There’s more buzz than ever that Donald Trump might fire Attorney General Bill Barr. One of the consistent patterns over the past four years – that everyone has missed even though it’s been plain as day – is that whenever Trump keeps leaking that he’s going to do some aggressive or assertive thing, he almost never actually does it.
When Trump does aggressive or assertive things, he tends to do them in secret or with no warning. When Trump keeps leaking that he’s going to do an assertive thing, it’s just him trying to create the illusion of strength, on something he’s afraid to actually go through with.
Maybe Trump will fire Bill Barr. We don’t know what the odds are of that. But each time Trump leaks that he’s going to fire Barr, it’s a sign that he’s afraid to actually pull the trigger. Trump’s pattern is that if he were likely to do it, he’d just do it, instead of whining.
Barr is nothing more than a middling bumbler. His overall track record has made clear that he’s far removed from the capable evil genius that MSNBC and CNN tried to build him up to be. But Barr isn’t stupid either. How many times can your boss threaten to fire you over the same thing, and not go through with it, before you realize you’re probably not getting fired over that thing?
In any case Trump can’t get anything done in these next 39 days with Bill Barr, who for whatever selfish reasons, is clearly done trying to help Trump save himself.
Trump also wouldn’t get anything done in these next 39 days with Barr’s “acting” replacement. That person would either be a non-corrupt career DOJ person who’s not willing to help Trump, or a corrupt but inept Trump loyalist who’s not able to help Trump. There’s no scenario where Trump fires Barr and then gains magical DOJ powers. At this point, crippled Trump isn’t within a million miles of having that kind of muscle.
Bottom line, it really doesn’t matter if Trump fires Barr or not. He’d be doing it purely to take out his frustration. Trump will spend his final six weeks doing nothing to help America, and attempting petty schemes to try to help himself. Plenty of damage will be done. But there’s no Trump-Barr magic wand. Never was.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report