The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Dems One - Barr None

Rich Galen

Thursday May 2, 2019

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  • This week's Attorney General of the United States, William Pelham Barr, wore me out within about 10 minutes of his first exchange with the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

  • His parsing of questions reminded me of trying to talk to a teenager about whether or not he cut his afternoon classes last Tuesday.

  • Barr answered few questions from Democrats directly. As an example, California Senator Kamala Harris (of whom I am not a particular fan) asked this:
    "Has the President or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation into anyone?"

  • After hemming and hawing and asking that she repeat the question, Barr said this:
    "… I'm trying to grapple with the word 'suggest.'"

  • At another point the discussion turned to the letter Special Counsel Robert Mueller sent to Barr complaining about Barr's characterizations of Mueller's work product.

  • Mueller's letter said, in part:
    "The summary letter the [Justice] Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office's work and conclusions."

  • Barr tried to spin that letter by saying he felt Mueller was complaining about the press coverage of Barr's "summary letter."

  • When asked whether a career prosecutor like Mueller would write a detailed letter of complaint and leave out any mention of the press - the central thrust of Mueller's letter according to Barr, the AG ignored the thrust of the question and said he didn't consider Mueller to be a "career prosecutor."

  • Ok, little mister. Why don't you just go to your room and think about this for a while..

  • Before you bombard me with examples of Democratic AGs acting this way, I agree with you.

  • Others have.

  • Nixon's Attorney General, John Mitchell, went to jail because of Watergate.

  • John Kennedy appointed his brother as his AG.

  • Both Attorneys General under Barack Obama, Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch were accused of tilting the billiard table. Lynch famously held a private meeting with Bill Clinton in the closing days of the aboard a private airplane she. According to the director of the DoJ's Office of Public Affairs, Melanie Newman (via the Inspector General' report)"
    "Newman characterized Lynch as 'devastated' about the tarmac meeting. She stated: '[Lynch] doesn't take mistakes lightly, and she felt like she had made…an incredible…mistake in judgment by saying yes instead of no, that he could come on the plane."

  • Also according to the IG, it was Lynch who invited Clinton onto the airplane:
    "Lynch stated, '[L]ook it's a 100 degrees out there, come up and we'll talk about our grandkids.'"

  • On the other hand there have been examples of Attorneys General acting bravely in the face of a Presidential scowl

  • Elliott Richardson, AG under Nixon, refused to fire the special counsel investigating Watergate and resigned instead setting off what has been known ever since as the Saturday Night Massacre.

  • George W. Bush's AG, John Ashcroft, refused, as NPR put it, "to certify the legality of George W. Bush's domestic surveillance program."

  • For their part, the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee focused on whether the DoJ, the FBI, and the Boy Scouts of America were involved in an intricate plot to "spy" on the campaign of Donald Trump.

  • They also expressed a great interest in reopening the case of Hillary Clinton and her email server - her self-server - that she had set up in her house and on which passed and/or were kept classified documents.

  • As I've said many times, if Clinton had won the election of 2016 her Administration would have been, as I believe Trump's to be, a criminal enterprise.

  • Just different crimes.

  • The current Attorney General, William Barr, is not as bad as some AGs we've survived; is worse than many who have served in that office, and clearly sees his role as John Mitchell, not as Elliot Richardson.

  • America is stuck with Barr. The way for Democrats to pry him out of the Department of Justice is to beat Donald Trump in November 2020.

  • We'll see if they can do that.

  • In the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the bio of the Attorney General, to the video of Sen. Kamala Harris and Barr, and to the NY Times' editorial on the letter Mueller sent to Barr.

    The Mullfoto is a creepy shot of the newly installed Ring doorbell at night, in front of Mullings Central.

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