Whistleblowers 'Bout To Burn Bill Barr's Sh*t DOWN, Y'all. A Liveblog!
Today is a DAY!
Attorney General Bill Barr may have won a pyrrhic and short-lived victory this morning, with a three-judge panel on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ordering Judge Emmet Sullivan to dismiss the charges against literal actual foreign agent batshit asshole Michael Flynn. (They got really lucky with the judges they drew, with Trump appointee and judicial embarrassment Neomi Rao writing the ruling. The dissent from Judge Robert Wilkins is blistering.) It will likely be heard en banc, and if you need more information, read Steve Vladeck's Twitter feed or be patient and let Wonkette's Liz lawsplain you it later.
Today, though, in just a few minutes, we will hear whistleblower testimony in the House Judiciary Committee from Aaron Zelinsky, one of the prosecutors on the Roger Stone case who withdrew when Bill Barr's DOJ cleaned out the DC US Attorney's office, installed lackeys, and then started pushing the prosecutors to go easy on Stone's sentencing, for the sole reason that Roger Stone is buddies with Donald Trump. Zelinsky, a current DOJ employee, is SPILLING TEA, and from the way his opening statement (which Liz covered HERE) reads, it sounds like he's going to name names. He specifically says that while he recognizes that certain privilege may have been asserted regarding his testimony, he, for example, knows that the "deliberative process privilege does not apply when testimony sheds light on government misconduct."
Which, for example, is what he's here to talk about today. As a whistleblower.
And then there's John Elias, another current DOJ employee, who is also blowing his whistle about Bill Barr's misconduct in areas that haven't made the news so much, such as his personal decision to shit on cannibis companies, because he doesn't like them, and to open investigations into car companies because Donald Trump mean-tweeted about them. (Liz covered all that HERE, and you really need to read it.)
Today's gonna be lit as shit, y'all. And it's all directed squarely at exposing Bill Barr for what he is.
We are here for the ride.
Full Committee Hearing on Oversight of the Department of Justice www.youtube.com
12:16: And we begin! Jerry Nadler starts the hearing with an opening statement, focusing on Bill Barr's botched ratfuck-firing of Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman, which you can catch up on here. Notes that this is not an isolated incident, and if it was, maybe that shitshow could be attributed to incompetence and miscommunication. Says in Barr's DOJ, president's buddies get reacharounds, and his enemies get singled out. (You know, like in Russia.)
Remember that the Judiciary Committee features the stupidest Republicans in all of Congress, led by Jim Jordan, so this is going to be absolutely clownish.
By the way, there are also going to be a couple of others testifying today, and the Republicans have called former Dubya AG Michael Mukasey.
Right now, you should read Liz's previews of today's testimonies if you haven't yet, to git ready.
12:23: NADLER: Weird that these Republicans who scream about "hoaxes" and "witch hunts" aren't concerned with the miscarriage of justice when it comes to people like George Floyd. It's almost like they're total frauds.
12:26: Jim Jordan says Barr's Department of Justice IS TOO about injustice, because did you even see that they won their case to get Michael Flynn's charges dropped? Isn't that INJUSTICE CONQUERED? (At least in Vladimir Putin's and Trump's eyes???)
12:28: Jordan is just wanking around his buzzwords about "DOSSIER" and "SPYING" and lying about an IG report he hopes you haven't read, because he's full of shit. You can go do something else for a few minutes if you want.
12:31: Jordan is very mad all the Obama people unmasked Michael Flynn's name, just because Michael Flynn was having all these improper foreign contacts with America's adversaries. How is that fair?
12:34: Some dumbfuck Republican is mad that witnesses are being allowed to testify by video, and Jerry Nadler has told him to eat balls with whipped cream. Louie Gohmert is whining "RULES DON'T MATTER!" and Doug Collins is doing his Foghorn Leghorn auctioneer yelling, and Jerry Nadler does not care.
12:38: Nobody told us John Elias was sexxxxy, did anybody tell you?
12:40: Also testifying is Donald Ayer, deputy attorney general for the George H.W. Bush administration. He is here to say Bill Barr is the most dangerous garbage ever to hold the job, because of how he is an authoritarian who believes in presidents who are kings. And he would know, because when did Barr last serve as AG?
12:43: Here is Ayer's opening statement, it is LIT. He is just going through a litany of Barr's abuses, and there are so many.
12:44: LOL Ayer just called Barr's media bullshit appearances "flamboyant." They are. And full of lies. Which Ayer said out loud a few seconds later.
Republicans are very mad because Ayer is going over his time and LOLOLOL Louie Gohmert is banging on his coffee cup or something. Republicans do not like this!
12:47: Y'all, we did not get a screengrab of Louie Gohmert banging shit on his desk, but it was INSANE. And now Doug Collins is BANJO STRUMMIN' for a parliamentary inquiry! Jerry Nadler ain't doin' the five-minute rules proper!
Told y'all this would be a total clownfuck.
12:50: Now we go to John Elias, on Bill Barr's REEFER MADNESS! Again, read Liz's preview, because you need to know.
12:55: Now some crap from Michael Mukasey. The Republicans invited him, so it'll be lies. Aaron Zelinsky will go after that, so truth time starts then.
1:01: Blah blah blah Mukasey licking Barr's ass and Louie Gohmert is tapping on his desk anyway, because Mukasey has gone over his time. It was a Democrat who spoke up to try to get Nadler to either force Gohmert to behave like a grown-up or fuckin' leave.
Anyway, ZELINSKY TIME. He is testifying via live video, which makes Republicans MAD.
1:06: Again, if you need to catch up on Zelinsky, who he is, and what he's saying about Bill Barr's politicization of the Roger Stone case for the benefit of Trump, and because Stone is Trump's friend, click here. The short version is that Bill Barr is the enemy of the American people.
1:08: And now we move to five minute rounds of questioning. Nadler begins.
NADLER: Was your sentencing recommendation for Stone normal?
NADLER: And when you were told to go easy on Stone, you were told that was because they were scared of Trump.
NADLER: And they threatened your job.
NADLER: And is it wrong and bad unethical and against Department policy to treat Roger Stone with kid gloves because he is Trump's pal?
1:11: NADLER: And Mr. Elias, did Bill Barr's bullshit investigations into car companies based on mean tweets from Trump, did that violate department policy and was it crap?
NADLER: Thank you.
Gonna be interesting to see what kind of crap questions Republicans ask.
1:15: Republican Steve Chabot does a Fox News monologue, and then asks Zelinsky WOULDN'T YOU AGREE MUELLER'S TEAM WAS BIASSSSSSSSS?
Zelinsky is like whatever.
1:18: Steve Chabot and Michael Mukasey agree that Mueller's team is a DEEP STATE and Bill Barr is a totally non-biased guy.
Zoe Lofgren takes over to ask real questions.
1:20: Lofgren wants to talk about Bill Barr's memo saying that any investigations into political candidates have to be greenlit by him, and isn't it fucking WEIRD AND INSANE that we are in that situation, considering everything we know and what these whistleblowers are saying?
Donald Ayer agrees.
1:24: Oh good, LOUIE GOHMERT. He is mad Donald Ayer mouthed something into the microphone at him when he was being obnoxious earlier. Ayer says no he didn't. Gohmert says YOU LIE!
Y'all this is literally Louie Gohmert today.
1:27: Louie Gohmert says thank you to his wife for being married to him for 42 years today, and says his wife is more fair than the Democrats in this room today.
1:28: Gohmert would ask Zelinsky questions, but he refuses because Zelinsky is on video, and he doesn't like that, so Gohmert will just yell stuff.
1:30: Gohmert closes by saying bless your heart, Mr. Elias, for coming in here today with your "complaints," and Elias got this look on his face like "OK that was fuckin' weird."
1:33: Guys, the House Democrats are boning this. There are so many things in Zelinsky's transcript that are just crying out for them to say "And right here you refer to a supervisor. Who was that?" GET HIM TO NAME NAMES.
1:48: HI! Our computer did a dumb thing, and we were gone! But here is what happened.
Doug Collins did his carnival redneck thing and established that John Elias once tried to get a job with DEMOCRAPS therefore he is obviously lying.
Steve Cohen is calling Michael Mukasey a fucking idiot, and Republicans are mad about it. The end.
Oh yeah, and Dems are still boning this.
1:51: One of the Republican hicks, Mike Johnson, takes over to whine that Zelinsky is only a half mile away, which means it is BAD that he is not here, and makes his testimony less credible, and therefore let's not talk about Zelinsky's whistleblower complaint.
Also Mike Johnson wants to talk about Christopher Steele, because that has nothing to do with Zelinsky.
1:54: JOHNSON: Bullshit questions about Mueller investigation.
ZELINSKY: I'm not cleared to talk about that.
JOHNSON: How conveeeeeeenient.
WONKETTE: Bill Barr runs the Justice Department. Is ... is Mike Johnson trying to say Bill Barr is doing a conspiracy against the Republicans, by not letting Zelinsky talk about that?
2:02: Oh good, it's time for Jim Jordan to yell, because the judge disagreed with the prosecutors! She thought the sentencing recommendations were bad!
Zelinsky is like "I don't agree with the premise of your question," because of how Jim Jordan is an idiot.
Jordan is just filibustering, because that's all he does.
2:04: Oh my god, Jim Jordan actually asked the question we want to know, who is the supervisor who said these Stone decisions were being made for political reasons. It wasn't a name that will ring your bells, but the fact that this is being asked in a barking way by Jim Jordan and not by a Democrat pushing Zelinsky to spill tea, what the fuck.
2:06: Jim Jordan says this is just as bad as the anonymous whistleblower who (was correct about everything and) didn't even have any firsthand knowledge!
2:08: Finally, Ted Deutch wants to have a real discussion, about Roger Stone's crimes, how he kept the Trump team in the loop on what Russia/WikiLeaks was going to do for the Trump campaign, how he intimidated a witness by saying "prepare to die!" and threatened the witness's dog, and so forth.
2:14: Republicans are just so excited that an unqualified moron Trump judge, Neomi Rao, did a political errand for Trump today by ordering the judge to dismiss the Flynn charges. Because that has the patina of legitimacy, you bet!
The rest of GOP Rep. Andy Biggs's questioning so far is meant to "prove" that Bill Barr is not Trump's fixer, Eric Holder is Obama's fixer!
2:18: Cedric Richmond: To Republicans whining that we're just here to "embarrass" Trump, if we wanted to do that we'd just play video of him saying maybe people should try to cure coronavirus by drinking bleach.
2:33: Tom McClintock is saying some bullshit, we don't care.
Here is the video you need to see from earlier, of Gohmert banging on his desk to annoy the witness, of Democrats asking that he either stop acting like a child or be removed, and then him start banging on his desk again. Stunning.
2:38: LOL, McClintock and Michael Mukasey are very worried that hearings like this will "taint" Bill Barr and his very real Durham investigation to attack the investigators in the Russia probe and absolve Russia of responsibility for making war on our electoral processes.
So. Much. Fucking. Gaslighting.
2:43: Matt Gaetz is here! But Nestor is not :(
Matt Gaetz says Roger Stone should be pardoned, and then when that happens, Democrats will look CRAZY.
Y'all, Matt Gaetz looks ROUGH. Maybe he just came from rough-housing with his very real son.
2:47: Hahahahahaha, Jim Jordan would like to talk about Joseph Mifsud, the guy who fed George Papadopoulos his first dirty Russian dirts about Russia helping Trump and hurting Hillary.
That is not what this hearing is about.
2:58: GOP Rep. Ben Cline, one of the weird bobblehead-looking ones, asked Zelinsky a bunch of questions about whether if Andrew Weissman, the Mueller prosecutor, once sent Sally Yates a nice email saying it was good she defied Trump, that means he can't do his job. Because Republicans believe if you aren't a Republican, you aren't qualified to work in the government.
And now Jim Jordan is reading Peter Strzok/Lisa Page texts, because that's relevant.
3:05: Garbage human being GOP Rep. Guy Reschenthaler thanks the witnesses for appearing, especially the ones who had the "decency" to do so in person.
3:15: Nice line of questioning from Ted Lieu, just restating facts, that Roger Stone got special treatment because he lives in Trump's butt.
Now we seem to be going to just Democrats, which means we are maybe near the end. Hooray!
Pramila Jayapal questioning.
3:25: Hahaha, Val Demings bringing up old statements from Michael Mukasey's confirmation hearing many years ago, where he said he didn't know the politics of the people he served with at SDNY, and that he shouldn't. Making him answer whether or not he stands by that.
DEMINGS: Do you think Donald Trump inteferes with sentences for his friends?
MUKASEY: DURR DURR DURR
DEMINGS: So that's a yes.
MUKASEY: It's a maybe.
Says Bill Barr is just really great though, love that guy, Bill Barr.
3:35: Hot fire from Donald Ayer about Trump's and Barr's "fantasies" about Obamagate, which he says even members of this committee "spew."
Debbie Lesko shows up from whatever porthole to hell she sleeps in, only to yield her time to Jim Jordan, so he can scream filibuster noises while wearing TJ Maxx gear.
One time we were in high school and our geometry teacher was a coach who didn't know shit about geometry. Dunno why we just thought of that, while watching Congressman Wrestling Coach.
OMG OUR GEOMETRY TEACHER WAS THE WRESTLING COACH, WE THINK.
But we don't think our geometry teacher knew about ongoing sexual attacks perpetrated by the team doc, so we feel bad bringing him up in the same sentence as "Jim Jordan."
3:53: JOE NEGUSE: Hey Michael Mukasey, you testified before this committee when you were AG, yeah?
NEGUSE: Know who won't? Bill Barr. Know who was the last AG to refuse to testify before this committee before Bill Barr?
NEGUSE: Also Bill Barr, last time he was AG.
He's always been a dumpy authoritarian shitheel.
3:57: Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell just gave Jim Jordan shit harder than Jerry Nadler EVER does, but first reminded everyone that their regulations are that everybody should be wearing masks. She noted that Jordan is specifically disrespectful to sit up there next to the chairman not wearing a mask, and that loser literally said "THE UNMASKING WE SHOULD BE CONCERNED ABOUT IS" blah blah blah Obama unmasking blah blah blah blah.
If Jim Jordan was your son, you would keep him a secret for years like a common Matt Gaetz.
4:08: We think this is almost over so we will go ahead and start wrapping up. The revelations we've gotten from these whistleblower testimonies are stunning, but the hearing was kind of a miserable dud, to be honest. Too much grandstanding, too much congressmen wanting to hear their own voices, not enough actually following and investigating. We don't know, but the facts we learned were discordant with the tone of the hearing we are watching.
That said, it's one hearing with one set of whistleblower revelations. There will be many more before this is all over.
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