No, that's not me speaking--although AG Bill Barr's statement did rather stun me. That's Brett Tolman speaking, during an interview on Fox. I've cited Tolman's views in the past. He presents carefully considered views. He's not a bomb thrower. He was stunned by Barr's statement precisely because, to Tolman, the statement was not the carefully considered response to a question that Tolman expected--based on Barr's past performance. Barr is blunt, but he's not stupid and his words are carefully chosen. And so Tolman was stunned.
DoJ issued a statement claiming that various media outlets had misinterpreted or even misquoted Barr. Fine--correct that. But DoJ in no way revised Barr's words, except to place the emphasis on Barr's time conditioned caveats: "to date" and "so far". But those caveats don't weaken the impact that his words had. Tolman isn't stupid, either. He heard Barr's words and was able to think about them overnight and to consider the DoJ statement. This morning he was still stunned.
First I'll embed the tweet with the video of the Tolman interview, then I'll provide a transcript of the Tolman portions of the interview. The interview covers both Tolman's reaction to Barr's statement as well as Tolman's response to a two part question about John Durham's appointment as Special Counsel:
Former Federal Prosecutor, @tolmanbrett, is stunned by Attorney General Bill Barr’s comments that the DOJ hasn’t uncovered widespread evidence of voter fraud. His take on the lastest whistleblower claims on #FoxFriendsFirst.https://t.co/nV00LGHMcP— Fox & Friends First (@FoxFriendsFirst) December 2, 2020
Now, here's the transcript. Tolman first presents his reaction to Barr's statement:
It almost sounds like someone shooting from the cuff and making some comments without having done any due diligence on his own. I've spoken to folks that are on the ground in several of these states that have been talking to witnesses, looking at what is alleged. It's really hard to believe that the Attorney General came out and-- Look, I'm a fan of AG Barr and I've followed his career for many, many years, but this statement really stunned me, because if you've watched any of the hearings you know that there are people out there expressing their first hand account of issues and irregularities that are concerning and that somebody needs to be digging into and getting to the bottom of.
Next, Tolman responds to the two part question regarding the 1) timing of the Durham SC appointment and 2) what affect this appointment could have on an incoming AG:
You know, it doesn't surprise me on the timing, and I see the Attorney General as someone who does wanna to make decisions hoping not to affect nationally, unlike Jim Comey when we saw some of the actions that he took. I think this Attorney General is very sensitive to that. October 19th is when he made the decision.
As to your second part, y'know, an incoming, new Attorney General could do as--you recall when Mueller was appointed, there was a lot of pressure on Attorney General Sessions and the Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein to actually rescind the appointment of Mueller. I think there will be some pressure with a new Attorney General coming in, but it's a lot more difficult now that he's been designated a Special Counsel, because there's gonna be political pressure for him to be able to finish his investigation. And they're gonna be able to say, 'Look, we let Mueller do it, so now you're gonna hafta let Durham.'
The problem regarding Tolman's views on the Durham SC appointment is twofold. First, Dems don't play by the type of rules GOPers play by. There will be NO pressure--not in a meaningful sense--to allow Durham to continue. Firing Durham will NOT cause a public outcry--strong statements from GOP Reps/Senators or pundits don't count as pressure. In my view, the election scandal will actually have more impact on the public than anything Durham does or doesn't do.
Second, the fact that the Durham appointment broke the SC rules--and SC is supposed to be an outsider, not a government official like Durham--makes it child's play for a new AG to fire Durham and claim to be upholding the law in doing so. The fact of the matter is that Barr, by stating that Durham was really only focusing on the FBI, appears to have been offering a deal to the Dems: Let Durham spank a handful of bad boys at the FBI and everyone else will be off the hook and the whole thing will be forgotten.
It hurts me to say this. The possibility remains that Durham will do his for publication report that will cover more ground, but unless Barr publishes it before resigning I suspect it will never see the light of day. Not until the next GOP president--if the Dems ever permit that.