Trump AG Nominee Bill Barr Should Have Kept His Big Mouth Shut About Obstruction Of Justice

HOW YOU LIVIN', BILL BARR? Still glad you sent that memo to the president's lawyers saying there's no obstruction unless the president actually suborns perjury? Still psyched for your fancy new DOJ job? Or are you maybe thinking you should have kept your fat mouth shut and not opined on a prosecution you didn't know anything about, because now you're totally boxed in between that rabid dog in the Oval and congressional Democrats who got you to own your shit on the record?

Let's rewind the tape to June 2018, when former Bush Attorney General Bill Barr sends an unsolicited memo to Rod Rosenstein and Donald Trump's lawyers expounding his theory of the case in the Mueller investigation. Because Barr is a good samaritan, see, not at all because he's trying to get the AG job for himself. Without knowing any details of the case, Bill Barr is certain that it was opened because Donald Trump fired James Comey, and for no other reason. (IT WASN'T.) And because the president has the right to fire the FBI director, he can't possibly be obstructing justice when he does it. Ipso facto ergo hence, the entire investigation is illegitimate. And PS, NO COLLUSION.

The President, as far as I know, is not being accused of engaging in any wrongful act of evidence impairment. Instead, Mueller is proposing an unprecedented expansion of obstruction law so as to reach facially-lawful actions taken by the President in exercising the discretion vested in him by the Constitution.

Those Bushies have such a raging hard on for their theory of the unitary executive as a President God King. Like they didn't preside over the wholesale destabilization of the Middle East based on an obvious lie about "weapons of mass destruction" and then fuck up the 9-11 prosecutions by torturing all the witnesses at black sites. But we digress.

Samaritan Barr was so sure of his uninformed conjecture about the Mueller predicate that he helpfully laid out examples of what REAL OBSTRUCTION would look like. Because obviously Donald Trump would never encourage a witness to lie like a common Clinton or Nixon, right?

Obviously, the President and any other official can commit obstruction in this classic sense of sabotaging a proceeding's truth-finding function. Thus, for example, if a President knowingly destroys or alters evidence, suborns perjury, or induces a witness to change testimony, or commits any act deliberately impairing the integrity or availability of evidence, then he, like anyone else, commits the crime of obstruction. Indeed, the acts of obstruction alleged against Presidents Nixon and Clinton in their respective impeachments were all such "bad acts" involving the impairment of evidence.

Which was a truly bizarre position to take last summer. How deep into the Fox noise bubble do you have to be to think in June of 2018 that it's simply inconceivable that Trump would have encouraged anyone to lie under oath? The man sent his lawyer to dangle pardons for Flynn and Manafort, who were then refusing to cooperate with the FBI investigation. He'd made up a cover story for Dipshit Jr. about the Trump Tower meeting involving BOUNCY RUSSIAN BABIES. He lied for a year about the Stormy Daniels payoff, even going so far as to sue her to keep her quiet. And yet, in Bill Barr's mind, it was UNPOSSIBLE that Donald Trump would encourage a witness to lie under oath. But the Uranium One thing, that was the real deal.

Bill Barr is a man of his principles, though. He believed last summer that it was impossible that Donald Trump would commit "real" obstruction, and doggone it he still believes it now. Michael Cohen has admitted in open court that he committed campaign finance fraud at the direction of the president, he's admitted to lying to Congress about the timing of the Trump Tower Moscow deal -- a lie repeated almost verbatim by Trump's son in his own testimony -- and still Barr gets cornered by Democrats, promising to LOCK HER UP anyone who suborns perjury.

Because when you prejudge the evidence, sight unseen, sometimes you wind up vouching to prosecute the guy who just nominated you to lead the Justice Department.

Remind us again, BuzzFeed:

President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.

Womp womp!

Not for nothing, but what are the odds that Don Jr. just happened to tell Congress the same story about the Trump Tower Moscow deal dying in 2014 or 2015 of "deal fatigue" that Michael Cohen did, when in fact it went on through summer of 2016 and the whole family was briefed on it to the minutest detail?

COUNSEL FOR SEN. FEINSTEIN: We've discussed the Agalarov family, Emin and his father Aras. Do you know if they were also exploring building a Trump Tower in Moscow?

DON JR.: We had looked at it earlier than that, but it sort of faded away I believe at the end of '14 .

COUNSEL: But not in 2015 or 2016?

DON JR.: Certainly not '16 . There was never a definitive end to it. It just died of deal fatigue .

No wonder DJ has been saying for months that he expects to get indicted any minute.

And while we're on the subject, wonder how Trump responded to this question posed by Robert Mueller in April, assuming Trump's real lawyers allowed him to answer it:

What communication did you have with Michael D. Cohen, Felix Sater and others, including foreign nationals, about Russian real estate developments during the campaign?

Because either he told the truth, contradicting the congressional testimony of his son and his lawyer, or he didn't. And lying on your take-home assignment from Robert Mueller is a crime. Some might even call it "real" obstruction of justice. Some being guys who are just about to be confirmed as Attorney General of the United States who stuck their flabby necks out and promised to prosecute presidents who tamper with witnesses and suborn perjury.

So get out those violins for the new AG, y'all. Enjoy the next two years of mean tweets and coordinated rightwing smears, Bill Barr, assuming Trump isn't so crazy as to pull your nomination right now. U R SO FUCKT.

[Barr Memo / BuzzFeed / Don Jr. Testimony / Lawfare / NYT]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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