Brave Bill Barr Brags To The Atlantic About Doing Bare Minimum To Stop Trump Coup
Jonathan Karl at The Atlantic writes that “Donald Trump is a man consumed with grievance against people he believes have betrayed him, but few betrayals have enraged him more than what his attorney general did to him." You might immediately ask which attorney general? Trump hated both of his. He was incensed when Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, and he spent almost two years publicly humiliating Sessions before giving him the heave ho.
Bill Barr was Sessions's eventual replacement, and everything was going well until Barr refused to support Trump's jacklegged coup. Karl interviewed Barr at length this spring, and yes, this is Barr's obvious attempt to launder his reputation. We shouldn't forget that Barr is a racist wannabe fascist just because he's not as bad as Trump. No one's as bad as Trump, who is truly the worst person alive. We did assume Barr would prove a more willing accomplice when Trump tried to steal the election -- especially considering his willingness to apparently just make up shit about fraud from 'GIIIIIINA before the election -- so we admit that we were pleasantly surprised when Barr officially rejected Trump's claims of imaginary election fraud.
Don't go throwing Barr any parades, though. It took him weeks to finally speak out, even as Trump shredded democracy and fueled conspiracies that would eventually lead to a violent attack on the Capitol. GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tried for weeks to convince Barr to make a definitive statement, and when McConnell is urging you to do the right thing, your moral compass is no longer functioning.
Obviously, McConnell himself wouldn't confront Trump publicly and enabled his post-election tantrum because he thought it would help Republicans win the Georgia runoff elections that would determine control of the Senate.
"Look, we need the president in Georgia," McConnell told Barr, "and so we cannot be frontally attacking him right now. But you're in a better position to inject some reality into this situation. You are really the only one who can do it."
"I understand that," Barr said. "And I'm going to do it at the appropriate time."
Barr and McConnell both confirm this conversation took place, which is damning on multiple levels. McConnell urging specific action from Barr for purely political reasons is shady AF. However, having lived through the past few months, we all know McConnell's craven tactics failed completely. He deliberately avoided declaring Joe Biden president-elect, which Biden was, because he feared reality would “enrage" Trump, who'd then sabotage the Georgia Senate campaign. That happened anyway, even though McConnell waited to congratulate Biden until after the Electoral College voted on December 14. McConnell still provoked the Trump beast.
This is precisely why McConnell blocked a bipartisan investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack. He's once again putting his political interests ahead of the country he pretends to serve. After McConnell helped acquit Trump during his second annual impeachment trial, he stated on the Senate floor that the MAGA mob was “fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth – because he was angry he'd lost an election." True, but you stood by and watched this happen, Mitch. You helped create the environment that led to an attack on the nation's Capitol because you wanted to keep Kelly Loeffler a senator. That sounds awful when you say it loud.
On another call, McConnell again pleaded with Barr to come out and shoot down the talk of widespread fraud.
"Bill, I look around, and you are the only person who can do it," McConnell told him.
McConnell was the goddamn Senate majority leader. He could've stopped this insanity in its tracks. Senate and House Republicans just had to acknowledge Trump lost like the sad loser he is. We're sick of Republicans acting like they were struggling to say there are four lights, as if their lives rather than their political ambitions were at stake.
The week after the election, Barr “gave prosecutors the green light to investigate 'substantial allegations' of vote irregularities that 'could potentially impact the outcome' of the election," which overturned longstanding policy that the Department of Justice doesn't investigate voter fraud until after an election is certified. This is because the DOJ investigates crimes and doesn't involve itself in election disputes. Despite Trump's expressed wishes, the DOJ isn't his personal law firm.
Once again, the goal was to appease Trump. Barr knew President Lost Cause would confront him about his fantasy fraud allegations and Barr wanted to say he'd looked into them, as if facts and logic would convince Trump. Republicans keep acting as if they'd just met this asshole.
Barr looked into allegations that voting machines were somehow rigged to switch Trump votes to Biden votes, which Barr knew all along was "bullshit." He also investigated Trump's racist obsession with mysterious “ballot dumps" in Detroit, which his addled brain thought cost him Michigan. No, Trump lost the state because Biden whooped his ass in the suburbs, despite all his dog-whistled appeals to suburban white women during the campaign. Trump actually performed better in Detroit in 2020 than he had in 2016.
Karl describes the eventual confrontation between Barr and Trump, who reportedly had "the eyes and mannerism of a madman." (We know. We've seen him.)
"I think you've noticed I haven't been talking to you much," Trump said to him. "I've been leaving you alone."
Barr later told others that the comment was reminiscent of a line in the movie Dr. Strangelove, in which the main character, Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, says, "I do not avoid women, Mandrake, but I do deny them my essence." Trump, Barr thought, was saying that he had been denying him his essence.
Trump brought up Barr's AP interview where he stated there was no evidence of voter fraud. "How the fuck could you do this to me?" he whined. "Why did you say it?" Barr's response was succinct: “Because it's true." But Trump couldn't believe anyone close to him would ever tell the truth.
The president, livid, responded by referring to himself in the third person: "You must hate Trump. You must hate Trump."
Someone should've invoked the 25th Amendment at this point on President Brainworms. Instead, they just let him foam at the mouth with more unhinged conspiracy theories about the election. Barr was annoyed enough to just start reading Trump's crappy legal team for filth.
"You know, you only have five weeks, Mr. President, after an election to make legal challenges," Barr said. "This would have taken a crackerjack team with a really coherent and disciplined strategy. Instead, you have a clown show. No self-respecting lawyer is going anywhere near it. It's just a joke. That's why you are where you are."
Trump conceded that his lawyers were probably idiots, but he was still mad Barr hadn't indicted Hunter Biden's laptop or some goofy shit. Barr left the meeting unsure if he'd been fired, but the next day, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows begged Barr not to resign. Barr grudgingly agreed — he wouldn't “sandbag" the administration — but he soon came to regret this choice as Trump descended further into madness and willing let Sidney Powell into the White House.
When Barr finally quit in December, he wrote an obsequious resignation letter kissing Trump's seditious ass. Trump read the letter while Barr was present and said, “This is pretty good," because he's a stupid, pathetic man.
Trump released a statement Sunday, in response to Karl's article, declaring Barr a "RINO" (LOL!) and a "disappointment in every way." (That's only scratching the surface of the bugfuck in Trump's statement. Read the whole thing if you'd like.)
Once again, Trump hires only the best people, and they inevitably betray him.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."