Former Attorney General Bill Barr, Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein have all leaked to the media over the past two days that they didn’t know the Trump-era DOJ was spying on the personal data of multiple House Democrats. But legal experts have said that such an operation couldn’t have taken place without someone at their level having signed off on it. Unless someone went to extraordinary lengths to subvert the DOJ chain of command, it means at least one out of Barr, Sessions, and Rosenstein has to be lying.
Not only is at least one of them lying, at least one of them appears to be rather stupidly lying. There are surely signatures, witnesses, meeting notes proving who signed off on the spying scandal. How long can it really take the DOJ Inspector General to get to the bottom of it? So whoever’s lying is making a panic move – and it suggests that the liar(s) are aware of the potential criminal liability involved.
Leaking a lie to the media is one thing. But telling that lie under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee is a whole other thing. Trump-era DOJ officials didn’t appear to worry about committing perjury while they were still in charge; they certainly weren’t going to arrest themselves for perjury, and no one else could do it. But now that they’re not in power, they have to worry about the possibility that the DOJ really might toss them in prison for lying to the Senate – particularly about a scandal as embarrassing as this one.
So now we wait and watch to see which of these Trump DOJ officials show up to testify to the Senate, and which of them try to drag out a subpoena in court. That might give us some clue as to who was in on the spying scandal and who wasn’t. Thus far the committee is only asking Barr and Sessions to testify. If Sessions shows up and points out that he was already recused from that entire line of investigation, then his former Deputy Rosenstein will surely get the next tap on the shoulder from the Senate.
In any case, we expect the truth to come out on this eventually. There are too many current and/or former DOJ officials who weren’t involved in this scandal, but were aware of it, and don’t want to go down for having kept the secret, so they’ll presumably rat out those who were involved in it.
And again, keep in mind that Barr, Sessions, and Rosenstein are no longer running the Department of Justice. They have no ability to protect themselves from the inside anymore. And Merrick Garland knows he has to aggressively clean up this mess in order to restore faith in the Department of Justice.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report