Axios has the story: Barr tells Republicans Durham report won't be ready by election.
Right up front you can see that there's a narrative problem. Prosecutors are put on a case to prosecute if there's a crime--not to write a report, except in exceptional circumstances. Why, then, all the calls for a "report" from Durham?
This is why:
“This is the nightmare scenario. Essentially, the year and a half of arguably the number one issue for the Republican base is virtually meaningless if this doesn't happen before the election," a GOP congressional aide told Axios.
My take on this? Yes, of course Barr knows how much the future of our country is riding on this election. OTOH, he also knows that no matter the outcome of the election that future will be seriously jeopardized anyway--unless he and Durham can present a beyond-a-reasonable-doubt case for the big picture conspiracy. His calculation, in my opinion, is that only that result will get the attention of the nation. It's an unfortunate situation, but it's the reality of where America is as a society.
But note something else. Barr isn't actually saying he's holding back to avoid the appearance of politics--although he may believe that is a concern if he only indicts a few before the election but not the "bigger fish he has to fry", as President Trump told Maria Bartiromo. To me, that's a legitimate concern when your goal is getting the nation's attention and holding it.
What we're hearing: Barr is communicating that Durham is taking his investigation extremely seriously and is focused on winning prosecutions.
- According to one of the sources briefed on the conversations Barr said Durham is working in a deliberate and calculated fashion, and they need to be patient.
- The general sense of the talks, the source says, is that Durham is not preoccupied with completing his probe by a certain deadline for political purposes.
What would you expect from Durham? To put together some indictments--and then risk losing in court because he rushed it? That would be an almost incalculable political disaster.
Frankly, I'd have a lot more sympathy for the GOP as a party if they'd done more to help Trump for much of the past four years. Yes, Trump made some bad personnel moves--although some were more or less forced on him by the political situation he found himself in, without unified support from the GOP. The fact of the matter remains, however, that Trump has been undermined systematically by key establishment Republicans. He has had to conduct what amounts to an insurgency--not even able to count on his own administration, who were loyal instead to Congress and the Senate rather than to the Executive. The first two years of GOP fecklessness led directly to the Dem House of 2018.
Trump now has an AG who IS loyal to the interests of the Executive and to the Constitution, and it's hard to blame Barr for putting those interests above the wavering interests of the Legislative GOP. His strategy is coherent and not based on the political motives of the moment.
Behind the scenes: Trump has grown increasingly frustrated with Barr and the Justice Department for not moving more quickly on the investigation.
- In recent days, Trump has publicly criticized Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray for not moving fast enough.
- "To be honest, Bill Barr is going to go down as either the greatest attorney general in the history of the country or he’s going to go down as, you know, a very sad situation," Trump said during a phone interview with Fox Business on Thursday.
- "He’s got all the information he needs. They want to get more, more, more. They keep getting more. I said, 'you don’t need any more.'"
- A Thursday report by the AP said Barr is also frustrated by Trump’s public pronouncements about the case.
I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to the lawyers here. The lawyers surrounding Barr are also the same lawyers who served Trump well in squelching Team Mueller and then the Fake Impeachment--despite the GOP Establishment's fecklessness. Remember, Durham didn't even begin his work until Spring of 2019--no fault of his own, since Chuck Grassley, for all his current posturing, stood in the way of Trump shaking up DoJ before Barr was allowed in after the 2018 Midterm disaster in the House. Now Senate GOPers want Durham to hurry up and pull their bacon out of the fire--where were they before November 2018?
Trump, as usual, has a point. Barr is banking on the rule of law winning over the country in the end game here. Trump would prefer a slash and burn approach right now, knowing that our politics and legal establishment have been broken by the Left. But that's risky. Telling a prosecutor looking at the biggest scandal in the history of the country that "you don't need any more [evidence]"? With all the entrenched Leftist control of most of our institutions? I have to side with Barr and Durham here--the legendarily aggressive litigator and the dogged career prosecutor. We need the big picture to come out and trust that the majority of Americans will finally realize that the future of our constitutional order is at stake.
Where does that leave us? Some in the GOP are suggesting an alternative: Accelerated declassification of all that can be declassified. That could be fine, however the question remains whether that would be sufficient to get the attention of the critical "undecided" or "independent" voters. Will they really pore over the declassified documents and ponder the implications, even with the help of pundits? Or will they find it, as Patrick Basham has maintained, "confusing" and distracting?
Successful prosecutions of the big picture conspiracy is the answer that offers the most prospect for success beyond the election. What, then, if the unthinkable happens and Biden pulls off an upset? Maybe then will be the time for a big picture report ahead of the prosecutions that the Left will surely seek to quash.