Tag Archives: DOJ

AG proving to be a major disappointment

Oh, how I wanted William Barr to be the right remedy for a Justice Department under siege from the president of the United States.

The attorney general took office after a contentious confirmation hearing. It is the AG’s second tour of duty at DOJ. He’s an experienced hand and reportedly a fine lawyer with a steel-trap legal mind.

He has been a disappointment to me. Yes, I am a fervent critic of the guy who nominated William Barr to lead the Justice Department. Donald Trump had savaged Barr’s predecessor as attorney general. Why? Because Jeff Sessions did the right thing by recusing himself from the Russia probe.

Barr stepped in and has — according to his critics — acted more like Trump’s lawyer than the nation’s top law enforcement official.

Now we hear from former FBI director James Comey, another damn good lawyer, who has weighed in with scorching criticism of Barr.

Comey said Barr is “echoing conspiracy theories” about the origins of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s exhaustive investigation into alleged collusion with the Russians. Barr, according to Comey, needs to present facts along with his assertions. “This is what Justice is about,” Comey said via Twitter.

Barr also has been critical of Mueller for declining to conclude whether Donald Trump obstructed justice. But … why? Mueller reiterated this week what he wrote in his lengthy report that he couldn’t indict Trump because of Justice Department policy that prohibits charging a president with a crime. So, he said his team couldn’t exonerate Trump, which to my way of thinking is the same thing as saying that the president committed a crime. That sounds as though Mueller drew a conclusion.

I truly wanted William Barr to step up, to steady the DOJ ship and guide the Justice Department into carrying its role as an impartial administrator of justice.

That doesn’t appear to be happening. Thus, the chaos continues in a federal agency that demands calm, firm and steady leadership.

POTUS can stop declaring ‘no obstruction’

Well, that was a remarkable non-event.

Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III called a brief press event today to tell the world a few things.

He is closing up his shop and going back to becoming a private citizen. Mueller said he will not talk to Congress, as he has said all he is going to say about the 22-month investigation into whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with the Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Oh, and he said that he did not clear the president of obstruction of justice, leaving the door wide open — still! — for Congress to do whatever it deems necessary to correct whatever ills it deems need correcting.

I want to join the millions of Americans who grateful for the work turned in by the former FBI director. He is, as one of Trump’s lawyers called him, “an American hero.” He is a patriot and a man of impeccable integrity and character.

As for his decision to forgo any congressional testimony, I have ruminated a bit about that and I accept his decision to call it good. The 448-page report he filed at the end of his probe ought to serve as the defining document of what he concluded.

Mueller and his team did not find sufficient evidence that Trump and his campaign conspired to collude with the Russians. He also said that despite evidence of obstruction of justice that he would follow Department of Justice policy and decline to indict a sitting president.

I accept those findings, too.

He also did not “exonerate” the president of obstruction of justice. Do I believe Donald Trump’s hysterical claims of “no collusion, no obstruction”? Or do I accept the more studied and serious analysis from Mueller that had there been grounds for exoneration he would have said so? I’ll go with Mueller. Trump, meanwhile, can yammer, stammer and blather all he wants about there being “no obstruction.”

Mueller has left it clear that the issue of obstruction now rests in the laps of 100 U.S. senators and 435 U.S. House members.

They have more work to do.

As for Mueller’s work, it’s over.

Thank you again, Mr. Special Counsel. You have performed a marvelous public service.

Barr has become a big disappointment … dang it!

William Barr came into office as U.S. attorney general bringing a glimmer of hope — even among some of the nation’s most vigorous foes of Donald Trump, the man who nominated him to be the AG.

I was one of those who had hope that Barr would be a grownup, that he would conduct himself with professional impartiality, taking seriously the oath to which he swore to be our attorney general, not be an a**-coverer for the president of the United States.

The AG has let me down.

Hard, man!

His testimony this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee was an exercise in obfuscation and evasion. Then he did something even worse: He refused to appear before the House Judiciary Committee and answer questions from that panel’s team of legal eagles.

I don’t know what I was thinking, now that I look back on what happened prior to Barr’s nomination.

Trump fired Jeff Sessions as AG because Sessions refused to act as a Trump sycophant; that’s why he recused himself from the Russia investigation. He couldn’t under Justice Department rules take part in an investigation into an activity in which he was a principal player. Sessions served on Trump’s campaign team, then on his transition team, which the DOJ was probing with regard to allegations of collusion and other potential misdeeds.

So he walked away, handed the matter over to his No. 2 at DOJ, Rod Rosenstein, who then appointed Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel. All of that enraged Trump, as we have since learned.

Now he has installed his “boy” at DOJ, William Barr.

Barr’s record as attorney general near the end of President George H.W. Bush’s term suggested to me that he would be the right man for the country, not necessarily for the president.

Silly me. It turns out he is the right man for Trump and he is wrong for the country.

I wanted to feel good about Barr. Sadly, he has let me down.

Dammit, anyway!

Let the power struggle commence … and play out

A power struggle between the legislative and the executive branches of the federal government is now in full swing.

I am going to side — no surprise here — with the legislative branch in its fight with the other guys.

Attorney General William Barr — quite likely with the full blessing of the president of the United States — has decided to be a no-show at today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing. The committee, controlled by Democrats, wants to know more about Barr’s receipt of the report filed in March by special counsel Robert Mueller III on the matter involving “collusion” and “obstruction of justice” with regard to the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russians.

Barr has the answers. He is not giving the House committee any of them.

The struggle involves whether the House controls the parameters of these hearings or whether the White House gets to choose which rules it will follow and which of them it will ignore.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler says the House is in charge. He says the White House cannot dictate how Congress does its job. He points out correctly that Article I of the U.S. Constitution lays out Congress’s exclusive power and declares that the legislative and executive branches are “co-equal,” meaning that neither branch is more powerful than the other.

Barr stayed away because he didn’t want to be quizzed by committee lawyers. Cry me a river, Mr. Attorney General.

The way I see it, that’s just too damn bad.

The House gets to call the shots here. Not the AG. Not the POTUS.

Barr’s appearance Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary panel raised many questions that House members want to flesh out, as if they didn’t have a full plate of questions already. One of those questions might be why Barr didn’t read the supporting evidence that Mueller provided in his full report before issuing his four-page summary of its findings.

We won’t hear from the AG, at least not yet. Nadler says he is considering whether to file a contempt of Congress citation against the attorney general.

He is allowed to do that, too. The Constitution gives the chairman that power.

The struggle is on.

Mueller breaks with his ‘friend’ Barr

It might be that William Barr and Robert Mueller aren’t as close as they once were thought to be.

The attorney general reportedly received a letter from the special counsel that challenges the AG’s public interpretation of the report that the special counsel filed regarding the conduct of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

What do you know about that?

I had thought initially that we needed to hear from Mueller about what he thought of Barr’s four-page summary of the report Mueller filed with the Justice Department. Now we have. His reaction is a doozy.

Mueller wrote Barr a letter that suggests that Barr’s summary injects “confusion” into what Mueller’s team concluded about Trump’s alleged “collusion” with Russians who attacked our electoral system. Mueller’s reaction came immediately after Barr released his summary of what he said was Mueller’s conclusion.

Mueller seems to suggest that Barr sought to give the president cover from what Mueller found out.

I won’t go so far as to suggest that Barr should be resign or be impeached, as some have said should happen. I mean, he did release a redacted report to the public and it has exposed a number of questions about what Mueller determined happened during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Politico reports that Mueller’s letter has revealed a “widening rift” between the men who have been friends for decades. Politico also reports that the letter suggests that Mueller’s team is “angry” over the way Barr characterized its findings about Trump’s behavior.

I kind of expected this reaction from Mueller once Barr’s summary was released. I am surprised it took so many weeks to make it known to the public.

Mueller wrote, in part, to his (possibly soon-to-be former) friend Barr: “This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

The nation needs some answers from the attorney general. He is supposed to testify Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee.

My sincere hope is that he shows up, takes the oath, and answers this question truthfully: Mr. Attorney General, did you write your summary intending to cover up for the president of the United States?

No. 2 at DOJ calls it quits

Rod Rosenstein had me. Then he lost me.

He submitted his resignation today from the U.S. Justice Department. Rosenstein’s last day will be May 11.

The deputy U.S. attorney general made what many millions of Americans thought was a stellar choice in naming Robert Mueller the special counsel in determining whether Donald Trump’s campaign “colluded” with Russians during the 2016 presidential election.

Rosenstein was called into action after then-AG Jeff Sessions recused himself from anything having to do with Russia.

So, he answered the call. He acted wisely.

But then . . .

Most recently it was revealed that he fought for his job near the end of Mueller’s exhaustive probe and told Trump that he — the president — was not a target of the special counsel.

Huh? What’s up with that? Deputy attorneys general aren’t supposed to spill the beans about ongoing investigations. Are they?

He had me at first. Then he lost me at the end.

Still, I want to give him high marks for selecting Mueller to do a thorough job looking into these terrible questions regarding the president’s campaign and its alleged relationship with Russians who dug up dirt on Hillary Clinton and sought to pass it on to the Trump political team.

Rosenstein’s conduct near the end of his time at DOJ doesn’t negate completely the good he accomplished by picking Mueller.

However, it does give me pause.

I trust that congressional investigators will have plenty to ask him once he clears out his desk at Justice.

AG releases a stunning report on POTUS

I am feeling the overwhelming need to give kudos to Attorney General William Barr.

Many Americans worried that when he said he would release a “redacted” version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Donald Trump’s campaign activities in 2016 regarding the Russian attack on our electoral system that he would try to shield the president.

There was some concern expressed, including by me, that Barr might be running too much interference for the president who appointed him to lead the Justice Department.

Based on the reaction to what Barr has released, I now believe many of those fears were misplaced.

Indeed, I’ve seen reports today about a “seething” Donald Trump who is taking aim at former White House counsel Don McGahn. Why? Because the Mueller report reveals that McGahn — as well as others within the administration — declined to follow Trump’s orders to fire Mueller while he was in the middle of his exhaustive investigation into alleged collusion with Russian hackers.

I am acutely aware that Barr could not possibly have redacted too much information from Mueller’s report without risking a serious reprisal from Mueller and his legal team. They know what is fair game and what should be kept secret.

Still, the public reaction, the media debate and the anger that Trump is exhibiting at what the nation and the world now know of his deception and dissembling lead me to believe Attorney General Barr has done what he pledged to do.

That he would be as transparent in the release of the Mueller findings as the law would allow him to be.

Wishing that AG Barr rises to occasion

You may choose to believe this . . . or you might choose to disbelieve it. I don’t care. I’ll offer this anyway.

I really want to believe that Attorney General William Barr takes seriously the oath to which he swore when he vowed to uphold the rule of law and to defend the U.S. Constitution.

My hope is being strained almost to the point of snapping.

The report from The New York Times from part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s legal team that Barr might have shaded the team’s work is most disturbing.

The Times reports that some of Mueller’s team have complained that Barr’s four-page summary of the 22-month investigation into whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russians doesn’t adequately express the team’s view of what it found. They are saying that Barr is soft-pedaling some of the more troubling aspects the conclusions drawn.

This does force me to join others in wondering whether Barr is more loyal to the president than he is to the law. The oath he took was not to pledge loyalty to Donald Trump. He put his hand on a Bible and swore in the name of God Almighty that he would be faithful to the law. Isn’t that what all our federal officials pledge?

My hope when the president nominated Barr to be AG after he fired Jeff Sessions only because Sessions did what was proper — which was to recuse himself from the Russia probe — was that Barr would emerge as a grownup, as a serious public servant.

I still want to believe that’s the case. He served as AG under a previous Republican president, George H.W. Bush. He is a known quantity. Barr possesses a first-rate legal mind.

Did he, though, “audition” for the AG’s job with that memo declaring that the president couldn’t be prosecuted for any crime because he is the president? 

I do not want to believe that.

The NY Times, though, has cast serious doubt on all of that with the report from members of Mueller’s team that the AG has, um, shaded their findings to protect the president.

Say it ain’t so, Bill. More than that, prove it ain’t so. Release the full report to the public.

No, Mr. POTUS: Mueller hasn’t ‘disappeared’

“Robert Mueller was a God-like figure to the Democrats, until he ruled No Collusion in the long awaited $30,000,000 Mueller Report. Now the Dems don’t even acknowledge his name, have become totally unhinged, and would like to through the whole process again. It won’t happen!”

OK, Mr. President. Let’s chill out for a moment.

This Twitter message you fired off this morning is, shall we say, another lie. But that’s not news, given that you lie whenever your lips move.

I lean toward the Democrats. I have been more than willing to mention Robert Mueller’s name whenever possible. I happen to think much more of him than I do of you.

I also have declared my intention to accept whatever findings Mueller would reach as it regarded allegations of collusion. He has ruled that you and your 2016 presidential campaign didn’t conspire to collude with Russians who attacked our election system.

But he surely has recognized that the Russkies did it. He joins your national security team — which you continue to disparage — in saying that Vladimir Putin’s government sought to influence the election outcome. Putin wanted you elected over Hillary Clinton. He got his wish.

As for Mueller, I must remind you that he made no conclusion about obstruction of justice. At least that is what Attorney General William Barr told us.

You also ought to avoid the “unhinged” talk, Mr. President. If anyone has spiraled out of control over the past couple of years, it’s you.

How about shutting your trap until we see the entire report that Mueller plopped on AG Barr’s lap?

I don’t know why I bother mentioning this to you, given that you have zero shame, zero self-awareness, zero character, zero redeeming qualities that commend you for the office you currently occupy.

I just can’t help myself.

Barr pores over a huge report and then summarizes it . . . so quickly?

Special counsel Robert Mueller handed Attorney General William Barr a 300-page report that chronicles a 22-month investigation into whether Donald Trump’s campaign “colluded” with Russian officials who invaded our electoral system.

Two days later, Barr produces a four-page summary of the report.

We know what Barr says about what Mueller reported. We do not yet grasp with our own eyes what Mueller has determined.

Is the AG corrupt? Is he hiding something? I do not subscribe to the first notion. The second one, well . . . is a debatable point.

That is why I want to join others in demanding that we see Robert Mueller’s report in full. A heavily redacted report with pages upon pages of text blacked out won’t suffice.

The attorney general is hearing from a lot of voices these days to release the report (more or less) in its entirety. National security secrets should be kept away from public view.

According to Barr, Mueller has determined that Trump’s campaign did not collude with Russian goons. He said Mueller drew no conclusion about the obstruction of justice matter.

Americans are left to wonder how Mueller reached those conclusions. Aren’t we entitled to see the evidence that Mueller gathered? Aren’t Americans entitled to see how our millions of dollars were spent?

National Public Radio reported Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reaction to Barr’s summary: “Mr. Attorney General, we do not need your interpretation,” Pelosi said Thursday. “Show us the report and we’ll come to our own conclusions.” She mocked the administration and Republicans as “scaredy-cats.”

I do not want to believe William Barr is doing the president’s bidding. The burden is on the attorney general to keep his promise to operate transparently. He said he would release the report in “weeks, not months.”

Let us see the full report, Mr. Attorney General. Let us decide for ourselves about the veracity of the special counsel’s findings.

Many of us have said we accept Mueller’s conclusion. I am one of them. However, my acceptance is wavering just a bit. The AG’s quick-hit summary isn’t enough to persuade me fully about what Robert Mueller has determined.