May 9, 2020: the lead editorial in The New York Times was “ William Barr’s Perversion of Justice”. Against a black background, Barr’s face appeared behind a large red Scales of Justice tipped unevenly. It was a shocking picture introducing a shocking tale of a United States Attorney General who has been tipping the scales to benefit President Donald Trump rather than protecting the Justice system and the American people.
After the Watergate Scandal, President Richard Nixon resigned to avoid Impeachment. United States Attorney General John Mitchell and over ten other members of the Nixon administration went to prison. Watergate led to reforms to ensure an independent Justice Department faithful to the law rather than the president. Among the reforms were greater transparency and ethics rules like the creation of independent inspectors general to rid the executive branch of waste, fraud and abuse. There were also new limits on presidential power in the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act.
Donald J. Trump Administration Donald Trump has already fired four Inspectors General in different areas of his administration. He also broke the Congressional Act when he withheld hundreds of million dollars of aid to Ukraine.
After Donald Trump had been elected, he went through some months of interviewing men and women for cabinet positions . William Barr sent him a very long letter of introduction where he discussed his years of service to Republican presidents. He believed presidents should have maximum authority with little oversight. Donald Trump chose William Barr to be United States Attorney General .
Barr was confirmed by the Senate and only a month later he introduced the Mueller Report on Russian Interference in The 2016 Presidential Election. Robert Mueller and his team of F.B.I investigators had worked for almost two years on the 448 page documented report. The event was covered by all cable and major stations . National interest was high since no leaks had occurred of the major findings.
William Barr was sworn in and seated to make his presentation. He had only four pages to consult as he read that “No collusion had been found between the president’s administration and Russia and There had been no obstruction of Justice.” At the White House, there was jubilation as Trump and everyone watching were celebrating “ complete exoneration. “
The next day, The New York Times had a front page list of Volume 2 of the Mueller Report Obstruction of Justice ten examples. Critics of the president were suspicious of Barr’s interpretation. The complete report was not available for weeks to Congress or the American public. Robert Mueller made public a letter to William Barr raising questions and objections to the presentation. Barr never answered him.
When the report was finally available to the media, there were immediate responses on cable and major news channels by critics who had read the entire report. Barr’s interpretation was widely held to be biased. However Barr stuck to his original analysis and conclusions. He referred to the investigation as “spying” and ordered a criminal inquiry into its origin. On Fox News, he called the Russia Investigation “One of the greatest travesties in American History.”
During the following months and years, William Barr appeared on the side of the president when they were involved in legal troubles and trials. He helped Roger Stone a long time friend of Donald Trump receive a lighter sentence. Most recently, he was instrumental in former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn being completely freed of charges of lying to The F.B.I.
This latest reversal of serious charges against the leader of Trump’s entire security team brought the May 9 editorial described at the beginning of this blog. Flynn had been very close to Trump when he ran for office. He created the famous “Lock her up” chant during rallies as he stood next to him.
The reversal of charges then moved to U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan who could validate or question the move. He has a reputation as a “tough experienced judge” and showed that with an order reported on May 12 . The order required both legal sides in the lifting of charges to present evidence and revisit the original case. William Barr’s decision will now be moved to a higher authority.
A final note : Over two thousand former federal prosecutors responded to Barr’s decision to drop the charges against Flynn by calling for William Barr’s resignation as Attorney General of The United States.
…………………………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson