If Russia was listening to Bill Barr’s interview on Fox News last night, it surely got the message when he called the investigation into Russia’s 2016 meddling a “doomsday scenario of abuse of government power” and indicated no concern about Russian interference then or now.
Barr’s whole interview was disgracefully partisan, considering he’s supposed to be the people’s representative, not a Trump-Republican hack. But Barr might as well have worn a button declaring his allegiance for the Trump-supporting minority of Americans and disgust and disdain for the rest of us.
But his lack of concern for Russian interference in our upcoming election was the biggest disgrace.
Barr began by arguing there was no good case against Michael Flynn
It started with his defense of moving to have charges against Michael Flynn dropped. Barr dishonestly claimed that “everyone who knew anything about [the Michael Flynn] case thought it was a bit hinky,” and “untethered to any legitimate investigative purpose." He added, "Its sole purpose was to try to get him to lie.” But as former FBI agent Asha Rangappa pointed out, “if Barr prevails the most fundamental building blocks of counterintelligence investigations — such as ensuring that the FBI can question people about contacts with hostile foreign agents and hold them accountable if they conceal them — are no longer things we can count on.”
To be clear, what Flynn did was to undercut the Obama administration’s sanctions of Russia – imposed because of election interference. As Just Security put it, “at the very least [Flynn] implied to [Ambassador] Kislyak that the Trump Administration would be more conciliatory to Russia, notwithstanding its election interference, and he may even have suggested that Trump might alleviate the sanctions Obama had imposed that very morning.”
But Barr tried to justify his behavior as unbiased allegiance to the rule of law (that his critics don't understand or care about):
BARR: Many of my critics are constantly spouting the term “rule of law. They don’t know what it means. I don’t think they’ve ever really thought about it but the rule of law means at its core that any rule you apply to one person, you have to be willing to and in fact do apply to the next and the next who is similarly situated.
That’s an important discipline that protects all of us because it means anything the government’s going to do to me, they’re going to be willing to do to someone else in my position and that means that rules will be reasonable, reasonably applied and that didn’t happen.
…Whenever I’m supervising a case that I don’t think is being handled fairly to the individual because the individual is being singled out and treated differently, I’ll stop that because that’s what the rule of law is all about.
Tell that to Michael Cohen, or better yet, the judge who, just a few weeks ago, found that Barr's Justice Department had violated Michael Cohen’s First Amendment rights and retaliated against him by ordering him back to prison because he was writing a book critical of Donald Trump.
Predictably, hate-mongering Trumper and host Mark Levin didn’t ask about that.
Barr indicated no concern for past or future Russia interference in U.S. elections
Putting the details of the Flynn case aside, Barr went on to attack the Russia investigation, itself. I care a lot about making sure government doesn’t overreach but the attorney general is also supposed to engage in appropriate investigations and crime fighting. Barr indicated he could not have cared less about Russia’s interference, just like Trump.
Barr was defending himself for not indicting anyone in the "Obamagate" scandal yet - or maybe pre-justifying an indictment dropping much closer to the election. But in conflating the cases, he suggested he'd be reluctant to pursue any Trump figures over collusion with Russia.
BARR: You know, part of the rule of law, as far as I’m concerned and one thing I want to get back to is not using the criminal justice system as a political tool. I think it has been in the past. I think the whole Russiagate thing was an instance of that. …
What I want to do is make it clear that we will indict people only when we are satisfied that the standards of the department have been met which means that we believe a crime has been committed by this person and we have proof beyond a reasonable doubt to prove it, to convict them, to convict them, and we have to go to a grand jury and the grand jury has to agree to get the indictment and proof beyond a reasonable doubt is a high standard and I think all political sides have gotten into the habit in this country of just sort of saying that their political opponents have done something terrible, they think it’s terrible. You know, it’s enough for me to conclude he’s terrible, why isn’t he in prison?
A truly independent attorney general, especially one espousing the equal application of the rule of law, would have expressed at least some concern about a foreign country trying to influence our election on his boss' behalf.
You can watch this disgrace to democracy below, from the August 9, 2020 Life, Liberty & Levin. The relevant discussion begins at about the 19:37 mark.
Ellen – I don’t know if you’ll be able to find it, but Navarro gave a really untethered interview over the weekend some time. Amongst other things, he said not to worry about dropping the payroll tax – that they’d just take the money for SS and Medicare from ‘the general pool’.