Attorney General William Barr again lied about his use of the word "spying" in his recent CBS interview (Barr Interview with CBS).
As many recall, in his April 10th, 2019, congressional testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee Barr said, "I think spying did occur, yes," on the Trump campaign. He later on numerous occasions defended his use of the word "spying." Today in the CBS interview he did so again:
quote:Yeah, I mean, I guess it has become a dirty word somehow. It hasn't ever been for me. I think there is nothing wrong with spying, the question is always whether it is authorized by law.
Barr is lying through his teeth. There is almost no one whose chest puffs out with pride when accused of spying and of being a spy. That "spying" is a pejorative term in most contexts, including this one, cannot be denied.
When Barr said he believed spying on the Trump campaign did occur, he obviously did not mean surveillance occurred because no one doubts the Trump campaign was surveilled. Everyone knows it was. It's an established fact. We even have the (redacted) text of the Carter Page FISA warrant. There is no question that the FBI performed surveillance upon the Trump campaign. The question is whether the surveillance was properly authorized.
So when Barr said he believed spying occurred he was stating his belief that the surveillance was unauthorized and illegitimate. His later defenses of his use of the term all ring hollow. When it comes to lying, Trump and Barr are like peas in a pod. Their lies are equally bold, the only difference being Barr's greater command of nuance and subtlety.
Mueller and Barr had differing interpretations of the OLC (DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel) opinion about whether a sitting president could be indicted. Mueller saw little difference between an indictment and stating an opinion on whether laws had been broken. Barr saw little problem with rendering such an opinion.
I have located two copies of that September 24, 1973, OLC opinion:
I found the first one easier on the eyes. The second one, a PDF of the original typewritten memo, does not appear to have been typed on a quality typewriter of the period, such as an IBM Selectric.
The first part provides a great deal of legal background. I skipped the parts about case law but found the parts explaining their thinking fascinating, such as the conclusion that impeachment must precede any criminal preceding. The relevant section begins on page 30. This paragraph argues that the negative effects of criminal proceedings argue against them:
quote:This may be an overstatement, but surely it contains a kernel of truth, namely that the President is the symbolic head of the Nation. To wound him by a criminal proceeding is to hamstring the operation of the whole governmental apparatus, both in foreign and domestic affairs. It is not to be forgotten that the modem Presidency, under whatever party, has had to assume a leadership role undreamed of in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The spectacle of an indicted President still trying to serve as Chief Executive boggles the imagination.
And the next paragraph argues that it makes more sense for impeachment via the House and Senate to precede any criminal proceedings:
quote:Perhaps this thought is best tested by considering what would flow from the reverse conclusion, i.e., an attempted criminal trial of the President. A President after all is selected in a highly complex nationwide effort that involves most of the major socio-economic and political forces of our whole society. Would it not be incongruous to bring him down, before the Congress has acted, by a jury of twelve, selected by chance "off the street” as Holmes put it? Surely the House and Senate, via impeachment, are more appropriate agencies for such a crucial task, mads unavoidably political by the nature of the "defendant.”
The memo next describes the incongruities of a jury trial of a president, then concludes that impeachment before criminal proceedings makes much more sense:
quote:A President who would face jury trial rather than resign could be expected to persist to the point of appealing an adverse verdict. The process could then drag out for months. By contrast the authorised process of impeachment is well-adapted to achieving a relatively speedy and final resolution by a nation-based Senate trial. The whole country Is represented at the trial, there is no appeal from the verdict, and removal opens the way for placing the political system on a new and more healthy foundation.
It can be difficult to identify the conclusion amongst all the back and forth arguments the memo considers, but here they make clear that they are "suggesting that an impeachment proceeding is the only appropriate way to deal with a President while in office":
quote:In suggesting that an impeachment proceeding is the only appropriate way to deal with a President while in office, we realize that there are certain drawbacks, such as the running of a statute of limitations while the President is in office, thus preventing any trial for such offenses.
Anyone taking the time and trouble to read and understand the memo can easily see that Attorney General William Barr has stepped outside its guidance. Its opinion is that the DOJ should not hamstring a president by burdening him with criminal accusations. Mueller properly followed OLC guidelines in his investigation and report, and Barr did not in declaring the president innocent of any wrongdoing. It is not the DOJ's place to stand in judgment of the president. That's Congress' job.
All this discussion about whether Mueller should have explicitly accused Trump of crimes is pretty much what the Republicans want. It distracts the public from a more important issue: that Barr deliberately lied to Congress and the American people in his initial summary of Mueller's report.
Added by edit:
Not that I don't agree that this is an issue that can be discussed on its own merits, but let's also remember that regardless of how Mueller should have written his report, it's pretty clear what he did write, and Barr has no excuse for the misrepresentations - oh hell, the outright lies - he made about it. And that is the important point.
Edited by Chiroptera, : No reason given.
Edited by Chiroptera, : Got confused on the triple negative!
If this was a witch hunt, it found a lot of witches. -- David Cole, writing about the Mueller investigation.
Mueller and Barr had differing interpretations of the OLC (DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel) opinion about whether a sitting president could be indicted.
Mueller isn't a politician, and he wanted to play the role of neutral investigator, which he did quite well. We can argue about the OLC opinion, but I think Mueller did a great job of aligning himself to the spirit of the rules set out for the Special Counsel's office. He knows that any charges against Trump are inherently political and are outside of his office.
quote:Just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all from Donald Trump, he sinks to a new low that leaves you speechless and wondering: Is he crazy, is he evil, is he maniacally committed to unwinding every good thing Barack Obama did, or is he just plain stupid?
I mean, what president would try to weaken emission standards so American-made cars could pollute more, so our kids could breathe dirtier air in the age of climate change, when clean energy systems are becoming the next great global industry and China is focused on dominating it?
Seriously, who does that?
But that’s the initiative Trump has embarked upon of late — an industrial policy to revive all the dirty industries of the past and to undermine the clean industries of the future.
1. Look at the real estate/construction contracts placed by the heavy pollution companies over the next few years. 2. See who they're placed with. 3. See who finances who they're placed with. 4. Trace the connections as best you can, to determine the ultimate beneficiaries.
That should give the question a pretty good answer.
Could there be any greater conceit, than for someone to believe that the universe has to be simple enough for them to be able to understand it ?