Some days it seems as if Attorney General William Barr is one of very few adults in Washington, D.C. The highly respected attorney is serving his second tour at the head of the Department of Justice. The first was during the George H.W. Bush administration. A brilliant legal mind with a candid and no-nonsense attitude, Barr is able to withstand pressure from the media and other members of the Resistance.
Partisan media vehemently oppose Barr, partly for being an effective advocate of President Trump’s policies at the Department of Justice, but mostly for admitting and expressing concern about the Department of Justice’s role in the Russia collusion hoax that undermined the Trump administration.
Nearly the entire political media establishment worked with anonymous sources inside the government and Democratic offices to spread the false conspiracy theory that Trump was a traitor who had colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election from Hillary Clinton. This false and dangerous conspiracy theory negatively affected national security and foreign policy, sidelined Barr’s predecessor at the Department of Justice, and generally made it difficult to run the executive branch or secure good political appointees to work in the administration.
As the media did with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who accurately raised the alarm about Russia collusion story, they have put out a series of attacks and hit pieces on Barr and John Durham, the federal prosecutor Barr appointed to investigate the FBI’s spying on the Trump campaign. The playbook is for the media and Democrats to discredit whomever they decide is a threat.
Rep. Adam Schiff, who spent years falsely claiming to hold evidence of treasonous collusion with Russia, called Barr “the second most dangerous man in America.” One Washington Post headline: “John Durham has a stellar reputation for investigating corruption. Some fear his work for Barr could tarnish it.” As in, if Durham’s investigation doesn’t match the false narrative set by the Post and other media outlets, they’ll rewrite the story about his reputation. Nice reputation you have, Durham. Shame if something happened to it.
The fear of Durham’s investigation and Barr’s support for that investigation is legitimate. The media and other Resistance members staked their reputations on the Russia probe, which imploded spectacularly when, despite the daily if not hourly promises of bombshells and “walls closing in,” Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his sprawling investigation were unable to find a single American who had colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election.
While he doesn’t have the resources Mueller had, Durham doesn’t face the limitations other investigations into the Russia collusion hoax had. Unlike the inspector general, who recently found the FBI committed egregious errors in its efforts to wiretap a Trump campaign affiliate, Durham can obtain information from people outside the Justice Department, including former employees, other agencies, and those outside the government. The probe has found enough to become a criminal investigation.
Latest Hit Piece on Barr Fits This Pattern
The best hope the media and other Resistance figures have is to discredit Nunes, Durham, Barr, and anyone else who threatens to embarrass them. That’s the context for the latest hit piece on Barr, by The New Yorker’s David Rohde. Rohde’s extreme bias against Trump is apparent in this and other writings, such as the one where he fantasized that Barr might be imprisoned for his support of Trump, and would have to recuse himself from the administration of the Justice Department as Democrats push their media-led impeachment effort.
The framework of the article is that a top official in the Trump administration supporting Trump and his policies is somehow nefarious. Among other things unique to the Trump administration is the media’s idea that political appointees should be virulently opposed to the president elected by the American people. Another key theme of Rohde’s is that a cabal of Christians is conspiring to do … bad things in the administration. The article is absolutely riddled with errors and omissions of key facts.
Peter Baker of The New York Times said Rohde’s article was a “smart, richly rendered and compelling profile.” It is, alas, not even close to any of these things.
1. Lies About the Historical Record
For example, in the second paragraph, Rohde writes about a speech Barr recently gave at the University of Notre Dame. Barr asserted that declining religious influence in American life has left the country more vulnerable to government dependency. He also noted that some of the left’s secularists are not particularly tolerant.
For Rohde, the speech was “a catalogue of grievances accumulated since the Reagan era, when Barr first enlisted in the culture wars. It included a series of contentious claims. He argued, for example, that the Founders of the United States saw religion as essential to democracy. ‘In the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people—a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order,’ he said.”
Of course, there is nothing contentious about the claim that the Founders saw religion as essential to maintaining the republic. You can read the full speech here (in so doing, you might note that every word of Rohde’s characterization is wrong or misleading). Barr follows up that line by immediately quoting Founding Father, statesman, attorney, writer, second President and first Vice President of the United States John Adams:
As John Adams put it, ‘We have no government armed with the power which is capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.’
The factual errors, inaccuracies, omissions of context, and poor sourcing are riddled throughout the article. While political differences such as those between Rohde and Barr account for some of the problems, such as whether it’s a good or bad idea to have a religious test for political appointees, Rohde gets major issues wrong, such as War Powers, the Mueller report and its handling, and the FISA abuse investigation.
2. The U.S. Didn’t Invade Kuwait In 1990
But he gets even basic facts wrong, such as his claim that “In August, 1990, Bush invaded Kuwait, with congressional approval.” It was Iraq that invaded Kuwait in August of 1990. The U.S.-led response to that invasion began with an aerial campaign in January 1991 and ground troops expelling those forces from Kuwait in February 1991, followed by a brief incursion into Iraq. The New Yorker has an unwarranted reputation as diligent in fact-checking, but the piece is full of errors that would be easy to check, suggesting the absence of fact checking.
Every paragraph in the nearly 10,000-word article has significant problems. Taken together, it is just one long string of innuendos that Barr is evil. Yet the innuendos are laid down in such a dry, disaffected style it’s as if Rohde and his editors don’t think the reader will notice how they’re leading him to one facile conclusion after another. It’s almost parodic.
Beyond the two errors cited above, here are just some of the other significant problems with Rohde’s emotional screed against Barr.
3. Mischaracterizes Independent Counsels
Rohde argues that Barr’s views on executive power are wrong. He praises President Jimmy Carter for signing legislation allowing independent counsels while denouncning all criticism of these counsels from Republicans or conservative Supreme Court justices.
Rohde writes, “During his [earlier] tenure, Barr turned down multiple requests to name prosecutors to examine potential executive-branch abuses. ‘The public integrity section told me that I had received more requests for independent counsel in eighteen months than all my predecessors combined,’ Barr recalled. ‘It was a joke.’”
Nowhere does Rohde mention that there was broad bipartisan consensus, led by Democrats, against the independent counsel legislation and that it was allowed to lapse as a result. Here’s the top of a 1999 CNN article, for example:
Saying, ‘I don’t think it is fixable,’ Sen. Tom Daschle on Sunday echoed the sentiments of many lawmakers on Capitol Hill toward the Independent Counsel Act.
With the statute set to expire on June 30, it is almost certain the law will be allowed to lapse.
‘The time has come for us to close the books and try to find another way within the Justice Department itself to handle these responsibilities,’ the South Dakota Democrat said on ABC’s ‘The Week.’
Even GOP members of Congress agree with the Senate’s minority leader.
4. Ignorance of Actual War Power Debates
Rohde takes snippets of an interesting interview with Barr to suggest that Barr’s views on executive power are crazy. For instance, he inaccurately summarizes a discussion between Barr and President Bush over whether the president has the right to go to war.
While Barr’s explanation is lengthy and specific to the circumstances, Rohde says his view is simply that the president can go to war whenever. Barr further explains his case that even though Bush had the right to fight Iraq and specific congressional approval to put troops near Iraq, that he should explicitly obtain Congress’s support for a counterinvasion.
Here’s how Rohde puts it:
Barr feared that lawmakers would try to block such an action, and so he urged Bush to cover himself by obtaining Congress’s support. Even the other conservatives in the room were startled; Justice Department officials were expected to maintain scrupulous impartiality. According to Barr, Cheney, at that time the Secretary of Defense, reprimanded him: ‘You’re giving him political advice, not legal advice.’ Barr recalled that he said, ‘I’m giving him both political and legal advice. They’re really sort of together when you get to this level.’ In August, 1990, Bush invaded Kuwait, with congressional approval. The following year, he named Barr Attorney General.
The quotes are from Barr’s own telling of events, and he never describes anyone as startled. As described in Judge David Barron’s “Waging War,” power struggles between Congress and the president go back to George Washington. And most successful presidents who have waged war use a combination of their commander in chief authority and congressional approval when serving. It is hard to imagine that seasoned government officials would be startled by discussions of law and politics before entering war.
5. Mischaracterizing Views On Criminal Justice
Rohde is upset that Barr doesn’t think the poor are more immoral than the rich. “In a 1995 symposium on violent crime, he argued that the root cause was not poverty but immorality,” Rohde writes, aghast. It’s unclear precisely what Rohde’s problem with the statement is. He notes that Barr doesn’t believe poverty programs will fix violent crime. But that’s not Barr’s view so much as the simple truth. Many billions of dollars have been spent on poverty programs without the desired effect on violent crime.
Later he writes, “In 1992, rioting erupted in Los Angeles following the acquittal of four police officers who had been videotaped beating the motorist Rodney King. Barr deployed two thousand federal agents on military planes to stop the unrest. He later argued that civil-rights charges should have been brought—not just against the offending officers but also against the rioters on the streets of L.A.”
Again, it’s unclear what his problem is. He leaves out, incidentally, that California Gov. Pete Wilson requested the agents, or that the deputy attorney general was responsible by statute for authorizing their deployment. More than 60 people were killed in the riots and nearly 2,400 were injured. It’s unclear why Rohde doesn’t think those victims matter.
6. Confuses Problem With Mueller’s Political Team and Other People’s Political Action
“In another article, Barr criticized Robert Mueller for hiring prosecutors who had donated to Democratic politicians—but did not disclose his own donations to Republicans,” Rohde writes, apparently confused about the difference between needing a politically balanced team to handle the most politically sensitive investigation in the Justice Department’s history, and being a Republican appointee and political donor.
7. Bizarre Characterization of Barr’s Memo About Obstruction of Justice
Here’s Rohde’s characterization of Barr’s memo to the Justice Department arguing against redefining obstruction of justice to include lawful actions taken by the president.
Barr has said that he wasn’t interested in the position of Attorney General. But in June, 2018, he sent an unsolicited, nineteen-page legal memo to Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, who was overseeing the Mueller investigation. He spent much of the letter elaborating an argument that a President’s Article II powers rendered him essentially incapable of obstructing justice. He acknowledged that such blatant acts as destroying evidence and encouraging perjury were impermissible. But, he wrote, ‘Mueller’s core premise—that the President acts ‘corruptly’ if he attempts to influence a proceeding in which his own conduct is being scrutinized—is untenable.’ Benjamin Wittes and Mikhaila Fogel, of the blog Lawfare, described the memo as ‘bizarre.’ Barr, without firsthand knowledge of the facts in the case, had devised a legal theory of obstruction, attributed it to Mueller, and then declared it ‘fatally misconceived.’
Rohde provides no evidence for his insinuation that Barr was seeking to be made attorney general. As for the memo, it was completely vindicated by the eventual attempt of Mueller to, well, redefine lawful actions taken by the president as obstruction of justice. The idea that Benjamin Wittes — given the nickname Dr. Tick Tock Von Boom Boom for his use of a cannon to suggest the Mueller investigation was tick-tick-ticking to an explosive outcome — as a good arbiter of what’s bizarre is itself bizarre.
8. Speaking Of Rohde’s Sources
Rohde clearly did not have access to Barr or most people close to him. There is maybe one person quoted who is not a member of the Resistance. Instead, Rohde goes to implicated parties in the Russia collusion hoax, such as Wittes, James Baker, and David Laufman. Laufman wasn’t just implicated in the Russia story, he was also a figure in the smearing of Brett Kavanaugh. As one former Justice official asked, “Was Rohde even trying?”
The most telling choice for a source was Don Ayer, a former Bush DOJ official Rohde used extensively. Ayer has attacked Barr on NeverTrump podcasts and is the media’s go-to source for negative quotes about his former colleague.
It probably should have been mentioned that Ayer had a disastrous and brief tenure as the deputy attorney general before being replaced by Barr in 1990. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh scrambled to find a deputy after his pick failed to make it through Senate confirmation. An aide suggested Ayer, who made it through, but quickly proved to be a bad match. He only made it a few months before being canned.
On his way out, Ayer trashed his boss and his career never took off. There are reports he felt resentful of Barr going back to 1990. Ayer ended up handling pro bono cases for Jones Day. It’s fine to use activists, implicated parties, or people with personal grudges as sources, of course, but Rohde should have disclosed all of these things.
9. Weird Description of Confirmation Hearing
Rohde suggests that Democratic senators should have given Barr a religious test for confirmation. “Ignoring the advice of some aides, Democrats did not dwell on Barr’s statements regarding criminal justice, or on whether his religious beliefs might affect his views.” Barr is Roman Catholic, which Rohde paints as a sick and demented belief system that should perhaps be barred from public service. That bigotry is woven throughout the article and thoroughly debunked here.
Rohde goes on to suggest that Barr should have seen his role as confrontational to Trump, deferential to Mueller, and supportive of the Russia hoax. “He testified that he believed that Mueller, a longtime associate whom he described as a “good friend,” should be allowed to complete his investigation. But he also signalled skepticism about the idea that Trump had colluded with Russia, and repeatedly expressed support for the President’s policies.”
Left unsaid is that Trump had not colluded with Russia and such skepticism was warranted. Or that neither Trump nor Barr nor anyone else interfered with the Mueller probe in any way.
10. Revisionist History on Kavanaugh
In Rohde’s telling, President Trump is such an obstructionist, that he was hostile to Congress’s request for information on Kavanaugh.
When past Presidents resisted sending materials to Congress by claiming ‘executive privilege,’ Justice Department lawyers tried to help resolve the disputes. Under Trump, that practice has stopped, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse told me. As Brett Kavanaugh was going through confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, Congress requested documents describing his work in the George W. Bush Administration. The White House refused access to more than a hundred thousand pages of them. Blank sheets of paper arrived on Capitol Hill stamped ‘Constitutional privilege,’ a category that members of Congress said they had never heard of before.
Rohde does not mention that senators could review Kavanaugh’s 307 opinions and hundreds of other opinions he joined, totaling more than 10,000 pages of the actual writing that matters. Or that Kavanaugh submitted more than 17,000 pages of speeches and articles, along with a 120-page written response to the Senate, more than any other nominee ever had. Or that senators were given nearly half a million pages of documents from Kavanaugh’s time in the executive branch.
Read more — and stuff that’s way more exciting than paperwork battles — in the best-selling book I co-authored with Carrie Severino, “Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court.”
11. False Claims About Barr’s Summary of Mueller
“When the special counsel Robert Mueller released the findings of his inquiry into connections between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, Barr presented a sanitized four-page summary before the report was made public, which the President used to declare himself cleared,” Rohde writes. In fact, Barr’s summary explicitly quoted Mueller’s view that while the report “does not conclude the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
I wonder if the Democrats realize that they are impeaching Trump for charges they invented out of thin air and devoid of evidence AND accusing Trump of trying to get Russian help AGAIN. One wonders, WHY aren’t they impeaching Trump for collusion, the original sin? Could it possibly be that the Democrats have been lying all along?
At what point will Democrats realize that their beloved liberal tell-you-what-you-want-to-hear media lies to them on a galactic scale? We’ve seen Greg and Rich here and they, obviously, would rather maintain their ignorance than entertain any open-minded examination of the lies they base their beliefs on. Even when cornered with questions that should expose to them the lies they believe and then pass along like a virus, but they simply don’t care. It is far too easy and painless to accept the lies than have the courage to face them.
Some of the things that you wonder about the Mandella effect, We invaded Kwait huh.
Fiction writing is their specialty using the voices in their heads as reliable sources, one of the final stages of full blown TDS. Highbrow satire?
Um… Pelosi is Roman Catholic. She should be barred from public service (and view), but not for her religious (non) beliefs.
@Deplorable Me: So really whats his issue with the Kennedys?
@kitt: No. Apparently Catholics who violate all the tenets of the church (in other words, totally unscrupulous people) are just fine.
Yet these people want a government that removes rights, violates rights and controls every aspect of life.
February 17, 2020 – From Donald Ayer, Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General under George H. W. Bush – Bill Barr Must Resign – The attorney general is working to destroy the integrity and independence of the Justice Department, in order to make Donald Trump a president who can operate above the law.
Former Attorney General Donald Ayer is a life-long member and supporter of the Republican Party.
As of February 17, the count of former DoJ officials publicly calling for Barr’s resignation now exceeds 2,000.
@Greg: Barr is reestablishing the integrity and independence of the DOJ. It is no longer answerable to George Soros and the far left. JUSTICE, not the liberal agenda, will be done.
You never answered (what a shock), when has perjury been dealt a 9 year sentence?
Holy moley 2000 cockroaches when the light is turned on, call Orkin!
Hint: Weissman has it figured out, Barr is pulling a ruse. A distraction with the help of Trump.
He wont resign, the cockroaches are sky screaming, and we are still laughing.
Much of it is in the AG report the FBI was feeding Steel classified information, he was creating a dossier for Hillary. Guess who gets caught in the crossfire(hurricane)bet you cant, you really are clueless.
Nothing can stop what is about to happen, not even 5000 cockroaches.
Do you not wonder why thousands of people who are in a position to know the most about the situation—both republicans and democrats—disagree with you?
@Greg: Perhaps they simply need to resign. How do 2,000 know the details of the Stone case? When has 9 years been handed down for perjury before? Why did Jackson excuse any potential juror with Republican connections but allow all those with Democrat connections? How is a mistrial NOT declared in light of the revelations of the prejudices of the jurors?
If those 2,000 think THIS is how justice is served, to hell with them; there are thousands more to replace them that are NOT globalist ideologues.
Ummm, wonder why Comrade Greggie didn’t tell you that the letter demanding Barr’s resignation stems from an anti-Trump group formed in 2017 (after the election of Donald J. Trump) Project Democracy. And how does Project Democracy describe itself?
“Protect Democracy was founded in early 2017 by a group of former high-level executive branch officials who served in the White House Counsel’s Office and upper-echelons of the Department of Justice and have unique knowledge of the norms that have constrained presidential power for decades and when those in power may be tempted to violate them. As many of us defended past presidents against legitimate oversight and illegitimate attacks, we also know how to leverage tools outside government to prevent the exploitation of power within it. We have since assembled a group of some of the world’s leading experts who have studied how other democracies have declined in the 21st Century as advisers, and are backed by a Harvard Law School clinic, pro bono relationships with many of the country’s leading law firms, and a cross-ideological advisory board ranging from President Obama’s former Solicitor General to former Reagan White House officials.”
Now, if you get the idea that this is a bunch of left wing legal eagles, you are correct. So let’s take a look at some of the cadre of left wingers being produced by the top-notch law schools (like Harvard) in the nation:
Ian Bassin, the co-founder and executive director, graduated from Yale Law School within the last 20 years.
Justin Florence, the co-founder and legal director, is a Yale Law graduate and a current Harvard faculty member
Sarah Johnson, the operations associate, is a 2016 Annapolis graduate.
Jonathan Arone, a paralegal, is a 2017 University of Chicago graduate whose history degree saw him focusing on “how misogyny emboldened the KKK during Reconstruction,” a very “woke” and “intersectional” concept.
Aaron Baird, “communications,” has a poly sci B.A. from UCLA and an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, founded by the socialist Fabian Society
Jamila Benkato, worked for the ACLU for immigrant rights (read: Open Borders) and got her J.D. from U.C. Irvine, one of the most anti-Semitic schools in the anti-Semitic University of California system.
This is the cream of the crop when it comes to leftist law graduates.
Each and everyone of these swamp rats is a deep stater.
But like the over 1,000 “law professors” (many who were NOT “law” professors) who signed the letter stating that Trump should be impeached, this too will pass away as AG Barr is not one to be bullied by a bunch of snowflakes.
Isn’t it odd how Comrade Greggie never gives you “the rest of the story?”
They don’t. And the fact that there is 2,000 FORMER employees of the Justice Department that would sign that letter shows one damn thing, loud and clear:
THE SWAMP IS DEEPER THAN THOUGHT AND REALLY, REALLY NEEDS TO BE DRAINED.
@Greg: Hey Gregy Greggie Greg Happy Trump Day, no mail today..
Maybe he knows we are smart enough to KNOW that they are all part of the deep state apparatus.
@Deplorable Me: Speaking of Presidents Day here is someone who wont be President, maybe needs an ankle bracelet in case he wanders off. https://twitter.com/abigailmarone/status/122918456241840537
Trump probably has their number on speed-dial:
Trump Doral’s bedbug lawsuit coming to a head
As you can see, however, this is a gross exaggeration, as the bedbugs got no farther up than the victim’s neck. Besides which, the victim, according to Trump’s lawyers, “…conducted himself so carelessly and negligently that his conduct was the sole proximate cause or contributing cause” for the bug bites that covered his body. Maybe he failed to use repellent?
@Greg: As we have seen, “probably” is an impeachable offense.
@Greg: Bed bugs became a near plague after liberals outlawed pesticides that killed them, The guy could have put his suits in an enclosed space at 150 degrees for 90minutes and killed the creatures. I once got a call to dispatch pest control to a Starbucks in NY for bedbugs in the soft chairs.
Perhaps his clothing was already infested when he arrived.
Because bedbugs live solely on blood, having them in your home is not a sign of dirtiness. You are as likely to find them in immaculate homes and hotel rooms as in filthy ones.
You will latch on any insignificant thing , but Happy Trump Day anyway.
@kitt: Just more liberal parasites.
@Deplorable Me: Bernie gets punked he actually calls the Russian radio guys back, then begs for foreign interference helping with his campaign.
The end is hilarious.
@kitt: Yeah, I saw that. I wonder why the liberal comedians aren’t playing it up big?