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Sorry, but that is likely true, to the deep peril of our constitutional republic. I appreciate Attorney General Barr’s willingness to step up, knowing he would be trashed, yet I doubt he has the sort of strength and clarity of purpose to enforce equal justice. Susan Quinn was right on point about the detestable Andrew Weissmann, who should have been disbarred long ago. So what is to be done?
As another writer here on Ricochet observed earlier this year in “Barr Sets the Bar:”
At least 10 years now, maybe 20, we’ve needed an ethical, tough son-of-a-gun with the mental acuity of a SCOTUS justice in the AG chair. Boys and girls, I think we’ve got one, one who will do the right thing at the right time for the right reason. An AG who can balance what the law requires with what the country needs to know, no more and no less…all of which makes him an AG I can believe. Here’s hoping we can keep him long enough to finish the much-needed clean-up on Aisle 9.
I’m thinking everyone will be disappointed. AG Barr painted a scenario several times in the interview of self-deluded members of government sincerely believing they were justified but being horribly wrong. So, unless you get to criminal statutes without an intent component, all you get is an oh-so-stern finger-wagging and maybe referral for bar committee discipline. Fat chance the relevant lawyers would not politically rule for their fellow #resistance members.
Perhaps even Barr does not get that anything short of predawn raids and at least equal legal coercion, with the aid of sympathetic judges, is actually license for the next assault on our constitutional republic. Yet, he has clearly identified the threat of a “Praetorian Guard.” He made that point repeatedly in the CBS interview.
Norman Podhoretz has made the stakes of the 2020 election clear, speaking from his long decades of bitter experience with our political class. From an electoral politics perspective, holding off on the institutional house-cleaning for a few more months makes the issue fresh for the 2020 election. However, the institutional players are strongly motivated to avoid any real accountability, any real blame attaching to their beloved organizations. So, President Trump should immediately give two clear, simple points of guidance to Attorney General Barr.
First, the president should write that the American people deserve the full story, and have got less than half of it, before the 2020 election season. That is, the Democrats deserve to know all the cards that could possibly come out on their own party and partisans in the institutions. Accordingly, the Department of Justice, with 100% cooperation from all agencies, must deliver completed investigations and recommendations for prosecution or other disciplinary action no later than 1 January 2020.
To accomplish this, all vacation days, all weekends, must be canceled. No conferences, no workshops, not trips for “professional development,” not until the work is done. All personnel with any competence in the relevant areas of law must be pulled in from around the country. Work must be carried out 24/7 in shifts. There are no days off in the face of a terrorist threat, and now there must be no days off in the face of this clear and present danger to our election system. No more running out clocks, as every delay is time away from FBI and DOJ members’ families.
Second, the president should write that William Barr will, in the end, sit in front of a camera with graphics and walk through the decisions to investigate or not, to prosecute or not, to raid or not, for the whole mess. He will expressly address how he, as the one man responsible in the end for ensuring his agency truly applies justice equally, has equaled out the decisions made since 2016. Either he orders the same treatment for the Democrats team or he compensates the targets of Mueller, or Andrew Weissman.
Either he bankrupts Democrats with legal fees, after catching them in perjury traps, or he unilaterally offers to have the government make President Trump’s supporters like General Flynn whole. Either he rolls heavy teams, with body armor and automatic weapons in dawn raids, or he fires FBI and DOJ personnel who “just followed orders” and publicly apologizes to Paul Manifort and his wife. Equal justice must be visible and seen as such by the American public.
All of this should be in a clearly written presidential directive, a real legal document that compels action, not a series of tweets and verbal rants. If this seems a bit much, consider the Norman Podhoretz interview. He, not a “Trump pom-pom boy,” plainly called the 2020 election a culminating, decisive battle in what he called a [cultural/political] war. His current assessment aligns with the Flight 93 election thesis. If this seems a bit extreme and too risky, consider Michael Barone’s assessment in “Sometimes Parties Have to Change to Thrive or Even to Survive:”
Increasingly, the split now is between what the British analyst David Goodhart calls the Anywheres and the Somewheres. The Anywheres are the high-education metropolitan elites…and their less affluent neighbors, plus racial minorities. Somewheres tend to be less educated and located in the heartland countryside, where their families have been for generations.
…It may be that, by nominating and now almost unanimously supporting Trump despite his break from party ideology on immigration and trade, Republicans have enabled their party to transition beyond the old 1990-2010 alignments and adapt to the emerging division between Anywheres and Somewheres.
President Trump is a symptom, a consequence, not in himself a cause, of changing politics both here and abroad. If he is possibly to win reelection, or not, he needs to follow his brand of keeping his political promises. He got in to deal with dysfunctional, gridlocked government. He has time and again done things that politicians promised or mouthed support for over the decades. Now he has a chance to actually clean up powerful agencies that were last cleaned up after Watergate and the end of the Vietnam War (see the Church Committee reports). Once again, President Trump might go well by doing good.