Is Trump personal lawyer and attorney general Barr’s assertion of Department of Justice independence just Trump-Barr Kabuki Theater?
By Dan Peak
Commoner Call (2/18/20)
Dear Fellow Readers,
Consider the White House – there is no such thing as honoring the norms of governance. There is no such thing as obeying the law. Consider the Senate – we have learned the Party of Trump will not stand against Trump. What about the Department of Justice?
We very well may have lost the Department of Justice, Trump’s personal lawyer and attorney general Bill Barr has repeatedly demonstrated he’ll aid and abet Trump’s authoritarian appetite. Pay attention to what Barr does, not what he says. Enemies of Trump – beware!
Trump and Barr made media waves this past week after Barr said Trump’s interference has made it, “impossible for me to do my job” and that “I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody.”
There are two parts to the message; let’s consider Trump’s interference first. As presented in the last edition of the Russia Monitor Trump took exception to the 7-9 year sentencing guideline for convicted long-time Trump associate Roger Stone.
Trump also tweeted criticism of jury bias in the Stone case, which was followed by a filing by Stone’s legal defense team asking for a new trial. Trump had already publicly criticized the federal judge handling the trial, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, while also stating, “I don’t want to say that yet” when asked about a Trump pardon for Stone.
This is Trump imposing his will following the abdication of responsibility by his Party of Trump Senate and DOJ to curb his authoritarian influence. Trump professes to have a legal right to opine and influence the work of DOJ and he may, but where does the acquiescence of Barr and Trump’s growing appetite to dictate take us.
Scoundrels and heroes
Trump now brazenly admits that he ‘did it!’ Trump has dropped the denials as he sees no price to pay for now admitting to his crimes. Sure, he now declares, he sent his other personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to extort President Zelensky to announce an investigation looking for dirt on a Trump political opponent for reelection, so what?Trump Contradicts Past Denials, Admits Sending Giuliani To Ukraine.
“…journalist Geraldo Rivera, who asked, “Was it strange to send Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine, your personal lawyer? Are you sorry you did that?” Trump responded, “No, not at all,” and praised Giuliani’s role as a “crime fighter.”
“”Here’s my choice: I deal with the Comeys of the world, or I deal with Rudy,” Trump said, referring to former FBI Director James Comey. Trump explained that he has “a very bad taste” of the US intelligence community, because of the Russia investigation, so he turned to Giuliani.
“”So when you tell me, why did I use Rudy, and one of the things about Rudy, number one, he was the best prosecutor, you know, one of the best prosecutors, and the best mayor,” Trump said. “But also, other presidents had them. FDR had a lawyer who was practically, you know, was totally involved with government. Eisenhower had a lawyer. They all had lawyers.””
Trump is breaking another norm, publicly flaunting his list of enemies. Sure, we all learned former President Nixon kept a list of personal enemies, but Trump loudly regales us with threats, demands and denigration, starting with former FBI Director James Comey, but also including former Sec. State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, former FBI analysts Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, purple Heart recipient American war hero Lt. Col. Vindman… and many more threatened with investigation, prison or reprisals.
The difference here could not be more stark. Comey, Clinton, Page, Strzok, and now former deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe have all been cleared of wrongdoing. By comparison, consider the Trump associates. While we await sentencing of Stone, we also await the sentencing of convicted Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, while convicted former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort as well as his former campaign deputy chair Rick Gates and former personal lawyer Michael Cohen serve time in federal prison.
There is a longer list of Trump associates, but you get the point: Trump enemies – 100% cleared; Trump associates convicted of crimes in support of Trump – many.
So let’s consider Barr’s protestations against Trump, that he won’t be “bullied or influenced”. Does that ring true or is Barr’s assertion of DOJ independence just Trump-Barr Kabuki Theater?
Consider this list from the New:
Barr ‘whistles’ past Trump’s admission that “he did it” (Trump-Ukraine extortion for personal gain).
Barr failed to investigate Trump for federal election violation over Trump-Ukraine.
Barr announced his agreement that Stone sentencing guidelines were too severe.
Barr offered no comment after four lead prosecutors in the Stone trial stepped away from the case in protest [and one of them — an experienced and respected prosecutor — left the DOJ completely].
Barr did not stand up for former federal attorney and prosecutor Jessie Liu after Trump withdrew her name from nomination for a senior position at Treasury. Much as Sec. State Mike Pompeo never stood up to protect his employees like former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, even as she left Ukraine on a ‘next flight’ because of risk to her personally.
Barr has created a fast-track desk for intake of Trump-Giuliani ‘dirt’ even while Rudy remains under investigation by Southern District of New York federal prosecutors.
Barr “assigned an outside prosecutor to scrutinize the criminal case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn.
Then there is the BIGLY Barr initiative for Trump, Barr’s designation of US attorney John Durham to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia counterintelligence investigation that led to the appointment of special prosecutor Robert Mueller to look at Russian interference. The stated scope for Durham also includes investigation of possible influence from Ukraine.
Trump is pressuring Barr to deliver results … and soon. The pressure is fed by his disappointment that a long-running ‘reinvestigation’ of Hillary Clinton by US attorney John Huber has wrapped up without consequence. As now the McCabe investigation resulted in no charges, just as there were no charges brought against former FBI director James Comey.
Worth noting, there is a Trump dick-move with McCabe. DOJ has known for months that a grand jury failed to bring charges against McCabe – months ago. But this information was ‘sat on’ to let McCabe stew.
Hold all of this up against Barr’s breathless push back against Trump ‘interference’. Barr says Trump’s public tirades make it difficult for him to do his job. Therein lies the question.
Is Trump making it more difficult for Barr to assert the mission of the DOJ? Or…
Is Trump’s interference resulting in more attention, making it more difficult for Barr to assert Injustice that benefits Trump personally?
I say we’re watching Trump-Barr Kabuki Theater and Barr would rather ‘deliver’ for Trump without the added publicity. And as for noises for DOJ integrity by Party of Trump … silence.
We are the only ones that can impose limits on Trump. Resist; Win Elections – every election.
- More Than 1,100 Former DOJ Officials Press For Attorney General Barr To Step Down — The officials warned William Barr’s interference in criminal cases for Trump’s personal benefit is behavior one would expect to see in an autocracy. More than 1,100 former federal prosecutors and Justice Department officials are calling on Attorney General William Barr to resign following reports Barr and President Donald Trump intervened in the criminal prosecution of Trump’s friend Roger Stone. In an open letter released Sunday, the former officials say Barr broke Justice Department rules when he overruled federal prosecutors in Stone’s criminal case, seeking a far more lenient sentence than the potential nine years prosecutors originally recommended. “It is unheard of for the Department’s top leaders to overrule line prosecutors, who are following established policies, in order to give preferential treatment to a close associate of the President,” they said. In their call for Barr’s resignation, the former Justice Department officials suggested his behavior is a threat to democracy. … Read The Rest