Donald Trump picked William Barr to be his Attorney General for one reason: to make Trump’s criminal scandals go away. Thus far, Barr has played along when it came to trying to bury the Mueller report, the 2020 census scandal, and so on. But when it comes to the criminal scandal that could ultimately be the one to take Trump down, Barr just decided to cut and run.
William Barr has publicly announced today that he’s recusing himself from the criminal case against Jeffrey Epstein, who was arrested over the weekend on charges of sex trafficking of minors. Barr is citing the fact that he worked at a law firm that had previously represented Epstein. That’s legally valid, but we’ve already seen Barr refuse to recuse himself from other cases, even though he had far more glaring conflicts. Barr could have gotten away with not recusing himself here – but he’s choosing to distance himself from the Epstein case.
From Barr’s perspective, it’s easy to see why. Epstein is accused of utterly horrifying crimes against numerous girls, and the evidence against him is overwhelming. If Barr were to try to get Epstein off the hook on these kinds of charges, amidst this kind of public scrutiny, it could take Barr down.
Epstein and Trump are old friends. Trump rewarded Alexander Acosta with a cabinet position after Acosta initially got Epstein off the hook. It’s clear that something about the Epstein case is really bad for Trump. So it’s not difficult to figure out that Trump might eventually try to abuse the system behind the scenes in order to keep the Epstein case from landing at his own doorstep. Trump would have used William Barr to try to make that happen. But Barr just slammed that door shut. Trump is going to go bonkers when he realizes what Barr just did to him.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report