As a Watergate buff, I’m always pleased to have a pretext to go there. The Trump regime has given me plenty of opportunities. Bill Barr and John Mitchell will be linked in history as Attorneys General who disgraced the office. Mitchell, of course, went to the slammer for authorizing the Watergate break-in and lying about it to the Senate select committee on Watergate. Barr’s fate is as of yet unknown, but we can speculate. What’s a little speculation among friends?
The reputation of the Justice Department is the lowest it’s been since Mitchell and his successor, Richard Kleindienst, were convicted of felonies. They were also newsmagazine cover boys when that mattered:
Barr has acted as if he were Trump’s personal lawyer, not the people’s lawyer, which is what the job really entails. Repeat after me: the Attorney General is NOT “the nation’s top law enforcement official.” That’s one of my pet peeves or hobby horses so I like to mount it whenever feasible.
Barr clashed with Trump recently over the fakakta election fraud claims and a DOJ investigation into Hunter Biden. Trump wanted Barr’s abject loyalty on the former and thought the latter should have been made public. It was one of the few things during Barr’s tenure on which he followed departmental policy. But he deserves no credit for doing so and he’ll get none here.
I’m gobsmacked that anyone thinks that Barr wrote his exit letter. It was obviously dictated by the Impeached Insult Comedian much like the doctor’s letter that claimed he was in the best health of anyone on the planet.
I am greatly honored that you called on me to serve your administration and the American people once again as Attorney General. I am proud to have played a role in the many successes and unprecedented achievements you have delivered for the American people. Your 2016 victory speech in which you reached out to your opponents and called for working together for the benefit of the American people was immediately met by a partisan onslaught against you in which no tactic, no matter how abusive and deceitful, was out of bounds. The nadir of this campaign was the effort to cripple, if not oust, your administration with frenzied and baseless accusations of collusion with Russia.
He may be Trump’s bull goose sycophant, but florid language is not Barr’s thing. He writes in bone-dry legal prose. Only Donald Trump can adequately flatter Donald Trump. Barr may, however, have thrown in some of the fancier words like nadir. The only nadir Trump has heard of is Ralph…
You may have noticed that I called this ode to obsequiousness an exit or farewell letter. Nowhere in the letter are the words resign or fired used. I think he was pushed out by a president* eager to torment a new acting AG. Remember President* Pennywise’s last acting AG:
Whitaker 💦 pic.twitter.com/PuDGCoHCDm
— The Bear Jieux (@TheBearJieux) January 29, 2019
The post title hints at the notion that Barr could face criminal charges for some of his Trumpier actions. It’s unclear if that will happen but at least one former federal prosecutor thinks Barr leaves office with a pardon in his hip pocket:
Bill Barr “resigned.” Well, if that’s true (and with Barr, one never knows), then that suggests Barr already has that pocket presidential pardon he’ll be needing once the indictments start flying . . .
— Glenn Kirschner (@glennkirschner2) December 14, 2020
Barr’s successor is Deputy AG Jeffrey Rosen who is best described as Barr’s Barr. The Failing New York Times has a profile of the acting AG which indicates that he was down for all the DOJ horrors that occurred during Barr’s reign of error.
The other day I wrote about my distaste for the law of sedition. It has traditionally been used by right-wingers to suppress left-wing political speech. If Bill Barr and Jeffrey Rosen had their way, it would have been used against Black Lives Matter protestors:
And in September, Mr. Rosen threw his support behind Mr. Barr’s threat to charge perpetrators of violence amid Black Lives Matter demonstrations with sedition, a word that connotes plots to overthrow the government. In a memo to prosecutors, he rejected criticism of that threat as an overreach, noting that the law also covers seizing federal property or hindering the execution of federal laws outside the context of attempted revolutions.
“Those who have actually read the statute recognize that the text” of the sedition law, Mr. Rosen wrote, “could potentially apply to some of the violent acts that have occurred.”
Rosen also spearheaded the failed attempt to indict Andrew McCabe for conduct that was customarily handled administratively. How was that for a lawyerly sentence? It was almost as bone dry as your typical Bill Barr sentence. If I were a Catholic, I’d say five Hail Marys in penance for that prose but it didn’t help Fredo survive his brother’s wrath in Godfather II so I’ll skip it.
Rosen has shown the same tendency as Barr to implement President* Pennywise’s worst ideas. He’s unlikely to resist unless threatened with disbarment, which is a fate that a big law firm mouthpiece is apt to regard as akin to death. Billable hours are everything to the Jeffrey Rosens of the world.
Here’s hoping that the DOJ bureaucracy will run out the clock on any really bad ideas proposed by Trump to Rosen. Civil servants are revolting against the Trump regime now that it’s doomed. DOJ is full of smart lawyers. They’ll figure something out; at least I hope so.
Times are bleak but here’s a reminder that help is on the way: