Dispatch October 2, 2019

Bill Barr Has Been Trump’s Hatchet Man. Is That Finally Catching Up With Him?

Attorney General Bill Barr has reportedly been flying all over the world, pressuring foreign leaders to help him “investigate” (read: discredit) the origins of the Russia investigation. This is an abuse of power by the attorney general, who is using the power of his office and taxpayer funds to help Trump’s personal political ambitions. It’s also a national security risk, destabilizing our relationships with allies’ intelligence agencies.

Barr’s rationale for investigating the investigators (namely, the intelligence community and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team) is based on nothing more than conspiracy theories ginned up in right-wing media outlets.

Barr also hid his involvement in the investigation, using the credibility of a career DOJ official to mask his involvement. This is an impeachable offense.

Trump desperately wants to discredit the Mueller investigation so he can claim it was all a “witch hunt.” But the investigation was entirely above-board; if anything, it was extremely slow and cautious in pursuing Trump. So Trump and his accomplices have had to resort to increasingly bizarre conspiracy theories to attack it.

  • Trump’s main problem is that Mueller’s results speak for themselves: 37 indictments, seven guilty pleas—including from Trump’s campaign chairman, deputy campaign chairman, personal lawyer, and national security adviser—and abundant evidence of collusion.
  • As a result, Trump and his accomplices have resorted to arguing that the whole investigation was tainted from the get-go.
    • First, they spread the quickly-debunked conspiracy theory that the Obama administration had illegally surveilled members of Trump’s transition team and improperly “unmasked” their identities (they didn’t).
    • Next came the Nunes Memo, which falsely claimed that the investigation was based on FISA warrants based on the Steele Dossier (it wasn’t), which the FBI didn’t disclose was initially compiled as opposition research (they did).
    • Now, Barr’s working on a scam claiming that somehow the governments of Italy, Australia, and the UK were secretly working with the Obama administration to entrap George Papadopoulos (they weren’t).
  • A question none of these conspiracy theories can answer: If the Obama administration was upending global relationships to destroy Trump’s candidacy, why didn’t they reveal what they’d learned before he became president?

Barr hid his role in this scheme—likely because what he’s doing is corrupt and an abuse of power.

  • For an administration claiming to be interested in transparency around the Russia investigation, the Trump team seems to be doing everything they can to keep the details of Barr’s efforts hidden from the public.
  • That reportedly includes trying to conceal records of a call where Trump pressured Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to work with Barr, “curb[ing] access to a transcript of the call … to a small group of aides.”
  • Barr’s most recent trip to rope in Italy only came to light because of his conspicuous absence during the rapidly-unfolding scandal over Trump’s efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to work with him on interfering in the 2020 election.

By attacking the Russia investigation, Trump and Barr are running the same playbook as their attempts to discredit the Ukraine whistleblower.

Trump and Barr are actively working to corrupt America’s relationships with our closest allies. They are trying to drag foreign countries into an illegitimate investigation designed to undermine U.S. institutions for Trump’s personal and political gain. Congress must hold them accountable before they can turn the entirety of U.S. foreign policy into a corrupt tool to advance their lawless agenda.