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Member since: Mon Sep 6, 2004, 09:54 PM
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Journal Archives

Scott Turow: "A Crime in Public View": How William Barr Pardoned Donald Trump


“A Crime in Public View”: How William Barr Pardoned Donald Trump
Trump had plenty of reasons to obstruct Mueller’s investigation, whether or not there was an underlying crime. The most obvious one has been staring us in the face all along.
by Scott Turow
March 25, 2019 12:41 pm

Attorney General William Barr’s summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusions, in the fancy language of lawyers, impeaches itself. That means that its own words and reasoning call some of Barr’s conclusions into doubt, particularly Barr’s eagerness to say that Donald Trump can’t be proven to have obstructed justice.


This sounds like arcane legal stuff, but it’s actually a matter of common sense. In judging whether a suspect had a corrupt intent to obstruct justice, a reasonable prosecutor would look at the potential gain to the defendant by engaging in the questionable behavior. In most cases, if the target didn’t commit an underlying offense, he would have no reason to hinder the investigation.

But that is not true in Trump’s case. Throughout his election campaign and long after, Trump denied that Russia was responsible for the massive interference in our election that Mueller has now concluded occurred. Trump made these denials “despite,” to quote Barr, “multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.” Aside from any crimes Trump or his campaign committed by being in cahoots with the Russians, there are other clear gains to Trump in hindering the investigation. The most obvious is that the Russian interference, which both Barr and Mueller say the Trump campaign knew about, calls the legitimacy of the 2016 election into question.

With our focus on whether the president is going to jail, we have run past a point that is now undeniable: Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States after a sustained series of crimes by the Russian government aimed at boosting his chances of winning. Because of the political damage to the president that Russia’s criminal interference posed, he had an obvious reason to terminate the investigation. In other words, he had something to hide, and the Mueller inquiry seems to have concluded that there was plenty of evidence that he hid it.

To argue that no underlying crime means no obstruction is therefore nonsense. That is fallacious reasoning and it impugns Barr’s integrity and his reputation as a lawyer. Worse, it represents a troubling effort to paper over the acknowledged evidence that Mr. Trump committed a crime in public view.

Scott Turow, a Vanity Fair contributor, attorney, and best-selling author, is the author of Presumed Innocent, The Burden of Proof, Ordinary Heroes, Identical, and Testimony.
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Mar 25, 2019, 04:20 PM (11 replies)

Mitch McConnell disagrees with Trump on Russian election meddling

Mitch McConnell disagrees with Trump on Russian election meddling
In statement, Senate leader decries Russia's "significant threat." That's not what the president has been saying.
Casey Michel
Mar 25, 2019, 1:26 pm

After years of deflecting and downplaying the notion that Russia interfered in an American presidential election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced on Sunday that Russia poses a “significant threat to American interests.”

McConnell acknowledged what all U.S. intelligence agencies have been saying for several years only after Attorney General William Barr reported that Russia had, according to special counsel Robert Mueller, interfered in the 2016 presidential race. The report concluded that neither President Donald Trump nor his campaign had collaborated with Moscow.

McConnell stopped short of saying whether Republicans, who control the White House and the Senate, would take action to prevent Russia from interfering in the 2020 election. The intelligence community has been warning the public since 2016 that Russia was meddling in U.S. elections, and they have repeatedly warned that Russia will interfere in the next election.

McConnell’s statement represents a significant departure from the president, who maintains that no one knows who tried to hack the Democratic Party’s computers and email servers. McConnell also tried to stonewall investigations into Russian attempts to meddle in the 2016 election, including Russian outreach efforts to help the Trump campaign.


Posted by babylonsister | Mon Mar 25, 2019, 04:01 PM (0 replies)

Presidential Historian: Barr's Four-Page Letter Is A 'Press Release'

3/25/19 7:22am
Read time: 3 minutes
Presidential Historian: Barr's Four-Page Letter Is A 'Press Release'
"Maybe it accurately reflects what's in the Mueller report. Maybe it's something that is a gloss that's intended to make it took more pro Trump than it is," presidential historian Michael Beschloss said.
By Susie Madrak
Video at link~

I'll give Morning Joe credit for giving us exactly what we needed to hear this morning -- namely, the historical context of yesterday's partisan whitewash of the conclusions of the Mueller report. Almost every one of the guests took great pain's to say that Trump's self-declared "victory" was only one of perception.

Presidential historian Michael Beschloss even dismissed Barr's letter as a "press release."

"Michael, obviously comparisons have been drawn throughout the process. What's so fascinating about where we are now is, you have one side declaring victory and the other playing death dirges. Investigations continuing in the Southern District of New York. We had Jonathan Turley on this show a year and a half ago saying forget about Mueller, the threat to President Trump and his freedom comes from the Southern District of New York. A lot of people following that. So Donald Trump can certainly exhale, but then the battles begin again," Joe Scarborough said.

"The battles may even begin before that," Beschloss said. "I've been waiting for 22 months to read the Mueller report. Have you read it?

"So far, we've read basically a four-page, what amounts to a press release from William Barr, maybe it accurately reflects what's in the Mueller report. Maybe it's something that is a gloss that's intended to make it look a lot more pro Trump than it is."


Posted by babylonsister | Mon Mar 25, 2019, 12:15 PM (2 replies)

Joe Conason: No Collusion? Perhaps, But Certainly No Exoneration

March 24, 2019 10:36 pm / 0 Comments / Campaign 2016, Editor's Blog, Featured Post, Law Enforcement,
No Collusion? Perhaps, But Certainly No Exoneration
Joe Conason

Even in a moment of triumph, Donald Trump could not help but lie.

Exulting over the summary findings of the Mueller Report — as interpreted and transmitted by his Attorney General William Barr — Trump declared that the investigation had found “no obstruction” and resulted in “complete and total exoneration.” But according to Mueller’s own words, that boast is utterly false, in particular with respect to a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

To quote directly from Barr’s memorandum to Congress, “the Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’”

Exactly what that partially-quoted sentence means remains to be seen — assuming that someday, the Justice Department or the Congress will disclose the rest of Mueller’s findings and evidence. Why was Robert Mueller unable to clear the president of obstruction of justice — the crime that led to the ouster of Richard Nixon — and how did he approach that question?

What we do know is that the ultimate decision on whether to charge Trump with obstruction was left to Barr and Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general. But that result undermines the entire purpose of the Special Counsel Act, which was to ensure that conflicted Justice Department officials didn’t make prosecution decisions about the president who appointed them.


Posted by babylonsister | Mon Mar 25, 2019, 07:22 AM (0 replies)

Pete Buttigieg: We are the party of freedom

Posted by babylonsister | Sun Mar 24, 2019, 09:57 PM (12 replies)

Is there any rule that prevents Mueller from making a


That would put a lot of this to rest.
Posted by babylonsister | Sun Mar 24, 2019, 09:24 PM (12 replies)

emptywheel: How William Barr Did Old Man Back-Flips to Avoid Arresting Donald Trump

Did Old Man Back-Flips to Avoid Arresting Donald Trump
How William Barr Did Old Man Back-Flips to Avoid Arresting Donald Trump
March 24, 2019/132 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel

Attorney General William Barr just engaged in utterly cowardly dereliction of duty.
During his confirmation hearing, Barr confirmed that things Trump has done are obstruction

When we were awaiting the Mueller report yesterday, I wondered whether William Barr was thinking about two things he had said as part of his confirmation process. First, in his column that has always been interpreted to say that a President can’t obstruct justice, at the bottom of the first page, he instead acknowledged that a President actually could obstruct justice.

Obviously, the President and any other official can commit obstruction in this classic sense of sabotaging a proceeding’s truth-finding function. Thus, for example, if a President knowingly destroys or alters evidence, suborns perjury, or induces a witness to change testimony, or commits any act deliberately impairing the integrity or availability of evidence, then he, like anyone else, commits the crime of obstruction.

Barr — who at the time had no understanding of the evidence — made three comments in his confirmation hearing about obstruction. Among others, he point blank said that a person could not lawfully issue a pardon in exchange for someone’s promise not to incriminate him.

“Do you believe a president could lawfully issue a pardon in exchange for the recipient’s promise not incriminate him?” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) asked Barr during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“No, that would be a crime,” Barr said.


Posted by babylonsister | Sun Mar 24, 2019, 09:09 PM (7 replies)

Pete Buttigieg just raised an oft-overlooked topic: the religious left's role in politics


Pete Buttigieg just raised an oft-overlooked topic: the religious left’s role in politics
By John Gallagher ·
Saturday, March 23, 2019


“The idea that the only way a religious person could enter politics is through the religious right — I just don’t think that makes sense. What could be more different than the message I take from my faith and what we’re being shown in Washington right now?” Buttigieg said this week on Morning Joe.

“I think a lot of people wonder where they fit, either because who they are, if you’re a member of the LGBTQ community like I am, or because of what you believe politically,” Buttigieg went on. “I think the time has come for more of a religious left to emerge in our country, that let’s people know that they aren’t alone when they look at faith and think that teaches us to reach out to others, to humble ourselves, to take care of the immigrant, the prisoner, and frankly the sex worker.”


But there are liberal believers, like Buttigieg, and even liberal evangelicals. Their faith leads them to embrace progressive policies, including LGBTQ rights, which is embraced by 5,000 churches nationwide.

None of this is to suggest that liberals want to erase the separation of Church and state. (On the other hand, the religious right considers that principle a myth.) Buttigieg prefaced his remarks to emphasize the importance of maintaining that wall.

Reclaiming (or more accurately, rescuing) the language of faith from the right is a noble cause. When he was president, Barack Obama spoke about the importance of faith. But Buttigieg is taking it one step further, talking about how faith can bring people into politics.

Just as significant is that Buttigieg says the president has to represent people of no faith. Despite the enduring image of Americans as people of faith, even the religious right is shrinking and the number of people who profess no faith is growing. Not coincidentally, that group is actually much more likely to support LGBTQ rights.

Whether anyone other than Buttigieg will continue this conversation is up for grabs. But the fact that Buttigieg raised it at all underscores just why he’s burning up the media race right now. Talking in plain language about important issues is one of his strengths. What’s setting him apart is talking about them in a way no one else does.
Posted by babylonsister | Sat Mar 23, 2019, 10:28 PM (6 replies)

One company bought all the retail outlets for glasses, used that to force sales...

/ Cory Doctorow / 7:39 am Tue Mar 12, 2019
One company bought all the retail outlets for glasses, used that to force sales of all the eyewear companies and jacked up prices by as much as 1000%

If you wear glasses, you might have noticed that they've been getting steadily more expensive in recent years, no matter which brand you buy and no matter where you shop.

That's because a giant-but-obscure company called Luxottica bought out Sunglass Hut and Lenscrafters, then used their dominance over the retail side of glasses to force virtually every eyewear brand to sell to them (Luxxotica owns or licenses Armani, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, Persol, Polo Ralph Lauren, Ray-Ban, Tiffany, Valentino, Vogue and Versace); and used that to buy out all the other eyewear retailers of any note (Luxottica owns Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Sunglass Hut and Target Optical) and then also bought out insurers like Eyemed Vision Care and Essilor, the leading prescription lens/contact lens manufacturer.

Controlling the labs, insurers, frame makers, and all the major retail outlets has allowed Luxottica to squeeze suppliers -- frames are cheaper than ever to make, thanks to monopsony buying power with Prada-grade designer frames costing $15 to manufacture -- while raising prices as much as 1000% relative to pre-acquisition pricing.

It's even worse for lenses: a pair of prescription lenses that cost $1.50 to make sell for $800 in the USA.


Posted by babylonsister | Sat Mar 23, 2019, 04:20 PM (91 replies)

Trump Defenders Underestimate The Mueller Report By Touting No Indictments

Mar 22, 2019, 11:21pm
Trump Defenders Underestimate The Mueller Report By Touting No Indictments
Charles Tiefer

The pro-Trump spin machine is out on the airwaves, touting that the just-completed Mueller Report recommends no new indictments.

For ten briefly-stated reasons, the Mueller action marks more of a beginning, than an end, to the search for wrongdoing in the Russia scandal.

First, there are very active continuing investigations. When special counsels complete their reports of their principal findings, that does not end the inquiries. Instead, the tasks for prosecutors and investigators are turned over to the continuing active investigations. In this instance, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has brought prosecutions already, like Michael Cohen’s, to build on. Matters within that U.S. Attorney’s broad jurisdiction will continue forward.

Second, it is pure spin to make the issue whether new indictments are in the report. Mueller may well think that the report should give an account of his findings. New indictments are not to be expected in a report on findings. Indictments come, when ready, from the grand jury, not in reports. Rather, indictments that are moving toward readiness would come out in the other investigations, like that of the SDNY.

Third, there is particular reason to expect evidence to come out about Trump and Russia. The former National Security Adviser, Michael T. Flynn, has pled to Mueller’s charges. But nothing further of what he knows has become public before now. There is every reason to expect that whatever limited Flynn evidence is revealed via Mueller's report, there will be further evidence at the highest level as Flynn becomes a witness for more forums.

Fourth, there are a host of witnesses whose cooperation can be expected from the pressures built up from the investigations. An example is Allen Weisselberg, the corporate finance officer who carried out Trump’s instructions within the Trump Organization. In the immediate aftermath of Cohen’s testimony, it was clear than Weisselberg has not been cooperating, and that he knows an enormous amount of the wrongful things Trump ordered. The report by Mueller hardly marks an end for the pressure on Weisselberg to cooperate. That pressure will build both from prosecutors and from Congress.


Posted by babylonsister | Sat Mar 23, 2019, 11:47 AM (5 replies)
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