There are plenty of folks on social media who have convinced themselves, if perhaps only due to the simplistic nature of the format, that the key to Donald Trump’s rise and downfall comes down to a series of simple magic wands. Trump can wave one whenever he wants in order to get his way, the thinking goes, and if House Democrats would simply wave their magic wand, Trump would fall. William Barr, in this taut fantasy, also has a magic wand of his own.
This week we saw the Department of Justice announce that William Barr will be recusing himself from the Jeffrey Epstein case, due to a supposed conflict of interest that wasn’t much of one at all, only for the DOJ to announce a day later that Barr wasn’t fully recusing himself. It’s not difficult to parse that Trump got word of Barr’s recusal, and demanded that Barr change his tune, and so he did.
The magic wand brigade is now afraid that William Barr is simply going to wave his wand and make the federal charges against Epstein disappear. The only guarantee here is that this will not happen. Barr is reckless, craven, power hungry, but he’s not that reckless. Even he knows that with this much scrutiny on such a uniquely horrifying criminal case, he can’t simply set Epstein free and avoid consequences. It would be the end of Barr, and he knows it, which is why he tried to recuse himself to begin with.
So no, William Barr won’t have the charges dropped against Jeffrey Epstein. Nor is it likely that Donald Trump will pardon Epstein, because even he understands that one of the few things he could do to instantly end his presidency would be to pardon his child molester friend. Besides, a pardon would leave Epstein without any criminal jeopardy, meaning he would then have to testify about any crimes that he saw Trump or others committing. Again, people like Trump and Barr don’t have magic wands they can simply wave whenever they want to get their way; sometimes it just feels like they do.
There is, however, a real concern at play. Barr can, for instance, periodically demand to review all the mounting evidence against Jeffrey Epstein – and then give Trump a heads up if any of the evidence implicates Trump. After all, Trump and Epstein are known to have partied heavily together in years past, and, well… we won’t even say it.
The point is that while there will no magic dropping of charges against Epstein or magic pardon for him, William Barr can do a number of far more subtle things in the name of trying to insulate Donald Trump from wherever this case is heading. If the Resistance wants to stop Barr from tanking things, it can start by no longer wasting time yelling around about magic pardons and such, and instead focus closely on every move the DOJ makes in the Epstein case. If at any point something feels off, as if Barr is slyly tinkering with the case, that’s the time to sound the alarm.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report