Attorney General Bill Barr’s record and not his remarks should govern how the people and the press perceive the Justice Dept. chief. So say experts who are weighing in Thursday afternoon after Barr gave an interview to ABC News in which he appears to complain about President Donald Trump’s tweets.
“I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody … whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president,” Barr told ABC News. “I’m gonna do what I think is right. And you know … I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”
But government, legal, and authoritarianism experts, and some journalists are saying “don’t fall for it,” literally. Those words came from NBC News National Security Contributor Frank Figliuzzi, a former FBI Assistant Director, on MSNBC minutes ago.
“It all rings very hollow to me and I don’t think we can take anything the Attorney General says at face value,” former U.S. Attorney, law school professor, and MSNBC contributor Joyce Vance just said on “Meet the Press Daily.”
Journalist Judd Legum, who founded ThinkProgress and Popular.info, warns that Barr should not be taken at face value, because what he really wants is plausible deniability.
What Barr is objecting to here is that the president’s tweets don’t give Barr PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY. So Barr is signaling to Trump to shut up so Barr can continue to rig the system for Trump’s political benefit.
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) February 13, 2020
Former CIA officer and former White House National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price suggests Trump’s tweets make it harder for Barr to do what Trump wants:
It’s the APPEARANCE of impropriety he finds so objectionable. The impropriety, on the other hand, is a feature, not a bug in his Department of Justice. https://t.co/UMU8mmMfpR
— Ned Price (@nedprice) February 13, 2020
Progressive newsletter The Daily Edge:
— The Daily Edge (@TheDailyEdge) February 13, 2020
Former Office of Government Ethics director:
Barr’s PR nonsense is not the story. The story is your president just engaged in Ukraine-level quid pro quo extortion, but this time against one of the United States.
IN PLAIN SIGHT ON TWITTER!
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) February 13, 2020
MSNBC Justice & Security Analyst, former DOJ chief spokesperson:
Don’t be fooled by this one, people. Barr is telling the president that his impulsiveness is making it politically harder for him to deliver the results he wants. If Trump would just shut up, Barr could take care of him much more effectively. https://t.co/6CmHHgxy9u
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) February 13, 2020
This Barr interview is DeNiro in Goodfellas yelling at Johnny Roastbeef for buying his wife a Cadillac after the Lufthansa heist.
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) February 13, 2020
Lawfare Executive Editor, Brookings Senior Fellow, CNN National Security and Legal Analyst, Former IC attorney:
Now he thinks a little carefully staged PR pushback against Trump is going to restore the perceptions of legitimacy and DOJ independence. It won’t. The only thing that could possibly do that at this point is Barr’s resignation.
— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) February 13, 2020
Pulitzer prize winner and National Security Correspondent for The Washington Post:
Barr says Trump’s tweets ‘make it impossible for me to do my job’ (and by 'job' he appears to mean intervening in cases involving the president's political allies) https://t.co/2PN6OvB6A9
— Greg Miller (@gregpmiller) February 13, 2020
U.S. Representative (D-FL), and former Orlando Police Chief:
The best indicator of future performance is past performance.
Attorney General Barr’s past performance was to mislead the American people (about the Mueller Report) in order to cover up wrongdoing by the president.
Why shouldn’t we believe that’s exactly what he’s doing now? https://t.co/hBbBgDYZ1K
— Rep. Val Demings (@RepValDemings) February 13, 2020
MSNBC chief legal analyst and anchor:
Shorter Bill Barr:
I stand by intervening to help a convicted Trump adviser, but I wish Trump did not admit what we are doing on Twitter
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) February 13, 2020
Attorney, CNN commentator, former White House aide:
Either Trump approved this little political theater with Bill Barr or Barr is about to get the Jeff Sessions treatment. I remain skeptical that this is real. https://t.co/FWjo36eRtS
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) February 13, 2020
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