Yesterday, Palmer Report spelled out how Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr both appear to be trying to con each other. Trump knows that Barr needs a pardon for his obstruction of justice felonies, and so Trump keeps making Barr do him corrupt favors. But then Barr does things like trying to trick Trump into thinking he got Roger Stone’s sentence reduced, when all he did was reduce the recommendations closer to what the judge was likely to give Stone anyway.
Now Barr has done a new interview with ABC News. He’s defending his own actions in the Stone case, while also stressing that Trump’s tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job.” To be clear, there’s no reason to believe that Barr is actually selling Trump out by saying this. Barr isn’t going to go cut a plea deal tomorrow or anything. But Barr is giving away something important here.
First of all, Bill Barr is clearly concerned about the mess he’s in. He’s being hauled before the House Judiciary Committee to testify about his actions in the Stone case, and if he doesn’t show up or doesn’t answer the questions satisfactorily, he’ll likely be impeached. Even if he’s then acquitted, the impeachment process could tie Barr’s hands for months on end, and it could cause Trump to view Barr as a liability. If Trump loses in November and Barr is indicted, Trump’s tweets will be used as evidence against Barr during his trial.
So it’s notable that Barr is concerned enough about all of this that he’s trying to seize control of the narrative. Of course for all we know, Barr may have even told Trump that he’s willing to keep meddling in the Stone case, but only if Trump is okay with Barr insulating himself by going on TV and saying things like this. But the key takeaway here is that Barr is worried about how badly this could go wrong for him. It’s the latest reminder that Barr isn’t some evil wizard who can simply wave a magic wand and do whatever he wants without consequences. Barr is running scared, as he should be.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report