During his testimony before the House Appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday, Attorney General William Barr affirmed his decision to fight the release of the un-redacted Mueller report to members of Congress. This sets up a battle that will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.
But Barr also gave another indication that he has taken on the role of being the president’s chief enabler. He said, “I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around all the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted during the summer of 2016.” According to Bloomberg’s Chris Strohm and Billy House, he’s taken it one step further.
Attorney General William Barr has assembled a team to review controversial counterintelligence decisions made by Justice Department and FBI officials, including actions taken during the probe of the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016, according to a person familiar with the matter.
This indicates that Barr is looking into allegations that Republican lawmakers have been pursuing for more than a year — that the investigation into President Donald Trump and possible collusion with Russia was tainted at the start by anti-Trump bias in the FBI and Justice Department.
That information needs to be paired with the fact that Barr told Peter Baker at the New York Times that he had no problem with a president demanding an investigation of his opponent and that there was a stronger basis for investigating the so-called “uranium deal” and the Clinton Foundation than there was for investigating Trump’s ties to Russia. In other words, he came into the job already dismissive of the idea that an investigation into the latter was warranted.
It is one thing for private citizen William Barr to buy into the right-wing conspiracy theories that have been developed by Trump’s enablers to distract Americans from the serious questions raised by this president’s relationship to Vladimir Putin. But since becoming attorney general, we must assume that Barr has had access to intelligence data demonstrating that:
- the CIA was regularly receiving warnings from our allies about suspicious communications between the Trump campaign and Russians,
- the Trump campaign was infused with people who had suspicious ties to Russia, such as Michael Flynn, Carter Page, and Paul Manafort,
- the Trump campaign made changes to the Republican Party platform in ways that would align it with Putin’s agenda in Ukraine, and
- George Papadopoulos, a member of Trump’s foreign policy advisory group, told an Australian diplomat that Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.
After all of that, a former MI6 agent, who had credibility in the U.S. intelligence community, handed them a dossier that made claims about deep ties between Donald Trump and the Russians. Regardless of the conclusions reached by Robert Mueller, the FBI would have been derelict in their duty if they had failed to investigate. No one but a political hack could come to any other conclusion.
We now have an attorney general who:
- said that it was acceptable for a president to demand an investigation of his opponent,
- bought into conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton,
- wrote a memo claiming that Trump couldn’t be guilty of obstruction of justice,
- released a summary of the Mueller report that was used by the president to claim exoneration, instead of the summaries written by the investigators,
- refused to release the un-redacted Mueller report to members of Congress, and
- has launched an investigation into the investigators.
Donald Trump once complained that, with Jeff Sessions, he didn’t have an attorney general who protected him. He obviously remedied that situation with William Barr.