Today in Congress gonna be FIRE.
Bill Barr hates the reefers! The Attorney General is a hep cat, but he can't get down with your filthy jazz cigarettes. No, not even if they're legal and purveyors are just trying to make an honest living and pay their taxes like everyone else. Which is why he launched the DOJ's Antitrust Division on a holy fatwa to harass legal cannabis purveyors with pointless investigations. He also directed the Division to go after car companies and the state of California for the crime of offending Donald Trump with ungodly fuel efficiency standards. Because the GOP loves local control and deregulation — right up until they don't.
Justice Department whistleblower John Elias, former chief of the Antitrust Division, will testify to the House Judiciary Committee just about right now about Bill Barr's corruption of the Justice Department to suit his anti-pot prejudices and Trump's love of gas guzzlers. Elias will appear alongside Roger Stone prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, whose testimony is likely to get a lot more attention. We previewed it here. But while Barr's perversion of justice to help Donald Trump personally is shocking, his waste of government resources to hound small businesses is hair raising in a whole separate way. Truly, the cartoon villain squatting atop our nation's justice system doth contain multitudes!
It's not surprising that he did it, but it is surprising that a current DOJ employee is going to testify about it.
Roger Stone prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky will testify to the House Judiciary Committee at noon today, and it's a safe bet that the calls to impeach Attorney General Bill Barr will get a whole lot louder after that. Zelinsky, who was detailed to the Mueller investigation from the US Attorney's Office in Maryland, will explain exactly how Barr and his cronies ratfucked the Stone case to help Donald Trump.
Ready for some fireworks? Here's a couple grafs from the first page of Zelinsky's opening statement.
The first thing every AUSA learns is that we have an ethical and legal obligation to treat every defendant equally and fairly. No one is entitled to more or less because of who they are, who they know, or what they believe. In the United States of America, we do not prosecute people because of their politics.
And we don't cut them a break because of their politics either. In the many cases I have been privileged to work on in my career, I have never seen political influence play any role in prosecutorial decision making. With one exception: United States v. Roger Stone.
Light 'em up, dude!
Something has changed the past few weeks.
We don't know how to say this, but we think Attorney General Bill Barr might have bited off LI'L BIT more than he can chew.
Everything was going so great for Barr, he was doing so many fascisms and cover-ups for Donald Trump, and Trump really seemed to trust him to pretty much singlehandedly destroy America's concept of the rule of law with his grubby stinkpaws. With Barr's help, whatever assignments Vladimir Putin seems to have given Trump have seemed totally achievable!
Except for how things suddenly aren't going quite so well.
Rachel Maddow ticked off a bunch of Barr's recent failures yesterday evening, starting with when Barr tried to do a Friday Night Massacre this past weekend at the Southern District of New York (SDNY). Barr tried to remove Trump appointee Geoffrey Berman as US attorney — most likely to try to damage/thwart ongoing investigations into Trump associates like Rudy Giuliani, and maybe even Trump himself, and maybe as a favor for Trump's dictator pal in Turkey — and replace him with some pant-licker sycophant from New Jersey named "Craig." Unfortunately, Barr is such a fuckup that he completely lost the game of chicken with Berman, who, though he is still obviously fired, managed to make sure his successor would be his longtime deputy, Audrey Strauss, whom SDNY actually respects, until a permanent nominee is confirmed. Not the pant-licker from New Jersey named "Craig."
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, who continually battles with Barr for the employee-of-the-month parking space inside Trump's ass, responded to the Berman firing by saying he will respect home-state Democratic senators' right to "blue-slip," or veto, Trump's new Manhattan US attorney nomination, which is theoretically supposed to be current SEC chair Jay Clayton, except for how Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are like "Eat this bag of New York dicks, they're really weird and foldy like New York pizza, so you'll need a buncha napkins."
Now, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler has opened an investigation into the matter, and he is going to subpoena Barr for testimony. And when Barr receives that subpoena and uses it to wipe Trump's ass-skin off his lips before throwing it in the garbage? Appearing on Maddow last night, Nadler said he's totally prepared to DEFUND THE POLICE, by which we mean cut off the Justice Department's funding, if Barr refuses to appear.
Once again, democracy is saved by incompetence.
This weekend, in what looks like a blatant effort to kneecap investigations into Donald Trump and his cronies, Attorney General Bill Barr tried to Friday Night Massacre the Southern District of New York and install a crony in the office's top spot. Apparently, he thought no one would notice if he burned the Justice Department down in the dead of night. Whoopsie! But Bill Barr is as incompetent as he is corrupt — which is to say extremely — so he wound up botching the job, ensuring that a career civil servant will run SDNY for the foreseeable future. And once again, we have been saved from disaster because the Trump administration is stacked with fuckups.
We came in on Saturday to write it up for you (hello, money us!), but the short version is that Barr tried to fire Geoffrey Berman, the US Attorney for SDNY, by Friday News Dump. At 9:30 p.m., Barr announced Berman would be "stepping down" immediately; Craig Carpenito, US Attorney for New Jersey and Chris Christie's pal, would be stepping into the job; and Trump would be nominating SEC chair Jay Clayton, a lawyer with virtually no criminal or prosecutorial experience, to take Berman's place.
At 11:15, in a tweet that is still up on SDNY's Twitter page, Berman announced he hadn't stepped down, that Barr couldn't fire him, and that "our investigations will move forward without delay or interruption." Which sure as hell sounds like he's accusing Barr of trying to get him out of the way to delay and interrupt ongoing investigations, right?