William Barr

barr  This morning, Walter Shaub expressed some of the disgust I am feeling over the Barr confirmation hearing and the media coverage of the hearing.  First of all, the performance of the Democrats, their utter failure to confront Barr with his unsuitability for the position of Attorney General, left me little hope that there will ever be a just response to the crimes of  the Trump Administration.

The appointment of Barr will be a disaster for the country and spells the end of any attempt to bring justice to the people occupying and colluding with the White House.  But, there was no moral outrage from the Democrats, no attempt to educate the public about the importance of the Attorney General’s position with regard to the Mueller case.  The Democrats behaved like this was just business as usual, joking with Barr, making (what they believed were) cute little asides about his family and his grandson.  It was revolting.  Democracy, what little we have left, is at stake and they make jokes.

Second, Barr’s shameless auditioning for the position in a memo advertising his contempt for the Mueller probe, should have disqualified him.  Every Democrat on that committee should have set their hair on fire protesting this confirmation and telling the American public why.  Instead, they asked questions about immigration and drug sentencing as if this were a legitimate nominee.

Third, the media went on and on and on and on about what Barr said in the confirmation hearing.  What universe are they living in that they think what Barr said makes one goddamn bit of difference in terms of what he will do.  These people will do anything to get and stay in power, anything.  Anybody who believes that they can be taken at their word, or held to their positions is a baby.

William Barr was nominated for the position of Attorney General because he had already signaled to Trump that he would protect him and subvert any attempt to bring this loathsome administration to justice.  William Barr was nominated because of his reactionary legal opinions about the unitary executive and the fact that he supported the pardon of seven of the people implicated in the Iran/Contra scandal.  He has already demonstrated himself to be complicit in absolving those in power for their criminality.

This is a quote from Morning Edition (Johnson, Carrie, 1/14/19, William Barr supported pardons in an earlier “Witch Hunt'” Iran/Contra.  Morning Edition)

“Then-Attorney General Barr supported the president’s (HWBush’s) decision (to issue pardons) in the Iran-Contra case, which gave clemency to people who had been officials in the administration of President Ronald Reagan, including former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. He had been set to go on trial to face charges about lying to Congress.

To the man who led the Iran-Contra investigation, however, the pardons represented a miscarriage of justice.

“It demonstrates that powerful people with powerful allies can commit serious crimes in high office, deliberately abusing the public trust without consequences,” said Lawrence Walsh, the independent prosecutor in the case, at the time of the pardons.

Barr said later that he believed Bush had made the right decision and that he felt people in the case had been treated unfairly.

Reporting in the New York Times This Morning


Reporting in the New York Times today:

  • John Bolton requested military options to strike Iran from the Pentagon last year. This is at a time when the President needs a distraction from his growing problems with the Mueller investigation and leaks that he was 1) being investigated early on in the administration over ties to Russia, and 2) destroyed the translator notes from the private meeting with Putin in Helsinki.  Bolton’s request reportedly “alarmed” Mattis.  Anyone who thinks this is a good idea should read  “Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone”  https://www.amazon.com/Imperial-Life-Emerald-City-Inside/dp/0307278832.    One of the most disturbing thing about this article is the reporting that Bolton has virtually eliminated “the internal policy debates that could air high-level disagreements.”  Bolton wants only his arguments before Trump, and Bolton wants a war.
  • The Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, went to Turkey last week and asked Erdogan for an agreement that Turkey would not attack the Kurds if the U.S. withdrew from Syria. Erdogan refused to even see Pompeo and ridiculed the proposition.
  • Schumer (I don’t know how) is supposed to force some kind of vote on the lifting of the Deripaska sanctions in exchange for Deripaska relinquishing some shares of his companies.
  • Trump is openly threatening Michael Cohen’s father-in-law with government investigation.  Intimidating a witness is a felony.
  • The VA is planning to shift “billions of dollars from government-run veterans’ hospitals to private health care providers.” The Koch brothers have long funded efforts to privatize veteran’s health care.  I don’t think the Koch brothers have any humanitarian interest in veterans.
  • Within hours of being elected, California’s new governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order proposing a plan which would allow California to negotiate with drug manufacturers.
  • Confirmation hearings for William Barr will begin tomorrow. Barr has a long history of “advancing an aggressive, expansive conception of presidential power.”   Barr has also advertised his opinion that Trump virtually cannot obstruct justice and certainly did not do so when he fired Jim Comey.   The question here is whether Democrats can muster the cajones to ask Barr the tough questions that are necessary.
  • Barr needs to recuse himself. Whitaker needs to recuse himself.  So the question is who will make him?  Whitaker has just refused to recuse himself and ignore demands that he do so.
  • Barr recommended that HW Bush pardon Reagan administration officials convicted in or implicated in the Iran/Contra scandal. Bush did so.
  • A lawyer in the Office of Legal Counsel resigned last week because she could no longer give cover to the President’s behavior.

I still don’t understand why Rod Rosenstein is quitting.  I still don’t understand why he wrote the letter used to fire Comey.

Things I’m Thinking About This Morning: George H.W. Bush,Weak Enforcement of laws against White Collar Crime and other things.

george hw

  • Reporting that Turkey is massing troops to wipe out the Kurds.
  • The new Secretary of Defense chosen by Trump. He has no military or political experience.  He worked for Boeing one of the two most important military contractors.  Who’s draining the swamp?
  • Jane Mayer’s book “Strange Justice” about Clarence Thomas. What a piece of scum this man is.  People who wanted to lament the demise of George H.W. Bush should remember that Bush gave us not only Willie Horton, but Clarence Thomas.
  • Arm sales and military support to Saudi Arabia to continue the war in Yemen.
  • The lax enforcement of laws against white collar crime. This weak enforcement has given us Trump, Manafort, Cohen, Wilbur Ross, Epstein and a host of others.  If these laws were enforced, these guys would be in jail.
  • In a related thought, the Justice Department’s decisions to settle a number of cases involving big pharma over pushing opioids. In the NYT, Barry Meier (12/26/18) reports the difficulty holding big Pharma accountable.
  • “A Gutted I.R.S. makes the Rich Richer,” article about lack of enforcement by the IRS on big violators.