Add one to the list of prosecutions of former Trump criminals that might have been killed/ignored/scuttled because that was Bill Barr's job as attorney general, to kill probes into Donald Trump's pals.

CNN is reporting that all the way back last year, the Justice Department had the evidence it needed to prosecute Trump's erstwhile BFF Tom Barrack, who chaired his inauguration committee, for allegedly acting as a foreign agent for the United Arab Emirates. (Or as Maddow noted last night, was allegedly more like a spy, or as the indictment puts it, in a quote from the Emiratis, their "secret weapon.") Indeed, as Wonkette wrote the other day, "What a difference an AG makes!"

CNN reports that according to its sources, the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) just "held off" on prosecuting Barrack. The prosecutors were ready to go. It was reportedly well in advance of the timeframe where DOJ historically likes to back off prosecutions that could be viewed as political, near election time. But the US attorney, Richard Donoghue, "expressed misgivings." CNN writes, "It's unclear if he delayed the case outright or if prosecutors chose not to move forward at the time knowing the US attorney would not support it."

So that's cool.


Were those misgivings because the evidence wasn't good enough, or because he knew the dumpy Roy Cohn drag impersonator at Main Justice would get his tail feathers in a wad? CNN's sources do not say. CNN notes, though, that Donoghue sure did get a promotion to a big sparkly new job at Main Justice in DC right after that!

Maddow asked an interesting question here, though. She pointed out that, far from how this is being characterized in the media as a "foreign lobbying" case, Barrack is alleged to have been truly acting at the direction of the government of the United Arab Emirates, just like Russian spy Maria Butina was acting at the direction of the Kremlin. Indeed, Maddow noted, they were charged under the same section of US law. So the question she asked was, in essence, what national security effect did it have if Trump's Department of Justice actively ignored the evidence it had that the president's BFF and inaugural chair was also literally actually acting at the direction of a foreign power? Is that a big deal? Seems like it might be a big deal.

So that's what we know about that right now.

Pulling back the camera lens, will we ever know how many people should have been prosecuted by Trump's Justice Department, but weren't, because Trump's sycophants felt it was more important to protect the president, who also was probably a foreign asset?

We know the Southern District of New York wanted to move on Rudy Giuliani last year, but Bill Barr killed that right good. We know five of Trump's cabinet members — FIVE! — were at times referred for possible prosecution, but the Trump DOJ was like nah. We know Trump's Ukraine crimes that led to his first impeachment — you remember, that thing where he tried to force Ukraine to help him steal the 2020 election but then wasn't able to do that because he got caught in the middle of the action — was referred to DOJ, but they were like "oh no that's fine, seems very legal and very cool."

And then of course we know about the prosecutions that did happen, only for Barr's DOJ to fuck them without lube at the last minute. Actual literal foreign agent Michael Flynn lying to the FBI about his secret dealings with the Russian government? Seems fine! Roger Stone guilty on all counts? But he's Donald Trump's buddy! Any sentence that includes consequences would be too harsh.

Who else? Will we ever see the full list? Probably would blow our fuckin' minds.

As to the new AG Merrick Garland, it still remains to be seen whether he'll ultimately be aggressive enough to actually make true accountability happen for the Trump years. But he has issued a new memo clarifying exactly how much contact the Justice Department is supposed to be having with the White House, and how much influence the White House should have on what DOJ is doing. In short: none, except for in very specific circumstances.

So that's good, we guess! Now lock them all up.

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Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the managing editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

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