Apart from the lies and what we’ve learned today, it’s worth drilling in on Bill Barr’s usefulness to President Trump. Trump insiders were giddy in advance of Barr’s arrival, saying Mueller would be gone soon and Trump finally had an Attorney General who was ‘on his side’. That was clearly completely accurate. Barr showed today he’s in the foxhole with President Trump and will be there until the end. But there’s a different, more specific role he played or value he had for Trump. You could see it clearly in those exuberant “total exoneration” days after Barr released his now notorious letter.
Bill Barr was one of those beyond reproach, highly respected GOP lawyer daddy figures in Washington, DC. Not a Matt Whitaker or clowns like Rudy Giuliani. He was one of those respectable and deferred to credentialed DC power lawyer types. I and many others have been explaining for months how and why that wasn’t a deserved reputation. But it was his reputation. The fact that he was able to hoodwink most of the DC press with his Letter for weeks was testament to that fact. Finally President Trump had one of those guys making his “no collusion, no obstruction, witchhunt!” arguments for him – often close to word for word. For Trump it was clearly like paradise, even apart from the claims about the report itself.
Beyond having an un-recused and tractable toady running the Justice Department precisely who Barr was was clearly immensely important to Trump, probably more than most people realize. Trump is Gollum and the respect of respectable people is his ever-elusive precious. Barr remains of immense use to Trump. The covering up and defiance of Congress will continue. But Barr’s reputation is in shreds. Damaged goods like most others Trump has used up. No, Republicans aren’t saying that. They love him. They’ll defend him. But they can see the obvious as clearly as anyone. Bill Barr is just a straight up liar. He’ll say anything for his master. His word means nothing. And that is something even many Democrats and certainly quite a few Washington journalists didn’t realize until this week.