The best news Attorney General William Barr delivered Thursday morning is that Congressional leaders from both parties will see the almost-naked Mueller Report. Grand jury testimony will remain sealed because Barr refuses to seek its disclosure. He’s exercising his discretion and is acting within the scope of his authority.
Barr’s refusal lays the groundwork for House Democrats to try seek the grand jury testimony legally, which Barr no doubt would oppose on legal grounds. The process could take a year, which will allow Barr to run out the clock legally.
Barr’s recap of the Report falls squarely within the law. Barr and Rosenstein decided that there was as much evidence of Trump’s frustrations at being stymied after the inaugural as there was that he was trying to kibosh on the investigation. I don’t buy Trump’s defense but he has a right to assert it. Then it’s left to a jury, and juries are unpredictable.
Prosecutors get to decide which cases to prosecute. The U.S. Attorney doesn’t bring cases that are a toss-up, especially hot potatoes. In fact, judges run from those cases, too. They call them, “political questions,” and it’s the law.
We appoint a Special Prosecutor who works as free from political influence. Prosecutors don’t bet on trial outcomes because juries are just so unpredictable as possible . Even in a solid case, a defense verdict is always possible. Even if Trump we enough to see indicted, he might walk. If Mueller was undecided then it’s hard to tackle Barr for putting his finger on the scale. He is acting within the scope of his office. That’s the criminal law.
There was plenty of red meat for progressives in Barr’s press conference. Beyond any reasonable doubt, Barr is Trump’s boy. Pundits and Congress have good reason to see Barr as Trump’s fixer. He was Bush I’s operative in his first stint as Attorney General. Barr is a highly skilled lawyer. He knows how to find a matter’s seams; the loophole; the catch; the escape clause; the space; the slack; the soft underbelly. That is where he has discretion. That’s especially where lawyers lurk. Under the law, the only way to override Barr’s discretion is to show that he has abused it. It’s a high bar.
While I see the issues differently, I can’t attack Barr’s legal process. He has done what people demanded. He has invoked the rule of law. He has twisted it to fulfill his political view. Democrats are capable of the same sleight of hand. That’s good lawyering for you.
The obstruction case against Trump is over. It won’t be reopened. House Democrats aren’t bound by Barr’s decision. They might see impeachable offenses where the DOJ saw nothing to prosecute. The House will investigate as long as it have public support. It won’t impeach because it can’t convict in the Senate trial. But that’s Politics, and 2020 is no longer very far away.