This one is for all the marbles

United States Attorney General William Barr is to be hauled before Jerry Nadler’s House Judiciary Committee at the end of next month to show cause for his extralegal support of Donald Trump. The momentous questions the committee will put to the AG will pertain to reasons why Barr has allowed the personal interests of the president of the United States to supersede the independent remit of Barr’s Department of Justice.

Specifically, why has Barr allowed Trump to attempt to override the DOJ’s own four prosecutors’ sentencing recommendations in the case of the People of the United States versus Roger Stone? Why has Barr suddenly reversed himself on his previous claim that the DOJ had nothing to do with Rudy Giuliani or Giuliani’s activities in Ukraine, and is now accepting and taking seriously information from Giuliani that is not only spurious but prejudicial against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter? Why has Barr recently announced that he expressly forbids any future investigations of any future presidential candidates without his personal authorization?

While they’re at it, one would hope members of the Committee will also ask Barr why is it that everything Trump does is perfectly okay with him, so much so that Barr was willing to grossly misrepresent the findings of the Mueller Report in his summary before its release. Somewhere in there someone might want to bring along the United States Attorney General’s Oath of Office, which reads in full:

I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

They may wish to draw Barr’s particular attention to the words in the AG Oath that reads, “without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.” There has been a lot of mental reservation for the purpose of evasion going on these days in the Republican defense of Donald Trump, and I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m getting awfully tired of it.

Those of us who have been close students of the misbegotten pirate ship called the “Trump administration” these past three years can easily guess what Barr’s answers will be. They will involve flat denials. They will involve declarations of strict adherence to proper decorum and the rule of law. And, best of all, they will involve many extravagant portions of good old Republican feigned outrage. Expect Barr to be shocked — shocked! — at the mere suggestion that he did anything improper.

I cannot escape the impression that we are in the middle of a dress rehearsal, or a trial balloon, that will set the tone for future Trumpian defiances of the rule of law. This may very well be the last time Bill Barr willingly appears before Congress. That he has agreed to appear at all is something of a minor miracle. (Yes, that’s how far democracy has fallen, we must get these thugs to agree to appear now.)

So what exactly is all this Bill Barr stuff a trial balloon for? No one can say. Maybe nothing. As far as Trump and his thuggish clowns go my biggest worry is that Trump will use the power of the Department of Justice to contest any part of the 2020 election he doesn’t like, especially the part deciding the next president and the outcome of various Senate races. Whatever the case, should a Democrat win the presidency, there’s an extremely high likelihood that both Bill Barr and Donald Trump will go to prison. So Barr and Trump are both highly motivated to cheat if they have to.

From the standpoint of the House Judiciary Committee this is looking like the beginning of a series of inquiries leading up to another impeachment, only this time it will be both Bill Barr and Donald Trump being impeached. It is a dangerous game of brinkmanship, and will play itself out spectacularly in November. It may not yet be a case just yet of Apocalypse Now, but don’t be surprised if it’s Apocalypse Soon.

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