Saturday, August 24, 2019

Briefly Noted: Barr In Charge

Email correspondent Jim sent me a NYT article that describes AG Barr's reaction to the Epstein investigation: Barr Seized on Epstein Case as Doubts Mounted About Justice Dept. This being the NYT, while they didn't accuse Barr of racism or of having enslaved anyone, they did try to assign blame to him. Laughably, they used David Laufman to criticize Barr, describing Laufman simply as "a former Justice Department official." One might never guess that Laufman had been former counterintelligence chief at the Justice Department’s National Security Division, and deeply involved in framing Michael Flynn.

Nevertheless, we do get a picture of Barr as deeply involved, in ways that few AGs would be:

After Mr. Epstein killed himself, Mr. Barr moved to quell doubt that the department would seek justice. 
He immediately determined that prison employees and the warden had broken protocol several times. Mr. Epstein’s cellmate had been removed. The employees overseeing him had stopped their regular checks into his cell the night he died, even though prison supervisors and officials knew that he was to be constantly watched. And the prison had yet to officially determine whether he had earlier tried to commit suicide. 
Mr. Barr put on leave the two employees who were responsible for watching over Mr. Epstein the night he died and moved the warden, Lamine N’Diaye. And when he asked Kathleen Hawk Sawyer last Friday to return to run the Bureau of Prisons — a job he had appointed her to in 1992, during his first stint as attorney general — she was impressed by the amount of detail he had gathered about Mr. Epstein’s death and the conditions at the prison where he died, according to a person with knowledge of the conversation who was not authorized to share details. 
Ms. Sawyer told Mr. Barr that she took the job in large part because she believed she would have Mr. Barr’s support to make difficult decisions necessary to address the Epstein case and the bureau’s continuing struggles with staff and funding shortages, prison violence and workplace discrimination issues at its 120 facilities, according to the person.

No doubt, in hindsight, Barr wishes he had done a few things differently with Epstein, but the fact of the matter is simply this: The Attorney General is not head of the Bureau of Prisons. He isn't in charge of day to day operations. Barr apparently traveled to New York to express his concerns about guarding Epstein, although it's not known whether he actually toured the prison facility. There is no reason why an AG should do so. The personal trip to New York was quite sufficient to drive home the point that Epstein required extra caution.


  1. Barr is human and he's only one man. My guess is that the number of staff that he can truly trust can be counted on one hand. That calculus will change dramatically when the tide turns and the Fifth Columnists come to believe that the Orange Man will not be cast out and their risk is prison and not just demotion (a al Bruce Ohr).

    1. One must hope so. Yet if you look at some of the legal alums of past GOP administrations--including Comey and Mueller, and many more like them!--the task will be daunting. If so many bad actors were advanced under Dubya, imagine what it's like at DoJ after 8 years of Obama. One shudders.

  2. History will not be kind to W. He was a tool, and nothing more.

    1. Couldn't agree more. His one redeeming act was Alito--and that was essentially the result of a full scale revolt by the GOP against the insane Miers nomination.

  3. I submitted a trio of past comments but the comments manager just jettison them into cyberspace so this post will be a little disjointed.
    When Donald Trump was running a small businessman and a union man both, without any prompting from me, praised him. It was then and there that I realized that he had struck a chord with the American people.
    I used to be a fan of George W Bush, but no more. He’s the type of Republican whom I don’t care for. His chumminess with the Obamas and the Clintons certainly makes him suspect in my book. I put him in the same category with Paul Ryan, John Boehner and Mitt Romney.
    I hope out of this scandal comes real criminal justice reform. I’d like to see prosecutors pay a price for prosecution abuse and misconduct. Withholding exculpatory information, coercion and entrapment are just plain wrong. We have truly abandoned the concept of innocent until proved guilty. Let’s stop criminalizing everything and impose less harsh sentences out of proportion to the offense. Murder, extortion, kidnapping, yes, they need stern sentences. Lying to the FBI? I have a real problem with the way it’s used as a bludgeon.
    I agree with you that Barr probably learned a lesson from Epstein’s death. Since he doesn’t have unlimited powers as AG, perhaps he could ask the President to order protection for the next suspect and/or witness. Patrick Byrne seems like a man who could use some honorable bodyguards.
    And when I made my comment about Mr. Byrne being a courageous hero or a nut, I had forgotten that you posted about him. I even commented about him in your first post. I agree with you that he is telling the truth and had real conviction. He choked up a few times.
    Lastly, whose higher loyalty is Comey invoking? His loyalty to himself, Obama, the Dems or the media. It’s certainly not to God, the country and the Truth.

    1. Sorry if I mishandled some comments.

      I agree re the GOP generally, but am afraid this is simply part of the problem with liberal democracy--the party system gets co-opted by the money interests. That's the difference Trump has made. He has exposed it all.

      Couldn't agree more re addressing prosecutorial abuse.

  4. Mr. Wauck,

    No need to apologize. You did nothing wrong. It was the system. I added my comments, changed Comment as Google Account to Comment as Joe. Then I hit publish and did the Captcha check successfully. I got the green checkmark and I hit publish again. Instead of saying "Thank you. Your comment will be visible after approval", it just blanked out. All my commenting thoughts were gone. I did it three times and poof!, gone. So again, it's not you, it's the system or the internet.

  5. Re your comments with liberal democracy, no issue with your comments. I'm not a historian, but the past suggests that sometime in the future, America will fall. If and when, I don't know. But I think that she is worth fighting for.