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.
To protect President Donald Trump, Senate Republicans have been pushing the debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election in order to help Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton. This isn’t just a lie; it’s Russian disinformation, designed to deflect criticism and cast doubt over Russia’s 2016 interference campaign. Russian President Vladimir Putin, unable to suppress his glee that the Republican Party has adopted his line, even told a crowd in November: “Thank God. No one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore; now they’re accusing Ukraine.”
One look at the list of potential witnesses shows why the president and his allies in Congress are trying to prevent a full impeachment trial in the Senate: The witnesses are capable of providing damning evidence against Trump.
Dmitry Firtash, sometimes spelled Dmytro, is a Ukrainian natural gas billionaire who is linked to numerous individuals who have been caught up in the Ukraine impeachment scandal, including Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. He also recently hired two lawyers close to President Donald Trump in an apparent attempt to curry favor with him as Firtash fights extradition to the United States.
After the administration blocked his initially scheduled appearance, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is now reportedly set to testify before the House under subpoena.
Over the course of almost a year, Rudy Giuliani, a private citizen serving as a personal lawyer to Donald Trump, allegedly pushed the Ukrainian government to launch an investigation into one of Trump’s most prominent potential political opponents and pursued a conspiracy theory about work done by Trump’s convicted former campaign manager Paul Manafort. These efforts are detailed in a partially-redacted whistleblower complaint that was released to the public on September 26, 2019. Giuliani has called the complaint “total nonsense” and denied all wrongdoing.