Barr Cover-Up: Call It What It Is


https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2019/04/15/the-barr-cover-up-call-it-what-it-is#21396f1d3638April 18,2019

 

 

The more latitude AG Bill Barr has to redact, the more latitude he has to protect the president. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

The more latitude A-G Bill Barr has to redact, the more latitude he has to protect the president. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) ASSOCIATED PRESS

Enough already. No more benefit of the doubt.

Having observed this whole process all too carefully, I’m convinced Attorney General Bill Barr’s actions with respect to the Mueller Report are being guided by the following principles:

Take as long as possible, and use every legal means possible, to release as little damaging information as possible.

Translation: Protect the president as much as possible.

Interest in the American public actually seeing anything meaningful in the Mueller Report? As little as possible.

No matter that this pleasant avuncular fellow looks and talks more like a respectable attorney than a fixer. Don’t be fooled: The fix is in.

Consider his actions over the past three weeks. He’s put a chokehold on Mueller-related information. In his measured lawyerly tones he’s promised everything and delivered nothing.

Following are four reasons why I have no confidence there will be much of anything meaningful in his redacted version of the Mueller Report.

His original four-page summary. This was a carefully crafted and misleading document designed to shape public perceptions, and place the president in the most favorable possible light. This was all about management, devious though it may be: managing the message, and attempting to manage public opinion.

His decision to exonerate the president for obstruction. Barr arrogated a decision that should never have been his, given the enormity of the stakes, rather than let the examination of facts, discussion and decision go to Congress, as Mr. Mueller doubtless originally intended.

Stonewalling Congress. He’s persistently refused to let the full report go to Congressional leadership, despite their numerous requests for it.

Redacting more rather than less. Barr says he wants transparency but far more important than what he says is what he does. He’s spent weeks now completing the broadest possible universe of redactions, removing both grand-jury-related material as well as the especially unclear vague references to “peripheral third parties.”  The more latitude he has to redact, the more latitude he has to protect the president. The less the public will know what’s in the full report.

This is all part of a consistent pattern designed to minimize the release of damaging information.

One would hope that the highest law enforcement officer in the land would be more of an honest broker than a spin doctor, but clearly in these hyper-partisan times that’s too much to hope for.

As I’ve noted previously in this space, I’m a registered political Independent, not a Democrat, and no fan of Bill, Hillary and Obamacare. But I am a fan of transparency and finding out what actually happened in this investigation – and this is a strange way to conclude the most consequential political inquiry in decades.

As an interested citizen, and like many interested citizens, I’d like to know exactly what’s in the Mueller Report. Not have an ideologue masquerading as an impartial attorney general tell me what he wants me to know.

Call it what it is, this is Banana Republic stuff. Think about it: The president wanted an attorney general who would protect him. Barr “auditions” for the job with his now-famous 19-page memo. He then proceeds to become judge, jury and evidence keeper, while maintaining a respectable legal facade.

Despite this veneer of objectivity, I believe our attorney general is neither unbiased nor operating in good faith.

Unless someone involved in the investigation leaks the actual Mueller Report (an increasing possibility, given the byzantine way this is unfolding), Democrats should take the gloves off and use every legal means at their disposal to get the document in its entirety.

What other options are available? Welcome to tribalism, 2019 style. The Barr cover-up. Call it what it is.

[Update 2:15 p.m. 4/15/19: The Justice Department announced today they expect to release the redacted Mueller Report this Thursday. This is 25 days after Barr released his summary letter.] 

 

 

Nearly a quarter century of Fortune 500 management experience. Long interested as practitioner in the subject of management, both good and bad, effective and ineffective…

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19 thoughts on “Barr Cover-Up: Call It What It Is

  1. The reason Donald Trump did not fire Robert Mueller and kept him in the Russia probe because he was well advised by his lawyers that firing Mueller was an admission of guilt that would open to impeachment. He was advised that Mueller is only a Special Counsel, not an Independent Counsel with special prosecution power. Trump could fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replace him with a new attorney general who would whitewash Mueller report and not release the report to the Congress and the American public.

    The actual selection of the Independent Counsel or Special Prosecutor was made by a three-judge panel called the Special Division, selected from the Courts of Appeals. Since the expiration of the independent counsel statute in 1999, there has been no federal statutory law governing the appointment of a special counsel. Since the expiration of the independent counsel provisions in the Ethics in Government Act in 1999, the decision to appoint a special counsel rests with the attorney general or acting attorney general. The Special Counsel has no special prosecuting power. At the conclusion of the Special Counsel’s work, he or she shall provide the attorney general with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the special counsel. And the attorney general can do practically anything with the report.

    After firing Jeff Sessions and appointing Bill Barr as attorney general to protect him, Trump thought he was home free from the Mueller report. But the childish authoritarian did not expect the Mueller team of investigators would talk openly, that what Barr has disclosed to the Congress and the public are all whitewashed lies and not the actual findings of the Mueller report. Still trying to protect Trump, Barr was forced to announce during his press conference that Mueller found 10 “potential” instances of Trump obstruction of justice. Barr dismissed them all. The bombshell from the Mueller report is that Mueller did consult the Office of Legal Counsel about the possibility of indicting Trump for obstruction of justice. Barr said that was not taken into consideration.

    It turns out that surprise, surprise, William Barr lied when he cleared Trump of obstruction of justice. Mueller did look into indicting Trump, which is the first sign that special counsel’s office thought that they had enough evidence to pursue and indictment against the President Of The United States. If Mueller thought that Trump could be indicted, then it is fairly certain that there is enough evidence available to meet the threshold for obstruction of justice as an impeachable offense. Trump “total exoneration” just exploded.

    It turns out that Trump’s no collusion defense isn’t no collusion, but collusion that can’t be charged as a crime. The context that the Mueller report provides sheds light on what no collusion really means. The conduct that the Trump campaign engaged in didn’t rise to the level of a crime, but that is not the same thing as no collusion. Trump and his supporters want to pretend like the Trump campaign had nothing to do with Russia’s attack on US democracy, but if the campaign, or Roger Stone, helped Russia with the timing of the release of Clinton’s emails, it may not be a crime, but it would be an impeachable offense and damning evidence in the eyes of a majority of voters. No collusion isn’t accurate, and even Trump’s favorite mantra is in jeopardy of being shattered by reality.

    There is no doubt in my mind that there is a cover-up. The entire world just watched as the Attorney General of the United States participated in a blatant cover-up of obstruction of justice from the President of the United States. Instead of being the chief law enforcement officer of the US, Barr has become personal publicist of Donald Trump. Throughout this process, Barr’s top priority has been to protect Donald Trump at the expense of the rule of law. His behavior since his confirmation is well below the dignity of the office he currently holds and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is incapable of being the country’s chief law enforcement officer.

    In the press conference, Barr blew up when asked about spinning Mueller’s report to protect Trump. He refused to answer questions about protecting Trump and got angry when he was asked about spinning the Mueller report for the president. Barr didn’t answer the question about protecting the president, and the press conference ended shortly after that. The press conference was a spin job for Trump. Barr spent more time talking about no collusion, even though collusion isn’t a crime than he did discussing the obstruction of justice instances than Mueller found. The press conference wasn’t an effort to inform the public. William Barr was trying to spin the American people.

    It is going to get very interesting. After the Barr’s press conference, it is clear that Congress must see the full Mueller report and call on the Special Counsel to testify under oath before the House and Senate. In their joint statement, Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer unloaded on Attorney General William Barr for deliberately misleading the American people about the Mueller report. They are calling on Robert Mueller to immediately testify before Congress. House Democrats are suing to get the full Mueller report, but it will take weeks if not months, for the legal process to play out and the report to be turned over to Congress. The fastest way to get answers is to have Mueller testify under oath in public before Congress. There will be parts of Mueller’s testimony that will have to happen behind closed doors, but most of it can be done in public.

    The powerful chairs of all of the major House committees – House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, Committee on Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters, Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot L. Engel, and Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal – issued a joint statement blasting Trump’s lies and obstruction of justice. The House will investigate Trump for obstruction of justice, and they will get the full Mueller report, after a likely court battle. The process for laying out a sweeping case against Trump has taken a big step forward with the release of the redacted report. Trump and Barr engaged in a cover-up, but their time is running out, and the lies are being exposed.

    There are immediate calls for the impeachment of both Attorney General William Barr and Trump after the Mueller report exposed a cover-up to protect the president. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler said impeachment is possible as the House will investigate Trump for obstruction of justice.

    In my opinion, the problems with impeachment are that it is a slow process that might not be completed before the 2020 election, and even if the House does impeach Trump and Barr, they will never be convicted in the Senate. Republicans have shown for more than two years now that they will never take a stand against Trump. lt doesn’t matter how many crimes Trump commits, or that William Barr is openly lying. Senate Republicans will keep turning a blind eye to Trump’s crimes.

    I believe the only certain remedy for ridding the nation of a criminal president is at the ballot box next November. Unless Republicans have a change of heart and grow a spine, impeachment will go nowhere and accomplish nothing. The people who can fix this are voters who must be determined to get to the polls to hand out swift justice to Donald Trump.

    Even if Trump won in 2020, Democrats can still impeach Trump and Barr if they won the Senate. The Democrats from the liberal left have to learn to be patient. As it says in the Confucius Analects: 小不忍則亂大謀 (Lack of patience in small matters will bring destruction to overall big plans).

    For the time being Donald Trump is desperately looking for a way to deflect from the politically damning Mueller report on Thursday, he took to Twitter to – what else? – trash Barack Obama. He heaped blame on the Obama administration for Russian involvement in the 2016 election, claiming the former president “was told about it and did nothing!” Trump tweeted:

    “Anything the Russians did concerning the 2016 Election was done while Obama was President. He was told about it and did nothing! Most importantly, the vote was not affected.”

    Trump’s crackpot tweet comes hours after the redacted Mueller report laid out disturbing evidence showing that it was the Trump campaign who was welcoming and aware of Russian involvement in the election. Trump’s claim that Obama is responsible for Russian meddling comes at the very same time he and his attorney general are attacking the decisions made by the previous administration to investigate said Russian meddling.

    In fact, the Trump campaign released a statement again today attacking the Obama administration and the Department of Justice for looking into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 campaign, saying: “The Obama-era DOJ and FBI must answer for their misdeeds and the scam that they perpetrated against the American people.”

    So which is it? Was the Obama administration wrong to look into Russian meddling in the 2016 election – which, of course, involved the Trump campaign – or were they too weak in responding, as Trump is now claiming in his latest tantrum?

    Of course, Trump doesn’t care about the answer to either question. He is simply throwing the kitchen sink into the ether and hoping something sticks – all because he can’t figure out how to deflect from the damning findings laid out in Mueller’s report.

  2. It’s eye opening even to a long time US observer how high a standard US intelletual set for their appointed officials. For us and many others even in European countries such biases would be very much expected. There are parts of American system that is a cut above everyone else. We and others could learn and benefit to appreciate that especially given we have PAS who recently even told their supporters to not ask too many question really telling them to follow blindly.

    I do not understand why we are not more alarmed by Hadi’s PAS.

  3. Sorry to hear about your health situation. Take care, Sir.

    P.S. No need to post this message of mine.

  4. Bro:

    I’m very sorry to hear that you have a stroke. I’m not a religious man, but this is the time I pray to whatever gods maybe that you will have a speedy recovery. I sincerely hope the stroke has not seriously impaired your physical functions nor your speech.

    Whether yours is a ischemic stroke or hemorrhagic stroke, every stroke is different depending on the size, duration, and area of the brain that was affected. This means that everyone will recover differently, too.

    No matter you are doing the right side stroke recovery or the left side stroke recovery treatments right now, remember your brain heals by performing difficult tasks in a repetitious manner. You need patience, lots of patience. May be it’s time that you unload some of your work in the university and take it easy. Knowing that you have always been so independent and productive all your life, asking you to give up your work so suddenly is not easy.

    I wish I am around to help you out in some little tasks, like washing your car or mowing the lawn. I want you to know you are always in my thoughts.

  5. In conjunction with this blessed month of Ramadhan Al Mubarak, I pray to AlMighty ALLAH that He grants you speedy recovery and complete healing, In Shaa ALLAH.

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