Former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade took Attorney General William Barr to the woodshed on Friday for acting as President Donald Trump’s defense lawyer instead of America’s top attorney.
Barr released the Mueller report on Thursday, but not before he desperately tried to spin it during a disgraceful press conference that sickened legal experts across the country.
Barr portrayed the report as if Mueller totally cleared Trump, but just a quick skimming of the report reveals that it is damning as Mueller listed ten instances of obstruction of justice, concedes there is evidence of conspiracy and leaves it up to Congress, not Barr, to determine obstruction of justice and whether Trump should be impeached for it.
Barr’s performance was nothing but a scheme to protect Trump, even going so far as to repeat Trump’s own talking points.
McQuade, a former federal prosecutor, couldn’t believe what she was seeing on her television. So, she wrote a scathing editorial for The Daily Beast in reaction to the farce.
“I have been withholding judgment on Attorney General William Barr, believing that someone who has previously served in the Department of Justice as he did would respect the institution and the rule of law,” McQuade began. “His conduct before and after his confirmation had provided some reason to question his motives, but I still held out hope that he would lead honorably in handling the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.”
“Barr confirmed my worst suspicions when he stood at the podium to discuss the release of Mueller’s report into Russian election interference,” she continued. “Instead of using the language of a prosecutor, Barr parroted President Donald Trump’s favorite talking point of “no collusion” four times. And it got worse from there.”
First of all, Mueller refrained from even using the term “collusion.”
Mueller’s report specifically stated that he was not using the term “collusion” because “collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability” nor a “term of art” used in federal law. Instead, Mueller stated that his team analyzed the facts under the law of conspiracy. For Barr to repeatedly use the term “collusion” when Mueller deliberately avoided it gave the appearance that Barr had coordinated his message with the White House. Barr seemed more like a defense attorney for Trump than the lawyer for the people.
Second, Barr’s excuses for Trump’s many instances of obstruction are complete bullsh*t.
A motive of frustration or anger does not excuse obstruction of justice. In fact, most defendants who commit obstruction of justice experience frustration and anger. These motives are not exonerating, and Barr’s reference to them sounds like the kinds of excuses you might hear from a lawyer representing the accused.
Barr claimed that Trump “fully cooperated” with the probe, but that’s also a lie because “Trump refused to participate in an interview with Mueller” and “engaged in obstructive behavior throughout the investigation, attempting to fire Mueller, editing a press release in a misleading way, directing White House Counsel Don McGahn to lie, and seven other episodes of obstructive behavior.”
“That hardly sounds like full cooperation,” McQuade observed.
Barr even inserted himself by claiming Mueller left the determination of obstruction up to him, but even that’s not true, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should be ashamed of himself for letting Barr make that claim. Mueller makes no such statement in the report and suggests that Congress and federal prosecutors get to make that decision.
In the end, McQuade pointed out that Barr disgraced himself on the same or a higher level than Roy Cohn, a former attorney and fixer for Joseph McCarthy and Donald Trump who was disbarred for unethical and unprofessional misconduct in 1986.
“When former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, Trump was angry that he did not have a protector,” McQuade concluded. “He asked then, “where’s my Roy Cohn,” a mob lawyer who used aggressive and legally questionable tactics to help his clients prevail. For future presidents, the question may be “where’s my Bill Barr?”
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