Did Trump Tell Barr to Cut Stone Slack? Who Cares?

US Attorney General William Barr (L) and US President Donald Trump leave after delivering remarks on citizenship and the census in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 11, 2019. (Photo by Bre... US Attorney General William Barr (L) and US President Donald Trump leave after delivering remarks on citizenship and the census in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 11, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
|
February 14, 2020 11:08 a.m.
EDITORS' NOTE: TPM is making our COVID-19 coverage free to all readers during this national health crisis. If you’d like to support TPM's reporters, editors and staff, the best way to do so is to become a member.

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.

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.

COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).

IHME Projections Site (COVID-19 epidemic model which has become the canonical model for many states and hospitals.)

Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world).

Worldometers.info (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).

advertisement
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Publishing Associate:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: