Federal Judge Calls Bill Barr Liar He Is
Let's travel back in time, back in to the belly of the beast, to the days just after then-Attorney General Bill Barr was confirmed, and almost immediately afterward, when Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced — almost like he was being forced — that his work was done and his report was coming. Barr's first major act as AG was to hide that report up inside his bottom and tell the American people that the report had found NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION. He sent Congress a four-page mash note purporting to summarize (what he said were) the findings of the report.
The report didn't say NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION, and we know because we read all 448 pages of it. In its first half, it outlined one gabillion improper and weird and bad contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians, while also explaining that because of the limitations of his investigation, and because of the dishonesty of Trump witnesses, Mueller wasn't able to fully establish a criminal definition of conspiracy. The second half laid out multiple instances of what any sane person could identify as obstruction of justice, though Mueller himself declined to make an official assessment.
Barr didn't let the American people see the [redacted] report for weeks, not until he had firmly set the narrative that Donald Trump had been TOTALLY EXONERATED, which was pretty loud because Trump wouldn't stop screaming it. The damage was done. Robert Mueller was pissed. His investigators had prepared their report in such a way that it could have pretty much been handed directly to the American people. Barr didn't like that. His job was to do a cover-up for Trump.
It was obvious, and it was vile.
Yesterday, a federal judge issued a new ruling calling Barr the liar he is. (Or rather "disingenuous," which is a tiny bit more polite than "total fucking liar.") It's Judge Amy Berman Jackson, whose name you should know, as she was at the forefront of kicking Trump criminals like Roger Stone and Paul Manafort in the dick in real time during the Trump administration.
The ruling comes in response to a FOIA case brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) regarding among other things a March 24, 2019, Justice Department memo to Barr about his mash-note to Congress. She accuses Barr of previously lying to her (and to everyone else) about what went into his decision not to charge Trump with obstruction of justice. And she'd like the public to see that memo.
We'll let Michael Schmidt at the New York Times set this up:
A federal judge in Washington accused the Justice Department under Attorney General William P. Barr of misleading her and Congress about advice he had received from top department officials on whether President Donald J. Trump should have been charged with obstructing the Russia investigation and ordered that a related memo be released.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court in Washington said in a ruling late Monday that the Justice Department's obfuscation appeared to be part of a pattern in which top officials like Mr. Barr were untruthful to Congress and the public about the investigation.
The department had argued that the memo was exempt from public records laws because it consisted of private advice from lawyers whom Mr. Barr had relied on to make the call on prosecuting Mr. Trump. But Judge Jackson, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2011, ruled that the memo contained strategic advice, and that Mr. Barr and his aides already understood what his decision would be.
"The fact that he would not be prosecuted was a given," Judge Jackson wrote of Mr. Trump.
"Strategic advice." Not legal advice.
Barr promised to Jesus and America that only the best people at the Trump Justice Department had picked through the instances of obstruction Mueller laid out, and had found that President Crime Boss was actually President Crime-Free. The good judge has now seen that memo, she's got the receipts, and she is saying in no uncertain terms that the redacted sections, which Barr's DOJ has tried to keep hidden — for surely very important "deliberative process and attorney-client privilege" reasons! — clearly reveal that Barr had decided not to charge Trump from the outset, and that the memo was some after-the-fact bullshit to make it look like Barr had made a very serious and thoughtful legal decision in consultation with his best people.
From the ruling:
[The redacted sections] reveal that both the authors and the recipient of the memorandum had a shared understanding concerning whether prosecuting the President was a matter to be considered at all. In other words, the review of the document reveals that the Attorney General was not then engaged in making a decision about whether the President should be charged with obstruction of justice; the fact that he would not be prosecuted was a given.
She further notes that this memo was "written by the very same people at the very same time" as Barr's mash-note to Congress, which he sent after he surely spent a couple of days very carefully pretending to skim Mueller's report. Indeed, the judge writes that when Barr sent that crap to Congress, he'd "hardly had time to skim" Mueller's report.
Barr swore up and down to Congress that he had decided not to charge Trump with obstruction "in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other department lawyers." He claimed Mueller obviously wanted him to decide whether his crime-boss had done any crimes. (It was excessively clear Mueller wanted Congress to make that decision, which is why he laid out the evidence for them in such painstaking detail.) And Amy Berman Jackson's ruling reminds us that Mueller himself was so pissed that he sent Barr a letter saying Barr's BS summary "did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office's work and conclusions." Which is Mueller-ese for you motherfucker.
The judge is giving DOJ until May 17 to either
RELEASE TEH TRANSCARIPT! release the memo or tell a higher court why they shouldn't.
It'll be interesting to see what new Attorney General Merrick Garland does, but we wouldn't be too hopeful right now, if we were Bill Barr.
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