When someone gives you a job and then turns around and transfers your son-in-law to work close to him and then your daughter is transferred to work in a department that is likely to handle matters of your boss’ concern, you’d understand when people around you start to smell a rat.
Not literally, but something almost fitting description above is what we are dealing with in Attorney General William Barr, his son-in-law and daughter. They all work in various legal capacities in direct or tangential service to President Donald Trump.
Barr as Attorney General, Tyler McGaughey, Barr’s son-in-law, as legal issues adviser in the White House, just recently transferred from the Department of Justice (DOJ), and Mary Daly, who calls Barr dad, moved from her work with deputy Attorney General office to join Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, FinCEN.
Gee, I wonder what they do and who might be interested in having friends there.
House Financial Services Committee under Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), is investigating Trump’s financial dealings with Deutsche Bank and FinCEN will play a role in the investigation. It is not clear if Daly will lend a hand in the investigation, but her presence at FinCEN can be perceived as Trump having a set eyes and ears in the building.
But wait, there’s more. Another Barr son-in-law, husband to Mary Daly, holds court, still, at DOJ in a capacity that deals with national security.
With all these family connections in positions that could be of interest to Trump, Barr should have recused himself from handling the special counsel matter and allowed for Deputy Attorney General to oversee it to the end.
Now he appears to have a conflict of interest and is there to put his thumb to tip the scales in favor of Trump.
Barr himself has a colorful path to his role as AG. He wrote a 19-page memo criticizing Mueller’s approach in the Trump-Russia investigation and assigning monarch powers to Trump.
Poisoning the well of public opinion
In the memo, Barr argues that if allowed to investigate Trump’s discretionary actions such as pardon power, Mueller could create a precedence that can have a disastrous impact on DOJ, as it would set a standard where the President’s discretionary prosecutorial powers will be diminished and questioned.
He does not seem to consider misuse of pardon power for corrupt intent as a big concern — he downplays it.
“The crux of Mueller’s claim here is that, when the President performs a facially-lawful discretionary action that influences a proceeding, he may be criminally investigated to determine whether he acted with an improper motive.”…
“The authority to decide whether or not to bring prosecutions, as well as the authority to appoint and remove principal Executive officers, and to grant pardons, are quintessentially Executive in character and among the discretionary powers vested exclusively in the President by the Constitution. When the President exercises these discretionary powers,it is presumed he does so lawfully, and his decisions are generally non-reviewable.”
The argument appears to give Trump a pass for actions such as the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, dismissing it as a mere discretionary personnel decision, despite the fact that it happened after Comey refused to heed his request to “let Flynn go.” In Barr’s opinion, the appearance of corrupt intent is unreviewable just because Trump is president.
Barr also seems to be ok with the President’s constant attacks on potential witnesses to the Special Counsel investigation, such as his former fixer Michael Cohen.
At first, the Barr memo raised eyebrows, but most people looked away and viewed it as shrewd audition for the AG job. But now, after the release of the vague 4-page spin of the Mueller Report, the country is getting alarmed and wondering what Barr is up to.
During his confirmation hearing to replace Jeff Sessions, who Trump peppered with insults and public contempt at every opportunity for recusing himself from overseeing the Trump-Russia investigation, Barr received zero votes from Democrats in the Judiciary Committee because of his cagey answers about releasing the Mueller Report.
Judging from how he has conducted himself after the release of the Mueller Report, Democrats were right not to vote for him.
It’s now appears Barr, a former AG in George H. W. Bush administration, has joined cowardly GOP pols as a Trump foot soldier. This makes the proximity of his family in positions that can benefit Trump a matter of urgent concern.
Are we to assume that Barr has never spoken with his son-in-law about what’s going on with the special counsel investigation? Maybe, I don’t know. But leaving the fate of the integrity of such an important investigation in the history of the country to the whims and restraint of the Barr extended family does not sound like a smart way of running a democracy.
Let’s take this deep dive here a little and speculate about Trump’s impulses with this backdrop, shall we?
What are the odds that person with so much to lose and of such low moral and ethical standards as President Trump, has not tried to reach out to Barr and influence the outcome of the investigation through his son-in-law?
Remember, the same Trump, tried to influence Comey to go easy on his indicted former Security Adviser Michael Flynn after he became aware Flynn was under investigation for suspicious contacts with Russia.
Barr’s family connections in DOJ and White House raise questions about his independence. His handling of the Mueller investigation raises questions whether he pressured the special counsel to end his investigation. And his handling of the release of the Mueller Report thus far, smells of a cover-up.
It’s very puzzling that Barr has refused to even state how many pages the report is. Barr is acting like a GOP activist. Reports indicate that he refused to commit to releasing the full report in a phone call with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) according to Politico.
Maybe Barr will come out release the full Mueller Report do everything right and let the chips fall where they may. Until such a day, if that day ever comes, we are left wondering, what is Barr up to? Is he just another GOP Trump stooge?