For the past year or so, Attorney General Bill Barr has largely been pretending to make the moves that Donald Trump wanted. For instance, Barr leaked to the media that he was criminally indicting Trump’s nemesis Andrew McCabe, but ultimately had to admit there wasn’t even a case. Now that Trump desperately needs a win – or at least whatever a “win” looks like in his collapsing mind – Barr’s hand has finally been forced.
Bill Barr forced the Department of Justice to drop the criminal case against Michael Flynn today. This is despite the fact that Flynn has already pleaded guilty and was about to be sentenced to prison. This is a stunning instance of obstruction of justice on Barr’s part, and it puts him firmly on the hot seat. The lead prosecutor in the Flynn case, Brandon Van Grack, has now withdrawn from the case in apparent protest. It’s not yet clear what the judge in the case will do, but he’s previously shown that he has zero tolerance for these kinds of things.
One thing is clear: if Bill Barr wasn’t already earmarked for prison before this, it’s now a guarantee that he’ll spend much or all of the rest of his life in prison once Trump is gone from office. It also seems likely that once Trump and Barr are gone, the DOJ will simply bring back the case against Flynn. But for now, Barr has bet his life on the hope that Trump either wins the election or pardons him on his way out the door.
Donald Trump appears to delusionally believe that he can campaign on the “exoneration” of Michael Flynn. Here’s the thing, though. No one outside his deranged base believes that Flynn is innocent, or cares. Trump won’t gain a single vote from this. And if anti-Trump forces are able to characterize the narrative effectively, they can now campaign on the fact that Trump and Barr are out of control criminals who just illegally broke their co-conspirator Flynn out of prison. What Trump and Barr are doing is so very criminal, yet so very pointless.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report