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 		 [The reason, according to William Barr in his Senate confirmation
hearings on Tuesday, was his undying love of the Department of Justice
itself. His history says otherwise.] [https://portside.org/] 

 WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD REPLACE JEFF SESSIONS? ENTER WILLIAM
BARR  
[https://portside.org/2019-01-18/who-their-right-mind-would-replace-jeff-sessions-enter-william-barr]


 

 Richard Wolffe 
 January 16, 2019
The Guardian
[https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/16/william-barr-attorney-general-trumpian-logic]


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 _ The reason, according to William Barr in his Senate confirmation
hearings on Tuesday, was his undying love of the Department of Justice
itself. His history says otherwise. _ 

 William Barr at his Senate confirmation hearing.,
Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock 

 

Donald Trump treated his last attorney general like he was a dimwit
defense lawyer who couldn’t understand his basic duties. That was a
bit rich – a phrase that should perhaps get carved on to Trump’s
tombstone – but it was at least consistent.

Trump simply couldn’t understand Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III,
the former senator from Alabama and first supporter of the Trump
campaign in the Senate. Here was a man rejected for a judge’s
position because of his obvious racism, who warmly embraced the
demonization of immigrants at the southern border.

With such fine credentials, why wouldn’t he just do what he was
told?

All his other lawyers followed all his other harebrained schemes –
at least until he stopped paying them or they got flipped by the pesky
prosecutors. “So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and
of course our beleaguered AG, looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes &
Russia relations,” tweeted
[https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/889467610332528641] Trump
six long months ago.

For Trump, there could only be one answer. He called
[https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/28/politics/donald-trump-jeff-sessions-feud/index.html] his
attorney general Mr Magoo, the bumbling myopic old cartoon fool
[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8GTHXTEvIc], because he allowed the
Mueller investigation to go forward. He sometimes got creative and
conjured up some other type of idiot. “This guy is mentally
retarded. He’s this dumb southerner,” Trump said, according
[https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bob-woodwards-new-book-reveals-a-nervous-breakdown-of-trumps-presidency/2018/09/04/b27a389e-ac60-11e8-a8d7-0f63ab8b1370_story.html?utm_term=.724de196eead] to
Bob Woodward’s reporting. “He couldn’t even be a one-person
country lawyer down in Alabama.”

This is an unfortunate way to talk about Trump country. Especially if
you sell yourself as the only man on the planet to truly understand
the long-suffering inhabitants of the place: a man so in tune with
southern ways that he served
[https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/15/politics/donald-trump-fast-food-clemson-tigers/index.html]300
cold burgers on silver platters to the South Carolinian football
champions from Clemson. (Of course, Trump couldn’t help but lie
[https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1085207864224960519] that
he personally paid for 1,000 burgers because, well, he’s a bit
rich.)

It’s also an unfortunate way to talk about the attorney general and
the rule of law. Which begs some pretty profound questions of the man
who wants to replace Mr Magoo: William Barr.

Why would anyone in their right mind want this job? Especially if you
happen to have served as attorney general previously for a sane and
dignified president like George HW Bush, as Barr did in the early
1990s.

The answer, according to Barr in his Senate confirmation hearings on
Tuesday, was his undying love of the Department of Justice itself.
“I am in a position in life where I can provide the leadership
necessary to protect the independence and reputation of the
department,” he said
[https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/15/us/politics/mueller-barr.html].
“I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong – by
anybody, whether it be editorial boards or Congress or the president.
I’m going to do what I think is right.”

These are fine words. Until you know what Barr thinks is right.
Perhaps he won’t be bullied into all things Trumpy. Then again,
perhaps he doesn’t need to be bullied.

Take this extraordinary message from Barr to Peter Baker of the New
York Times, which explains what Barr thinks of Trump’s demands for
investigations into the Clinton Foundation and the government-approved
sale of Uranium One to Russia.

Uranium can cause brain damage and the Uranium One conspiracy has left
a trail of radioactive nuttiness across the nether regions of the
right wing for several years.

For any justice department veteran, like Barr, the notion that Clinton
manipulated the entire bureaucracy of foreign investment
review doesn’t pass
[https://www.politifact.com/facebook-fact-checks/statements/2018/dec/07/blog-posting/complex-tale-involving-hillary-clinton-uranium-rus/] the
laugh test.

But Barr insisted that all is fine and dandy with Trump demanding the
justice department go after Clinton for the latest wingnut wackadoodle
story to air on Fox News.

“There is nothing inherently wrong about a president calling for an
investigation,” Barr wrote
[https://twitter.com/peterbakernyt/status/1085301461565825024] to the
New York Times. “Although an investigation shouldn’t be launched
just because a president wants it, the ultimate question is whether
the matter warrants investigation, and I have long believed that the
predicate for investigating the uranium deal, as well as the
foundation, is far stronger than any basis for investigating so-called
‘collusion’. Likewise the basis for investigating various
‘national security’ activities carried out during the election, as
Senator [Chuck] Grassley has been attempting to do. To the extent it
is not pursuing these matters, the department is abdicating its
responsibility.”

Barr was writing in late 2017, and the Grassley “investigation”
was one of those other radioactive rightwing ruses about the Obama
administration FBI spying on the Trump campaign under the guise of all
this Russia stuff.

This is not an isolated case of Barr lending his considerable legal
reputation to the flakiest fringes of Trump forgeries.

Just seven months ago, around the time Trump was publicly flogging his
attorney general, Barr wrote an unsolicited memo
[https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5638848-June-2018-Barr-Memo-to-DOJ-Muellers-Obstruction.html] to
the justice department explaining in detail why he thought Mueller
should not be allowed to question Trump about firing James Comey as
FBI director in order to halt the Russia investigation.

Barr’s memo was a perfect pretzel of Trumpian delusion, claiming
that obstruction of justice really just means witness tampering or
destroying evidence. Nothing, Barr argued, could stop the
president’s “complete authority to stop or start a law enforcement
proceeding”. Ergo, nobody in law enforcement can stop Trump from
blocking any legal action against himself. Brilliant!

To be fair, Barr concedes in his memo that he is “in the dark about
many facts” including the, um, facts about Mueller’s investigation
and the legal basis for any possible case he might be building. Which
is to say: everything.

This is the context for Barr’s fine testimony on Tuesday, when he
said he was a longtime friend
[https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jan/15/william-barr-confirmation-hearing-robert-mueller-report] of
Mueller and would allow him to “complete his work”. He just
wouldn’t necessarily allow the public to see all that wonderful work
of his great misguided friend. “I don’t know, at the end of the
day, what will be releasable,” he explained.

So what does he think are the consequences for a president interfering
with law enforcement to save himself, or his family? Barr helpfully
outlined a hypothetical case where a president called up the justice
department to do just that.

“He’s the chief law enforcement officer and you could say, well,
he has the power, but that would be a breach of his obligation under
the constitution to faithfully execute the laws,” he told
[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuEjeWQaSxE] California senator
Dianne Feinstein. “So in my opinion, if he attempts – if a
president attempts to intervene in a matter that he has a stake in, to
protect himself, that should first be looked at as a breach of his
constitutional duties. Whether it also violates a statute, depends on
what statute comes into play and what all the facts are.”

In other words, you’re going to have to impeach Trump because a Barr
justice department won’t prosecute its chief law enforcement
officer.

That may be Barr’s best hope for protecting his beloved justice
department. It just so happens that it’s also Trump’s best hope
for protecting himself, because this Senate will never vote to find
him guilty in an impeachment trial.

William Barr is clearly no Mr Magoo. He’s far too smart and far too
accomplished a lawyer. But like James Comey before him, his day of
reckoning lies ahead: that moment when his love of his institution
runs headlong into a president who should be institutionalized. At
that point, what’s left of Barr’s reputation will become so much
depleted uranium.

 

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