Let’s come back to this brief exchange we had last night with TPM Reader HR and TPM Reader TB. No one believes this was anything more than Barr’s effort to be corrupt more effectively and with less press attention. The only question was whether it was all stage managed with Trump or whether it was actually Barr saying, “Hey, I’m trying to run the DOJ to protect you and your friends and target your enemies. Tweeting all the time just make that harder to do.”
I’m inclined to think the whole thing was coordinated and is not just cynical but entirely stage produced. But really it doesn’t matter. Barr says he needs the President not to tweet so he can do his job. If he thinks his job is intervening to protect friends of the President who are facing lengthy prison terms for hiding evidence from prosecutors investigating the President then he shouldn’t be Attorney General. Because only in Trumpland is that “the job.”
Everyone who wasn’t blinded by the D.C. prestige lawyer cocktail party circuit knew Bill Barr was sleazy going in. But on the job with Trump he has revealed himself as the worst kind of crook. It’s almost certain that Trump instructed Barr to cut Stone slack. We can reason that based on past experience. The trajectory is simple and well-known: a) I didn’t do it. b) I have every right to do it but I didn’t do it. c) I did it and it’s awesome that I did it. d) You should thank me for doing it.
But whether Trump instructed Barr is really beside the point. If I hire you to mow my lawn, every few weeks you will mow my loan. You’ll send me a bill and I’ll pay it. If I have to remind you each time the grass gets overgrown you’re not really doing the job. This is no different. Barr’s job is to protect the President and his associates from legal jeopardy and pursue Trump’s political foes. He’s doing that. Why would he need Trump to remind him in the case of Stone? He’s doing it on so many different fronts: Flynn, Ukraine, Durham, FISA, Horowitz. It’s his job! He’s doing it! Trump probably did tell him because he’s Trump and he has no self-discipline or impulse control. Barr may actually be a bit miffed to be reminded in public. Who knows? But it hardly matters.
These are both straight up crooks, made for each other.