Tag: William Barr

The Obamagate Reckoning Has Begun


Mollie Hemingway has a great piece up today encouraging journalists to do the right thing. We are still at the beginning of the Obamagate revelations. They have a chance to report it honestly. But the window won’t stay open forever. Soon the historical opportunity to be among the brave truth-tellers of our era will be lost, and anyone who didn’t take it will be left twisting in the wind, their professional reputation in tatters.

It’s not a question of “if” anymore, but “when.”

Michael Flynn’s Political Enemies


An unfortunate if longstanding political brawl intensified last week. The Department of Justice, acting under Attorney General William Barr, filed a motion (the Barr Report) in the Federal District Court for Washington DC asking that the criminal charges brought by Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office against Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI be dropped “with prejudice,” which means the case cannot be brought again by any future—read Democratic—administration. The original guilty plea was secured on December 1, 2017. This was over ten months after two FBI agents interviewed Flynn on January 24, 2017, concerning conversations he had with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, before Donald Trump was inaugurated as President.

Liberal commentators have rushed to denounce the decision as purely political, but they present a weak case against Barr’s motion to set aside the guilty plea, which they argue is yet the latest chapter in the Trump coverup that began with Barr’s criticism of the Mueller report of March 2019.

Law professors Neal Katyal and Joshua Geltzer, writing in the New York Times, argue that “appalling damage” will result from the DOJ’s decision, noting that Flynn had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, and that the FBI had done nothing to “set up” or entrap Flynn. In a similar vein, a bellicose indictment on the blog Lawfare spares no venom in denouncing an “Ugly Day for the Justice Department.”

The President’s Privilege


The political winds are howling in Washington. The Democrats in the House of Representatives led by Representative Jerrold Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, are forging forward with a contempt citation against President Trump’s Attorney General William Barr. The charge: the failure to turn over to the House Committee a full and unredacted version of the Mueller report, along with the evidentiary record that Mueller compiled. The objective: to breathe new life into the obstruction charge on which Mueller declined to exonerate the President.

In a previous column, I argued that that the obstruction charge against Trump was relatively weak. Following the Nadler offensive, President Trump claimed that executive privilege covered all documents and witness testimony that formed the basis of the Mueller report. This broad claim of executive privilege has brought forth a torrent of protest from the president’s many detractors. For example, Michael Conway, former counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment of Richard Nixon in 1974, proclaimed that “Trump’s executive privilege claims over the Mueller report are as preposterous as Nixon’s claims during Watergate.”

It is of course difficult to predict whether Trump’s claim of executive privilege will prevail in whole or in part. Attorney General Barr surely seems on strong ground, wholly without any appeal to executive privilege, in insisting that he cannot release material contained in the redacted reports that he is legally required to keep confidential. In addition, as Professor Jack Goldsmith of Harvard has pointed out, the Clinton Justice Department’s regulations governing all independent special counsels, Mueller included, give to Barr, as Attorney General, “ultimate responsibility for the matter and how it is handled.” Barr’s basic obligation under the law was to “notify” Congress of the receipt of the Mueller report, and to release to Congress those portions of it that he “may determine” would be consistent with the public interest, so long as he complied “with applicable legal restrictions.” All of Mueller’s investigatory work ended with the submission of his report on March 22, and his public criticism of Barr in his letter of March 27, insisting that his summary of the report “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions,” were outside the scope of his original charge, as White House Counsel Emmet Flood pointed out in his powerful rebuttal letter of April 19.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America congratulate Benjamin Netanyahu on winning his fifth election for Prime Minister of Israel and hope the warm relations between the country and the US will continue. They also look forward to the investigation into how the Russian probe began after Attorney General William Barr promised an inquiry into the matter while testifying before Congress. And they worry about poor Republican messaging after most of the country thinks the tax cuts hurt them because they got a small refund this year, despite the significant decrease in money being withheld from paychecks in the first place.

Breaking: AG Barr Delivers Mueller Summary Report to Congress


Attorney General William Barr sent his summary of the Mueller Investigation to Congress Sunday. You can read a PDF of the document here. The letter recounts the full Mueller report, dividing it into two parts: possible Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, and obstruction of justice. Regarding the first, Barr writes:

The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the report states: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Concerning the second issue, obstruction, Barr writes:

Robert Mueller Delivers Report to Attorney General


According to news reports, Robert Mueller has delivered a report to Attorney General Bill Barr. Fox News:

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted to Attorney General Bill Barr his long-awaited report on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race and possible collusion with Trump associates — marking the end of the politically explosive probe and the beginning of a new battle over its contents and implications. Mueller is “not recommending any further indictments,” a senior DOJ official told Fox News.