What is going on with Attorney General William Barr? (1 Viewer)

superchuck500

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I didn't see the confirmation hearing but apparently it was surprisingly comforting - Barr:
- Vowed to protect the Mueller investigation (though he would not commit to how much of the report would be made public);
- Stated his belief that an attempt by the president or his staff to interfere with the investigation could be unconstitutional or criminal;
- Walked back his prior memo about the overreach of the investigation (by saying it was uninformed); and
- Declared that he personally told Trump that Mueller "was a straight shooter and should be dealt with as such";
- And testified that his intention was to apply the rule of law and protect the independence and reputation of the Justice Department.

Also in the hearing:
- Senator Graham stated he didn't think the Mueller investigation was a "witch hunt" and that Trump is "a one-page kind of guy" (suggesting he isn't one for details);
- Senator Grassley stated that he thought the Mueller report should be made public.

At a time when it seemed Trump was digging in on his positions and aligning a cabinet more favorable to his political positions rather than government operation, and after we saw him with an unconventional (and heavily biased) Acting AG in Matthew Whitaker, we have what can only be described a Mueller love-fest. And Barr, a man thought to have a positive reputation and integrity, testifies under oath to the Senate and on national television that he would simply not agree to any improper demand by Trump regarding the investigation. This isn't a vague affirmation with some wiggle room - this is a commitment to the American public by a man that supposedly honors his commitments.

What do we make of this - Barr seems an unusual choice for Trump at this point in his administration. He's very certainly going to be confirmed after this testimony. So what's up? I think there are three categories of possibilities, and I have no idea which is actually is.

1.) Trump doesn't actually intend to influence the Mueller investigation. Hey, it's possible that he at least knows that's dangerous business and doesn't actually intend to try it. He got Barr's name from insider/establishment-GOP advisors as someone that would sail through confirmation and Trump - despite his public posture and statements (which are more geared toward setting up condemnation of the report later if it is negative) - just wants a quality professional running DOJ. I dunno, it's possible.

2.) Trump somehow miscalculated. For whatever reason, possibly due to his own lack of attention to detail, Trump though Barr would be more deferential to the president, the chief executive's role over the Justice Department, etc. . . and maybe even Barr led him to believe that. But when it came down to it, Barr's personal views about the role of the AG with respect to criminality are strong and he just couldn't be deferential. If this is the case, Trump is fuming right now.

OR,
3). This was all part of the plan - Barr and Trump have an understanding that Trump is comfortable with and Barr's testimony was all aimed at giving the Senate republicans confidence that Trump isn't going to bring a firestorm onto the party by making a move on Mueller (but that other more subtle controls would be available). I think most cynics and extreme partisans would jump to this idea, perhaps even pointing out just how sappy the whole thing was (Barr kept referring to Mueller as "Bob" to underscore their friendship). It’s fishy for sure.

But I really don't know, Barr's responses were very concrete - if it came out that he had done something he testified to senators that he would not, that would certainly ruin his reputation and legacy as an honorable lawyer. I think that kind of thing matters to a guy like that.

Who knows, it's all very curious.

Regarding his “good friend” of three decades, Barr vowed unequivocally: “On my watch, Bob will be allowed to finish his work.” If ordered to fire Mueller without cause, he said, “I would not carry out that instruction.”

And what if Trump’s lawyers attempt to edit the Mueller report, as has been threatened? “That will not happen.” Barr warned that the president’s interference in cases involving himself and his associates could be unconstitutional or criminal. He even qualified his earlier memo criticizing parts of the Mueller investigation, saying, “I had no facts.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opin...b9dec761e73_story.html?utm_term=.44bd6fe53be4
 
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Charlie Brizzown

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The news bites I’ve been catching on this make it seem like it was a pretty good hearing for him.

Before I’m able to catch up on this, my initial hunch is it’s a trap. Let’s not forget how Trump constantly and publicly complained about Sessions.
 
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insidejob

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The thing that was disturbing to me was about listening to the ethics officials at DOJ on whether he should recuse himself vs. ethics officials guidance on releasing the report. On his recusal, he says he'd listen to them but ultimately make his own decision. On releasing the Mueller report, he says he'd follow their guidance 100%. Why in one instance and not in another? What's the point of even having a professional ethics department inside the DOJ if all they do is issue opinions that have zero weight.

Oh, and his saying that he doesn't even know what the emoluments clause is...Come on. That can't possibly be true.
 
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superchuck500

superchuck500

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The thing that was disturbing to me was about listening to the ethics officials at DOJ on whether he should recuse himself vs. ethics officials guidance on releasing the report. On his recusal, he says he'd listen to them but ultimately make his own decision. On releasing the Mueller report, he says he'd follow their guidance 100%. Why in one instance and not in another? What's the point of even having a professional ethics department inside the DOJ if all they do is issue opinions that have zero weight.

Oh, and his saying that he doesn't even know what the emoluments clause is...Come on. That can't possibly be true.
Probably because recusal without a true conflict of interest is discretionary and ultimately up to him. But whether something is protected from public release is subject to a legal regime - there is room for interpretation but it isn’t discretionary.
 
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He certainly qualified several of his answers. He pledged to do the right thing for any “legal” and “proper” investigations. We already know he thinks that at least part of the Mueller investigation is on shaky legal ground. Does that mean he would feel free to suppress at least parts of the report? I am suspicious of his motives.
 
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superchuck500

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He certainly qualified several of his answers. He pledged to do the right thing for any “legal” and “proper” investigations. We already know he thinks that at least part of the Mueller investigation is on shaky legal ground. Does that mean he would feel free to suppress at least parts of the report? I am suspicious of his motives.
It’s my understanding that he walked back those opinions about the investigation - testifying that he lacked information at that time.
 

insidejob

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It’s my understanding that he walked back those opinions about the investigation - testifying that he lacked information at that time.
I watched it as closely as I could while still getting work done and he did, in fact, walk that entire 18 page memo back, saying that he was only going by media reports, etc. - the same information that the general public had - and that if confirmed, he'd have an open mind to the findings of the investigation and would protect the investigation until its conclusion.

There was one answer he had about his conversations with Trump concerning the Mueller investigation that didn't quite sit right with me, but I can't recall off the top of my head as of now. I'm sure it'll be brought up again today to refresh my memory.
 

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He certainly qualified several of his answers. He pledged to do the right thing for any “legal” and “proper” investigations. We already know he thinks that at least part of the Mueller investigation is on shaky legal ground. Does that mean he would feel free to suppress at least parts of the report? I am suspicious of his motives.
I am suspicious of anything originating anywhere near the Trump White House.
 

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