A year ago today, William Barr became attorney general. At his confirmation hearing, he promised to be an independent actor, immune from political interference. President Donald Trump had made it known that he wanted an Attorney General who would protect him, but Barr’s assurances helped pave the way for his Senate confirmation. Trump had just gotten his Roy Cohn. Barr has now spent a full year as Trump’s man on the inside. Far from the defender of institutional norms some claimed he’d be, Barr has forged a new frontier in Trump’s brazen weaponization of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Attorney General William Barr’s shocking intervention to help Roger Stone is a blatant abuse of power. It confirms that Barr sees his job as protecting Trump’s political interests rather than enforcing the law. By overturning the prosecutor’s sentencing recommendations, Barr is abandoning longstanding norms to insert himself into a range of cases that implicate Trump and his cronies. His behavior also raises important questions about whether—or how—the attorney general has intervened to protect Trump on a host of other politically sensitive matters.
Senate Republicans let a criminal president loose. Despite bipartisan condemnation of the president’s actions and bipartisan votes to convict and remove him, the Republican caucus, led by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), let him off, effectively neutering Congress’ oversight authority and declaring the president above the law. President Donald Trump has already shown that he heard their message loud and clear, embarking on a potentially illegal campaign of retaliation against those who dared try to hold him accountable. At the same time, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, his Senate allies, and U.S. Attorney General William Barr continue to push the same scheme to undermine democracy that got Trump impeached in the first place.
Today, every Senate Republican except one banded together to carry out one of the most brazen miscarriages of justice in American history. Despite overwhelming evidence that President Donald Trump criminally abused his power by extorting Ukraine to announce investigations into his political opponents—then orchestrated an unprecedented cover-up of his criminal actions—the Senate voted to acquit Trump without even the semblance of a fair trial.
Amid the chaos of the 2020 Iowa caucuses, President Donald Trump and his allies tried to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election process, calling the system rigged. Some of Trump’s top surrogates, including his son Donald Trump Jr., his campaign chairman Brad Parscale, and even government officials such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), were openly speculating that the caucuses were rigged. This echoes back to the effort by Russia and the Trump campaign to describe the 2016 November general election as “rigged.”
As President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union tonight, he will do so as only the third U.S. president in history to be impeached. Not only that, the condemnation of his actions is broad and bipartisan. A bipartisan majority in the Senate agrees: Trump inappropriately extorted Ukraine for his personal benefit in the 2020 election.
The Senate is about to vote to let loose a criminal who has pledged to commit more crimes. They will do so without bothering to look at the evidence or have a fair trial. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) admitted it in his statement announcing he would be voting against hearing from witnesses. He said he agreed with the House managers when they said there there is a “mountain of overwhelming evidence” that President Donald Trump extorted the Ukrainian government to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden. Yet, Sen. Alexander hid behind the laughable excuse that a president abusing his power to undermine American democracy and national security for his own personal benefit is not a valid reason to remove that president from office.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) asked a late-night question that got to the heart of the matter before the U.S. Senate: “On what specific date did President Trump first order the hold on security assistance to Ukraine, and did he explain the reason at that time?” It should have been simple for the president’s counsel to answer. But they couldn’t—because the answer is incredibly incriminating.