Demonstrating his chops as Trump’s chief enabler, Devin Nunes will send Attorney General William Barr eight criminal referrals of people he is accusing of “lying to Congress, misleading Congress and leaking classified information.” They all stem from his attempt to uncover abuse at the FBI and Department of Justice. In other words, now that Mueller has completed his report, Nunes wants the investigators to be investigated, just as the president has demanded.
Given the fact that Barr has been described by so many people as a serious career professional, it is tempting to simply dismiss that as yet one more example of Nunes going off the rails. But that would be a mistake.
Back in November 2017, the New York Times’ Peter Baker published an article about Trump putting pressure on then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton—just as he suggested he would do in one of their debates.
As part of his reporting, Baker contacted ten former attorney’s general to ask them what they would do if they found themselves in that situation. Only one responded: William Barr.
“There is nothing inherently wrong about a president calling for an investigation,” said William P. Barr, who ran the Justice Department under President George Bush. “Although an investigation shouldn’t be launched just because a president wants it, the ultimate question is whether the matter warrants investigation.”
Mr. Barr said he sees more basis for investigating the uranium deal than any supposed collusion between Mr. Trump and Russia. “To the extent it is not pursuing these matters, the department is abdicating its responsibility,” he said.
A few months ago, after Trump nominated Barr to be his next attorney general, Baker tweeted his entire email response, which was reported almost verbatim in the original piece. The only thing he left out was that Barr didn’t just refer to the uranium deal, he wrote that the Justice Department would abdicate its responsibility if it failed to investigate “the uranium deal, as well as the foundation.”
Notice that Barr found nothing troubling about a president calling for an investigation of his opponent, something any serious career professional would have found to be anathema. But he took it one step further and embraced the conspiracy theories about the uranium deal and the Clinton Foundation.
As a reminder, those stories—which have been repeatedly debunked—were the creation of Peter Schweizer in his book Clinton Cash. The entire effort was financed by Robert Mercer and eventually weaponized by Steve Bannon.
Now we have an attorney general who thinks there is more basis to those conspiracy theories about Clinton than he does about ties between Trump and Russia, and we’re supposed to trust his independent judgement when it comes to what gets released from the Mueller report.
Move over Devin Nunes. You have been replaced as Trump’s chief enabler.