William Barr’s desperate end-around play

Two and a half months ago, we brought you the story of how the House Judiciary Committee had begun hiring legal heavy hitters like CREW Chairman Norm Eisen to help with its inevitable impeachment process against Donald Trump. So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise this weekend when the news surfaced that the committee was bringing in a professional prosecutor to question Attorney General William Barr about his attempted coverup of the Mueller report.

We’re guessing Barr hasn’t been paying close attention, because when he learned about this, he responded by threatening to blow off his House Judiciary Committee testimony, which is scheduled for this Thursday. Or perhaps Barr had merely been looking for any excuse at all to blow it off, and this was the best one he could come up with.

We’ll see if Barr really is willing to get himself held in contempt of Congress, and if House Democrats really are willing to have him arrested accordingly. But even as that storyline plays out, too little attention is being paid to the fact that Barr is also scheduled to testify about the Mueller report this Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee. That committee is headed by Lindsey Graham, who just played golf with Trump yesterday. How convenient.

It sure looks like William Barr is banking on Lindsey Graham helping him to sell the public a line of BS about the Mueller report on Wednesday, in the hope that the public will have no appetite for Barr to testify again on Thursday. In such case, House Democrats would have less leverage when it comes to carrying out severe punishment against Barr for refusing to show up.

But if this is Barr’s plan, he’s overlooking something important. Even though the Senate Judiciary Committee is controlled by Republicans, each Democrat on the committee will get a chance to question Barr as well – and some of those Democrats have prosecutorial experience. So the most likely outcome is that Wednesday will be a mangled mess that doesn’t resolve anything in the eyes of the public, meaning that the public will be all the more interested in Thursday’s proceedings. If Barr is trying to do an end-around run to avoid the House Judiciary Committee, it’s a rather desperate and low-percentage play.

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