William Barr, who has now been caught committing felony obstruction of justice and felony perjury, is finished – it’s just a matter of how the House Democrats decide is the best way to end him. That’s where things get complicated, because the Justice Department isn’t exactly set up to prosecute a criminal case against the sitting head of the Justice Department. But it turns out there’s a way around that.
Palmer Report has documented the various strategies that are being floated by House Democrats, and by legal pundits, in the name of finishing off William Barr. They can hold him in contempt of Congress – and apparently will on Monday morning – and then fine him or even arrest him. But then he’d only sit in a makeshift jail cell for as long as a judge agrees he should be held for refusing to comply with his subpoena, and then it would be over. They can impeach him, which would end him politically, but the Republican Senate would fail to actually remove him. They can get him disbarred, a process that is in fact now underway.
Then there’s the scenario in which House Democrats make a criminal referral against him to the Department of Justice so he can be criminally charged and prosecuted. Under this scenario, they’d have to wait until Barr no longer controls the DOJ, or else Barr could step in and stop his own prosecution. He’d be committing yet another crime by doing this, but at that point, who’d be counting? Now, however, a former U.S. Attorney is pointing to a scenario in which House Democrats can criminally charge and prosecute William Barr right now.
Joyce Vance, who served as a U.S. Attorney under President Obama, and who is now a law professor, tweeted this legal nugget this evening: “Congress can prosecute those who ignore its subpoenas with contempt of Congress if a court decides to invoke a rarely used provision that permits it to appoint a private prosecutor if DOJ declines to pursue a case.” She then pointed to an example of this from 2007. The upshot is that House Democrats have numerous avenues for finishing off William Barr; they simply have to determine the avenue that’s going to be the most effective.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report