2 wild interviews show how AG Barr is behaving more like Trump's personal defense lawyer than the country's top law enforcement officer
[OCS: The author’s apparent bias can be found in her bio where we find that her previous employer was MSNBC, which has a history of virulent anti-Trump positions and might be considered by fair-minded observers to be part of the propaganda apparatus of the Democrat Party as much as the New York Times and Washington Post. Since MSNBC hires relatively few conservatives, it appears likely that the author is a progressive socialist democrat.<Source>]
- Attorney General William Barr defended President Donald Trump's characterization of the Russia investigation as a "witch hunt" in a new Fox News interview this week.
- When host Bill Hemmer asked Barr if he's comfortable labeling the Russia probe a witch hunt, Barr replied, "I use what words I use … but I think if I had been falsely accused, I'd be comfortable saying it was a witch hunt."
- Barr also told Fox News he's investing significant resources into finding out if "government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale" when launching the Russia probe.
- In a separate interview with the Wall Street Journal, Barr doubled down on his previous claims that the FBI was "spying" on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. "Government power was used to spy on American citizens," Barr said.
- The interviews added to a growing list of examples that critics say are demonstrative of how Barr is acting more as the president's defense lawyer than as the country's top law enforcement officer.
Since he took over as attorney general, William Barr has been at the center of controversy after controversy when it related to his oversight of the FBI's Russia investigation, the special counsel Robert Mueller, and his repeated efforts to shield President Donald Trump from public scrutiny.
[OCS: I am unaware of any legitimate controversy other than that ginned-up by the progressive socialist democrats in the efforts to demonize President Donald Trump and any of his Administration officials, ostensibly as part of their positioning for the upcoming 2020 presidential election cycle. There is no credible evidence that the Attorney General could shield Donald Trump from further public scrutiny due to Trump’s propensity to discuss everything openly and usually in front of the media. There were no such claims by the media about AGs Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch who affirmatively protected the Obama Administration.
It should be noted that it is the duty of the AG to protect the integrity of the Office of the President and the prerogatives of the Executive Branch over which the President governs with unitary constitutional power.]
This week marked another flashpoint, when Barr made some telling comments to Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, many of which fueled speculation that he is acting more as the president's defense lawyer than as the top law enforcement officer in the US.
[OCS: This is the face of “fake news,” A story based on attention-getting hyperbolic language and the speculation of others.]
In the new interview with Fox News, Barr gave a full throated defense of the president's baseless accusation that Mueller was on a "witch hunt" against him and his associates.
[OCS: This is a distortion of the facts. Barr did not defend the President, but did acknowledge how this matter might appear to be a “witch hunt” from Trump’s perspective. From any perspective, this sordid affair appears to be the worst political scandal in American history – an opposition-funded attempt at a silent coup. And, the more that is revealed about Mueller’s activities, the more it does look like a political witch hunt.”]
During his confirmation hearing earlier this year, Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee he trusted Mueller's judgment and added that he did not believe the special counsel would be involved in a witch hunt.
[OCS: Barr and Mueller have been good friends for over 30 years. At the time of his remarks, there was no reason to believe that Mueller was conflicted to the point he would wittingly or unwittingly shade his findings for political impact. We now know that the investigation was deeply flawed, from the hyper-partisan investigators to the intentionally dishonest final report.]
But the attorney general changed his tune in a big way this week, telling Fox News host Bill Hemmer that Trump was justified in characterizing the investigation as a politically motivated fishing expedition.
[OCS: Two years and $30 million spent running around the globe trying to find dirt on Donald Trump does appear to be little more than a fishing expedition when the source and nature of the original allegations were known to be false and fraudulent from the beginning of the investigation.]
"He was saying he was innocent and that he was being falsely accused," Barr said of the president. "And if you're falsely accused, you would think that something was a witch hunt."
Barr also told Fox he's investing significant resources into finding out whether "government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale" when launching the Russia probe. "A lot of the answers have been inadequate and some of the explanations I've gotten don't hang together," he said. "In a sense, I have more questions today than I did when I first started."
[OCS: From what has been reported in the open news media, it does appear that high-ranking Obama Administration officials did abuse the power of their office and attempt to interfere in a presidential election. And, it does appear that many of these activities may be found to be criminal acts that violate existing federal laws and campaign rules and regulations.]
Barr added that Trump has been investigated for "conspiring with the Russians, and we now know that was simply false." When Hemmer asked Barr if he's comfortable labeling the Russia probe a witch hunt, Barr replied, "I use what words I use … but I think if I had been falsely accused, I'd be comfortable saying it was a witch hunt."'
[OCS: Why the author’s preoccupation with “witch hunts?” It is time to move on.]
Meanwhile, in a separate interview with The Journal, Barr doubled down on his previous claims that the FBI was "spying" on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
"Government power was used to spy on American citizens," Barr told The Journal. "I can't imagine any world where we wouldn't take a look and make sure that was done properly."
[OCS: Electronic surveillance and the insertion of operatives, both foreign and domestic, into a political campaign or Administration can be fairly and accurately characterized as “spying.”]
There is no evidence to date that the FBI or the Justice Department broke protocol when conducting the Russia investigation or seeking a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against Trump aide Carter Page.
[OCS: This is a bald-faced lie. It is true only if you are writing about evidence introduced in a court of competent jurisdiction. However, there is documentary evidence of improper activities in the form of sworn testimony and contemporaneously written materials (emails and memoranda) that the basis of the FISA warrant was not only improper protocol, but may have broken departmental regulations as well as the law regarding perjury.]
But there are now three separate entities who have been tasked with investigating alleged misconduct and corruption at both agencies: the DOJ's Office of the Inspector General, and US attorneys John Huber and John Durham.
[OCS: This may not be true as there are likely to be other executive-branch IG investigations involving the intelligence agencies and their participation in this sordid affair. It is unknown whether or not the FISA Court is also investigating the matter as well as already empaneled Grand Juries]
How the Russia investigation started, and how Barr has twisted Mueller's findings
[OCS: According to those who got caught-up in a criminal political operation?]
In July 2016, WikiLeaks published the first of several troves of hacked Democratic National Committee emails that had been stolen by the Russian government.
[OCS: There is sufficient reason to believe that a campaign insider downloaded and leaked the documents in question rather than the system being hacked. It should be noted that the DNC refused to allow the FBI to forensically examine their server and that they used a partisan security firm who made the allegation – which remains uncorroborated. The crime involves the unauthorized access to the computer, not the distribution and reporting of the purloined materials.]
Following the leak, the Australian government notified the FBI that George Papadopoulos, then a Trump campaign foreign policy aide, boasted a few months earlier to an Australian diplomat that Russia had dirt on the Hillary Clinton campaign in the form of "thousands" of emails.
The tip prompted the FBI to open an inquiry into Russia's interference in the 2016 election and whether anyone associated with the Trump campaign secretly worked with Moscow to help tilt the race in his favor.
[OCS: Note at this point this was a counterintelligence operation not a criminal investigation. And considering that Papadopoulos was covertly approached by several intelligence operatives, it appears that he was set-up to become the ignition point of the investigation. There was no proof that Trump or any campaign official was working with the Russians at this point in time. However, Hillary Clinton’s people through Christopher Steele were working with Russians to develop dirt on Donald Trump.]
Meanwhile, when Trump fired FBI director James Comey in May 2017, the move sparked significant concern among senior officials that the president was working on behalf of the Russian government. After Comey's firing, the bureau also launched a criminal investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice.
[OCS: Firing James Comey for cause was a legal prerogative of the President. And, have the Democrats forgotten that they called for Comey’s firing as did Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. There was no predicate crime and no judicial proceedings for Trump to have obstructed.
Unlike Barack Obama, Trump turned over documents without the claim of executive privilege and made executive-branch personnel available to investigators. Trump, it seems, is the most ethical and open of the modern presidents.]
Mueller's final report said the Russia investigation did not establish that members of the campaign coordinated with Russia during the election.
[OCS: A prosecutor speaks through indictments, not reports. No indictments – nothing to see here, move along.]
But prosecutors prefaced that statement with a notable caveat: "The investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and … the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts."
[OCS: This is spin – the person who wrote those words was not an investigator, not a prosecutor, but a political operative who inserted deliberately inflammatory language in a confidential document.]
The special counsel declined to make a "traditional prosecutorial judgment" on whether Trump obstructed justice, citing DOJ guidelines that say a sitting president cannot be indicted.
[OCS: This too is spin. The traditional prosecutorial judgement was made: no indictment was sought or brought. As for the DOJ guidelines, it appears that Mueller was unwilling to test them in a court of law should he have felt that strongly that the President should have been indicted.]
But his team laid out an extensive roadmap of evidence against Trump, adding, "If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state … Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment."
[OCS: This s bullpucky. This type material never appears in prosecution reports to their superiors. The information, at this point is the prosecutor’s opinion, based on hearsay, and has not been challenged and tested in a court of law. Because of public pressure, Mueller’s report was regarded as a mechanism to put these matters before Congress and the American public.]
Instead of releasing Mueller's report when it was submitted to him, Barr opted to put out a four-page summary of his "principal conclusions" about Mueller's findings. The letter highlighted Mueller's conclusion that there wasn't enough evidence to bring a criminal conspiracy charge against Trump or anyone on his campaign. It also said Mueller declined to make a judgment on the obstruction question.
[OCS: This is disingenuous. AG Barr had no legal requirement to release the report. And, it appears that the Mueller team did not identify the reasons for the redactions which artificially delayed the release of the report so the progressive spin could continue.
Rather that wait, Barr released a top-line summary after Mueller refused to review or comment on the report prior to release.
Barr subsequently released the entire point and people can judge for themselves what is in the report. And, unlike the progressive spinmeisters, the redactions do not hide or obscure a smoking gun. ]
The letter left out the extensive details Mueller laid out on the myriad contacts Trump associates had with Russians, and Trump's concerted efforts to hamper the resulting investigation.
[OCS: Condensing 400+ pages into 4 pages is an impossible task. The acts cited by the report did not rise to obstruction, hence no indictments, open or sealed, were sought.]
Mueller indicated in the report that it was up to Congress to investigate the obstruction question further. But Barr took it upon himself to announce, before the report was released, that Trump had not committed an obstruction offense.
[OCS: Congress is not an investigatory body, has limited access to other branches of government under “separation of powers,” and a prosecutor’s report is not meant for Congress, but it is meant to tell the AG how his employees decided to indict or not to indict. Five-minute rounds of committee speechifying in the form of a question is not an honest attempt to elicit useful information.]
Earlier this month, it surfaced that Mueller sent two letters to Barr expressing frustration with the way the attorney general handled the report. One was sent on March 25, one day after Barr released his summary of the report. The second was sent on March 27.
In the March 27 letter, Mueller said he was dissatisfied with the fact that Barr's letter "did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office's work and conclusions."
[OCS: Mueller did not take issue with the substance of Barr’s summary, but how it was being spun and misperceived in the partisan media. Something beyond Barr’s control. Since Mueller refused to review the document prior to release, his letter was disingenuous and possibly written to save him from progressive scorn because he did not deliver the Trump indictment that the progressives sought.]
"We communicated that concern to the Department on the morning of March 25," Mueller continued. "There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations." <Source>
[OCS: That Robert Mueller and his team were deeply mired in the swamp is proof of their conflicted ability to conduct a fair and impartial investigation. Especially when they deliberately overlooked the source of the allegations: a false and misleading document paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC through a law firm that laundered campaign cash beyond the reporting requirements of the FEC.
The entire affair stinks to high heaven.]