Back when Attorney General William Barr gave testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee that hurt himself and Donald Trump, and then failed to show up for the House Judiciary Committee the next day, it was clear that Barr would be stuck playing defense for the rest of his tenure. It was going to be difficult for him to protect Trump if he was too busy trying to save himself. Sure enough, Barr is now offer to do something harmful to Trump in the hope of saving himself.
The House Judiciary Committee voted two weeks ago to hold William Barr in contempt of Congress, but the full House has yet to vote on the matter. Why wait? Barr knows he’s behind the eight ball. House Democrats can use the contempt citation to hit Barr with potentially bankrupting financial penalties, get him disbarred, and have him arrested if necessary. They can also refer him to the DOJ for perjury charges once he’s no longer in charge of the DOJ. Barr is set to lose everything if he doesn’t play ball – so now he’s playing ball.
William Barr and his DOJ are now offering to give House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff the Trump-Russia counterintelligence reports he’s been seeking, if the House is willing to not hold Barr in contempt, according to CNN. It’s clear what Barr is doing here: he’s begging the House not to crush him, and in return he’s offering them what he can, in the hope that Trump won’t figure out that Barr is offering to turn over intel that’s damaging to Trump.
At this latest stage of the game, with Donald Trump’s criminal scandals cascading by the minute, and impeachment closer than ever, it’s every man for himself. William Barr just gave away that he’s afraid of going down for contempt, perjury, and whatever else he’s facing. These things are all about leverage, and at this point, House Democrats are holding most of that leverage. They can get Barr to give up far more than this, and they should.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report