Even the biggest of fatalists were forced to acknowledge today that Bill Barr doesn’t have a magic wand after all, when his Department of Justice announced that the longtime sham investigation into former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was being dropped. This comes months after Barr used media leaks to try to create the false impression that McCabe was being indicted on imaginary charges.
Just like that, Bill Barr’s three-card Monte scheme collapsed. Barr obviously never could have gotten a grand jury to indict Andrew McCabe, when the case against McCabe consisted of nothing more than the lies that Trump had tweeted about McCabe. But Barr wanted to please Donald Trump, and so he spent all this time pretending he was taking McCabe down. Trump, who is clueless about how most of these things work, appeared to have fallen for it. As of today, Trump knows that Barr doesn’t have nearly as much corrupt power as he’s been pretending he had.
Barr had another card trick up his sleeve, of course. He forcibly changed the DOJ’s Roger Stone sentencing guidelines – which has the net effect of accomplishing literally nothing, because the judge has sole discretion over the sentence. Barr can’t magically reduce Stone’s sentence any more than he can magically reduce the size of a giraffe.
Barr simply changed the recommendation to what he thinks the judge was always going to give Stone anyway, in the hope that Trump would then mistakenly think Barr helped him. The thing is, Barr may not be able to keep up this ruse for long, either. If the judge ends up giving Stone a significantly longer sentence than Barr is guessing, then even an oblivious Trump will be able to see that Barr’s antics were all for show.
Now that Bill Barr’s McCabe ruse has collapsed, and his Stone ruse could collapse by next week, he needs to make yet another move to convince cabbage-brain Trump that something is being done to advance Trump’s petty agenda. So today Barr leaked that he’s asked outside federal prosecutors to examine how the criminal case against Michael Flynn was built. That’s cute, but this can be expected to go about as far as any of Barr’s other superficial schemes. Of course all that matters is whether Trump believes this latest move is somehow going to take down the people who dared to investigate Flynn, or whether Trump finally figures out that Barr is just playin him.
Keep in mind that because Bill Barr came into office and immediately committed several counts of felony obstruction of justice in the Mueller probe, Barr is going to prison if Trump loses the election. There’s no question the DOJ will immediately move to make an example out of Barr for his criminal antics. Barr’s only hope is that Trump pardons him on his way out the door. No wonder Barr is so desperate to convince Trump that he’s helping him, at a time when it’s becoming more clear by the day that Barr is nothing more than a corrupt but bumbling empty suit.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report