A short while ago, the Senate confirmed William Barr to 54-45. Three Democrats, Doug Jones (AL) Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), and Joe Manchin (WV) crossed over to vote for Barr. Rand Paul voted No. Spartacus couldn’t be bothered to show up..
Barr takes over a Department of Justice that is in crisis and has clearly lost its way. For all the good things Jeff Sessions did, primarily in becoming a more active player in immigration and getting Justice the hell out of the business of managing local police departments, were offset by his slavish devotion to fighting states over marijuana laws and to civil asset forfeiture. The biggest issue, of course, was Sessions’s very practical decision to detach himself from the Russia investigation. Under usual circumstances this might have made sense but the administration had taken the easy way out of a confirmation hearing over the Deputy Attorney General and to avoid a fight moved a muppet, Rod Rosenstein, into the position.
Rosenstein, in my view, has an too-close-by-half relationship with Mueller and, from what we’ve seen of Rosenstein’s personality, it is very doubtful that he has the guts to confront Mueller and make him toe the line. So we see a rambling, disjointed, and mostly bullsh** investigation that is focused on process crimes and misconduct from bygone years when it isn’t doing something really useful like indicting Russian companies that didn’t exist during the election and random Russian who will never be taken into custody.
Today’s story that former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe was at meetings, with Rosenstein present, where there was serious discussion of recruiting cabinet officers for an attempt to employ the 25th Amendment to remove Trump and where Rosenstein, himself, discussed having someone wear a wire to meetings with the president, shows that the Department Justice has problems wide and deep that will not be solved by any method short of forcing the resignation of a few dozen Senior Executive Service Democrats, like Andrew Weissmann, who seem to think they run the country.
Barr has a lot of immediate challenges. What will he do with the numerous criminal referrals on witnesses before Congress that were sent over in the last Congress but which have languished due to inattention? How will he handle the special counsel’s report? Will he declassify much of the material used to justify the investigation so the public can judge for itself the quality of the sources used in what is looking more and more like a coup attempt? How will he proceed with former senior FBI officials, like Comey, like McCabe, like Strzok who lied to investigators and obviously worked with news organizations to try to bring down the Trump White House?
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