Here's Your Monthly Reminder That Bill Barr Was Corrupt As Hell
BREAKING: Bill Barr is, was, and always will be a corrupt piece of shit. Must credit Wonkette!
Okay, not really. It's true that Barr is corrupt — that's hardly a secret. But the memo which the DC Circuit Court forced the Justice Department to release yesterday, after a years-long campaign to block disclosure, only proves what we've all known for four years now about jowly Roy Cohn. And as proof goes, it's pretty damning!
The document was drafted between Friday, March 22, 2019, when Bill Barr got a copy of the 448-page Mueller Report, and Sunday, March 24, when he sent a letter to Congress claiming that "The Special Counsel's decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime."
That, along with similar representations in Barr's infamous April 18 presser stating that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had not found any conduct for which a normal citizen could be charged, was a lie. In fact, the DOJ's policy is that a sitting president cannot be indicted, and the Mueller investigation took this as its premise. But the Report was very clearly a referral for impeachment, laying out for Congress several acts of attempted or actual obstruction, including pressuring FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation of Michael Flynn, firing Comey, and asking White House Counsel Don McGahn to falsely claim that Trump hadn't asked him to get rid of Mueller. Which is why Mueller sent that furious letter on March 27 accusing Barr of grossly mischaracterizing the finding of his report in his letter to Congress.
FFS, Trump bragged to the Russian ambassador, “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” That asshole wasn't subtle!
All of which was a big problem for Barr, who believed his number one job wasn't the impartial administration of justice but rather running interference for a wildly corrupt commander-in-chief. He sure as shit wasn't going to let Trump spend the next two years with the Sword of Damocles hanging over his head in the form of a detailed, multi-count impeachment referral. So Barr got his staff to spend the weekend dummying up a memo that said that even if Trump were a civilian, he could never be charged with a crime for any of the conduct described in the Mueller Report.
Now, let's be clear, there's no indication that the lawyers involved in this exercise ever really read the Mueller Report — after all, it's 448 pages, and they had about 48 hours to whip up that Get Out of Obstruction Jail Free card, as Marcy Wheeler points out. They had to defuse that bomb, and fast!
The result is something that sounds like it could have been drafted by The Simpsons' character Sideshow Bob, who famously complained to his lawyer, "I am presently incarcerated, imprisoned for a crime I did not even commit. 'Attempted murder,' now honestly, did they ever give anyone a Nobel prize for 'attempted chemistry'?"
The premises of this memo are 1) that you can't be charged with obstruction if the investigation you're seeking to obstruct doesn't result in criminal charges; and 2) that Trump's lackeys refused to carry out his obstructive orders, so his attempts to get them to obstruct the investigation don't count, i.e. Sideshow Bob shit:
Given that conclusion, the evidence does not establish a crime or criminal conspiracy involving the President toward which any obstruction or attempted obstruction by the President was directed. It would be rare for federal prosecutors to bring an obstruction prosecution that did not itself arise out of a proceeding related to a separate crime. Moreover, much of the President's potentially obstructive conduct amounted to attempts to modify the process under which the Special Counsel investigation progressed, rather than efforts to impair or intentionally alter evidence (documentary or testimonial) that would negatively impact the Special Counsel's ability to obtain and develop evidence.
In point of fact, the Mueller investigation did result in criminal charges being filed against Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Rick Gates. Of the four, Gates is the only one who fully "flipped" and the only one who faced the full repercussions of his crimes. Barr ratfucked the Flynn investigation to disappear Flynn's guilty plea, as well as making sure that Stone got a lighter sentence than prosecutors sought. Stone and Manafort got pardons, as did Bannon, who played a role in the investigated conduct and was facing charges related to his scam WALL charity when Trump left office.
But no obstruction, see, 'cause ...
We also do not believe that the President's actions regarding Michael Flynn present any case of obstruction of justice. The Special Counsel did not uncover any evidence that the President had any personal culpability in the Flynn investigation or that his actions were motivated by improper considerations. The President's expression of "hope" that Comey would let this go did not clearly direct a particular action in the Flynn investigation, and Comey did not react at the time as though he had received a direct order from the President.
Oh, come the fuck on, dude, Krusty the Klown would blush at this hacky shit.
In August of 2018, Trump, who frequently inveighed against "rats," tried to discredit his former advisor Michael Cohen, telling Fox's Ainsley Earhardt, "I have had many friends involved in this stuff. It’s called flipping, and it almost ought to be illegal.”
This was totes cool, according to Barr's lackeys, because "[t]he Report makes clear that the President equated a witness's decision to 'flip' with being induced by prosecutors to manufacture false evidence against others." LOL, WUT?
Fine, if these filthy sumbitches are going to make us do it, here's a longass quote from the Mueller Report as just one example of why this is ridiculous:
With regard to Flynn, the President sent private and public messages to Flynn encouraging him to stay strong and conveying that the President still cared about him before he began to cooperate with the government. When Flynn’s attorneys withdrew him from a joint defense agreement with the President, signaling that Flynn was potentially cooperating with the government, the President’s personal counsel initially reminded Flynn’s counsel of the President’s warm feelings towards Flynn and said “that still remains.” But when Flynn’s counsel reiterated that Flynn could no longer share information under a joint defense agreement, the President’s personal counsel stated that the decision would be interpreted as reflecting Flynn’s hostility towards the President. That sequence of events could have had the potential to affect Flynn’s decision to cooperate, as well as the extent of that cooperation. Because of privilege issues, however, we could not determine whether the President was personally involved in or knew about the specific message his counsel delivered to Flynn’s counsel.
Nevertheless, these goobers wrote that "[t]he President's public statements could be viewed as efforts to defend himself from public criticism related to the Special Counsel's investigation or to discourage the witnesses from making what the President believed might be false statements in exchange for a lesser sentence."
It's bullshit, and they knew it at the time, which is why they tried desperately to cover it up when CREW filed a FOIA lawsuit to kick it loose. So instead of handing over the memo, Barr claimed that it was "pre-decisional," i.e. drafted to help him decide whether or not to charge Trump, even going so far as to try and feed that line to US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. Which was a mistake, not least of all because it was easily disproven both by the timeline, which show it was completed after Barr had told Congress he wasn't charging Trump, and their own emails, which make it clear the memo was part of a PR strategy, not the legal decision-making process.
"Summary judgment may be granted on the basis of agency affidavits in FOIA cases, when ‘they are not called into question by contradictory evidence in the record or by evidence of agency bad faith.’ But here, we have both," she held in May of 2021. And this week, the DC Circuit agreed, writing, "[I]t is now apparent that the March 2019 memorandum recommended reaching a conclusion on the evidentiary viability of an obstruction-of-justice charge as a means of preempting a potential public reaction to the Mueller Report."
And that's how we finally got to see this document, all these years later, as yet another reminder what a corrupt SOB Bill Barr is. Like we could ever forget.
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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.