Wednesday, February 19, 2020

UPDATED: Reflecting On The Trump - Barr Conflict

Quick Notice: I'm dental work done today, so I'll be in and out.

Now ...

I've been trying to fish around for some way of expressing why I tend to sympathize with Trump's tweeting over Barr's prosecutorial concerns. Riffing off a comment by Cassander, here's another try: Barr, for all his many excellent qualities, seems to lack a feel for the natural 'running out of patience' that we see among some conservatives.

In the world of politics--which Barr, also, inhabits, whether he acknowledges the fact or not--that natural 'running out of patience' is something that must be taken into account.  The Big Mo that patience based in understanding can generate will ultimately work in favor of Barr's prosecutorial effort to drain the coup Swamp. Granted, Barr has thrown us a few tidbits in his interviews. His intent and the direction of the various investigations can be read from leaks of Durhams actions, but it's clearly not enough to fully satisfy some not insignificant number of Trump's staunchest supporters.

What has been going on is a coup attempt, albeit a distinctively American lawfare and institutional coup, that would utterly transform our constitutional order. There's no getting around that reality--and that means that the very existence of our constitutional republic is at stake. Because of the disguised nature of this rolling coup, the struggle against this lawfare styled coup needs to be addressed in terms that the country understands.

That's where Trump excels, and his tweeting--unconventional as it may appear in historical terms--serves that purpose very well. We don't live in an age that much appreciates nuance--twitter is perhaps a bit like a 21st century fireside chat. As the ultimate guardian of our constitutional order and of the faithful execution of law--justice--Trump has an important role to play. Barr needs to be more appreciative of that, just as much as Trump may need to be more understanding of prosecutorial realities.

What's needed is better understanding of these realities and more communication. In that give and take, Barr must be willing to learn, not just presume that Trump is the one making things 'impossible.' Barr needs to reflect on the undoubted effectiveness of Trump's mode of communication in the context of current cultural realities. He needs to be innovative in adapting the rule of law to our current situation. That doesn't mean cutting corners, but we're beyond the age of pamphlateering, of stump speeches to live audiences only, of fireside chats, of stilted debates.

Yes, Trump may yet need to tailor his own behavior somewhat, but a silent Trump, IMO, is not in the best interests of our constitutional order nor the rule of law. To remain silent in the face of these continuing coup attempts would be an abdication of his constitutional oath of office.

UPDATE: TGP has documented a Trump "tweet storm" this morning. Because of my schedule I'm going to paste in the texts or summaries of those tweets that relate most directly to the Barr - Trump conflict--or whatever it is:

President Trump went on a tweet storm Wednesday morning, firing off a comment and over a dozen retweets within an hour, mostly retweets of Congressional allies and conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. The tweet storm follows the leaks Tuesday night to the media that Barr was considering resigning over Trump’s tweets, which he had complained about in a recent interview. A Barr spokeswoman said late Tuesday night Barr was “has no plans to resign”. 
The retweets were generally supportive of Barr, with some urging stronger actions by him, but some also asserted Trump’s role of ultimate boss of the Justice Department as the President. 
Trump is apparently showing that his tweets must be answered by Barr with action, not complaints and leaks to the media. 
Trump’s first tweet proclaimed, “There must be JUSTICE. This can never happen to a President, or our Country, again!” He followed with over a dozen retweets, several of which asserted Trump’s authority over the Justice Department with one citing previous presidents in recent history who intervened in cases and gave orders to the DOJ. 
Significantly, Trump retweeted Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton who called on Barr to clean house and suggested Trump appoint a special counsel, “Barr should clean house at DOJ…@realDonalldTrump (sic),was the victim of a seditious conspiracy out of DOJ/FBI, etc. President Trump can also appoint a special counsel directly.” 
Trump kicked off the tweet storm keying off Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) who tweeted, “There are high expectations that the Justice Dept will very soon deliver transparency & ACCOUNTABILITY regarding DOJ/FBI officials who weaponized the awesome powers at their disposal in order to target the Trump campaign. Frustrated Americans demand justice! ⚖️ It’s LONG overdue!” 
Trump said in response, “There must be JUSTICE. This can never happen to a President, or our Country, again!” 
Trump then retweeted a several tweets by Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, including brief video clips of Fitton on Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs and a longer segment on the Fox News Channel. 
“Meanwhile, Obama gang interfered in Russia election interference investigation to protect Obama’s emails while crookedly spying on @realdonaldtrump. Again the Clinton email scandal cover-up is as much about protecting Obama as it is about protecting Clinton.” 
Breaking: @realDonaldTrump is the President. Reagan ordered halt of a criminal grand jury investigation against British Airways in 1984. George HW Bush ordered to DOJ to investigate police in wake of Rodney King rioting. Obama directed DOJ action after Eric Garner acquittal.”

Follow the link for the full flavor. I'm not agreeing with all of this. For example, to say that Barr must respond to Trump tweets with action is misguided. Barr should be allowed to act within his discretion. If Trump disagrees, then Trump needs to take action. This shouldn't descend into a Jeff Sessions situation.

OTOH, Barr's complaints about Trump making it 'impossible' to perform as AG was not smart and not correct. It fails to recognize presidential authority--which is odd, coming from a supporter of the Unitary Executive. Instead of bitching about tweets, Barr needs to seek a more cooperative relationship.

There's another interesting Fitton tweet that relates to the Blagojevich commutation:

Tom Fitton
Over 11 years ago, FBI interviewed Barack Obama about sale of his Senate seat. There's a  FBI "302" report of interview.
Rather than releasing document, DOJ has fought @JudicialWatch tooth and nail to keep it secret. #blagojevich

Judicial Watch Files Lawsuit against Department of Justice Seeking FBI Interviews with Obama,...
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice seeking access to FBI reports of interviews – “302s”...
3:02 PM · Feb 18, 2020


  1. Trump's defense of his tweeting, that it gives him a megaphone main stream media denies him, is legit. It is the only way he gets good press.

    I only wish he could be more precise with his words, he's the proverbial loose cannon, and be more able to separate the chaff from the wheat, i.e., he goes after some Hollywood nitwit with the same steam he chases after Comey or McCabe.

    On Barr: is he aware that what he is addressing is an actual coup attempt on the part of his lifelong dinner companions at DOJ & FBI? Or is it in his mind a case of dramatic, but simple corruption? If the latter, he thinks by chasing away a few miscreants he will have restored the integrity of the institutions he has served all his life. In this he would be woefully mistaken.

    IOW, does he realize he is at war?

    Sidebar & off topic: Judge Jackson could have tossed the Stone conviction. She had grounds. Yes, it would have been a reach. NB: every single time the Deep State had a chance to back off, or step away, it came out guns blazing. They don't yield an inch.

  2. Reading the teal leaves: It's a good sign Trump hasn't lost his sense of humor. A DoD guy involved with the Ukraine fiasco just got fired and Trump just made the guy famous by naming him an a tweet. Trump seems happy today.

  3. I still believe that the Barr statements were intended to create space between his position and the President at a time when he was being accused of being “the President’s lawyer”. It didn’t seem to catch PDJT by surprise or faze him...

    1. I agree. However ...

      Is creating space by accusing the president of making the AG's job 'impossible' the most reasonable way to go about that?

    2. I thought “impossible” was a bit much. “Difficult” would have worked and made Barr look stronger. Most who heard/read that thought it reflected upon Barr’s competence - that the President’s tweets would make his job impossible - which was not a good thing. Made him sound weak. Language is tricky, isn’t it...

    3. That's what I find so over the top. Logically, especially under a theory of the unitary executive, if the POTUS makes it 'impossible' to do your job--which is, after all, simply a delegation of the POTUS' job--then Barr should resign. Either that or withdraw such a statement. As it is, it makes it look like the POTUS, the in person locus of the executive branch as Barr himself has explained it, is being told to butt out of some part of his constitutional status. That may sound simplistic, but it appears to be the logical result.

  4. The Deep State is now flailing about and desperately looking for any lever it can pull in order to derail the various investigations that Barr is overseeing. And it will soon be revealed that one of those investigations is a real threat that can result in actual and significant prison time for the perps, not just the usual DC slap on the wrist. Barr knows that he is standing atop a pinnacle of history and the Deep State is about to throw the kitchen sink at him and Trump is giving him cover to thwart the media accusations of being a partisan attack dog. It's all theater.

    1. Even so, I think that in that case some aspects of the theatrics could have been handled better.

  5. Thanks for this.

    I started with a 'love the sinner, hate the sin' attitude towards Trump's tweets.

    But, lately, I have begun asking two distinct but intertwined questions:

    First: In a post-news media age, what does the news look like?

    Second: what does fighting back look like?

    If you have to fight a rabid dog, you're going to get dirty and bloody.

    That's what the NeverTrumpers can't seem to understand. It's like they took the 'standing athwart' quote literally, believing that polite speech, without dirty and bloody labour, will change the suicidal course of democrats and the left.

    Or maybe they just want to be quoted appreciatively in future post mortems of our country.

    1. Even eloquent Bill Buckley was not above the pointed barb.

      Trump is not eloquent and I do not care.

  6. FWIW, when you look at the consequence of this "dust-up," what becomes clear is that the anti-Trump digital ink-spillers are now obsessed with this putative "falling out" between AG Barr and the POTUS, and we are now being treated to 24/7 coverage of what is likely a fake story about Barr threatening to quit, while ignoring things that may be happening under their noses.

    And that makes me wonder if Barr and Trump didn't tee up this kerfluffle on purpose, as a deflection/distraction from other pieces that are being moved on the chessboard. IOW, knowing the people who suffer from TDS will not be able to resist the narrative of a falling out between the AG and POTUS, they could have engineered this precisely so that the Dems and their sycophantic minions in the MSM get distracted by this non-story, leaving Barr free to make critical moves necessary to the eventual take-down of the coup plotters and conspirators.

    The appointment of various outside-of-DC US Attorneys to reviews of handling of DOJ cases (Flynn case, and one looking over the shoulder of the Stone prosecution, as I recall) and handling intake of Ukraine info from Rudy (US A of Western PA,) plus a new one I just heard about (Eastern District of NY) to oversee/coordinate all Ukraine related reviews, is largely going on under the radar, precisely because the MSM and Dems are too busy hyperventilating about Barr's imminently quitting over Trump's tweets.

    Perhaps all these outside-of-DC appointments don't mean anything, but I have a hunch they do.

    One thing that has become apparent to me, given the problems that have recently come to light with the Stone jury in DC, is that it may have occurred to Barr that he needs to get these investigations-cum-prosecutions of the coup co-conspirators outside of DC, where they can get a more balanced jury pool, and away from all the Deep State plants/spies left over from the Obama admin in DOJ and the Judicial Branch.

    Recall that Durham started out reviewing the origins of the Russia Collusion Investigation, but it soon morphed into a full blown far-ranging criminal investigation. And, as I understand it, Durham has staff in both DC and CT.

    Could it be that this is the model that Barr is following, and these initial appointments of outside US Attorneys may well morph into full blown criminal investigations and eventually prosecutions of the various conspirators in the far-ranging and Octopus-like conspiracy to commit coup, and related crimes such as money laundering/skimming etc., by Biden family and others?

    If Barr sees the handwriting on the wall that prosecutions in DC will be problematic, this is precisely what he might do to distribute the cases and develop them for prosecution in areas where they will not have the jury pool bias of DC.

    And fighting over Trump's tweets keeps the inkspillers and co-conspirators off guard, and distracted.

    It also has the benefit of isolating the investigations so it does not appear he's running them as political retribution directly from the bunker in the basement of DOJ, though the Dems and coup plotters and MSM will inevitably make that claim anyway, but this make it a much harder sell.

    That's my theory du jour.

    1. Very interesting. To put one of your main points slightly differently, none of the current kerfuffling seems to have slowed Barr/Durham down in the least--to the contrary.

      OTOH, some of it bothers me. For example, Barr describing the Stone prosecution as 'righteous' was IMO over the top.

      Unfortunately, I know little on how venue is handled. What I mean in particular is this. According to the Fed Rules if the crime occurred everywhere then venue can be anywhere. Or, if in multiple locations, in any of them. Now, with these political crimes, with people who communicate interstate and international and travel, how will venue be established? I'm sure that's being discussed, has been being discussed.

    2. I'll bet CTH's Ristvan would know, how this venue stuff can work. If only someone here would know how to get Ristvan to migrate to this site.

    3. Venue depends on the facts in each case, so could be quite different for each possible defendant.

  7. I do agree that whatever Barr is doing or saying that could be applauded by the Deep State ("he's making my job impossible") can also be used by Barr down the road to fend off the inferno-intensity firestorm of opposition that any Durham indictments will generate.

    But it won't make any difference.

  8. We always discuss Barr as if he's the only man in the DOJ, fighting single-handedly.

    I wonder if he's been able to surround himself with a trusted group, who won't secretly be working against his (our) interests.

    I mean of course, aside from the several prosecutors already mentioned.

    1. I believe this has been done at the very top levels. However, I assume that the process has not advanced very far at levels below that, because it's nearly impossible to remove career employees.

  9. The rumor was to me just more media misinformation.

    Rob S

  10. Trump on Barr ...

    "I do make his job harder. I do agree with that," Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews, where the president was preparing to fly to California. "He's a very straight shooter. We have a great attorney general and he's working very hard."

    "The attorney general is a man with incredible integrity," Trump said.


    This seems to not exactly be following the Tillerson fallout, but the similarities are concerning.

    So far, the only thing Barr has done is that one statement about Trump's tweets and a possible, but unverified consideration of resignation.

    By the Time Tillerson was let go, Tillerson had publicly gone against Trump and reportedly called Trump a moron.

    That has not come to pass even though the press appears to be trying to get another scalp.

    I like Trump's statements on Barr to date. That appears to be the difference.

    1. I'll try to work off this in an UPDATE.

    2. I think Tillerson was co-opted by DoS bureaucrats and felt helpless, caught between Trump & his own anti-Trump staff.
      Barr is co-opted by nobody. He's been AG before. He returned for a reason. He's the last person to be intimidated by anybody at DoJ. He might be Patton rolling through France approaching Germany. I write-off his anti-tweeting criticism of Trump as a harmless release of steam - understandable considering his new USA for D.C. turned out to be a meek coward and he's probably trying to find someone new.

  11. Today, Trump went on a Tweetstorm. I have not read the tweets, but from GatewayPundit, it appears Trump is still supporting Barr, but rightfully asserting authority as the unitary Executive and giving Barr a prod to do a bit more especially in light of the actions the DoJ along with other Executive agencies took against Trump as candidate and as President.

    I would consider this a public rebuke and a worsening of things following the Tillerson model.

    No matter how correct, rightous, or wrong you are, you just do not publicly go against the boss. That is standard all over.

    I do hope Trump and Barr hash this out in private and then provide a united public front.

    1. I just did an update on that tweet storm that very much reflects your views, both regarding the unitary executive as well as the public nature of this.

  12. Just a brief perusal of CTH, Sundance brings up what I think is a valid point.

    What exactly has Trump done to impair Barr's job?

    Trump has admitted that he has made Barr's job harder, but that is different from impairing.

    I find the argument that Trump's AG must not be Trump's "wingman" extremely lacking. Sure, that's the ideal, but has never really been reality. At some point, folks must realize that at times you have to fight fire with fire. While that is a cliche it is based off of real life experiences in which creating other fires truly defeats the main destructive fire.

    Today, I truly do not think we could win a total war that WWII if a Republican would be in charge because Republicans are held to a standard that has never existed.

    The Executive is not some independent organization. The Executive IS THE PRESIDENT! The people's will is expressed via the President. If you go against the President and are part of the Executive, you are going against the people's will via our consitutional republican democracy.

    Everyone in the Executive needs to realize this or just flat out leave.

    1. The fact is, Trump was tweeting as POTUS for two years before Barr took on the AG job. Twitter had been a fact of political life for quite a bit longer. Did Barr set as a condition of taking the job, that POTUS Trump not tweet about POTUS' DoJ? That would simply appear to be quite unreasonable, and to assert that now is even more unreasonable. That's not to say that Trump shouldn't exercise more restraint in some areas than in others, but as you've said that should be worked out in private.

      I've read in liberal MSM outlets that Trump resents that Barr doesn't think Trump needs to be told details about Durham's work. I think Trump has a right to those details as POTUS under the constitution. No, not micromanaging or calling the shots. If Barr disagrees, so he must--and resign if necessary. Yet info sharing with the unitary executive might go a long way to smoothing things over.

      Now, Barr is a smart guy and may have his reasons. Insulating POTUS from some details may work to Trump's long term benefit. But all these things should be worked out in private. I have to believe it's possible.

    2. For the sake of the country, Trump needs Barr and Barr needs Trump.

      You and TexasDude made points that I thought about, i.e., Barr had to know going in how Trump is.

      If this is a real squabble, I'm torn as I see both men's positions. Barr is probably wanting to protect Trump from looking like he directing Barr, thus undermining both men. (I know, I know, the Dems/Deep State/Fake News will criticize no matter how Trump tweets or doesn't tweet).

      I have to say in Barr's defense that he knows the law better than Trump and Barr hinted that prejudicial statements can hurt cases before judges, to say nothing of maybe tainting jury pools.

      And please don't take it that I'm taking Barr's side. As I said, I am torn. I will be sick if Barr leaves.

      Batman needs Robin and Robin needs Batman.

  13. To end with replying here a bit because I do not want to be seen as a post hog, troll, or whatever, the post by Mark about Durham's investigation expanding and from an opinion piece by lawyer Jonathan Turley, clearly no friend of Trump, I assert this "issue" was
    a mistake on both sides.

    Turley states and Mark has evidenced that no matter the difficulties that Trump has given Barr, Barr is doing his job and, in keeping with putting his own reputation on the line, trying to get at the truth and, I assume, rock solid criminal cases.

    Granted, I disagree with Turley's characterization of Trump's tweets, but Trump himself admits he, assumption by tweet but may include other ways, has made Barr's job harder or, as Barr put it, impossible.

    Turley at the end states, "[b]efore we impeach, disbar, and incarcerate Barr, maybe we should hear from him."

    I agree we should, but I hope that it is as a united front that has been hashed out with Trump prior.

    I, for decades upon decades upon decades, never really gave a thought that the President cannot control what is Constitutionally bound as his even if an agency or department was Congressionally created. I was taught the evils of the spoils system which I believe was officially instituted by President Jackson, and believed, naively, that our current civil service system worked.

    With Trump, all that was exposed as a lie. I got "woke" to borrow a meme, phrase.

    In the grand scheme of things this is nothing, but, from personal experience in other areas, I know full well that lack of communication between leaders and sub leaders along with lack of public notice and resolution of disagreements between the same normally leads to firings and negative public expectations which affects the organization's bottom line that, in this case, means public confidence in our federal government.

    If no Barr/Trump public resolution is in the works, maybe Trump can tweet something else to give the gaslighters their fuel ... covfefe, pedes, OK hand sign, and all that.

    1. Yes. I'd very much like them to work it out. The thing is, Barr has been working hard at Trump's agenda in many ways, not just with the investigations. For example, most recently he has taken action on the sanctuary city problem. I'd hate for Trump to lose such an energetic and dedicated AG.

  14. Nobody here has said this, so I'm just going to throw it out there. No assurances I'm right and I might very well be wrong. Wouldn't be the first time.

    Barr is a 69 year old man at the short end of a 45+ year career spent largely in high profile, high pressure positions. I know what that feels like because I spent a long career in fairly high pressure work (without the public notoriety) and Bill Barr is exactly one week older than I am. I think Mark (also our age) knows what it feels like.

    Barr has been under constant pressure since he took the job. He has been attacked relentlessly and I assume he and his family have been threatened. I bet he's got around the clock security. I know he loves his bagpipe distractions but I imagine he is working these days close to 24/7/365.

    Barr often looks tired to me and his complexion often seems wan. He looks like he could (should) lose more than a couple pounds. I know its risky to comment about another person's health without knowledge of the facts and professional qualifications.

    So I'm not saying I know Bill Barr has health issues or concerns. I'm just saying it wouldn't surprise me if he did.

    I wouldn't be surprised if all of the foregoing is taking a toll on the man. He's got a tough job and he's not a young man. It might explain some of the stress and imperfect communication which we have seen the past few days flowing into the public arena.

    1. How these guys do it, I can't imagine. Trump is a phenomenon, a force of nature.

      As I said to TexasDude, I think that, whatever the 'provocation,' Barr could have handled this differently and better. OTOH, I'd be very depressed if he left. Overall, Trump couldn't have asked for a better AG, and people like that are very hard to come by.

  15. Exhibit A

    Exhibit B

    1. He doesn't actually look bad in those photos. Although I've thought most times I've seen him that he should lose 50 lbs. or so.