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Opinion Opinions | It’s too late to save yourself now, Bill Barr

06:15  08 november  2019
06:15  08 november  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Justice Dept. trying to finish report on Russia probe before Thanksgiving

  Justice Dept. trying to finish report on Russia probe before Thanksgiving Attorney General William Barr is scheduled to meet with Sen. Lindsey Graham on Wednesday to discuss the report’s rollout.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

For Bill Barr, it’s too little, too late.

In my news colleagues’ latest scoop, The Post’s Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey and Carol Leonnig report that the attorney general declined to fulfill President Trump’s request that he publicly exonerate Trump’s “perfect” call with Ukraine’s president — following several actions recently in which “the Justice Department has sought some distance from the White House.”

Trump wanted Barr to hold news conference saying the president broke no laws in call with Ukrainian leader

  Trump wanted Barr to hold news conference saying the president broke no laws in call with Ukrainian leader The attorney general ultimately did not do so, and the president has mentioned that to associates in recent weeks.

Right. Like a barnacle seeks distance from a whale.

The distancing maneuver is plainly an attempt by those sympathetic to Barr to make him look a bit less like the president’s mob lawyer — done anonymously so that Trump wouldn’t rage at Barr but instead blame the “degenerate” Post, as he did Thursday. But Barr has sealed his fate. As Trump’s impeachment looms, Barr has degraded the office Elliot Richardson once dignified. Barr has turned the Justice Department into a shield for presidential misconduct and a sword wielded against political opponents.

Even as Barr’s latest distancing gambit debuted, he was due to huddle Wednesday with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Trump’s loyal defender, to decide how to release an inspector general’s report examining the FBI’s investigation into Russian 2016 interference and Trump’s campaign. Notably, the Justice Department inspector general himself, Michael Horowitz, was “not expected to attend,” The Post reported, leaving Barr and Graham free to decide what should be declassified to put Trump in the best possible light.

Trump pushes back on report that he wanted Barr to clear him on Ukraine in news conference: 'Totally untrue'

  Trump pushes back on report that he wanted Barr to clear him on Ukraine in news conference: 'Totally untrue' President Trump pushed back on a report that he asked Attorney General William Barr to hold a news conference clearing him of wrongdoing in the Ukraine controversy.President Trump early Thursday pushed back on a report that he asked Attorney General William Barr to hold a news conference clearing him of wrongdoing in the Ukraine controversy that sparked an impeachment inquiry, calling the article "totally untrue.

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Barr’s team aims to get that report out in the coming weeks, just in time for Barr’s holiday party at the Trump International Hotel, for which the attorney general is paying upward of $30,000 to the president’s business. Barr must have liked what he saw when he dined at the hotel earlier this year on a night when Trump was also there for a fundraiser.

If Barr does manipulate the inspector general’s report to Trump’s advantage, he’ll be reprising his mischaracterization of the Mueller report. Then, before releasing the report, he declared that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III had found “no collusion” (a phrase Mueller did not use), and he cleared Trump of obstruction of justice. It was such a betrayal that Mueller (whom Barr had claimed was his good friend) complained about Barr’s misleading summary. Asked about the objections, Barr, under oath, falsely told Congress he knew nothing about them.

Impeachment Inquiry Tests Ties Between Barr and Trump

  Impeachment Inquiry Tests Ties Between Barr and Trump While Mr. Barr exonerated the president in the spring at the end of the Russia investigation, he has been more reticent in the current matter. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); The reluctance hints at a new distance between the two men, according to people who have spoken with them. Mr. Trump, angry with his coverage, is aggravated with Mr. Barr for urging him to release a reconstructed transcript of the telephone call with Ukraine’s president at the center of the impeachment drive.

Since then, Barr testified to Congress that “I think spying did occur” in the Russia probe, echoing Trump’s claim and earning a public contradiction by FBI Director Christopher A. Wray.

Rewarding Trump loyalists’ demands, Barr appointed a prosecutor (in addition to the inspector general) to examine the Trump-Russia probe, which has mushroomed into a criminal investigation of the investigators. Among those leading the probe? Nora Dannehy, the special prosecutor who decided not to charge any members of the George W. Bush administration after the politically motivated firing of U.S. attorneys and subsequent lies about the actions.

Further indulging Trump’s “witch hunt” claims, Barr traveled to Italy in search of evidence that would discredit the Trump-Russia investigation, and he reportedly asked the president to enlist the Australian and British governments in the effort. Trump named Barr during his infamous call with the Ukrainian president seeking investigations of Democrats and Joe Biden, according to the White House’s partial reconstruction: “I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it.”

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The whistleblower got wind of this and said: “Attorney General Barr appears to be involved.” But the Justice Department — Barr’s Justice Department — declined to investigate, even though the CIA inspector general found the complaint “credible” and “urgent.” Barr, though named in the complaint, didn’t recuse himself, even as the Justice Department attempted to block the complaint from reaching Congress, as the law requires. Along the way, he embraced a White House legal strategy of defying subpoenas that has met with a string of defeats in the courts.

Now, as part of the “distancing” campaign, Barr’s Justice Department would have us believe the attorney general never discussed with Trump the prospective Ukraine probe into the Bidens, didn’t talk to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani about Ukraine and didn’t know anything about the White House withholding aid to Ukraine.

Why would anybody doubt the sincerity of such claims?

Maybe Barr is getting queasy, with two of Giuliani’s Ukraine associates under indictment and Giuliani being turned down by four lawyers before finding representation. Maybe he’s unnerved by what he’s reading in the daily drop of impeachment depositions; on Thursday, another high-ranking State Department official testified about Giuliani’s campaign being “full of lies.” Maybe he even felt a pang of conscience.

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It doesn’t matter. During his confirmation hearing in January, Barr vowed to “protect the independence and the reputation of the department.” Instead, he destroyed the former and squandered the latter. We may never know why he ruined his reputation to serve as Trump’s mob lawyer. But it’s far too late for rehabilitation.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Trump and Attorney General William Barr arrive to participate in a Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor presentation ceremony in the East Room at the White House on May 22.© Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post President Trump and Attorney General William Barr arrive to participate in a Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor presentation ceremony in the East Room at the White House on May 22. Interested in following Dana Milbank’s take on the impeachment inquiry? Sign up here to receive future installments by email.

Read more:

Eugene Robinson: Call Trump’s crime what it is: Bribery

Greg Sargent: More polling confirms it: Trump’s great shield in the impeachment wars is Fox News

Michael Gerson: Trump’s ethical anarchy makes us forget what honor looks like

Max Boot: The anatomy of a Republican smear

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