correct” that the FBI considered that person credible at the time of the allegations.

And a piece from Devlin Barrett, listed as a contributor to this story, wrote a piece that obscured rather than highlighted the insanity behind Weiss’ decision to renege on the scope of the plea deal he made with Hunter to chase Smirnov’s allegations anew (Devlin did not mention Barr’s role in pitching the allegation in both 2020 and 2023).

Smirnov’s account was passed along to investigators in Delaware who were involved in the Hunter Biden investigation — a move which years later led to the charges against Smirnov, these people said.

U.S. authorities said that when agents questioned Smirnov again in 2023, he repeated some past lies, changed other parts of his story and offered new falsehoods after claiming to have met with Russian officials.

Bill Barr’s decision to set up a side channel to funnel dirt collected by Donald Trump’s lawyer on Trump’s opponent’s son to prosecutors already investigating Hunter Biden led directly to Joe Biden being framed. And it remains unexplained how Scott Brady came to find the lead — or whether it has anything to do with DOJ’s reported closure of an investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky in this same period.

At this point, Barr’s role in setting up a side channel that led to Biden being framed ought to be included in all discussions of his animus to Biden or his decision to back Trump. All the more so given that Jerry Nadler referred Scott Brady to at least DOJ IG for investigation of the way he misled Congress about his vetting corroborating Smirnov’s claims. After all, such an investigation may lead to places that scrutinize Barr’s own actions.

Sure Barr is going to back Republicans over Joe Biden, the guy he helped frame. But if the investigation into how that side channel ended up framing Biden gets very far, Barr may have far more self-interested reasons in ending Democratic control of DOJ.

67 replies
  1. Sussex Trafalgar says:

    No surprise. The WAPO has become a less tawdry and sensationalized version of the National Enquirer.

    William Barr has a persecution complex as large as his ego. His late father, Donald Barr, exhibited similar personality characteristics.

    William Barr is one of many Republican Party affiliated attorneys who were brainwashed into believing Nixon shouldn’t have resigned the presidency, and who also believed Nixon’s White House Plumbers were justified in committing their illegal acts against the people and the Rule of Law.

    • BobBobCon says:

      It’s interesting that the Post has gotten worse even as they’ve taken a huge hit in both local circulation numbers and online metrics. Despite the huge revenue hit, they seem to be leaning even harder toward driving away traditional readers.

      You can’t say Bezos is driving day to day editorial decisions, but installing Murdoch henchman William Lewis as publisher and CEO is absolutely the call of Bezos. Lewis has been deeply implicated in Murdoch’s coverup of his phone hacking scandal, and hiring him as CEO is a blaring siren to everyone at the Post where Bezos wants the organization to go.

    • MsJennyMD says:

      Looking back, failing to prosecute Nixon set a bad precedent. Seven members of the Nixon administration were indited and did time. After resigning and pardoned by Ford, he lived comfortably in California. No accountability, just rewarding criminal behavior.

      “The law is the foundation of our society.” William Barr

      • Glen Dudek says:

        True, but, would it have had any effect on Trump, or the GOP in thrall to their MAGA primary voters, or this YOLO Supreme Court? I think not, unfortunately.

        • wa_rickf says:

          No it did not. All it has done is foster the notion in Trump’s base that he can pardon himself after he becomes POTUS again. (As if either of those two things are a reality.)

          *There is no way any decent American will vote for an adjudicated sexual assaulter, adjudicated business fraudster, who has 88-felony grand jury indictments and who calls our troops “suckers” and “losers.”

  2. Dahlia79 says:

    Bill Barr is known as the cover up AG. Keep on this one Dr.Wheeler. Barr knows that Biden knows what he has been doing for years.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the SAME USERNAME and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. I have edited this comment to match your previous username as I suspect you didn’t want to use your RL name. Please check your browser’s cache and autofill. /~Rayne]

  3. scroogemcduck says:

    Just a more high-brow version of the Ross Asshat brand of conservativism. “Sure, Trump is a disaster and I’m anti-Trump, but when it comes down to it I’ll vote for Trump and the end of democracy because Biden is OLD and the Democrats are MEAN.”

    • Rayne says:

      Is anyone but WaPo and NYT surprised that he’ll vote for the guy who knows how much Barr obstructed justice for the former guy?

  4. Nutmeg Dem says:

    A perfect example of the GOP belief than the absolute worst Republican is still better than any Democrat.

  5. freebird says:

    We were one General Flynn away from having a successful coup d’état. Trump had the National Guard standdown while having the Proud Boys fulfill his standby orders. Then they all stormed the Capitol. Everyone remember that.

    Barr quit during the plot planning so that he could not be fingered as a co-plotter. His endorsement is akin to saying that coups are okay. Barr should have had Trump arrested, but now he endorses him. Go figure.

    • derelict says:

      i’ll never forget the tight, cruel smile and evil gleam in his eyes when he told a reporter, ‘history is written by the winners’. given the context of his actions as ag, it’s clear he’s not afraid to dream big, even if he’s shrewd enough to cover his tracks

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Context is always helpful. It’s the one thing the WaPo and NYT frequently omit.

    So, the independently wealthy, establishment corporate lawyer – who has been the GOP’s main political fixer for thirty-five years – claims that a continuation of Joe Biden’s Democratic Party-led administration would be “national suicide.” Nothing principled about that statement. It’s pure electioneering.

    And suicide for whom? Not for the national government, which Republicans are unable to run or don’t want to run. Not for average Americans, burdened with overwhelming debt to pay for education, healthcare and housing. Perhaps when Bill Barr says, “suicide,” he means that those living off buying and selling shares, entire companies, or whole industries might have to pay a smidgen more in tax.

    I think the WaPo publishes this drivel because it’s jealous of Bill Barr’s status.

  7. soundgood2 says:

    My pet peeve with journalists covering the election is they repeat the claim that electing Biden will destroy America but they are never asked a follow up question. How will it destroy America? If they don’t give actual details of what they fear, they shouldn’t be quoted. Clearly Barr is concerned with his involvement with shady stuff he did while he was AG. The best way to keep from being investigated is to get Trump back into office.

    • John B.*^ says:

      hell, the current Democratic controlled Senate who currently have committee chairs and subpoena power don’t seem like they are all that interested in any kind of investigations, you know like Clarence T, Harlan C, Jared, Roger S, Paul M, the coup itself, etc….not sure wtf he should be afeared of in a new Senate…

    • CovariantTensor says:

      That they parrot this criticism unchallenged is maddening. People who claim another Trump presidency will be a disaster have mountains of evidence, including Trump’s own words. People who claim another Biden presidency will be a disaster just leave it at that, and it’s OK.

  8. Rayne says:

    wetzel-rhymes-with: at 510 words your 1:02 p.m. ET comment is too long by at least 40%. If you’re a former English major and have taught verbal reasoning as you claim, you know how to fix this problem.

    You’ve been warned repeatedly about excessively long comments which act as a DDoS in comment threads. Should I start watching for links between your verbose comments and the posts on which you leave them to see if this is deliberate?

  9. Bugboy321 says:

    “…that voting for Trump would still be “Russian roulette””
    JFC they’re just letting it all hang out, no? The nerve that Barr shows, talking about “national suicide”. After all, what is “Russian roulette” other than a form of suicide?

    • CovariantTensor says:

      He uses the term with apparently no sense of irony. Trump will sell out Ukraine to Putin. And it’s not just a 1/6 national suicide, especially if he gets a Republican congress. National suicide because it will have many consequences besides a change in the world map and a step toward reassembling the Soviet empire.

      • Bugboy321 says:

        I’m not willing to give him the benefit of doubt that he doesn’t know exactly what he is doing. Gives new meaning to “both siders”, amirite?

  10. Savage Librarian says:

    He Lies Awake (and when he sleeps)

    Bill Barr has a lot of damn,
    a lot of pork and some ham,
    He tops it off with some spam,
    and does his best to avoid a jam.

    At times he worries, yes, afraid he
    might be revealed as too shady,
    Like him, that Smirnov thing is weighty,
    Would Rudy squeal, or maybe Brady?

    When or if anyone’ll
    recover from their side channel stun’ll
    depend on who thinks it’s okay to funnel
    dirt from Russian dirtbags’ Barr tunnel.

    He Lies Awake (and when he sleeps,)
    The more he does, the more it steeps,
    and, of course, it always seeps
    past the bylines and the bleeps.

    Bill Barr plays Russian Roulette,
    The Times and the Post fail to vet,
    Have the guts not to aid and abet,
    Good reporting can diminish the threat.

    • BRUCE F COLE says:

      To heed the advice of ex-AG Barr
      Is to stand in the path of an oncoming car
      With hands in your pockets and gaze fixed afar,
      Exuding an hubris that nothing could mar.

      • BRUCE F COLE says:


        To heed the advice of ex-AG Barr
        Is to stand, with your self-righteous gaze fixed afar
        While exuding an hubris that nothing could mar,
        Directly in front of an oncoming car.

  11. Magbeth40 says:

    In view of all you have stated above, Marcy, why wouldn’t it be possible for Barr to be dis-barred (no pun intended)? His actions sound so unethical for someone who held a position in government which is meant to uphold the Law.

    • bmaz says:

      Lol, disbarred for what? Having a public opinion? You are familiar with prosecutorial immunity, correct?

      • grizebard says:

        A touch of straw man sophistry there. Prosecutorial immunity isn’t absolute. Dickishness is one thing, introducing fabricated evidence (eg.) in a trial is quite another. And the wished-for disbarment is a professional matter, surely, not a criminal one?

        True, a case has to be proved, one way or another. (And nothing to do with what he may have opined, though it might give a pointer or two.) Getting anyone able and willing to suitably nail the slippery blighter for what he’s likely done in office is something else altogether, though.

      • Magbeth40 says:

        No, bmaz, I’m not aware that Prosecutors can lie and try to frame someone for something he didn’t do. But, if he is immune from
        being disbarred, then this does not give me any confidence that the people who are responsible for enforcing the Law are honest lawyers.

        I realize that lawyers think differently from artists, and I respect their ability to form and make arguments based on legal precedent. But, to lie about something, which basically he did, is disturbing. I would not want to be in a Courtroom with him arguing for, or against me.

        The attacks on Biden because of his son’s choices, in behavior and associations (as an adult, by the way), is unfair by any standard.

  12. Zinsky123 says:

    What ever became of the 2019 incident where Barr had two meetings in Rome with Gennaro Vecchione, head of the DIS intelligence service? https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN1WH1KX/

    Were these the meetings where Barr and Durham learned of other malfeasance by Trump related to some Italian financial matter, but Durham failed to include a declination memo in connection with his final report? Enquiring minds want to know!

  13. grizebard says:

    Talking about WAPO, MAGA and the like, seems to me that the US has for some time now been busily brewing an Oligarch Problem of its very own.

    • Rayne says:

      I realize you’ve published less than 100 comments here to date and are outside the US, but duh. The US has had an oligarch problem since the late 1800s/early 1900s and never effectively dealt with it apart from a rather brief period of time when tax rates prevented the uber-wealthy from reaching obscenely wealthy.

      Income distribution has been a growing problem in the US since the Reagan administration. This is not new nor news.

      • grizebard says:

        Indeed. But to me anyway it seems that the ‘balance of power’ between vested interest and the common weal is being shifted steadily towards the former, and accelerating. Former reliable sources of news are now reliably unwilling to earn their keep, and it takes a few like Marcy to throw a much-needed spotlight on the likes of Barr.

        True, it’s not the existence of the phenomenon that’s new. It’s the arguably changed nature of it. Which is why the stakes for the coming elections couldn’t be higher. And people feel it (or ought).

        • earthworm says:

          Aw, c’mon — we don’!t have oligarchs! You’re thinking of the Russians. We have tycoons!

  14. LaMissy! says:

    Thom Hartmann has a useful summary of the decades of nefarious deeds Barr has undertaken for the GOP at his substack.

  15. Booksellerb4 says:

    Yes, the Thom Hartman piece was good – he mentions that on Christmas Day (1992) the New York Times had a bodacious headline ‘THE PARDONS: Bush pardons 6 In Iran affair, Aborting a Weinberger Trial; Prosecutor Assails ‘COVER-UP’ – the story notes that Bush consulted Barr before he issued the pardons. It was a detailed article, like old-tyme journalism! (Especially for those of us who read the NYT on Christmas Day…in ’92 or ’66) ;)

    Best Quote: But not since President Gerald R. Ford granted clemency to former President Richard M. Nixon for possible crimes in Watergate has a Presidential pardon so pointedly raised the issue of whether the President was trying to shield officials for political purposes. Mr. Walsh invoked Watergate tonight in an interview on the ABC News program “Nightline,” likening today’s pardons to President Richard M. Nixon’s dismissal of the Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, in 1973. Mr. Walsh said Mr. Bush had “succeeded in a sort of Saturday Night Massacre.”

    Then I went and listened to Levon & Madman Across the Water, to calm down.

  16. wa_rickf says:

    Bill Barr knowingly and willingly lied about what the Mueller Report said and recommended. No one of importance has ever called Barr out on doing so – not even Robert Mueller.

    Allowing these lies to stand and not making a big deal of these lies will be the end of democracy.

    • bmaz says:

      I know it is oh so easy here these days, but you understand absolutely nothing. Maybe you will get a little cookie.

      • wa_rickf says:

        I know and understand that when someone with a position of importance as the U.S.A.G. knowingly and willingly lies about a special council report to cover-up for a corrupt POTUS is not good for democracy. Nor is allowing the lie to go unchallenged.

        I’m sure, Jan. that you think lying about the content of a report a is good defense tool for a defense law professional to use to defend a client.

        Barr didn’t work for Trump, Barr worked for the American people.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Bill Barr was a USG employee. His job was to represent the people. Whomever he worked for, it wasn’t them.

          Trump, on the other hand, benefited handsomely from his work. I imagine quite a few others, including many institutions, did as well. The USG and the American people? Not so much.

        • wa_rickf says:

          Yes there was a clear rebuke of Barr by Mueller to Congress. But Mueller never pushed-back when Barr continued his lies of the Mueller Report. One fleeting moment in front of Congress was not sufficient in rebuking Barr. The rebuke by Mueller needed to be louder and often – not just once, which essentially amounted to nothing. Continued push-back by Mueller would have changed the perception of Barr’s false narrative.

          Republicans are perfectly aware of Trump’s decades of bilking blue collar workers performing work on his properties, lying to everybody, and surrounding himself with known criminals prior the becoming POTUS. During Trump’s presidency, the GOP turned a blind eye to Trump’s flouting laws such as the Emoluments Clause. U.S.A.G Bill Barr helped kill an investigation of Trump in 2019 by Geoffrey Berman. The fact that today the GOP is still all-in on defending Trump shows a remarkable level of depravity within the GOP itself.

        • BRUCE F COLE says:

          Quoth you:
          “”Bill Barr knowingly and willingly lied about what the Mueller Report said and recommended. No one of importance has ever called Barr out on doing so – not even Robert Mueller.”

          Quoth me:
          “Bon appetit!”

        • wa_rickf says:

          I knew when I wrote that, Mueller had spoken to Congress, but I also feel this way:

          “One fleeting moment in front of Congress was not sufficient in rebuking Barr. The rebuke by Mueller needed to be louder and often – not just once, which essentially amounted to nothing.”

          Mueller’s lack of pushback rendered his testimony in front of Congress useless and ineffective, and amounted to nothing at the end of the day.

  17. bmaz says:

    Rayne is dishonest.

    [Moderator’s note: you’ve repeatedly trolled this site today and it’s not acceptable now any more than it was when you were still moderating. Knock it off. As for these Moderator’s Notes you’ve complained about: some like this one are left up for community members’ benefit, so they know we’re aware. /~Rayne]

Comments are closed.