Barr’s CBS Interview Should Concern Everyone Who Values Democracy
In his first network interview as President Trump’s Attorney General, William Barr continued his disinformation campaign and effort to place the president above the law. Barr, the second US Attorney General to be held in contempt of Congress, has proven he will go to any length to protect Donald Trump.
As we know, Barr took it upon himself to try and clear President Trump of obstruction of justice after now-resigned Special Counsel Robert Mueller outlined 10 areas of obstruction on the part of Trump. Barr has misrepresented the findings of the Mueller report before and after its release. Perhaps his biggest lie was trying to claim that the Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) memo stating a sitting president cannot be indicted didn’t factor into Mueller’s decision-making. Mueller’s report also explicitly notes that he believes it was Congress’ job to decide whether the President committed a crime.
On Thursday, Mueller spoke out publicly about his investigation for the first time. When contrasted with Barr’s previous press conference and congressional testimony, the fact Barr misrepresented and mishandled the Mueller report is indisputable. As I wrote in The Independent, Mueller’s new public statement made very clear that Russia’s interference in US democracy was not a “hoax,” explained how his report does not exonerate Trump, detailed how the OLC memo is the reason he didn’t charge Trump, and put the ball in Congress’ court by claiming it’s their job to hold the President accountable:
“The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”
Barr’s lengthy interview with CBS was clearly an attempt to shift the fact-based narrative Mueller set forth. But as we saw, it was nothing but more blatant gaslighting and will ultimately prove ineffective given how much Americans distrust him. Barr defended his release of the misleading 4-page summary when he received the report in March, claimed that he thought Mueller could’ve made a determination on obstruction, and defended his decision to protect President Trump from criminal liability.
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In this clip, Barr stated that he did not agree with the legal analysis Mueller outlined in his report and stood by his debunked claim that the Trump Campaign was spied on.
Barr may have disagreed with Mueller’s legal analysis, but countless legal experts agree with Mueller. Over 800 former federal prosecutors signed a letter asserting that Trump would be very clearly indicted for obstruction of justice if it weren’t for the OLC memo.
In a clip that RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel shared on Twitter, Barr accused Democrats of exactly what he is doing.
AG Barr is spot on.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) May 31, 2019
This is shameless projection. “Shredding the norms and institutions of our democracy” is what Trump does with his obstruction, stonewalling, and authoritarian tendencies and what Barr has done throughout his tenure as Attorney General.
The President of the United States and members of the Republican Party have falsely argued that former FBI Director James Comey, former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI Agent Peter Strozk, and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page could be guilty of treason. When Barr was asked about whether he felt they committed treason, he says he does not think they committed it as “a legal matter.” But he then goes on to make some remarks that appear as if he believes their actions were treacherous:
“I’m not suggesting that people did what they did necessarily because of conscious, nefarious motives. Sometimes people can convince themselves that what they’re doing is in the higher interest, the better good. They don’t realize that what they’re doing is really antithetical to the democratic system that we have.”
Barr later went into detail about how he feels there may have been bias at work on the part of the FBI when launching the probe, but only cites Lisa Page and Peter Strozk’s text messages. It appears Barr is running a Fox News conspiracy theory-driven investigation. Barr’s investigation picked up steam after Trump empowered him with the ability to declassify any material he deems fit. This interview was further confirmation of Barr’s sycophancy towards President Trump and shouldn’t assure any Americans that he will conduct that investigation fairly.
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