A Barr Reappraisal?

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December 11, 2020 2:56 p.m.

TPM Reader JG thinks we need at least some partial reappraisal of Bill Barr’s tenure running the DOJ …

We’ve all been critical of AG Barr, I think it’s fair to give credit where credit is due, namely (as the WSJ article indicates) not making public an on-going investigation of Hunter Biden in a way that certainly would have been weaponized in the election campaign. Now you might question the bona fides of the investigation but the counter is that, like the FBI’s 2016 Russia probe, if it were pretextual, it would have been leaked because it would have been weaponized. I suspect that this story has been leaked now precisely show Barr in favorable light on the way out, not just a Trump toady, his reputation today. All along I’ve thought of Barr as using DoJ as a shield for Trump, not a sword to go after political enemies. Disreputable even if that, you might say, but still, there is a meaningful difference and attention should be paid.

There’s no question that this story was leaked by people friendly to Barr – likely at Barr’s own urging – to pretty up his reputation and remove some of the Trump stench from him as he returns to private life. But the strategic leak doesn’t in itself mean the thrust of the story isn’t true.

As I told JG I think Barr has significantly weaponized the DOJ on Trump’s behalf, though the sword and shield metaphor perhaps breaks down in what amounts to the best defense being a good offense with things like the bogus Durham investigation. In any case, I need to see a lot more to convince me we’re getting the full or true story here. As it is the facts just run too counter to Barr’s tenure and that of the DOJ for the last four years. Something does not add up.

It certainly wouldn’t be surprising if someone involved in the kind of international investing and consulting Hunter Biden was could run afoul of US tax law. But given the record of this DOJ, nothing out of it has credibility in a case like this. Not without seeing a lot more.

But if it does end up being something like this then we will perhaps have seen some evidence of what Barr’s limits were.

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