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Joseph Wyatt: The Barr is low (Opinion)

Special counsel Robert Mueller III wrote to Attorney General William Barr to accuse Barr of “... fail(ing) to capture the nature, context and substance” of Mueller’s 400-plus page report. In other words, Barr distorted the entire report. Sadly, Barr has prostituted himself to the service of Donald Trump so expertly that one has images of Stormy Daniels taking notes.

At his press conference a month ago, Barr sniveled the term “no collusion” four times. Wonder where he heard that? I’m waiting for Barr to say there were no red dogs, rat outs, flam booslers, block bangers or string swingers. I mean, while Attorney General Barr was exonerating the president from deeds that would not have been crimes even if Trump had done them, why did Barr stop at “no collusion?”

Also at his press conference, Barr falsely said, “We now know the Russian effort did not have cooperation of President Trump or anybody in his campaign, or any American.” Evidently, Barr wasn’t counting Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusion that Trump’s Campaign Chair, Paul Manafort (now in prison), secretly shared sensitive polling data on battleground states with Russian agents. Or that Trump’s National Security Adviser Mike Flynn (on his way to prison) was conspiring with Russians by promising to get Obama’s sanctions on Russia lifted, once Trump was in office.

Barr confabulated even more at his press conference that day by claiming, “The White House fully cooperated,” with the Mueller investigation. But Mueller had termed Trump’s cooperation, “insufficient.” To have fully cooperated, the president would have done a sit down interview. But dime store tough guy Donald Trump hid behind written answers. And he echoed mob bosses as, more than 30 times, he wrote that he “couldn’t recall.”

Interestingly, Barr said he hadn’t “talk(ed) to Mueller directly” about his announcement of “no collusion or conspiracy.” One imagines A.G. Barr, upon catching sight of Mueller in the DOJ hallway, ducking into the men’s room, latching a stall door behind him and pulling his feet up.

Instead of his verbal rope-a-doping, Mr. Barr, should have begun his press conference that day by recounting Department of Justice policy — that a sitting president cannot be indicted, period. Barr should have added that Robert Mueller began his investigation by being prohibited from reaching a conclusion that the president obstructed justice. But he didn’t.

Despite DOJ policy, Mueller uncovered plenty of evidence that our president is a crook: Mr. Trump fired FBI director James Comey when Comey wouldn’t ease off the Russia probe. The president told White House Counsel Don McGahn to stop Jeff Sessions’ recusal. He urged various leaders of the CIA and NSA to publicly lie and say the Russia rumors were false. He asked Corey Lewandowski to tell Sessions to announce the Russia investigation was unfair. He publicly attacked Sessions and the FBI. He wrote a false description of the Trump Tower meeting. He asked Sessions to investigate Hillary Clinton (presumably to distract from his own troubles). He told McGahn to “call Rod [Rosenstein] and tell Rod, ‘Mueller has to go.’” And Mueller referred 14 cases to other jurisdictions.

Robert Mueller, after two years of investigating, summed it up saying, “If we had confidence ... that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.” Which he didn’t.

Now Trump’s stonewalling has become sufficient to make China’s Great Wall apologize for being a wall. The president is refusing to let aides, former aides or other White House officials testify or provide documents to Congress. Moreover, Trump is suing Congress because it wants to hear testimony and review documents from those folks. It is time for MAGA folks to look into their hearts and ask themselves whether these are the actions of an innocent man.

Thus, on May 1, came Barr’s miserable performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Time after time, the Attorney General disgraced himself. Among Barr’s more execrable assertions was that Robert Mueller had called him and in that conversation had blamed the press for misrepresentations that, clearly, were Barr’s own. Is anyone surprised that Barr then refused to turn over his own notes of that phone call? It is likely that Robert Mueller will turn over his notes, if requested by Congress.

Asked whether Trump had instructed White House Counsel McGahn to “fire” Mueller, Barr denied it, saying that Trump had told McGahn to “remove” Mueller. Ugh.

One of Barr’s earlier comments had been to the effect that the people should be “grateful” there was no collusion with Russia. Following up, a senator asked Barr, tongue in cheek, whether the American people should be ‘grateful’ that the Trump campaign engaged in over 200 contacts with Russians. Barr avoided a direct response and instead took shelter from that storm by nattering about Hillary Clinton. Asked whether anyone at the White House had requested or suggested that he open an investigation of anyone, Barr again failed to provide a direct answer, opting for a round of muttering and stammering.

Barr provided at least a few straight answers, but some of them were frightening. For example, he was asked whether, because he is widely perceived as biased for Trump, he would seek input from the DOJ’s ethics office regarding whether to recuse himself from oversight of the 14 spinoff investigations. Barr said he saw no reason to seek such advice. Historians may conclude that if you have decided to go down in history as an ethics-impaired Attorney General, you might as well go all the way.

A couple of weeks earlier, Barr had provided unrelated testimony to a House panel during which he nevertheless was asked some questions about the Mueller report. “No I don’t,” he responded when asked whether he knew of any members of Mueller’s team who were frustrated with his four-page summary of the report. And he said, “No I don’t,” even though just days earlier he had received the letter from Mueller that accused him of “... fail(ing) to capture the nature, context and substance,” of the Mueller report.

As for committee Republicans, they turned the hearing into a group effort to wash their hands of Mueller’s findings. Some GOP committee members launched into irrelevant discussions of Hillary Clinton’s imaginary felonies. Committee Chair Lindsey Graham concluded, “For me, it [the investigation] is over.” Following the hearing, Mr. Barr decided not to testify the next day to a House committee. And now there he stands, William Barr, chief law enforcement officer in the United States of America, weak-kneed at the prospect of questions by staff members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Presently, Donald Trump sits amid the smoking wreckage of his presidency, stalling for rain. Impeachment is next, even if its de facto start is with a couple of Congressional hearings in which Don McGahn, Robert Mueller and others testify. I recall the Watergate hearings on television. After that, none of Nixon’s protestations mattered. The people had heard enough.

Joseph Wyatt is a Gazette-Mail contributing columnist and emeritus professor

at Marshall University.

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Berdine, Robert - 2 p.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation Inc., Arnoldsburg.

Bonsall, Buddy - 11 a.m., Good Shepherd Mortuary, South Charleston.

Holstein, Gary - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Keener, John - 8 p.m., Roach Funeral Home, Gassaway.

Miller, Edward - 1 p.m., Taylor-Vandale Funeral Home, Spencer.

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