"Seeking liberty and truth above suppression and mendacity!""Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech," said Benjamin Franklin.Everyone has an opinion and the right to speak that opinion our forefathers granted us that right it's called the First Amendment.
William (Bill) Barr Is Trump's New Roy Cohn, Trump Flunky and Sycophant Page 2
William (Bill) Barr has become Donald J. Trump's new Roy Cohn. Bill Barr is a Trump flunky doing whatever Trump wants him to do to protect Donald J. Trump not the constitution or the American people. Bill Barr oath is to the constitution and America not to Donald J. Trump. Bill Barr job is to protect the constitution and America not to Donald J. Trump. Bill Barr is not doing his job by protecting Donald J. Trump instead constitution and America. Bill Barr has corrupted the DOJ and has violated his oath of office. William Barr is most the corrupt attorney general in the history of the United States of America. William Barr oath of office is to America not to Donald J. Trump, William Barr should go to jail for his crimes against America.
By Kevin Johnson, Kristine Phillips, Dennis Wagner USA TODAYWASHINGTON – With the end of the Russia investigation looming, William Barr went to Capitol Hill soon after taking office to assure anxious lawmakers he was fully engaged in “landing the plane” for the public rollout of Robert Mueller’s explosive 22-month inquiry. Barr’s ultimate intervention unleashed a political firestorm: He concluded in part that there was insufficient evidence to charge President Donald Trump with obstruction of justice. It was only the beginning. A year after his confirmation Feb. 14, 2019, Barr and his Justice Department have embraced the mantle of Trump’s defender-in-chief even if it risks sacrificing the department’s long-prized independence, former Justice officials and legal analysts said. His agency's decision to back away from a stiff prison sentence recommended for Trump confidant Roger Stone has brought fresh recriminations. Democrats have called for an investigation, and Barr has been summoned back to Capitol Hill to explain himself. From the White House, however, there was the requisite, warm acknowledgement from an appreciative president. Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought," Trump tweeted Wednesday, a day after four federal prosecutors assigned to Stone's case withdrew from the case in apparent protest. Indeed, Barr has stepped into the breach at virtually every opportunity to guide Trump to safe harbor and offer a muscular defense of the president's authority. The attorney general helped shield the president from the most damning of Mueller's findings. Barr's public summary of Mueller’s findings led the special counsel to complain that his report had been mischaracterized. Last spring, Barr startled lawmakers by declaring that federal authorities had spied on the president's campaign. Then he announced a new investigation into the origins of Mueller's inquiry. In August, the Justice Department delayed Congress from receiving a whistleblower's complaint about Trump's dealings with Ukraine. And in a stinging address in November before the Federalist Society, Barr endorsed a sweeping view of presidential authority and cast the myriad investigations that have shadowed his boss as "sabotage." Earlier this week, analysts said, the attorney general may have taken his most provocative step yet when top Justice Department officials backtracked on prosecutors' recommended sentence for Stone.
Last week Barr told ABC News, Trump's tweets make doing his job "impossible."By Luke BarrMore than 2,000 former Department of Justice officials are calling on Attorney General William Barr to resign, according to the group Protect Democracy. "Political interference in the conduct of a criminal prosecution is anathema to the Department's core mission and to its sacred obligation to ensure equal justice under the law," according to the group, which has been critical of the administration in the past. The nonpartisan, nonprofit group said that the attorney general has "flouted" that fundamental principal. The former DOJ officials said it is "outrageous" the way Barr interfered in the Roger Stone case. "Although there are times when political leadership appropriately weighs in on individual prosecutions, it is unheard of for the Department's top leaders to overrule line prosecutors, who are following established policies, in order to give preferential treatment to a close associate of the President, as Attorney General Barr did in the Stone case," they wrote.
With progressive district attorneys on the march, Attorney General William Barr delivered a blistering attack speech.By Allan SmithProgressive prosecutors, coming off one of the biggest years in their movement's short history, are looking to 2020 with hope of winning key district attorney offices around the nation and boosting their influence with an overhaul of the system from within. Attorney General William Barr is standing in their way. Tensions reached a peak last week after Barr eviscerated the movement in a speech before the Major County Sheriffs of America. He said the "self-styled 'social justice' reformers are refusing to enforce entire categories of law, including law against resisting police officers." "In so doing, these DAs are putting everyone in danger," Barr added, asserting that their "policies are pushing a number of America's cities back toward a more dangerous past." In a response signed by about 40 reform-minded prosecutors from around in the country, the progressives said they "spend every day trying to make our communities safer and healthier." "We hold our jobs because our communities put us in them after we promised a different and smarter approach to justice, one grounded in evidence-based policies that lift people up while prioritizing the cases that cause real harm," they wrote. "Sadly, we are perceived as a threat by some who are wedded to the status quo or, even worse, failed policies of past decades." They added: "This is the same attorney general who in the span of 24 hours attacked reform-minded, elected district attorneys for being soft on crime, while demanding his own federal prosecutors lighten the punishment for an ally of his boss. He touts the importance of the rule of law, yet undermines it in the same breath."
More than 1,100 former prosecutors and other DOJ officials call on Attorney General Bill Barr to resignBy Laura Jarrett, CNN(CNN) More than 1,110 former Justice Department officials who served in Republican as well as Democratic administrations posted a statement Sunday calling on Attorney General Bill Barr to resign. "Mr. Barr's actions in doing the President's personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words. Those actions, and the damage they have done to the Department of Justice's reputation for integrity and the rule of law, require Mr. Barr to resign. But because we have little expectation he will do so, it falls to the Department's career officials to take appropriate action to uphold their oaths of office and defend nonpartisan, apolitical justice," the officials wrote in a statement. The rare statement from the officials -- mostly former career prosecutors, but also some former political appointees -- came in the wake of an extraordinary week at the Justice Department. In just one week, career prosecutors withdrew from a case after Barr overruled their sentencing, the attorney general pushed back against the President in an unusual interview and separately ordered an examination of politically charged cases involving those close to President Donald Trump. The statement went on to say career attorneys should report any troubling actions they see to the department's Inspector General. CNN has reached out to the Justice Department for comment. Barr has so far not given any indication that he is considering stepping down from his current role. The upheaval at the Justice Department began when all four federal prosecutors who took the case against Roger Stone to trial withdrew from the case Tuesday afternoon after Barr overruled their sentencing recommendation hours after the President criticized it on Twitter.
By Chris StrohmAttorney General William Barr threw his Justice Department into turmoil this week as he seized control of cases tied to Donald Trump, risking a rebellion within the ranks, and publicly criticized the president amid accusations both men have politicized America’s top law enforcement agency. In the span of five days, Barr revealed that he’s established a private channel for Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to relay his allegations on Ukraine and ordered prosecutors to reduce their sentencing recommendation for Trump associate Roger Stone. News also surfaced that Barr has moved to review the prosecution of Michael Flynn, the president’s first national security adviser. At week’s end, the Justice Department’s reputation for independence was under siege in a way it hadn’t seen since Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. Barr had managed to take steps that seemed likely to anger everyone from Trump to Democrats and Justice Department career prosecutors. “The history of the department, when it’s written, will have two parts -- before Trump and after Trump,” said Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor. “This is the hinge.” After the beleaguered tenure of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Barr will have the biggest hand in shaping that history. Having helped Trump navigate through a special counsel probe of Russian election interference and an impeachment crisis, Barr now faces the biggest test of his leadership since taking over one year ago. Critics, including former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who was fired by Trump weeks into his presidency, said the department’s reputation for independence built on the ashes of the Watergate scandal in the 1970s was being demolished.
Washington Post: Feds advanced Giuliani investigation as impeachment wrapped and DOJ reviewed his Ukraine tipsBy Caroline Kelly, CNN(CNN) Federal prosecutors in New York have advanced their investigation into President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, pursuing more documents and witness testimonies while the Justice Department simultaneously accepts information from the former New York mayor on Ukraine, according to The Washington Post. Citing people familiar with prosecutors' activities, the paper reported Friday that the department has been looking into Giuliani's business dealings as well as those of his indicted associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman throughout the final steps of Trump's Senate impeachment trial earlier this month, including witness interviews as recently as last week. Attorney General William Barr on Monday confirmed that the Justice Department has been receiving information from Giuliani on Ukraine, saying the department has an "obligation to have an open door to anybody who wishes to provide us information that they think is relevant." He added there's skepticism about anything coming from Ukraine, which has prompted the department to establish an "intake process in the field" so the department and intelligence community can scrutinize Ukraine information. The Ukraine allegations that Giuliani is providing to the Justice Department are being vetted by investigators in the US Attorney's Office in Pittsburgh, two US law enforcement officials told CNN on Tuesday. The officials told CNN that the Pittsburgh office has expertise on Russia and its cyber operations, including the 2016 disinformation campaign the Russians carried out. Meanwhile, prosecutors in the investigation into Giuliani have pursued details on Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine who Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman conspired to have removed, a person familiar with the request told the Post. A source familiar with the matter confirmed that Yovanovitch's name has appeared on a recent subpoena from Southern District of New York prosecutors that inquires about Giuliani and Parnas. Over the last few weeks, they have also looked into Giuliani in relation to his consulting firm Giuliani Partners, the paper reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. People familiar with the matter told the Post that Barr had been informed of the New York investigation into Giuliani's associates not long after becoming attorney general last year -- though whether or how much he is involved remains unconfirmed.
Amid turmoil in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, the attorney general has also sent outside prosecutors to review other politically sensitive cases.By Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman and Matt ApuzzoWASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr has assigned an outside prosecutor to scrutinize the criminal case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, according to people familiar with the matter. The review is highly unusual and could trigger more accusations of political interference by top Justice Department officials into the work of career prosecutors. Mr. Barr has also installed a handful of outside prosecutors to broadly review the handling of other politically sensitive national-security cases in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, the people said. The team includes at least one prosecutor from the office of the United States attorney in St. Louis, Jeff Jensen, who is handling the Flynn matter, as well as prosecutors from the office of the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen. Over the past two weeks, the outside prosecutors have begun grilling line prosecutors in the Washington office about various cases — some public, some not — including investigative steps, prosecutorial actions and why they took them, according to the people. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive internal deliberations. The Justice Department declined to comment. The intervention has contributed a turbulent period for the prosecutors’ office that oversees the seat of the federal government and some of the most politically sensitive investigations and cases — some involving President Trump’s friends and allies, and some his critics and adversaries. This week, four line prosecutors quit the case against Roger Stone Jr., Mr. Trump’s close adviser, after Mr. Barr overruled their recommendation that a judge sentence him within sentencing guidelines. Mr. Barr’s intervention was preceded by criticism of the original sentencing recommendation by Mr. Trump and praised by him afterward, and Mr. Barr on Thursday publicly asked Mr. Trump to stop commenting about the Justice Department.
Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNNWashington (CNN)William Barr's sharp public rebuke of Donald Trump's legal meddling was an astonishingly rare show of dissent from a top Cabinet chieftain -- but the attorney general's record as the President's protector suggests there may be more to the latest Washington mystery than first meets the eye. Barr's blunt warning that Trump's constant Twitter commentary makes it impossible to do his job broke like a thunderclap Thursday afternoon. It set off a deluge of speculation about his motives and potential reprisals from a President who brooks no disloyalty. On the face of it, Barr's comments in an ABC News interview look like a daring assertion of independence amid the storm over Trump's intervention in the sentencing process for his political trickster Roger Stone. If that was the case, Barr took a significant risk in his interview: Top officials who rebuke the President -- such as ex-Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- face a painful glide path to the sack. Most Cabinet officials -- such as former chief of staff John Kelly, who is currently on an anti-Trump tear -- wait until they are back in private life to speak up. And if Barr says he can't do his job while Trump tweets, there will be questions about how long can he stay in office, since the President is not going to suddenly quit his favorite method of stirring up his supporters. Barr's true motives may take days to become clear. His inscrutable style and record of watching Trump's back also have many observers suggesting ulterior political motives, a desire to slake some of the pressure bearing down on his department or an effort to at least restore the impression of the Justice Department's independence without severing ties with Trump. Perhaps Barr was acting to protect his own reputation, amid furious criticism of his conduct as the President's shield. Or was he trying to head off a mutiny in his department? CNN reported on Wednesday that more prosecutors were considering walking out on the Justice Department amid fears for its independence after four lawyers had already quit the Stone case. In the days ahead it may emerge that Barr gave the White House a heads-up about his move. A coordinated damage-control mission would not be impossible, since more than anyone in the administration, Barr may have leeway to buy some political capital, after basking in Trump's praise for a string of decisions that appeared to protect the President. But even if Barr remains in good favor, it's unclear how the President will react. Often Trump stews after the fact about media coverage of his dramas for days. The tenure of Cabinet officials can be short and brutal. If Trump does eventually lash out at Barr, it wouldn't be the first time a favorite has blotted his copybook and undermined an apparently impregnable position after falling out with an often-impossible boss who resists any constraints on his conduct and often seems to sabotage his own political interests.
By David Shortell, CNN(CNN) Attorney General William Barr on Thursday rebuked President Donald Trump for publicly commenting on sensitive investigations but insisted the Justice Department had acted appropriately after an extraordinary falling out with career prosecutors who had handled the case of Roger Stone earlier this week. In an interview with ABC News, Barr provided a robust defense of the department's rank-and-file and said Trump's online missives made it "impossible" to do his job. "I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me," Barr said. "To have public statements and tweets made about the department, about people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we're doing our work with integrity," he said. The criticism was a notable zag for Barr after days of mounting scrutiny over his role in the fraught decision to publicly disavow prosecutors who had sought a stiff punishment for Stone, a longtime friend of Trump. The President had tweeted congratulations Barr for the move, provoking outcry from Democrats who demanded an investigation. The four career attorneys who had worked on the Stone case and signed off on the original sentencing memorandum each withdrew from the case on Tuesday in an apparent protest. In the interview Thursday, Barr explained the discrepancy at the heart of the public spat this week over the Stone sentencing and blamed a late night tweet from the President for creating the environment that evoked outrage from the left. Barr pinned the mix-up on a miscommunication between him and the interim head of the DC US attorney's office, Tim Shea, who had been a close aide of Barr's until earlier this month. Barr said that Shea spoke briefly with him in person on Monday and had explained that the prosecutors handling the case had wanted to pursue the elevated sentence of seven to nine years, "but he thought that there was a way of satisfying everybody and providing more flexibility."
By Virginia HeffernanAny bloodshed this week during the so-called Tuesday Afternoon Massacre at the Justice Department was, of course, metaphorical. But the casualties were real. And while President Trump and his redhats like to cry “coup” and “treason,” and recklessly threaten Civil War II, the bigfoot move by Atty. Gen. William P. Barr’s Department of Justice, on behalf of Roger Stone, may have done more damage to the republic than all the war whoops combined. Barr’s fixer factory, an obstruction-of-justice department, can no longer be counted on as any sort of brake against the president’s rapacity and gangsterism. The Tuesday Afternoon Massacre extinguished more lights in our already benighted nation. In November, a federal court jury found Stone guilty of witness tampering, lying to government officials under oath and obstructing a congressional investigation into the Trump-Russia affair. This week, the scrupulously nonpartisan prosecutors who handled the case offered well-reasoned sentencing recommendations: seven to nine years in prison for Stone. They justified the recommendation with chapter and verse: Stone threatened physical harm to a witness, comedian Randy Credico, and he kept at his dirty tricks even after he was indicted. The president was not happy. Stone was a Trump crony who’d been acting both to advance Trump’s 2016 campaign and to keep Congress from investigating Russian campaign meddling. The president tweeted that the prospect of substantial prison time for Stone was “horrible and very unfair.” Never mind that Stone was convicted of serious crimes. The pathetic Twitter hazing might be expected from Trump, but no one imagined that the prosecutors’ recommendations would be flat-out contradicted from the top. Nonetheless, a day after the sentencing recommendations were filed, the judge in the case got a revised sentencing memo on Department of Justice letterhead. This one suggested she give Stone “far less” time than the prosecution team had asked for. Officials at the White House and the Justice Department said — as usual — that there was no collusion. But it sure looked like Trump’s disapproval of Stone’s recommended sentence was enough to inspire a DOJ in his thrall to jump in and protect Stone. The four career prosecutors immediately removed themselves from the case. One went so far as to quit the Justice Department itself. Later on Tuesday, Jessie Liu, who had headed the Washington office that oversaw the Stone case, was pulled from consideration for the head job at the Treasury Department. She resigned Wednesday morning. On Thursday, the president accused the Stone jury forewoman of “significant bias,” as former federal prosecutors howled about jury intimidation.
By David Shortell, Evan Perez and Katelyn Polantz, CNNWashington (CNN) Attorney General William Barr and his lieutenants have increasingly exerted authority in politically sensitive investigations at the Justice Department, fraying relationships with prosecutors at the powerful US attorney's office in Washington, DC, and leading to an unprecedented walkout of the career attorneys handling the Roger Stone case. People familiar with the situation at the DC US attorney's office said other prosecutors have discussed resigning in the coming days following the Justice Department leadership's decision to disavow and claw back a sentencing recommendation that prosecutors had made in the case of Stone, a longtime friend of President Donald Trump. Barr, who has a reputation in the department as a micromanager, has played a role in other high-profile cases that are of particular interest to Trump, including in the final stages of the prosecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Barr's role in the Stone debacle this week has elevated perennial allegations of political tampering at the Justice Department, and drew immediate calls from Democrats for an investigation. It has also raised concerns about possible interference in other politically charged cases such as one in New York's southern district where prosecutors are investigating Rudy Giuliani, the President's personal lawyer. Barr has been keeping tabs on the case with periodic briefings from New York prosecutors, but he is not personally involved in the case, Justice officials say, leaving New York prosecutors to manage the investigation. Meanwhile, Trump doubled down, punishing Jessie Liu, an official who was accused was accused of weak-kneed oversight of significant cases when she had recently led the prosecuting office, and saluting Barr on Twitter for his intervention. "Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought," Trump wrote early Wednesday.Friction inside the Justice DepartmentIt's not unusual for political appointees at the Justice Department to disagree with or even overrule trial attorneys on significant steps in a prosecution, but the public spat between the two sides this week quickly devolved into controversy. One by one, the line prosecutors who had handled the Stone trial announced their withdrawals from the case in court filings Tuesday afternoon. One resigned from his job at the Justice Department altogether. The prosecutors on the Stone case, two of whom had served under former special counsel Robert Mueller, had calculated on Monday night that Stone deserved a stiff sentence: seven to nine years in prison, including an increased penalty for threats that Stone made to a witness in the case. Even though the original Stone filing had been discussed with officials at the Justice Department, a senior department official told reporters Tuesday that the filing came as a surprise to top officials including the deputy attorney general and Barr, all of whom thought that an agreement had been reached to seek a less-lengthy prison term.
By Brian NaylorPresident Trump hailed Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday after the Justice Department took the unusual step of intervening in Roger Stone's sentencing recommendation. Four federal prosecutors withdrew from the case. "Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought," Trump said on Twitter. "Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!"Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020Former special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation are longtime targets of Trump's. Mueller's team documented extensive Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and some contacts with Trump's campaign, but said there wasn't sufficient evidence to bring conspiracy charges. The wrongdoing prosecutors said they did find included Stone, who sought to serve as an intermediary between Trump's team and WikiLeaks, which was fencing material stolen by Russian hackers, released to embarrass political targets in the United States. Stone lied to Congress about his role in the matter and obstructed its fact-finding, prosecutors charged; he was found guilty in November on all seven counts in his trial and is awaiting sentencing.
Attorney General William Barr's intervention in Roger Stone's case wasn't the first time senior political appointees reached into a case involving an ex-Trump aide, officials say.By Carol E. Lee, Ken Dilanian and Peter AlexanderWASHINGTON — The U.S. attorney who had presided over an inconclusive criminal investigation into former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe was abruptly removed from the job last month in one of several recent moves by Attorney General William Barr to take control of legal matters of personal interest to President Donald Trump, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. A person familiar with the matter confirmed to NBC News that Trump has rescinded the nomination of Jessie Liu, who had been the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., for a job as an undersecretary at the Treasury Department. Liu also supervised the case against Trump associate Roger Stone. On Tuesday, all four line prosecutors withdrew from the case — and one quit the Justice Department altogether — after Barr and his top aides intervened to reverse a stiff sentencing recommendation of up to nine years in prison that the line prosecutors had filed with the court Monday. (Liu left before the sentencing recommendation was made.) But that wasn't the first time senior political appointees had reached into a case involving a former Trump aide, officials told NBC News. Senior officials at the Justice Department also intervened last month to help change the government's sentencing recommendation for Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. While the prosecutors had once recommended up to six months in jail, their latest filing now says they believe probation would be appropriate. The new filing came on the same day Liu was removed from her job, to be replaced the next day by a former prosecutor selected by Barr. Liu had been overseeing the criminal investigation into McCabe, who was accused by the department's inspector general of lying to investigators. McCabe has not been charged, despite calls by Trump for him to go to prison. The resignations and the unusual moves by Barr come as Trump has sought revenge against government officials who testified after congressional Democrats subpoenaed them in their impeachment investigation. In the days since the Senate acquitted him, Trump fired his ambassador to the European Union, a political supporter whom he nominated, and had other officials moved out of the White House. "This signals to me that there has been a political infestation," NBC News legal analyst Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. attorney in Virginia, said on MSNBC. "And that is the single most dangerous thing that you can do to the Department of Justice."
By Jonathan ChaitYesterday, Senator Lindsey Graham appeared on Face the Nation and blurted out an apparent confession of what, if true, would be a scandal of Nixonian proportions. Graham reported he had spoken with Attorney General William Barr that morning. “The Department of Justice is receiving information coming out of the Ukraine from Rudy,” he reported, explaining that Barr “told me that they’ve created a process that Rudy could give information and they would see if it’s verified.” Graham explained why, in his opinion, this state of affairs is appropriate: “Rudy Giuliani is a well-known man. He’s a crime fighter. He’s loyal to the president. He’s a good lawyer.” On the contrary, he is describing an arrangement that is not only the appearance of a conflict of interest but a massive abuse on its face. First, Giuliani is not a government official. He is representing Donald Trump as an individual, a fact he has made perfectly clear. He boasted to the New York Times last May that he was seeking to uncover “information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.” The distinction between “will” and “may” was Rudy’s open acknowledgement that he was looking out for Trump, not the U.S. government, and that the interests of the two might not be the same. He was even more clear in a letter to Ukrainian President Zelensky, which his former partner, Lev Parnas, produced. The letter stated Giuliani was representing Trump “as a private citizen, not as President of the United States”: The second problem here is that Giuliani is not only representing a presidential candidate as his personal client. He is working in close contact with foreign partners who have a combination of personal interests and foreign-policy goals that do not line up with U.S. interests. He has not disclosed who is paying him for his work, but he was paid half a million dollars by Parnas, who was in turn paid by Dymtro Firtash, a Russian oligarch whose work tends to advance Russian foreign-policy interests. This raises the strong possibility that Giuliani is effectively a paid backchannel for Russian propaganda, and he now has a special line into the Department of Justice. Third, Giuliani himself is the reported subject of a criminal investigation. Two of his partners have already been arrested, and the Department of Justice is reportedly pursuing the possibility of charges against Giuliani as well. (He allegedly pursued his own profit-making scheme in Ukraine, and seems to have committed campaign finance violations, by funneling foreign donations to Republican allies.) Normally, people who are being investigated by the DOJ don’t have a special back channel that lets them feed allegations of their own to the attorney general. I am pretty sure that, if the DOJ opened up an investigation of me, and arrested two of my partners as they tried to leave the country with one-way tickets, I couldn’t just open up my own back channel to their boss.
By David Shortell, CNNWashington (CNN) Attorney General William Barr confirmed Monday that the Justice Department has been receiving information from Rudy Giuliani about his operation in Ukraine, solidifying the channels through which political dirt on the President's rivals has made it into the country's top law enforcement agency. At an unrelated news conference in Washington Monday morning, Barr said that the Justice Department has an "obligation to have an open door to anybody who wishes to provide us information that they think is relevant" but expressed skepticism about the reporting, noting that Ukraine can be a dubious source. As a result, Barr said, the Justice Department has put in place special precautions to ensure that Giuliani's information is "carefully scrutinized." "There are a lot of agendas in the Ukraine, there are a lot of cross currents, and we can't take anything we receive from the Ukraine at face value. For that reason we had established an intake process in the field so that any information coming in about Ukraine could be carefully scrutinized by the Department and its intelligence community partners," Barr said. "That is true for all information that comes to the Department relating to the Ukraine including anything that Mr. Giuliani might provide," he said. The acknowledgment marked the first time that the Justice Department has said it is considering some of the allegations related to the political investigations that initiated the impeachment inquiry, which capped last week in an acquittal of President Donald Trump.
'Sounds like Barr wants to be vice president': DOJ and FBI veterans are floored by AG Barr's fawning praise of Trump in a stunning interviewBy Sonam ShethJustice Department and FBI veterans were deeply alarmed by Attorney General William Barr's comments about his relationship with President Donald Trump in a recent interview. "I see him on a regular basis, several times a week," Barr told Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, on his radio show, "Conversation with Cardinal Dolan," on SiriusXM. "He's very easy to work with. He has a good sense of humor. He's very direct. One of the things I like about him is what you see in public is very much what you see in private. He doesn't have two different acts that he puts on." Barr also told Dolan that Trump was "much more engaged than people give him credit for, and he's a strong leader." "He is getting things done," Barr continued. "I just sometimes say if he wasn't facing the resistance that he is and the dogged opposition that he faces, you just wonder how much more he could accomplish because he's accomplished a lot in the face of great resistance." It's not unusual for an attorney general to have a close relationship with the sitting president. But former intelligence and law-enforcement officials were shocked at the extent to which Barr went to express his approval of Trump. Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor who worked with members of the special counsel Robert Mueller's team, echoed that view, telling Insider he couldn't recall another attorney general "publicly discussing at such length his personal feelings about the executive." He said Barr's comments defied the expectation that the Justice Department should be independent and nonpartisan, adding that it was "tone deaf" and "in very poor taste" for Barr to "so overtly exhibit his advocacy of the president's political agenda."
In a memo for the Trump team during the Russia investigation, the attorney general wrote that presidents who misuse their authority are subject to impeachment.By Charlie SavageWASHINGTON — Scholars have roundly rejected a central argument of President Trump’s lawyers that abuse of power is not by itself an impeachable offense. But it turns out that another important legal figure has contradicted that idea: Mr. Trump’s attorney general and close ally, William P. Barr.In summer 2018, when he was still in private practice, Mr. Barr wrote a confidential memo for the Justice Department and Mr. Trump’s legal team to help the president get out of a problem. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was pressuring him to answer questions about whether he had illegally impeded the Russia investigation.Mr. Trump should not talk to investigators about his actions as president, even under a subpoena, Mr. Barr wrote in his 19-page memo, which became public during his confirmation. Mr. Barr based his advice on a sweeping theory of executive power under which obstruction of justice laws do not apply to presidents, even if they misuse their authority over the Justice Department to block investigations into themselves or their associates for corrupt reasons.
By Evan Perez and David Shortell, CNN(CNN) Attorney General William Barr briefly attended a meeting at the Justice Department last fall between top criminal prosecutors and President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, a department official said Friday. The meeting reveals a previously undisclosed interaction between two men the President depends on to defend him. Justice officials have sought to distance the department and Barr from Giuliani since it became clear in recent months that the former New York mayor is the subject of an investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors. Giuliani was a part of a team of defense attorneys representing a Venezuelan client when they met with Justice Department officials.The two men are said not to be close despite their roles as top legal advisers to the President. Barr has kept a notable distance even while Trump mentioned them both together in a July phone call in which he urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to work with Giuliani and Barr to investigate a political rival, Joe Biden. Justice officials have said Barr has never spoken to Giuliani about Ukraine and hasn't taken any action to investigate the Bidens. The Giuliani meeting at the Justice Department in September became public months ago in the wake of the arrest of two Giuliani associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were working on Giuliani's Ukraine mission for the President.
Some at FBI reportedly agreed with Tim Cook that Apple offered plenty of help during investigation into terrorist's iPhone, contradicting Attorney General BarrBy Lisa EadiciccoOn Monday, Attorney General Barr said Apple had not provided any "substantive assistance" with unlocking two iPhones belonging to a Saudi shooter who killed three people at Navy base in Florida last month. Now, a new report from The Wall Street Journal suggests that some in the Federal Bureau of Investigation disagree with those remarks.Some officials within the bureau were surprised at Barr's words because they felt that Apple had provided adequate help with the investigation, the Journal reports. Another concern among some agents is that the push for Apple to create a backdoor that would enable access to private data stored on iPhones could also sour the bureau's relationship with the tech giant, the report also says.The report comes after Barr held a press conference on Monday, where he called on Apple and other tech firms to help the FBI gain access to two iPhones used by the shooter, Mohammad Alshamrani. Apple has since pushed back against Barr's claims that the tech giant hasn't provided "substantive assistance," saying that it has shared "many gigabytes" of information with the FBI.
By Greg FarrellThe New York City Bar Association has asked Congress to investigate U.S. Attorney General William Barr, saying his recent actions and statements have positioned the Justice Department and its prosecutors as “political partisans willing to use the levers of government to empower certain groups over others.” The request disclosed on Thursday appears to be the first time the New York bar or any comparable bar association has asked Congress to investigate a sitting attorney general. Last year, 450 former federal prosecutors from Republican and Democratic administrations signed a statement chastising Barr for his handling of the Mueller report on Russian election interference.In a letter sent this week to the majority and minority leaders of the U.S. House and Senate, New York City Bar leaders described public statements by the attorney general as troubling for an official whose job is to enforce the law without bias. “The duties to act impartially, to avoid even the appearance of partiality and impropriety, and to avoid manifesting bias, prejudice or partisanship in the exercise of official responsibilities are bedrock obligations for government lawyers,” according to the letter, which was posted Thursday on the association’s website. “Mr. Barr has disregarded these fundamental obligations in several public statements during the past few months,” the letter continued.
The attorney general has gradually revealed his terrifying agenda: Who knew, and why was this concealed so long?By Heather Digby PartonIt has long been an article of faith (no pun intended) among some on the left that the culture war was simply a cynical tool of the conservative movement to fool the rubes into voting against their economic interests. In this reading, right-wing leaders had no intention of ever following through on culture-war issues. They would string the voters along forever, promising to deliver on abortion or gay rights or guns but never really getting the job done, the assumption being that they could keep the conservative base's intensity at full throttle if those voters believed they were on the cusp of getting their agenda passed. Meanwhile, as the marks were distracted by endless culture-war skirmishes, the big money conservatives would pass laws that benefited themselves and harmed their own voters.As it happens, it did indeed go down that way. The conservative movement benefactors made out like bandits while Republican voters got screwed economically. But the notion that the rich men in charge would never have to deliver on their culture-war promises was always wrong. Eventually, they would have to pay the piper.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled that they were ready when he withheld the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland during Barack Obama’s last year and then confirmed the Federalist Society’s darling, true blue social conservative Neil Gorsuch, as soon as Donald Trump took office. Evangelical leaders rushed to Brett Kavanaugh’s defense when he was under fire for his decadent youthful behavior and was accused of sexual assault during the confirmation hearings because they had been assured he would hew to the party line. Kavanaugh's threats to take revenge on all who opposed him probably reassured the religious right that he would vote the right way on the cases they care about.
“Trump definitely found his Roy Cohn" in Attorney General Bill Barr, national security attorney Bradley Moss saysBy Igor DeryshAttorney General William Barr claimed in an NBC News interview that former President Barack Obama posed the “greatest danger” to democracy in the 2016 election — not Russia. Barr told the network that he disagreed with his own department’s inspector general report, which concluded that the FBI did not “spy” on the Trump campaign and was justified in launching an investigation into its ties to Russia.Nonetheless, the attorney general claimed that the Obama administration posed the biggest threat to democracy because of alleged spying, which was debunked Monday by the release of the report. “I think, probably, from a civil liberties standpoint, the greatest danger to our free system is that the incumbent government used the apparatus of the state — principally, the law enforcement agencies and the intelligence agencies — both to spy on political opponents. But as to use them in a way that could affect the outcome of the election,” Barr alleged. “As far as I’m aware, this is the first time in history that this has been done to a presidential campaign.”Barr claimed to NBC News reporter Pete Williams that the FBI may have opened the investigation in “bad faith” and insisted that Trump’s campaign was “clearly spied upon” in spite of inspector general Michael Horowitz’s nearly two-year investigation which found no such evidence. He also downplayed the Trump campaign’s extensive contacts with Russian officials, insisting that “presidential campaigns are frequently in contact with foreign persons.” Barr’s comments were a stark contrast from Horowitz’s report, which found no evidence of the “spying” allegations invoked by the president and his conservative allies.
By Alexandra HutzlerAttorney General William Barr's defense of President Donald Trump amid impeachment is raising questions about potential conflicts of interest as legal experts accuse the Justice Department chief of ignoring his responsibility as the nation's top prosecutor. "This is a really strange situation with Barr, who has so many conflicts and is up to his eyeballs in all of the corruption surrounding Trump," attorney Nick Akerman told Newsweek. Akerman served an assistant special prosecutor in the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon.The attorney general plays no official role in impeachment, but that hasn't stopped Barr from coming to Trump's defense on multiple occasions. The Justice Department's top official often protected the Trump administration throughout the inquiry and went so far as to suggest that Democrats are "trivializing" impeachment by using it as a "political tool." Michael J. Stern, a former federal prosecutor, asserted that Barr's loyalty to the White House is a "perversion" of his job as attorney general."There is an inherent conflict in Barr's designated role as the chief law enforcement officer of this country and his efforts to protect the man who gave him his job. It is unfortunate that Bill Barr never misses an opportunity to place his thumb on the scales of justice in favor of Donald Trump. That's not how it is supposed to be," Stern told Newsweek. Last week, Trump became just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. The House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment against him: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.Democrats allege that Trump put his personal interests over the country's by trying to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to announce a politically damaging investigation of Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as a probe of supposed Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Republicans, on the other hand, say that Democrats are trying to remove Trump because they are afraid their party will lose the 2020 presidential election.
By David Shortell, Evan Perez and Josh Campbell, CNNWashington (CNN) Some federal law enforcement officials are warning of a chilling effect inside the FBI amid attacks by President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr over the bureau's handling of the Russia investigation.Current and former FBI officials tell CNN they're concerned that the harsh rhetoric coming from Trump and Barr has only worsened the bureau's already tenuous standing with the President, leaving them wondering whether federal agents could be less aggressive the next time they have to pursue a sensitive investigation."We're constantly told to be agile and use all the legal tools available to us," said one FBI employee who works on counterintelligence matters. "But who is going to risk sticking their neck out now only to have DOJ chop it off?"Barr this week seized on findings in a blockbuster inspector general report to scold the FBI for using "intrusive" tools with only "flimsy" evidence, and he questioned whether they'd been motivated by bias. Those attacks were particularly noteworthy given that the report found no evidence of bias or improper motivation in the FBI's decisions to use counterintelligence techniques. The report did however point out serious mistakes and mishandling of evidence by the FBI.
New DayCNN's John Avlon takes a look at Attorney General Bill Barr and if he acts more as a personal attorney for the President or the Attorney General.
First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie DannWASHINGTON — Want another example of how Attorney General William Barr has provided fodder for those who say he’s acted more like the president’s personal attorney than the nation’s chief law-enforcement official?Here’s Barr’s interview with NBC’s Pete Williams, in which Barr calls the Trump campaign’s links to Russia in 2016 a “completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by an irresponsible press.”So what was happening in the final months of the 2016 election?June 9: Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner meet with a Kremlin-connected lawyer after Donald Trump Jr. was told that the Russian government had dirt on Hillary Clinton:"If it's what you say, I love it," Trump Jr. writes about the promise of dirt on Clinton.July 27: Candidate Trump himself asks Russia for assistance in the 2016 election: "If you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing." (On that same day, Russian intelligence – for the first time -- tries to gain access to Hillary Clinton's emails/server, per Robert Mueller's indictments on July 13, 2018.)Aug. 15: A Trump campaign associate – Roger Stone – communicates with Russian intelligence: "On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, 'thank u for writing back … do u find anyt[h]ing interesting in the docs I posted,’” per Mueller’s indictments on July 13, 2018.
The Majority Report w/ Sam Seder - Did Bill Barr just signal to the police to turn America into a very dangerous place? Sam Seder and the Majority Report crew discuss this.
US POLITICS NEWS - Synopsis: I’m Calling For An Impeachment Inquiry Into William Barr’s Long Line Of Cover Ups For TrumpWhile Congress has never impeached a sitting US attorney general, the facts emerging from the national security whistleblower complaint have raised calls for Barr’s recusal from any involvement in DOJ actions around it. But while recusal is necessary, it is also insufficient.
William Barr: Democrats' investigations into Trump are political harassment meant to 'sabotage' his presidencyBy Kevin Johnson - USA TODAYWASHINGTON–Attorney General William Barr said Friday that President Donald Trump's political opponents have pursued a "scorched earth, no-holds-barred resistance" meant to "sabotage" his presidency. "The pursuit of scores of investigations and an avalanche of subpoenas is meant to incapacitate" the administration, Barr said in a biting address to the conservative Federalist Society. The attorney general, in a full-throated defense of the president, said the political "harassment" contravenes the intent of the Constitution's framers who, he said, meant to provide the chief executive with sweeping authority."I am convinced that the deck has been stacked against the executive," Barr said. Barr's remarks came as Trump has been swept up in an impeachment inquiry over allegations he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open investigations into political rival and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.Before Friday, Barr had said little publicly about the impeachment proceedings, suggesting he might be attempting to distance himself from Trump. But his remarks left no doubt he stands with the president. He lamented a "steady encroachment of executive authority" that he claimed had "substantially weakened the institution of the presidency." And he said Congress has "drowned" the administration with demands for testimony and documents. Full Story. - William Bar must not have read the constitution or does not care that our founding fathers put it in the constitution to protect our country from bad presidents like Donald J. Trump who put themselves above our country.
Mifsud’s deep connections with Putin’s foreign policy establishment and his glowing appraisals of Russia’s role in global affairs show Barr has barked up the wrong tree.By Amy KnightAttorney General William Barr has been looking into the Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud, whose discussion with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos helped set off the FBI investigation of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016. It was Mifsud who told Papadopoulos about the dirt the Russians had on Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails," a tip Papadopoulos blurted out to an Australian diplomat in an indiscretion that reached the FBI and started the ball rolling. Barr’s interest is all part of a broader effort pushed obsessively by President Donald J. Trump in an effort to prove, at least in the public mind, that he was the victim of a conspiracy in 2016 rather than the beneficiary of one. Trump’s pressure on the recently elected government in Ukraine to promote this line features in the impeachment proceedings against him.But that has only led his administration and supporters to push harder the notion of a sinister “deep state” conspiracy to derail his presidential campaign. Where the pressure on Ukraine was partly the work of Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani operating outside official channels, Attorney General Barr’s probe is now a criminal investigation into the origins of the counterintelligence probe into Trump’s Moscow connections. And Professor Mifsud is right in the middle of it. The teams led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI reported that Mifsud, who disappeared from public view in late 2017, received his information about the Clinton emails through highly placed members of the Russian government, and ex-FBI Director James Comey, fired by Trump, even said that Mifsud was a Russian agent.Barr and his boys are operating on a different theory—that Mifsud was part of a setup by the CIA and FBI to smear Trump. Pursuing this theory, Barr even went abroad recently to talk with Italian and British intelligence officials about Mifsud, who taught at universities in both Britain and Italy. But Mifsud's deep, long-standing connections with Russian President Vladimir Putin's foreign policy establishment and the highly favorable views he has expressed publicly about Russia's role in global affairs show just how far Barr has barked up the wrong tree. more...
Barr's "criminal investigation" of the Russia probe is the fruit of a long-running far-right plan to kill democracyBy Heather Digby PartonStudents of the modern conservative movement often date the recent supercharged radicalization of the Republican Party to the rise of Newt Gingrich and the Republican Revolution in the early 1990s. It's true that the GOP went seriously off the rails during that period and the craziness has been picking up speed ever since. But in reality, the conservative movement has been radical from its beginnings, starting with the anti-communist crusade after World War II all the way through Goldwater to Reagan, Gingrich and now Trump.Now it has finally shed all trappings of a sophisticated political ideology, culminating in this surreal parody of a presidency in 2019. The conservative "three legged stool" of small government, traditional values and global military leadership has completely disintegrated. But one aspect of that earlier conservative movement has continued to chug along with its long-term project to transform the U.S. into an undemocratic, quasi-authoritarian plutocracy. That would be the group of far-right lawyers who started the Federalist Society, with the goal of packing the judiciary with true believers, along with a certain group of Reagan-era legal wunderkinds who came to believe that the GOP could dominate the presidency for decades to come.They developed the theory of the "unitary executive," originally advanced by Reagan's odious attorney general Ed Meese ( recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom) which holds that massive, unaccountable power is vested in the president of the United States. Attorney General William Barr was one of those lawyers, along with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, former appeals court judge Michael Luttig and others who encouraged Barr to take the job, particularly after his famous memo declaring that what any normal person would see as obstruction of justice doesn't apply to the president.(In a nutshell, Barr agrees with former President Richard Nixon, who said, "If the president does it, it's not illegal.") Attorney General William Barr was one of those lawyers, along with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, former appeals court judge Michael Luttig and others who encouraged Barr to take the job, particularly after his famous memo declaring that what any normal person would see as obstruction of justice doesn't apply to the president.(In a nutshell, Barr agrees with former President Richard Nixon, who said, "If the president does it, it's not illegal.") Barr is described as supremely confident in his beliefs, which is to say that his overweening arrogance is not an act put on someone who is overcompensating to hide insecurity. He believes in this theory and when it became obvious that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was not long for the job, Barr and his legal cabal appear to have seen the clueless and corrupt Donald Trump as a perfect instrument to test their theory, and perhaps set legal precedents that would enable future right-wing presidents to use the full power of the presidency to dominate American politics without regard to democratic norms or congressional checks and balances. Indeed, they had been setting the stage for such a man for decades. more...
Government watchdogs rebuke DOJ's handling of whistleblower letter at heart of Trump impeachment probeby Kristine Phillips and Kevin Johnson, USA TODAYWASHINGTON — A coalition of government watchdogs assailed the Justice Department for temporarily blocking a whistleblower's complaint against President Donald Trump from being transmitted to Congress, saying in a letter this week that its actions could deter individuals from reporting government abuse. The six-page letter, signed by the Justice Department's own inspector general and about five dozen counterparts from other federal agencies, is a remarkable rebuke of the agency, which argued that the whistleblower's allegations of foreign election interference were not an "urgent concern."The group, headed by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, took issue with an opinion by the agency's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). The opinion overruled a determination by the intelligence community's own watchdog that the whistleblower's allegations, which have since sparked an impeachment inquiry, appeared credible and, therefore, should be brought to Congress. The Council of the Inspector Generals on Integrity and Efficiency said the OLC's opinion, "if not withdrawn or modified, could seriously undermine the critical role whistleblowers play in coming forward to report waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct across the federal government.""Whistleblowers play an essential public service in coming forward with such information, and they should never suffer reprisal or even the threat of reprisal from doing so," the letter says, adding that inspectors general have historically relied on whistleblowers to conduct nonpartisan oversight of federal agencies. The council also warned that the Justice Department's OLC memo “undermines the independence of the (Intelligence Community’s inspector general) and wrongly interprets the respective roles and responsibilities of the inspectors general.”“Perhaps most concerning to the IG community,” the letter stated, “we believe that the (Justice) opinion creates uncertainty for federal employees and contractors across government about the scope of the whistleblower protections, thereby chilling whistleblower disclosures.” The whistleblower, an employee within the intelligence community, alleged in a complaint that White House officials had expressed concerns that Trump sought to pressure his Ukrainian counterpart to pursue an investigation against his potential presidential rival, Joe Biden.In late August, Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community, forwarded the complaint to the acting director of National Intelligence, concluding that such a request could be viewed as soliciting a foreign power's help, a violation of campaign finance laws. But Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, delayed providing the whistleblower's complaint to Congress, saying executive privilege protected the confidentiality of communications with Trump. "This case was unique and unprecedented," Maguire told the House Intelligence Committee in late September, weeks after the Justice Department's OLC issued its opinion."The White House did not direct me to withhold the complaint." Contrary to Atkinson's finding, the OLC opinion concluded that the whistleblower's allegations did not meet the statutory definition of "urgent concern" because it does not involve "funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity." The letter says such a narrow interpretation of the law raises questions about whether the whistleblower is entitled to protections against retaliation. Such concerns extend to other government employees and contractors who may no longer believe it's worth the risk to expose what they believe to be government misconduct. more...
As Trump impeachment probe heats up, some say Congress is doing inquiry the Justice Department should've doneBy Kevin Johnson, USA TODAYWASHINGTON – At the time, the disclosure was offered almost as a footnote to the explosive contents of a phone call in which President Donald Trump pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate political rival Joe Biden. As a summary of the call was released by the White House last month, senior Justice Department officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified, said prosecutors had reviewed whether the president’s solicitation of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was a potential crime.The review, done at the request of the inspector general of the intelligence community, was narrow. It was based entirely on the written summary of the call, which even the White House indicated was imperfect. Authorities conducted no interviews to learn why a whistleblower took the extraordinary step of taking his concern to the inspector general for the nation's intelligence agencies. And it took only a few weeks for prosecutors to conclude there was no violation of campaign finance law. Yet in the month since that decision was made public, a fast-moving House impeachment inquiry and a separate criminal investigation raise serious questions about the Justice Department’s assessment of the president’s conduct. "In hindsight, the decision by prosecutors was premature and ill-advised," Richard Ben-Veniste, one of the Watergate prosecutors, said."The information provided by the whistleblower cried out for further inquiry." Justice Department officials say Attorney General William Barr, whose assistance Trump offered to Zelensky, was not the one who decided to decline an investigation. But lawmakers and former prosecutorssay his close relationship with Trump threatens the department'sindependence as the president faces his greatest threat yet. Those suspicions are likely to deepen after news broke Thursday night that the Justice Department has shifted an internal examination into the origins of the Russia investigation – which Trump often disparages as a "witch hunt" – to a criminal matter. Read the summary: President Trump's call with Ukraine president about Biden.House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who is leading the impeachment inquiry, said the Justice Department’s decision not to launch an investigation based on the whistleblower’s complaint effectively forced Congress to look into the matter itself. In just four weeks, House Democrats have elicited damning testimony from current and former administration officials that bolsters their central argument for removing Trump: that the White House dangled military aid and a meeting with the president in an effort to get Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden. more...
Warnings DOJ Has Become 'Vehicle for President Trump's Political Revenge' as Barr Opens Criminal Probe of Mueller Investigation"It was bad enough Trump and Barr were wasting resources on this. But now they are fully weaponizing DOJ for political purposes."by Jake Johnson, staff writerRaising fresh concerns that President Donald Trump is weaponizing the Justice Department for his own political and personal gain, Attorney General William Barr's "administrative review" of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe—which resulted in the conviction of a number of Trump associates—has reportedly become a criminal investigation. The New York Times, citing two anonymous individuals familar with the matter, reported late Thursday that the shift from an administrative review to a criminal probe "gives the prosecutor running it, John H. Durham, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to convene a grand jury and to file criminal charges.""It was not clear what potential crime Mr. Durham is investigating, nor when the criminal investigation was prompted," according to the Times. Barr appointed Durham in May to investigate the "origins" of the Russia probe. Lawmakers and legal experts reacted with alarm to the Times report, which was confirmed by other outlets and comes amid an intensifying impeachment inquiry into Trump over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden. "These reports, if true, raise profound new concerns that the Department of Justice under AG Barr has lost its independence and become a vehicle for President Trump's political revenge," tweeted Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee."If the Department of Justice may be used as a tool of political retribution, or to help the president with a political narrative for the next election, the rule of law will suffer new and irreparable damage." CNN legal analyst Elie Honig said "it was bad enough Trump and Barr were wasting resources on this." "But now they are fully weaponizing DOJ for political purposes," Honig added. "Attorneys general can be impeached." It was bad enough Trump and Barr were wasting resources on this. But now they are fully weaponizing DOJ for political purposes. Attorneys General *can* be impeached. https://t.co/Pm2sJaXjRw — Elie Honig (@eliehonig) October 25, 2019.In an interview on CNN Thursday night, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said Barr is "absolutely" acting as Trump's personal lawyer rather than attorney general of the United States in his investigation of the Mueller inquiry. "It is deeply troubling what Bill Barr is doing," Lieu said. "It is deeply troubling what Bill Barr is doing," says Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu, reacting to a report that Attorney General William Barr's probe into the intelligence and origins of the 2016 Trump-Russia investigation is now a criminal investigation https://t.co/xp8QikT8wz pic.twitter.com/ONRX2udepV — CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) October 25, 2019. more...
By David BadashThe New York Times has just published a bombshell report: The Dept. of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into the Mueller investigation. “Justice Department officials have shifted an administrative review of the Russia investigation closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr to a criminal inquiry, according to two people familiar with the matter,” The Times reports. “The move gives the prosecutor running it, John H. Durham, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to impanel a grand jury and to file criminal charges.” The move is consistent with Attorney General Barr’s repeated acts pf protecting President Donald Trump, including traveling overseas to work with foreign governments in an unprecedented effort to turn an nternal review of the Mueller probe into what is now a criminal investigation. more...
BBC - The US justice department has launched a criminal investigation into the origins of the Mueller inquiry, US media report. An administrative review into the special counsel's investigation of 2016 election interference began in May. But the switch to a criminal probe means investigators can now issue subpoenas for testimony and documents.President Trump has long alleged Robert Mueller's probe of reports of collusion with Russia was a "witch hunt". The investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election did not establish any criminal conspiracy between Moscow and Donald Trump's campaign. But it did not clear the president of obstructing justice. Reports on the criminal probe first appeared in the New York Times. It is unclear what potential crime is under investigation, the newspaper said. Why is the Mueller report being investigated? The administrative review of the Mueller investigation began in May.It is being overseen by the US Attorney-General William Barr and is run by US federal prosecutor John Durham. Mr Durham was tasked with determining whether the collection of intelligence on the Trump campaign in 2016 was lawful. He is widely respected and known for investigating links between FBI agents and organised crime, and investigating the destruction of CIA interrogation videos. Last April, Mr Barr told members of Congress that he believed "spying did occur" on the Trump campaign in 2016, adding: "The question is whether it was adequately predicated. And I'm not suggesting that it wasn't adequately predicated. But I need to explore that."Critics accused Mr Barr of launching an administrative review more in the interests of the president than the interests of justice. In a joint statement, the chairs of the House judiciary and intelligence committees said reports of a criminal investigation "raise profound new concerns that the Department of Justice under AG Barr has lost its independence and become a vehicle for President Trump's political revenge". The two Democrats, Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff, said the move could bring "new and irreparable damage" to the rule of law. more...
By Carlo Invernizzi-AccettiBill Barr’s ‘secularists’ speech runs counter to key themes of Catholic, and more broadly, Christian theology. The US attorney general William Barr’s speech at the University of Notre Dame last week has been widely decried by liberal commentators for violating the separation between church and state. In his speech, Barr portrayed “secularists” as enemies of American democracy. Yet few seem to have grasped the deeper political significance of Barr’s remarks. On their face, none of Barr’s claims appear particularly new.The idea that “militant secularism” undermines the moral fabric of society, leading to all sorts of “social pathologies,” and the idea that “free government” requires the “moral discipline” afforded by religious belief, have been central tenets of official Catholic doctrine for at least a century and a half. What is more original – and troubling – is the political use the US’s chief law-enforcement officer has made of these traditional religious themes. By subtly reworking some of the core tenets of Catholic social doctrine, he has constructed a new political theology in the service of Trumpism – one which aims to offer conservative Christians a set of principled, not just pragmatic, reasons for supporting the current US administration.Three intellectual moves define this new political theology. First, by describing “secularists” as engaged in an “unremitting assault on religion and traditional values”, Barr presented an American majority group (self-identified Christians) as a victimized social group. This feeds into Trump’s broader appropriation of the logic of identity politics, which has converted it into a tool for defending the interests of previously dominant social groups by tapping into anxieties about “cultural replacement”. Second, by establishing an equivalence between morality and religion, and between religion and Christianity (or, as he sometimes also put it, “Judaeo-Christian values”), Barr excluded two key social groups from the remit of those he deemed capable of “free government”: non-believers and non-Christians.For anyone keyed into the mainstays of Trump’s discourse, it should be clear who is here being stigmatized as a “threat”, not just for religion but for American freedom in general: urban elites and recent immigrants. Take these two groups out and you have a pretty good cross-section of Trump’s electorate. Finally, by talking of a “wreckage of the family”, “record levels of depression and mental illness” and “an increase in senseless violence”, Barr also echoed the idea of an “American carnage” employed by Trump during his inaugural address to present himself as a providentially ordained “savior” called upon to re-establish “order” and “civility”.Although Trump – a twice-divorced former pro-choicer – might seem an unlikely champion for this religious mission, Barr also implicitly appealed to the biblical theme of the “imperfect vessel”, which has been widely used by evangelical Christians to justify their support for the current president. While jokingly telling the story of the rocambolesque way in which Trump informed him about his nomination, he also made sure to reassure the audience that: “As long as I am attorney general, the Department of Justice will be at the forefront of [the] fight for the most cherished of our liberties: the freedom to live according to our faith.” more...
Impeachment may be the only remaining tool to discover the truth.By Mark Joseph SternAs more details emerge about Donald Trump’s whistleblower scandal, it’s clear the man standing in the way of any investigation into the president’s actions, once again, is Attorney General William Barr. The House’s now formal impeachment inquiry may be the last remaining tool that Barr cannot tamper with. Barr has already successfully stymied one investigation of presidential misconduct: special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. The attorney general released a misleading “summary” of the report before its publication, one that rankled Mueller himself. He also devised dubious legal standards to find insufficient evidence that Trump obstructed justice.Barr then prefaced the report’s release with an appalling press conference that painted Trump as the real victim. In congressional testimony, he trashed his own Justice Department to further defend Trump. Later, Barr took pains to hide the full Mueller report from Congress, deploying a baseless legal theory to conceal key redactions from lawmakers. With each new development in the Ukraine scandal, we are seeing the Trump administration run the Barr playbook all over again. But there is an important difference. When Barr took the reins at DOJ, the Mueller investigation was near its end: Barr could not interfere with the probe itself; he could only run damage control once it concluded.This time, Barr has been in control from the start. And his Justice Department has blocked every avenue through which Trump might be held accountable. Notes on the telephone conversation between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky suggest Barr is implicated in Trump’s dirty work. (The memo is not a transcript but rather a compilation of “notes and recollections” from officials listening in.) Trump mentions his attorney general six times as a resource for Zelensky. The president urges Zelensky to investigate his potential 2020 rival Joe Biden—referring to unsubstantiated allegations that, as vice president, Biden used his position to quash a Ukrainian investigation into his son. “[W]hatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great,” Trump adds. He also told Zelensky that he would have his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani “give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it.”The Justice Department released a statement Wednesday claiming that neither Trump nor Giuliani have spoken with Barr about pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son. But there is ample evidence that Barr played a substantial role in protecting Trump from a whistleblower complaint over the call. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has already insisted that Barr recuse himself “until we get to the bottom of this matter.” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff also sent a letter to Barr on Wednesday saying the DOJ’s involvement “raises the specter that the Department has participated in a dangerous cover-up to protect the President.” Before Barr’s possible involvement in the Ukraine affair had even been made public, the DOJ stepped in to mute the whistleblower complaint over this call. Under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, or ICWPA, whistleblowers in a federal intelligence agency must send their complaint to Michael Atkinson, intelligence community inspector general.The law tasks Atkinson with deciding whether the complaint is credible and of “urgent concern.” If it is, Atkinson must send it to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire. ICWPA states that Maguire, in turn, “shall … forward” the complaint to congressional intelligence committees within seven days. This process worked as intended—until the DOJ stepped in. Atkinson received the whistleblower complaint and found it to be a credible allegation of “urgent concern.” So he sent it to Maguire. Instead of sending it to Congress, as he was legally obligated to do, Maguire asked the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, which makes law that binds the executive branch. The OLC declared that he could not pass it on in an opinion later released to the public in modified form, holding that the whistleblower complaint did not pertain to a matter of “urgent concern.”This opinion is bizarre, because the law does not allow Maguire—and, by extension, the OLC—to overrule Atkinson’s assessment of a whistleblower complaint. It tasks Atkinson with deciding whether the complaint meets ICWPA’s standards, not Maguire. OLC claimed a right, on Maguire’s behalf, to independently determine whether the complaint constitutes an “urgent concern.” No such right exists. The OLC then followed a different law, which requires executive branch officials to notify the attorney general if they discover potential “violations of Federal criminal law involving Government officers.” So instead of going to Congress, the whistleblower’s complaint went to the DOJ and, apparently, to Barr himself. The DOJ then assessed whether Trump may have committed a campaign finance violation, since it is a federal crime for any person to “solicit” any “thing of value” from a foreign national in connection with an election. more...
By Mark Hosenball, Jonathan LandayWASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House Intelligence Committee chairman on Thursday accused the Justice Department of blocking intelligence officials from giving Congress a whistleblower complaint reported to involve communications between President Donald Trump and a foreign leader. The Washington Post, which first reported the matter, said the country involved was Ukraine, citing unnamed sources.The House panel’s Democratic chairman, Adam Schiff, charged the Trump administration with blocking a congressional inquiry after receiving a closed-door briefing from the inspector general for U.S. spy agencies.A source familiar with the matter told Reuters the whistleblower complaint at the center of the dispute alleged “multiple acts” by Trump, not just a phone call with a foreign leader. The source requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. Trump on Thursday called the Washington Post report “Fake News.” The dispute is the latest chapter of a power struggle in which the Trump administration has been resisting efforts by Democratic lawmakers investigating the president’s business dealings and actions to obtain documents, records and testimony from White House and senior agency officials. Reuters has not been able to confirm details of the whistleblower’s complaint.The Washington Post said Trump spoke by telephone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy a few weeks before the whistleblower complaint was filed. Asked about the Post report, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani told CNN: “If what is reported is true, it doesn’t make any difference.” “If the president of the United States said to the president of Ukraine ‘investigate the corruption in your country that has a bearing on our 2016 election’, isn’t that what he’s supposed to do?” Giuliani said. A congressional source said senators had not been briefed on the country involved in the whistleblower complaint. A spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment on the Washington Post report mentioning Ukraine. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. more...
Experts are raising questions about why the Justice Department did not open an investigation.By Ken Dilanian and Julia AinsleyWASHINGTON — Weeks before the whistleblower's complaint became public, the CIA's top lawyer made what she considered to be a criminal referral to the Justice Department about the whistleblower's allegations that President Donald Trump abused his office in pressuring the Ukrainian president, U.S. officials familiar with the matter tell NBC News. The move by the CIA's general counsel, Trump appointee Courtney Simmons Elwood, meant she and other senior officials had concluded a potential crime had been committed, raising more questions about why the Justice Department later declined to open an investigation.The phone call that Elwood considered to be a criminal referral is in addition to the referral later received as a letter from the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community regarding the whistleblower complaint. Justice Department officials said they were unclear whether Elwood was making a criminal referral and followed up with her later to seek clarification but she remained vague. In the days since the anonymous whistleblower complaint was made public accusing him of wrongdoing, Trump has lashed out at his accuser and other insiders who provided the accuser with information, suggesting they were improperly spying on what was a "perfect" call between him and the Ukrainian president. But a timeline provided by U.S. officials familiar with the matter shows that multiple senior government officials appointed by Trump found the whistleblower's complaints credible, troubling and worthy of further inquiry starting soon after the president's July phone call.While that timeline and the CIA general counsel's contact with the Justice Department has been previously disclosed, it has not been reported that the CIA's top lawyer intended her call to be a criminal referral about the president's conduct, acting under rules set forth in a memo governing how intelligence agencies should report allegations of federal crimes. The fact that she and other top Trump administration political appointees saw potential misconduct in the whistleblower's early account of alleged presidential abuses puts a new spotlight on the Justice Department's later decision to decline to open a criminal investigation — a decision that the Justice Department said publicly was based purely on an analysis of whether the president committed a campaign finance law violation."They didn't do any of the sort of bread-and-butter type investigatory steps that would flush out what potential crimes may have been committed," said Berit Berger, a former federal prosecutor who heads the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School. "I don't understand the rationale for that and it's just so contrary to how normal prosecutors work. We have started investigations on far less." Elwood, the CIA's general counsel, first learned about the matter because the complainant, a CIA officer, passed his concerns about the president on to her through a colleague. On Aug. 14, she participated in a conference call with the top national security lawyer at the White House and the chief of the Justice Department's National Security Division. more...
Questions raised about attorney general and DOJ legal opinion as whistleblower complaint is releasedBy Debra Cassens WeissThe whistleblower complaint released by Congress on Thursday says President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani is “a central figure” in Trump's effort to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, and U.S. Attorney General William Barr “appears to be involved as well.” Even before the release of the whistleblower complaint, some Democrats were criticizing the Department of Justice for its actions in the controversy, report the New York Times and the Washington Post.The department released a legal opinion finding that there was no need to release the complaint to Congress and concluded that Trump did not violate campaign finance laws when he urged the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden and Hunter Biden. The whistleblower was not present during Trump’s July 25 phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to the unclassified version of the complaint made public. The whistleblower’s statement about Barr appeared to be mostly based on Trump’s references to the attorney general during the phone call. Trump asked Zelensky to investigate whether Biden stopped a prosecution of his son in connection with his work for a gas company in Ukraine.Trump also sought an investigation into the origins of the special counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump told Zelensky that he would ask Barr and Giuliani to give Zelensky a call. Multiple government officials told the whistleblower that White House officials had intervened “to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced—as is customary—by the White House Situation Room.” The New York Times and the Washington Post have reports on the whistleblower complaint.White House lawyers directed that the electronic transcript of the call be removed from the usual computer system, the complaint says. It was then loaded into a separate system used to store and handle classified information, the whistleblower said. It was not the first time that a transcript was placed in a password-protected system solely to protect information that was politically sensitive rather than for national security purposes, according to the complaint. The transcript of Trump’s call released Wednesday included a note saying that it was based on notes and recollections and was not a verbatim record of the call. The legal opinion by the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel had concluded that the whistleblower complaint didn’t have to be turned over to Congress, according to prior reporting by BuzzFeed News. The opinion said the federal law requiring expedited reporting of intelligence agency misconduct didn’t apply because the complaint didn’t concern the operation of an intelligence agency. more...
Barr appears enmeshed in the whistleblower complaint his department rejected. Dems want him to recuse himself.By Igor DeryshAttorney General Bill Barr was implicated in the “urgent” whistleblower complaint that triggered multiple criminal referrals and an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. A partially redacted whistleblower complaint made public on Thursday revealed that an intelligence officer reported that Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 US election” by “pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals.” The complaint referred to Trump’s demand that the Ukrainian government investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who worked for an energy firm in Ukraine. Neither has been accused of any wrongdoing.“The President’s personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort,” the whistleblower wrote. “Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well.” The complaint describes the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, noting that Trump urged Zelensky to speak with “two people the President named explicitly as his personal envoys on these matters, Mr. Giuliani and Attorney General Barr, to whom the President referred multiple times in tandem.” The complaint notes that Giuliani met and spoke with numerous Ukrainian officials and the White House took steps to hide the transcript of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky on a special computer intended to hide classified national security information, even though the Zelensky call contained no such information.The references to Barr in the complaint are particularly noteworthy after House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff revealed that the Justice Department previously blocked the release of the complaint to Congress before the administration caved amid pressure to release the document. On Wednesday, a partial transcript of a phone call between President Trump and Zelensky revealed that Trump urged the Ukrainian leader to work with Barr and Giuliani on turning over information about Biden. “A lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great,” Trump told Zelensky. more...
The Trump-Ukraine scandal is only the latest in a long line of cover-ups linked to the attorney general.By Jay WillisDuring a now-infamous July phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, Donald Trump paired his request that Ukraine open an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden with a very specific recommendation: that Zelensky get in touch with attorney general William Barr, too. "Whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great," Trump said, according to the White House's notes of the conversation. He wrapped up the conversation by promising to have Barr call Zelensky soon. "We will get to the bottom of it," he said. "I'm sure you will figure it out." For the whistleblower who filed a complaint about the call—a complaint that just launched the fourth presidential impeachment inquiry in U.S. history—the invocation of the nation's chief law enforcement officer was an alarming development. "Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well," they wrote.It isn't clear whether Trump actually looped Barr into this effort to coordinate with a foreign head of state on a clandestine probe of his political rival, and the Department of Justice has flatly denied Barr's knowledge or involvement. But the whistleblower's report alleged that this was not the first time White House lawyers concealed politically sensitive records of Trump's conversations, and lawyers in Barr's Justice Department stymied efforts to transmit that report to Congress. Once again, Barr finds himself involved in a presidential cover-up—or now, as Nancy Pelosi put it, the "cover-up of a cover-up," too. Trump has long prized unquestioning personal loyalty in his attorneys general.When he learned that his first attorney general, longtime Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, planned to recuse himself from investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, an irate Trump complained that he needed someone who would "protect" him, not stand down in his hour of need. Barr, who served as attorney general during the George H.W. Bush administration and was re-confirmed to the position in February, has ably filled that role ever since: a man who sees the job as less about enforcing the law than about shielding the president from the consequences of breaking it. The Ukraine matter is far from the first time that Barr has worked to conceal wrongdoing within the executive branch. Nearly three decades ago, he encouraged his then-boss to pardon six key figures in the Iran-Contra affair.This controversial move brought the most significant scandal in the Reagan administration, in which Bush served as vice president, to a quiet, clean end. The independent counsel in that matter, Lawrence Walsh, was irate; he complained that Bush had gummed up the investigation by withholding evidence, making misleading statements about his knowledge of the scandal, and refusing to be interviewed by prosecutors. By pardoning those already implicated, the president effectively foreclosed the possibility that the investigation would one day reach him. Upon hearing the news, Walsh publicly accused Bush of complicity in a "cover-up." Under Trump, he quickly burnished his reputation as a presidential power absolutist. Barr auditioned for the role by circulating an unsolicited memo in D.C. legal circles in which he argued that special counsel Robert Mueller's then-ongoing obstruction inquiry was "fatally misconceived."While still a private citizen, Barr egged on Trump's efforts to politicize the investigation, publicly criticizing Mueller for having insufficient partisan "balance" on his team of lawyers. In a Washington Post op-ed, Barr hailed Trump's decision to fire former FBI director James Comey, a major focus of Mueller's obstruction probe, as the right choice. During his confirmation hearings, Barr declined to recuse himself from the Russia investigation on the basis of these statements. Even though he was named in the Ukraine whistleblower complaint, he has not recused himself from that matter, either. more...
By Devlin Barrett, Shane Harris and Matt ZapotoskyAttorney General William P. Barr has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that President Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies’ examination of possible connections between Russia and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter. Barr’s personal involvement is likely to stoke further criticism from Democrats pursuing impeachment that he is helping the Trump administration use executive branch powers to augment investigations aimed primarily at the president’s adversaries.But the high-level Justice Department focus on intelligence operatives’ conduct is likely to cheer Trump and other conservatives for whom “investigate the investigators” has become a rallying cry. Barr has voiced his own concerns, telling lawmakers in April that he believed “spying did occur” when it came to the U.S. investigation of the Trump campaign. The direct involvement of the nation’s top law enforcement official shows the priority Barr places on the investigation being conducted by John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, who has been assigned the sensitive task of reviewing U.S. intelligence work surrounding the 2016 election and its aftermath. The attorney general’s active role also underscores the degree to which a nearly three-year-old election still consumes significant resources and attention inside the federal government.Current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials expressed frustration and alarm Monday that the head of the Justice Department was taking such a direct role in reexamining what they view as conspiracy theories and baseless allegations of misconduct. Barr has already made overtures to British intelligence officials, and last week the attorney general traveled to Italy, where he and Durham met senior Italian government officials and Barr asked the Italians to assist Durham, according to one person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue. It was not Barr’s first trip to Italy to meet intelligence officials, the person said. The Trump administration has made similar requests of Australia, said people who discussed the interactions on the condition of anonymity because they involve an ongoing investigation and sensitive talks between governments. more...
The actual text of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report tells a very different story than what was in summaries produced by Attorney General William Barr in letters to Congress and in a press conference prior to the report’s release. A comparison of the report and Barr’s statements shows that Barr downplayed Mueller’s findings about Russian contacts with Trump campaign associates as well as the damning evidence of the president’s obstruction of justice that Mueller assembled. Following are examples of this gap. more...
by Ryan GoodmanWednesday marks one week since Robert Mueller broke his silence and made a formal statement on the special counsel’s report on the 2016 Russian election interference. The Chart below compares Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s May 29 public statement with statements made by Attorney General William Barr. Whether or not Mueller was intentionally trying to correct the record, the differences between what he and Barr said are, in many cases, stark. Some of the differences involve near complete contradictions—in other words Mueller’s statement and Barr’s statements cannot both be true.Other differences are more a matter of emphasis or tone (e.g., references to the threat posed by the Russian operations, descriptions of the qualities of the special counsel staff). The special counsel’s Report also contradicts some of Barr’s statements (such as his claim that the Report found no evidence of “collusion,” his suggestion that difficult issues of law and fact stopped the special counsel from concluding the president engaged in criminal obstruction, his claim that the President cooperate fully with the investigation).The following analysis, however, does not include the Report. Instead, it focuses only on Mueller’s public statement and how it compares to statements made by Barr between March 22 (the date that the special counsel handed his final report to the attorney general) and May 29 (the date of Mueller’s statement). This includes statements made by Barr in his 4-page summary submitted to Congress, a formal press briefing, and three congressional hearings, but it does not include Barr’s interviews with Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. more...
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