Sunday, September 29, 2019

UPDATED: Barr Angry With Trump?

Commenter Joe brought to my attention the fact that there are news accounts suggesting that AG Barr is angry with President Trump over the Ukraine Hoax telephone call. For example, the Washington Examiner reports: Barr ‘surprised and angry’ about Trump phone call with Ukraine. When you get into the story the actual reason for Barr's displeasure--which I assume is real--becomes apparent:

Attorney General William Barr was dismayed to discover President Trump had grouped him in with his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in a call with Ukraine’s leader in July. 
When Barr learned of the call, he was “surprised and angry” that Trump lumped him in with Giuliani, a person familiar with the attorney general’s thinking told the Associated Press. Giuliani represents Trump’s personal interests and is not employed by the U.S. government.

I saw this issue when I wrote about the call transcript originally--Woops! Dems Score Own Goal. At the time I maintained that Trump attempted to maintain the distinction between his personal attorney's (Giuliani's) interest and the Attorney General's official interest. I still do maintain that Trump didn't "lump" Barr "in with Giuliani" and intended to maintain the distinction between his personal lawyer and the Attorney General of the United States. Zelenskyy introduces the idea of speaking to Giuliani. Trump appears to me to deflect that to indicate that he wants Barr involved because what's under discussion is an official DoJ investigation:

[P]lease note that it's President Zelenskyy who asks Giuliani to get in touch with him--it appears to be Zelenskyy's attempt at ingratiating himself with Trump, by seeking out Trump's personal attorney. Trump's response is very, very telling. At every mention [by Zelenskyy] of Giuliani, Trump is careful to include AG Barr, to keep it on an official footing, not personal. That's all the confirmation you need to know that the investigation under discussion is being led by the US Department of Justice and that Trump is totally aware of the distinction between his private attorney and the DoJ. Trump is supporting his Attorney General and the Department of Justice, but at the same time he's entitled to his private legal team to protect him--both going back and going forward--against the lawfare assaults, both legal and illegal, that have been ongoing since long before his election. 
At the beginning of this relevant portion, Trump introduces the topic of Ukraine doing the US "a favor." That favor doesn't involve Biden--it has to do with the DNC server, which Bill Barr is seeking. Note that there's no mention by Trump of Giuliani, but instead "the Attorney General" is brought in as the person who needs to be in touch with the Ukrainian authorities ("you or your people"). [Comment: The reason why Trump doesn't mention Giuliani here should be apparent: Trump understands that Giuliani, as his personal attorney, is not the one to take custody of evidence. That's why Trump speaks of Barr, not Giuliani. It shows that Trump does understand the distinction, that Barr does not act as his personal attorney.]

I believe that a fair reading of the transcript (at the link above) bears out that that was Trump's true intent. Trump, the non-lawyer, was aware of the distinction and attempted to address it while allowing the flow of the conversation to continue. The result is inartful, but not improper under any fair reading.

I will say that I'm surprised that Trump didn't consult with Barr before the call, although I don't know the circumstances surrounding the call. I can understand Barr's "dismay," fully. I'm sure both Giuliani and Barr have now spoken with Trump about this and that Trump will be more careful in the future. Unnecessary damage has been done by affording an opportunity to place Trump's words in a false light.

ADDENDUM: I have not doubt that a major reason for Barr's anger is that Trump's inartful language--though well intended--placed him in the position of needing to release a transcript of his call with a foreign leader. That's a terrible precedent and could play havoc with foreign policy for the future. Barr, as an ardent defender of the Executive, could hardly be less than deeply dismayed by this development. I myself was extremely surprised at the release of the transcript, which is an indication of how seriously this was viewed at the WH.

UPDATE 1: An article by Gregg Jarrett expresses well what I've been saying in my own way, and adds some detail:

Trump had every right to ask Ukraine to cooperate or assist in an official Department of Justice investigation into the origins of the Russia “collusion” hoax. His request was pursuant to an official probe being conducted by U.S. Attorney John Durham and initiated by Attorney General William Barr. In fact, Ukraine is required to comply under a binding treaty with the U.S. 
The Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters obligates Ukraine to provide, upon request by the U.S., assistance “in connection with the investigation, prosecution, and prevention of offenses, and in proceedings related to criminal matters.” This treaty was negotiated by then-president Bill Clinton more than 20 years ago and approved by the U.S. Senate. Among other things, Ukraine agreed to furnish “documents, records, the taking of testimony or statements of persons” relevant to any U.S. investigation.  
Unfortunately, Kiev has not always abided by this treaty. Beset by rampant corruption, past Ukrainian administrations have been less than cooperative with the U.S. Indeed, there is significant evidence that Ukraine actively meddled in the 2016 election by providing dirt on the Trump campaign at the behest of a Democratic National Committee subcontractor who wanted to help elect Hillary Clinton. This is detailed in my new book, "Witch Hunt." 
With the election of a new Ukrainian president who vowed to end the rampant corruption, President Trump saw an opportunity to reset relations and obtain assistance in the Durham investigation. As pointed out by columnist Marc Thiessen, the DOJ has disclosed that it is “exploring the extent to which a number of countries, including Ukraine, played a role in the counterintelligence investigation directed at the campaign during the 2016 election.”  
Despite media and Democrat misrepresentations of the conversation, the “do us a favor” remark by Trump was a request that Ukraine cooperate in the Durham probe. The president phrased it in a friendly manner to enlist Zelensky’s assistance, even though it is incumbent on Ukraine to do so under the terms of the treaty. It is not at all unusual for the U.S. government or its president to ask for help from a foreign nation in extant investigations conducted by the DOJ.

UPDATE 2: With all that said, in retrospect and in fairness to Trump ...

Trump never expected that this call transcript would go public and become an issue. He had, in fact, taken extra security precautions to maintain the confidentiality of the conversation with Zelenskyy, and he had every reason to feel that he had behaved properly. He was ambushed and forced into a false position by traitors to the United States who should be prosecuted.

UPDATE 3: Just to be clear again, I'm not suggesting that anything in the actual transcript shows that AG Barr was acting as, in effect, a campaign lawyer for Trump. It's totally clear from the transcript that Trump is presenting the Attorney General as heading an investigation into the origins of the Russia Hoax--as Barr has openly stated. The problem, which I don't doubt dismayed Barr, is that the mere proximity of Barr's name with Giuliani's--within the same sentence--facilitates patently false political charges against Barr. Barr, I'm sure, will swat those away, but the annoyance and false public perception could have been avoided even aside from the outrageous forced disclosure of the call transcript. IOW, the transcript never should have been released, but since it was it's too bad that there should have been an opportunity to confuse and misrepresent based on inartful phrasing.


  1. Why is one side playing by the "rules" and the other side gets a pass? If you start taking them out and ... This will resolve itself much faster. Kill the cancer quickly.

    1. We know the answer to your question. I do wonder what Barr's response to this will be. This guy should be prosecuted. I'm sure this is being examined closely, but the politics now complicate things greatly.

  2. Thank you for this explanation. To paraphase your words, Trump was inartful but he is also faced with enemies on all four sides; enemies possibly in his inner circle.

    May he continue to take a stake to the Deep State's heart.

  3. I try not to react like a pigeon to the weekly handful of anti-Trump Democrat talking points tossed to the public. This week's outrage is just another in the never-ending Democrat & NeverTrump tantrums - their revenge against America.

    I'm sure this "Barr is angry" lie is just a lie, like all the countless other Democrat lies we've heard the past 3 years. Barr seems way too old (to put it bluntly) to be angry that Trump mentioned Barr's name in a phone call.

    1. I think he's too mature to be angry upon reflection on what actually occurred. I don't doubt he was dismayed by what happened.

    2. Exactly. Trump should not have mentioned AG Barr. Barr is assiduously remaining aloof from the politics. Ultimately, though, I'm sure he'll find a way to communicate his "dismay" and make sure that Trump lets him do his job.

  4. "Unnecessary damage has been done by affording an opportunity to place Trump's words in a false light."

    On the other hand, Trump could have serenaded Zelensky with 'The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow' from "Annie" and the spin would be the same as some sort of White Supremist "code talk".
    If "inartful" is the price to be paid for honest governance I'll gladly take it over the greasy weasel language of our professional "public servants". If one thing got Trump elected (and will get him re-elected) it is that he is NOT a professional politician and has no apparent desire to be one.

    1. Yes, that's the other side. If the American public was looking for an artful dodger rather than a truth teller ...

    2. Trump has no filters. This approach to matters personal and business only works when you're dealing with honest people who possess integrity, the kind of people who don't tape record, secretly, your every word.

      I never paid much attention to Trump until he became president. He is exceedingly careless in his verbiage, which at times is refreshing, especially since he is surrounded by professional liars in a city of liars.

      But something's got to give here. His use of the word favor was unthinking. I also don't know what Trump was talking about in the phone call, precisely because, as he often does, he was talking in circles. If he wanted help from the Ukraine in the Durham probe, as Jarrett claims, he should have said just that.

      Instead, we get death by innuendo.

      Also, after almost three years, I simply don't understand why the Trump White House continues to be staffed by Obama and Deep State holdovers.

      Assumptions kill. Everyone seems to think the Senate, if it comes to that, won't impeach Trump. I say think again. If it ever becomes clear that by sticking their necks out for DJT they are going to lose their sweet jobs, the majority of senate Republicans would throw him under the bus.

      I get it that Trump might have a lot of fun using the Senate as an Apprentice prop, but nipping this impeachment process in the bud, if that is at all still possible, is probably the best way to go.

      Would you want to trust the Republicans in the senate? Underneath it all, the difference between most of them and their idiot counterparts across the aisle is negligible. They are cut from the same cloth. They ARE the Deep State.

    3. Which is to say, No, of course this isn't a serious legal thing. It's political. I know for a fact that Trump has people in the WH who could have told him how to handle this. Maybe now Barr--who's too busy at AG to serve this function on a day to day basis--can persuade Trump to make better use of those people.

      What would really burn me is if the perps in this get off when they should be prosecuted.

    4. Regarding the probability of GOP senators deserting Trump - I'm sure they'll be told what Barr/Durham's case theory is, which will poison the Democrat brand for at least a few years, if Republicans don't bail out now just as Republicans start to fight back. They may not like Trump, but Barr is the adult in the room the weak senators can hide behind, and actually support, if they have any integrity at all.

  5. I don't understand why they don't just fire or indict anybody and everybody that they catch doing any "deep state" type of stuff. Clean everything out.

    So what if Dems complain - they'll complain anyway. So what if they have to pay severance, they're paying far more now in terms of the time being wasted in fighting this garbage all the time.

    At least there might be an end to all this sabotage.

    1. Because they're being protected by agency heads, to a great extent. As with anyone that requires Senate confirmation, Trump's hands are often tied. That's probably how he wound up--incredibly--with Gina Haspel at CIA. She had key Senate support from GOP senators. And then she protects the Deep State operatives.

    2. Until he finally got Barr, you can add Rosenstein and Wray to that list of Dept. and agency heads protecting Deep State ops.

  6. I'm on record that Donald Trump won't be convicted. He's got too much support from the voters. Most Rep senators have no choice but too support him or to be voted out of office themselves. And if Donald were removed?

    He'd run again and be reelected. For anyone who has eyes, it's patently obvious that he will serve a second term.

    1. The day he steps out of Office he will be indicted in multiple jurisdictions.
      Tom S.