Two Justice Department officials — including one of the career prosecutors who quit the Roger Stone case — have agreed to testify under subpoena before the House Judiciary Committee next week about politicization under Attorney General William Barr, setting up a likely fight with the department about what they will be permitted to say, the Washington Post reports.
House Oversight Committee Sues Barr and Ross
The House Oversight Committee filed suit against Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross over their refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas in the investigation over the failed effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
Trump Denies He Asked Barr to Publicly Clear Him
President Trump denied a report that he wanted Attorney General William Barr to hold a press conference to declare he broke no laws during a July phone call in which Trump pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Democrats, the AP reports.
Trump tweeted that the story “is totally untrue and just another FAKE NEWS story with anonymous sources that don’t exist.”
The Dangerous Position of William Barr
David Rohde suggests Attorney General William Barr “might want to recall the example of John Mitchell, who, in 1975, became the first—and only—former Attorney General of the United States to be sent to prison.”
“Mitchell served as Richard Nixon’s Attorney General from 1969 to 1972, and then as chairman of Nixon’s 1972 Presidential reelection campaign. As campaign chairman, he oversaw the Watergate break-ins and then participated in the coverup. Unlike other aides who broke with Nixon and implicated the President, Mitchell declined to reveal his conversations with the President. He was convicted by a jury of his peers of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury for his role in Watergate. Mitchell served nineteen months in federal prison before being released, for medical reasons.”
“For many in the American legal community, though, Mitchell’s actions before Watergate were more troubling. While serving as Attorney General, Mitchell hatched secret—and, at times, bizarre—plots to aid Nixon politically. He investigated government officials and journalists suspected of leaking damaging information about the President. He prosecuted opponents of the Vietnam War. And he controlled a secret slush fund used to smear Democratic Presidential candidates deemed a threat to Nixon. In one simultaneously abhorrent and amateurish act, Mitchell approved a payment of ten thousand dollars to a faction of the American Nazi Party in order to carry out a failed effort to remove Governor George Wallace from a Presidential ballot in California. Nixon aides believed that supporters of Wallace—an avowed segregationist running as a third-party candidate—would shift their votes to Nixon.”
Pelosi Says Barr Has ‘Gone Rogue’
Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Morning Joe that she believes Attorney General Bill Barr has “gone rogue” with his handling of the controversy regarding the Trump administration’s interactions with Ukraine.
Bill Barr Already Won
The Atlantic: “Garnaat’s words are worth considering ahead of tomorrow morning, when Mueller is scheduled to testify publicly before the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. Her words represent a perception gap distilled, a tidy summary of how many Americans navigated the space between commentary on the Mueller report and the report itself. They underscore just how successfully Attorney General William Barr exploited that space, harnessing the power of television to set the narrative of the report, knowing most people were unlikely to read it themselves. And they affirm the challenge Democrats face tomorrow in their attempt to make Mueller’s words resonate when, in an era defined by the laws of entertainment, they may well have missed their moment.”
“Indeed, it was not so much what Barr said those days as it was that he was the first to say it. In the Trump era, most stories have a day- or even an hour-long shelf life, meaning the immediate spin on the most crucial of events is often the one most likely to stick.”
Pelosi Will No Longer Address Barr’s Comments
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declined to answer a reporter’s question about an assertion by Attorney General William Barr, saying he had lied to Congress and that she would no longer address “anything more that he has to say,” the Washington Post reports.
Said Pelosi: “I don’t even want to address him. He has lied to Congress as the attorney general of the United States. He’s lied under oath. I’m not speaking to anything more that he has to say.”
Barr Keeps Amassing Power
New York Times: “The move illustrates Mr. Barr’s swift rise in the pantheon of President Trump’s most prominent and loyal allies — and in the eyes of Mr. Trump himself. In a cabinet stocked with government neophytes and placeholders, the deeply experienced Mr. Barr is quickly emerging as the most influential figure in the second half of Mr. Trump’s term.”
“But his rising power over the intelligence community has been accompanied by swelling disillusionment with Mr. Barr among former national security officials and ideological moderates. When he agreed late last year to take the job, many of them had cast him as a Republican straight shooter, steeped in pre-Trump mores, who would restrain an impetuous president.”
“Now they see in him someone who has glossed over Mr. Trump’s misdeeds, smeared his investigators and positioned himself to possibly declassify information for political gain — not the Bill Barr they thought they knew.”
William Barr Goes Full MAGA
Jonathan Chait: “After the legal Establishment had granted him the benefit of the doubt, Attorney General William Barr has shocked his erstwhile supporters with his aggressive and frequently dishonest interventions on behalf of President Trump. The spectacle of an esteemed lawyer abetting his would-be strongman boss’s every authoritarian instinct has left Barr’s critics grasping for explanations. Some have seized on the darker threads of his history in the Reagan and Bush administrations, when he misled the public about a secret Department of Justice memo and helped cover up the Iran-Contra scandal.”
“But Barr’s long, detailed interview with Jan Crawford suggests the rot goes much deeper than a simple mania for untrammeled Executive power. Barr has drunk deep from the Fox News worldview of Trumpian paranoia.”
“It is hard to convey how far over the edge Barr has gone without reading the entire interview, which lasted an hour.”
Quote of the Day
“I am at the end of my career. Everyone dies and I am not, you know, I don’t believe in the Homeric idea that you know, immortality comes by, you know, having odes sung about you over the centuries, you know?”
— Attorney General William Barr, in a CBS News interview, on whether his reputation is being damaged working for President Trump.
Barr Says Mueller Could Have Made Decision
Attorney General William Barr told CBS News that he believes special counsel Robert Mueller could have reached a decision on whether President Trump obstructed justice during his investigation.
Said Barr: “I personally felt he could’ve reached a decision.”
U.S. Intelligence Partners Wary of Barr’s Russia Review
“Key allies who share intelligence with the United States could soon be dragged into the middle of Attorney General Bill Barr’s politically-charged Justice Department review of how the Russia investigation began,” CNN reports.
“President Trump has said he wants Barr to look into the role key intelligence partners, including the United Kingdom and Australia, played in the origins of Russia probe. He has said he could raise the issue with the British Prime Minister Theresa May during his state visit next week and suggested he may ask her about his accusation that Britain spied on his 2016 presidential campaign.”
Christie Says Mueller Clearly Contradicted Barr
Former Gov. Chris Christie (R) said that special counsel Robert Mueller contradicted Attorney General William Barr in comments earlier that morning, The Hill reports.
Said Christie: “Those comments by Bob Mueller about the other processes — obviously impeachment being the only constitutional way — definitely contradicts what the attorney general said when he summarized Mueller’s report and said he then had to draw the conclusion on that. Mueller clearly contradicts that today in a very concise way.”
Barr Explains His Probe of Russia Investigation
Attorney General William Barr told Fox News that he is trying to get to the bottom of whether or not “government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale” during the early stages of the Russia probe.
Said Barr: “I’ve been trying to get answers to the questions and I’ve found that a lot of the answers have been inadequate and some of the explanations I’ve gotten don’t hang together, in a sense I have more questions today than when I first started.”
He added: “People have to find out what the government was doing during that period. If we’re worried about foreign influence, for the very same reason we should be worried about whether government officials abuse their power and put their thumb on the scale.”
Barr was even stronger in a Wall Street Journal interview: “Government power was used to spy on American citizens. I can’t imagine any world where we wouldn’t take a look and make sure that was done properly.”
Barr to Pelosi: ‘Did You Bring Your Handcuffs?’
Attorney General William Barr joked with Speaker Nancy Pelosi about Democrats calling for his arrest, The Hill reports.
The exchange — which comes a week after the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Barr in contempt over subpoenas related to the Mueller report — took place as they were waiting for President Trump.
Said a bystander:
As those seated on the platform waited for the president’s arrival in an adjacent tent, Attorney General Barr approached Speaker Pelosi, shook her hand and said loudly, “Madam Speaker, did you bring your handcuffs?”
The Speaker, not missing a beat, smiled and indicated to the attorney general that the House sergeant-at-arms was present at the ceremony should an arrest be necessary. The attorney general chuckled and walked away.
Barr Still Controls Whether Mueller Can Testify
Associated Press: “While Mueller is a Justice Department employee, the department would generally handle requests for him to appear before Congress, and the Justice Department could delay or block Mueller from voluntarily appearing. Congress could issue a subpoena to compel him to appear before the committee. It isn’t clear what grounds the Justice Department would use to justify an attempt to block Mueller’s testimony.”
“As a private citizen, Mueller could decide whether to accept an invitation to appear or, if he declines, whether to attempt to resist any effort to subpoena him.”
Barr’s Performance Has Been Catastrophic
Benjamin Wittes: “It has been catastrophic. Not in my memory has a sitting attorney general more diminished the credibility of his department on any subject. It is a kind of trope of political opposition in every administration that the attorney general—whoever he or she is—is politicizing the Justice Department and acting as a defense lawyer for the president. In this case it is true.”
“Barr has consistently sought to spin his department’s work in a highly political fashion, and he has done so to cast the president’s conduct in the most favorable possible light. Trump serially complained that Jeff Sessions didn’t act to ‘protect’ him. Matthew Whitaker never had the stature or internal clout to do so effectively. In Barr, Trump has found his man.”
Playbook: “It’s bad for democracy to have an administration ignore the will of a co-equal branch of government. Barr opposes answering questions from a staff attorney, but — as Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York says — it cannot be up to the administration to decide how Congress conducts its business. This is all a mess.”
Pelosi Says Barr Lied to Congress
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Attorney General William Barr lied to Congress, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Said Pelosi: “What is deadly serious about it is the attorney general of the United States of America was not telling the truth to the Congress of the United States. That’s a crime. … He lied to Congress. And if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime. Nobody is above the law. Not the president of the United States, and not the attorney general.”
She added that President Trump’s statement that he will not honor any subpoenas from Congress is obstruction of justice.
Politico: “Pelosi also told her colleagues at the caucus meeting that she couldn’t sleep Wednesday night after watching Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.”