We already know that the Trump administration is full of incompetent toadies and industry shills. And while the consequences may be horrific of the EPA being headed by an extraction industry lobbyist who rejects the agency’s entire mission, the damage can be mitigated by the next administration. Most of the corruption doesn’t represent an existential threat to our Democracy. But when the Department of Justice is run by a man whose allegiance is not to the law but rather to a corrupt president, it’s a dire emergency for our republic.
Attorney General Barr testified before Congress yesterday and confirmed that he is a craven partisan hack willing to lie and dissemble in front of the nation to protect the immoral, unethical and possibly criminal actions of the president. The twisted responses Barr gave to the Senate yesterday were shameless and delivered with a smug arrogance and indifference to the magnitude of the moment that should give every American a chill. Barr already lied to Congress when he claimed that he didn’t know why Mueller’s team was unhappy about his four page summary of the Mueller report. And yesterday Barr tried to weasel out of responsibility. When questioned by Senator Kamala Harris about whether the White House had asked him to investigate anyone, you could see Barr trying to formulate lies on the fly but eventually deciding that he would rather not answer her at all, shrugging the question off. He even admitted to her that he had not read the underlying evidence of the Mueller report–even though he drew conclusions about the overall case that were “based on the evidence.” Most distressing, when questioned by Senator Leahy, Barr declared that an investigation of the president can be dismissed by that president if he believes he is being investigated on false charges. In other words, the president can be his own judge and jury–which is the short road to tyranny.
Let that sink in. Barr claimed Trump can end any investigation into Trump if Trump thinks he is being falsely accused. Barr’s notion is an insult the bedrock principles of jurisprudence that our nation has rested on from the beginning, and thus is manifestly unAmerican and unjust.
Whenever the person responsible for administering the laws of the republic stops enforcing those laws and starts covering for a corrupt president, it’s only a short leap to rounding up political enemies and jailing them. It’s only a short leap to tilting the scales of justice toward a political party. It’s only a short leap to kleptocracy and/or authoritarianism. It’s only a short leap to destroying the legitimacy of the system of justice itself. That’s why Barr’s betrayal of his role is so vile and dishonorable.
Barr was scheduled to testify before the House today, but at last report he decided to refuse to appear–presumably because he’s a coward, frightened of the questions he might have to answer from a committee far more hostile than the Senate. His disdain for the oversight role of Congress, his refusal to cooperate, and his lies to Congress are the latest stain on our system of government under the Trump regime and in any sane world would be grounds for his own impeachment. As it stands, his failure to produce the unredacted Mueller report to Congress may earn him a contempt-of-Congress charge. And his failure to appear today will certainly generate a subpoena. We’ve been bracing for a full-blown constitutional crisis, and it has come in the form of a corrupt Attorney General.
Dan Rather said this yesterday:
Today a deep and corrosive cynicism was on display in the U.S. Senate. It was a shameful chapter in American history abetted by those who would happily trample the safeguards of our democracy in the service of a president who sees our Department of Justice as his own private protector and cudgel.
William Barr cares nothing for that, or the judgement of history. He sees his job as preserving, protecting, and defending the president against any and all legitimate inquiry.
This is a cynicism meant to delay, distract and deceive from the administrations of truth and justice. We could debate whether what Barr said met the high bar of perjury, just as we can debate whether President Trump’s obstruction of justice should lead towards a path of impeachment. But there can be no debate over whether our independent judiciary is under withering stress. To see an Attorney General scuriolsy echo the raving rhetoric of his president against a justice department brought a sadness even more than anger. Have we sunk so low?
We were attacked by a foreign power during the 2016 election, and their goal by whatever means, was to destabilize our institutions of democracy. The Russians wanted us to forsake the very freedoms that have made us strong. And whether through active conspiracy or through a tacit sharing of objectives, these destructive forces have found a witting ally in the president.
We now hear that Barr won’t testify before the House tomorrow. He knows he has no good answers to thousands of good questions. But that’s not how it’s supposed to work. Our officials, the men and women we pay with our tax dollars, owe us accountability.
President Trump cares nothing for the women and men who pledge him loyalty beyond what that loyalty means for his needs. We have long had the measure of the man. What is so discouraging is those who line up behind him to debase themselves and harm our nation. William Barr is clearly at the top of the list.
There is no joy in saying all this. There is no joy in seeing Republican senators and representatives line up in obedience. What solace there is comes in the fact that I believe a majority of Americans look at this farce and say, this isn’t who we are, or who we will be.
Keep resisting and keep working to “vote his ass out of office”…