In the five weeks since Attorney General William Barr announced that Donald Trump had been cleared by the Mueller report, House Democrats and everyone else on the side of American democracy have been stuck fighting an uphill battle. We knew Barr had to be lying, but his lies were in danger of sinking in among the general populace – even as Trump and his people began taking increasingly aggressive postures.
House Democrats have spent the past five weeks fighting far harder than even their own side wants to give them credit for. When issuing subpoenas and scheduling hearings are your only tools available, all you can do is use them. After all, impeachment wasn’t going to get them anywhere until they were at least able to establish for the American public that Barr was indeed lying. It was a no-win stretch, but they played it to a draw. Finally, the tide has turned.
We’ve all spent these past weeks wondering when, if, or how Robert Mueller might push back against William Barr’s lies. Now we have our answer. He took one look at Barr’s phony “summary” and immediately wrote Barr a letter, spelling out the ways in which Barr was misrepresenting the report. Really? Another sternly worded letter? But this one counts for a lot, as it turns out, because it came from Mueller himself, and because it’s surfacing at the strategically perfect time.
William Barr’s congressional testimony this week was never about any expectation of him being helpful or honest. It was all about trying to trip him up and expose that he handled the Mueller report dishonestly, which would set the stage for Robert Mueller to come in and explain the real story for the television cameras. But Mueller’s letter makes Barr’s testimony almost unnecessary, because it proves that Barr is lying to try to protect Trump.
One way or the other, this letter will effectively be the end of William Barr, who will be playing defense for as long as he tries to cling to the job. That means Donald Trump won’t have anyone playing offense for him, at a time when House Democrats are finally in a position to make gains by playing offense. The tide has turned.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report