Robert Mueller wrapped up his Report on the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election within a few weeks after Attorney General William Barr took office. Mueller spent 2-1/2 years and $30 million in taxpayer money investigating the Russia-US connection. However, when the Report reached the Attorney General’s desk, Barr dropped his capacious, prosecutorial shorts and sat on it. Barr needed only two days to comb through the 448-page tome and reduce it to a four-page summary; one which did not do Justice to it, according to its author. After squashing the life out of the Report, Barr picked up gobs of it and threw them at his Senate interlocutors, much like a monkey might do. Barr trashed the Mueller Report but has not been able to destroy it. It remains a hot potato.
Robert Mueller may be ready to reveal some of its details. Then again, Barr’s Justice Department will impede Mueller as much as possible. [At the time of this writing, written, Trump has tweeted that Mueller should not testify] Barr will not overtly refuse to have Mueller testify. He will do whatever he can to limit the questioning. Meanwhile, Trump and Barr are trying to cast doubt on Mueller’s mental process and judgment.
Barr’s conduct as Attorney General has been overtly political. He has justified his lifelong reactionary bias with “masterful hairsplitting,” as Senator Sheldon Whitehouse described it. He has used his legal skills to dodge questions and avoid conventional legal processes. Barr will never recuse himself or resign. Because of Republican control of the Senate, impeachment will be only for show. The only remedy is political; a Recall in November 2019.
Politics has always been serious business. Status, money and power always draw the messianic and the megalomaniacal. Things didn’t get crazy. It’s just crazy suddenly got a whole lot crazier. When it comes to destroying the American way of life, well, there are good people on both sides.
Democracy in Chains
What Barr is doing goes beyond political gamesmanship. He his endorsing views that put constitutional balance and restraint at risk. That’s just the way Trump and Barr like it; at least while they are in power. Barr’s believes in his vision of America as fervently as anyone else. He believes it is important enough to through his professional reputation on the pile. He believes it is important enough to declare new legal postures that are preposterous. His newest formulation of the extent of executive power would place the president beyond checks and balances.
According to Barr, the president has the right to terminate an investigation into his conduct without committing an obstruction of justice when the president knows he’s done nothing wrong. And if the president is wrong? You’ll never know because the investigation has been crushed. That’s some catch, that Catch-22.
Unfettered executive power will sustain a minority party president when coupled with 1) defiance of congressional oversight and 2) a majority or a filibuster-wielding minority in the Senate. TheBarr Doctrine was crafted specifically to place the White House beyond the reach of the Congress. As for the courts, the administration is, like, bring it on! The administration will try to hold the ball through the campaign season. If it can’t and if the ruling goes against it, ti will try to fast-track a decision to the Supreme Court.
Christmas has come early for Donald Trump.