Tag Archives: William Barr

Barr on the hunt for clue to ‘witch hunt’?

Here we go again. U.S. Attorney General William Barr — reportedly/allegedly/supposedly acting on his volition — has hired a federal prosecutor to determine whether an illegal “spy” operation triggered the Robert Mueller probe into alleged collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and Russians who attacked our electoral system.

Do you believe with all your heart and soul that the AG acted on his own? Or that he will keep his mitts off the probe being conducted by the U.S. attorney from Connecticut? Or that this investigation will put the “witch hunt” diatribe from the president to rest?

Barr has given John Durham the task of determining whether illegal “spying” occurred during the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign. Other senior officials, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, have said they have seen no evidence of any such monkey business. That’s not good enough for Barr, who happens to be Wray’s boss. He wants Durham to scour the evidence and make an independent determination.

This assignment bothers me for two reasons.

One is that Donald Trump is involved. Given that I don’t trust him as far as I can toss his 239-pound body, I consider the president to be wholly non-credible on anything, on any issue. I don’t believe a word that flies out of his mouth. He yammers about the Mueller probe being a “witch hunt,” although the AG himself has said he doesn’t believe that to be the case.

The other reason is that Barr also has been acting and sounding more like the president’s personal lawyer than the nation’s chief law enforcer. He filed that four-page “summary” of Mueller’s findings, only to be criticized by Mueller for failing to provide the full context of what Mueller and his team concluded.

So now he has turned John Durham loose to look for determine what others have concluded already, that the Obama administration didn’t “spy” on Trump’s campaign.

Let’s wait for what the prosecutor learns.  I fear another tempest may be brewing.

What does ‘contempt of Congress’ really mean?

I have to acknowledge that I do not have a clue what lawmakers are going to do to enforce a recommended contempt of Congress citation against Attorney General William Barr.

The House Judiciary Committee issued the recommendation this week; the full House will have to vote on it. What happens then?

A contempt of Congress citation doesn’t have the same legal impact as a contempt of court citation. If someone defies a judge or doesn’t show up to, say, testify in a court proceeding, there are legal remedies at the court’s disposal. The judge can issue a warrant for the arrest of that individual.

What can Congress do to enforce what is in effect a political argument? Does it have the authority to arrest the attorney general? Does it go to court to settle it once and for all?

My sense is that the House Judiciary Committee is setting the table for a monstrous political battle royale between the legislative and executive branches of government. Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler is stone-faced and grim as he discusses this matter. He accuses Barr — likely at Donald Trump’s insistence — of usurping Congress’s constitutional authority to conduct oversight of the executive branch.

Nadler is having none of that. But . . . what about his Republican colleagues? They appear ready to cede their own power to the chief executive, who is instructing his White House staff to ignore every single demand placed on them by Congress.

A contempt of Congress citation could turn into a battle for the soul of our government. Or, as it did in 2012 when congressional Republicans cited AG Eric Holder for contempt over the “fast and furious” gun-sale program, it could sputter and fizzle into oblivion.

My sense is that Jerrold Nadler — with the backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — is getting ready to rumble.

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!

Must-see TV on tap: Mueller negotiating a deal to talk

Now we might get to hear from The Big Man Himself.

Robert S. Mueller III reportedly is working out arrangements what will enable him to testify before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. Mueller? Oh, he’s just the special counsel whose work has been in all the papers.

He crafted a 448-page report after completing a 22-month investigation into whether Donald Trump’s campaign for president colluded with Russians who hacked into our electoral system.

Mueller didn’t find any conspiracy to collude. Oh, but he did leave the door wide open for Congress to look into whether the president obstructed justice in the hunt for the truth.

Attorney General William Barr spoke for hours this week to the Senate Judiciary Committee but then stiffed the House Judiciary panel by being a no-show. Let’s recall, too, that he disparaged a letter that Mueller wrote that complained about the four-page summary that Barr issued in advance of the full (albeit redacted) report.

So, what’s on tap?

I am guessing that we’re going to hear from Mueller himself why he reached the conclusions he reached. This is the stuff that Barr said he hadn’t even read prior to issuing his own summary of Mueller’s full report.

I also am guessing that the date and time of Mueller’s testimony, once it is released, will be etched on scratch paper, logged into cellphone calendars across the nation. I’ll bet real money that the TV ratings will be sky-high . . . which, of course, is something that always gets Donald Trump’s attention.

And I hardly can wait to hear Trump’s response to what Mueller will tell the nation.

I do hope the special counsel can work this out with the House Judiciary Committee. A nation is waiting with bated breath to get closer to the bottom of the mess that Donald Trump has created.

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.

What? Lawyers shouldn’t be allowed to ask AG key questions?

U.S. Attorney General William Barr will be a no-show Thursday at the House Judiciary Committee hearing.

The AG doesn’t want to be quizzed by committee staff lawyers, which is what Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler had planned for his testimony.

Hey, wait a second!

Let’s recall the confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. A woman had come forward and accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were both much younger. The Senate Judiciary Committee, which conducted the hearing, decided to punt on questioning the woman, Christine Ford, who testified before the panel.

Committee Republicans handed off the questioning of Ford to — are you ready for it? — staff lawyers!

So, what was good enough for an accuser testifying at that earlier hearing ought to be good enough for the attorney general. Isn’t that fair?

What’s more, Congress is entitled under Article I of the U.S. Constitution to set its own rules for the way it conducts its hearings. That decision doesn’t rest with those who testify before a congressional panel.

Thus, Attorney General William Barr is reaching way beyond his grasp in declaring he won’t appear before the House Judiciary Committee.

Barr squanders the benefit of the doubt

I’ll be honest. I was willing to give Attorney General William Barr the benefit of the doubt when he released the redacted report compiled by special counsel Robert Mueller into whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russians and/or obstructed justice in the search for the truth.

No longer.

Today’s hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee told me something I was reluctant to accept: that Barr is seeking to provide cover for Donald Trump and shield him from those in Congress who want to impeach the president of the United States of America.

I fear the worst may be unfolding before our eyes.

Barr’s dodge-ball game with Senate inquisitors today tells me that his harshest critics are correct. He cannot be an impartial referee in this ongoing investigation into whether Donald Trump — at the very least — attempted to obstruct efforts to derail Mueller’s exhaustive investigation.

This wasn’t a good day for William Barr, who I should add has declared that he will not appear Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee. The committee chairman, Jerrold Nadler, said he believes Barr is “afraid” to be questioned. He has accused Barr of attempting to “blackmail” the House panel.

I’ve said all this, however, while standing behind a desire to avoid impeaching the president until this congressional probe is completed.

Impeachment plays into Donald Trump’s strengths. He will use such an effort to rally his base. There remain some more traps to run before we to get to that drastic point. There damn sure needs to be some signal that Senate Republicans would be willing to convict the president in a trial should an impeachment resolution clear the House of Representatives.

However, the AG did not help his political benefactor — the president — with his lame obfuscations.

The drama continues.

No one stands up for Trump’s character?

I’ve been watching the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today with Attorney General William Barr and am left with an early takeaway.

It is this: Republican senators on the committee aren’t standing up for the president of the United States. They aren’t declaring that Donald Trump is of such upstanding moral character that he never would collude with a hostile foreign power to undermine our electoral process; that he is so mindful of the law that he would ensure that he avoid obstructing justice.

Senate Democrats, of course, are targeting the president and the AG. They are leveling serious allegations of obstruction of justice against the president and, by association, against the attorney general.

The “defense” from the GOP side of the aisle is aimed at the accusers’ credibility, their motives, their intentions.

No defense of the president has come forth.

Hey, I am just thinking out loud.

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?

AG walking dangerous line if he refuses to talk

I want to offer Attorney General William Barr a slice of unsolicited advice.

Do not, Mr. AG, follow through on your threat to be a no-show before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee later this week. If you do so, sir, you open the door a bit wider leading to a possible impeachment of the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

Barr is considering staying away from the House committee, which wants to question him regarding his handling of Robert Mueller’s report into alleged collusion and obstruction by Trump’s campaign in 2016.

The AG apparently doesn’t like what he senses will be a tough grilling by the panel, which is controlled by Democrats. There are some provisions being built in to questioning, forcing Barr to possibly stay away.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler says he’ll have a hearing anyway, with or without the attorney general.

Look, I don’t want the House to impeach the president at least until it has completed its own investigation into some of the questions that Mueller left unanswered when he released his findings.

The impeachment train might become a runaway vehicle, though, if Barr stonewalls the House.

Don’t do it, Mr. Attorney General. Sit before the panel and answer the questions to the best of your substantial ability.