All along, Attorney General William Barr’s words have given the appearance that he’s willing to stand his ground and protect Donald Trump at all costs. But Barr’s actions have given away that he really, really doesn’t want to be held in contempt. Sure enough, last night, on the eve of a full House contempt vote against him, Barr caved by giving House Democrats immediate access to underlying Mueller report materials. Then the House Democrats decided to make his nightmare come true anyway.
House Democrats won’t be sending the Sergeant-at-Arms out today to arrest William Barr and lock him in the tiny jail in the basement. But they are voting today to take de facto civil contempt measures against Barr – which is precisely what he was trying to avoid. It’s too late for Barr to take the Mueller report materials off the table, because he already let House Democrats have access to them last night.
The kicker is that House Democrats are going just soft enough today on William Barr so that he might be motivated to continue caving to them, while just hard enough on Barr to send a message to others about Barr having dared to defy them to begin with. Today won’t see the kind of dramatic takedown of Barr that so many Americans have been hoping for. But it’s instead the kind of takedown in which Barr had to give House Democrats want they wanted, and now they’re still going to spank him anyway. That’s a whole new way for Barr to lose.
Keep in mind that William Barr is supposed to be Donald Trump’s prized stallion when it comes to protecting Trump from his criminal scandals. If Barr is afraid enough of what’s coming to cave under the pressure like this, it means everyone else in league with Trump is vulnerable to being forced to cave as well.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report