Every paragraph in the nearly 10,000-word New Yorker article has significant problems. Taken together, it is just one long string of innuendos insinuating that William Barr is evil.
Having just done the tedious slog myself, I know how mind numbing it can be to break such a tendentious article down. However, what I'll do is list Mollie's headings--so you can see the scope of her coverage as well as the scope of the smears--and I'll include the text under two of those headings, which were among the areas that particularly interested me. It's a long piece with a long lead up to the 27 points, so you'll want to follow the link--it provides a handy review of events of the past three years:
1. Lies About the Historical Record
As John Adams put it, ‘We have no government armed with the power which is capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.’
2. The U.S. Didn’t Invade Kuwait In 1990
3. Mischaracterizes Independent Counsels
Rohde argues that Barr’s views on executive power are wrong. He praises President Jimmy Carter for signing legislation allowing independent counsels while denouncning all criticism of these counsels from Republicans or conservative Supreme Court justices.
Rohde writes, “During his [earlier] tenure, Barr turned down multiple requests to name prosecutors to examine potential executive-branch abuses. ‘The public integrity section told me that I had received more requests for independent counsel in eighteen months than all my predecessors combined,’ Barr recalled. ‘It was a joke.'”
Nowhere does Rohde mention that there was broad bipartisan consensus, led by Democrats, against the independent counsel legislation and that it was allowed to lapse as a result. Here’s the top of a 1999 CNN article, for example:
Saying, ‘I don’t think it is fixable,’ Sen. Tom Daschle on Sunday echoed the sentiments of many lawmakers on Capitol Hill toward the Independent Counsel Act.
With the statute set to expire on June 30, it is almost certain the law will be allowed to lapse.
‘The time has come for us to close the books and try to find another way within the Justice Department itself to handle these responsibilities,’ the South Dakota Democrat said on ABC’s ‘The Week.’
Even GOP members of Congress agree with the Senate’s minority leader.
4. Ignorance of Actual War Power Debates
5. Mischaracterizing Views On Criminal Justice
6. Confuses Problem With Mueller’s Political Team and Other People’s Political Action
7. Bizarre Characterization of Barr’s Memo About Obstruction of Justice
8. Speaking Of Rohde’s Sources
Rohde clearly did not have access to Barr or most people close to him. There is maybe one person quoted who is not a member of the Resistance. Instead, Rohde goes to implicated parties in the Russia collusion hoax, such as Wittes, James Baker, and David Laufman. Laufman wasn’t just implicated in the Russia story, he was also a figure in the smearing of Brett Kavanaugh. As one former Justice official asked, “Was Rohde even trying?”
The most telling choice for a source was Don Ayer, a former Bush DOJ official Rohde used extensively. Ayer has attacked Barr on NeverTrump podcasts and is the media’s go-to source for negative quotes about his former colleague.
It probably should have been mentioned that Ayer had a disastrous and brief tenure as the deputy attorney general before being replaced by Barr in 1990. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh scrambled to find a deputy after his pick failed to make it through Senate confirmation. An aide suggested Ayer, who made it through, but quickly proved to be a bad match. He only made it a few months before being canned.
On his way out, Ayer trashed his boss and his career never took off. There are reports he felt resentful of Barr going back to 1990. Ayer ended up handling pro bono cases for Jones Day. It’s fine to use activists, implicated parties, or people with personal grudges as sources, of course, but Rohde should have disclosed all of these things.
9. Weird Description of Confirmation Hearing
10. Revisionist History on Kavanaugh
11. False Claims About Barr’s Summary of Mueller
12. Falsely Claims Trump Demanded Barr Launch Investigation
13. Oddly Suggests Barr Should Have Used a Commission to Investigate
14. Suggests It’s Weird to Want FBI Investigated for Its Malfeasance
15. Falsely claims IG Found No Evidence of Political Bias
16. Claims Without Evidence that Barr Misrepresented IG
17. Doesn’t Know That Evidence on Russia Was Exculpatory
18. Numerous False Claims Regarding Horowitz Report
19. Describes Brennan as a Mild Critic of Trump
20. No, Trump Did Not Starve 33,000 FBI employees
21. Heavy-handed KGB References
22. Unaware That FBI Investigation Was Launched On Thinnest of Suspicions
23. False Claims About Mueller’s Executive Summaries
24. False Claims About Barr Holding Onto Mueller Report
25. False Claims About Durham Investigation
26. Paints Barr’s Father as Radical for Believing in Rules
27. Quotes Justice Department Official Saying Oversight Is Totalitarian