Bill Barr is portrayed as a magician by pro-Trump pundits, and as an evil wizard by anti-Trump pundits. Both sides seem to agree that Barr can pull off pretty much whatever he wants. Here’s the thing, though: the facts just don’t support that narrative, and the past twenty-four hours in particular have painted a very different picture.
Yesterday the retired judge appointed to oversee the Michael Flynn case concluded that Flynn’s guilt was “obvious” and that Bill Barr’s DOJ acted corruptly by trying to throw out the case against him. In other words, Barr has failed in his long running effort to get Flynn off the hook. Also yesterday, a top prosecutor in the Durham probe resigned, suggesting that the Durham report isn’t going to be to Trump’s liking, despite Barr’s best effort.
In other words, Bill Barr keeps striking out. This comes after Barr failed to install his own guy at SDNY, failed to prevent Steve Bannon’s arrest, failed to get Roger Stone’s sentence reduced, failed to keep Michael Cohen locked up, failed to prevent the arrests of Lev and Igor, and so on. Barr’s batting average looks like something out of the minor leagues.
Bill Barr’s entire mythos of invincibility has always been built around the premise that he defeated Robert Mueller, but recent revelations suggest that it was Rod Rosenstein who sabotaged Mueller before Barr even got there. When you combine this with Barr’s long running string of failed attempts at helping Trump, the conclusion is that he’s just not very good at this “henchman” thing. Evil? Yes. Dangerous? Sure; any corrupt person holding high office is dangerous. But effective at what he’s trying to do? No, not particularly.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report