Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019 August 2019 September 2019 October 2019


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Friday, September 13, 2019

Are Trump and Barr about to get their show trial?

by digby

My Salon column this morning:

One of the most dramatic moments during Attorney General William Barr's appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee last spring was an exchange between him and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., about whether he had ever been asked by Trump or anyone in the White House to investigate someone. Barr's reply was one of the few times the extremely self-assured Trump lieutenant appeared to be rattled:

He said, “I’m trying to grapple with the word ‘suggest,’ I mean there have been discussions of, of matters out there that uh ... they have not asked me to open an investigation.” When Harris then asked whether the White House had hinted at an investigation, Barr said, “I don’t know.”

Not that there was any mystery. Trump has been publicly demanding investigations of his perceived adversaries since he took office. He's never tried to hide it. He's said it to reporters and tweeted it out frequently. He has no regard whatever for the principle that a president should not interfere with the Department of Justice in general, and has no comprehension of why a democratic society wouldn't want a president to use the power of federal law enforcement to punish his political enemies.

Since that hearing, Barr has made it clear that he relishes the role of Trump henchman. He has launched a probe into the "origins" of the Russia investigation (the third such inquiry) and is personally looking into the intelligence community's conduct, having been given blanket access to all classified information by an unprecedented presidential edict. Barr may not have received a direct order to do these things, but there can be no doubt about the president's deep desire for retaliation against all those who investigated and pursued the Russia claims.

It appears that Barr has found some fellow Trump travelers to help him fulfill the president's desires. On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, Rod Rosenstein's replacement and a longtime GOP player — with no previous experience in the Department of Justice — had given the go-ahead to prosecute former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe.

Donald Trump has had a couple of rough weeks. But that must have made his day.

You may recall that McCabe has been accused of lying to the FBI during a leak investigation, and then later to the inspector general, about whether he gave permission to agents to speak to the Wall Street Journal in 2016, regarding negative information about Hillary Clinton. McCabe claims it's all a misunderstanding and most legal observers think a prosecution is overkill, especially considering that the Justice Department fired him from the FBI one day before he would have qualified for a full pension, which would normally be considered a harsh penalty for such an infraction.

Of course it's true that the DOJ prosecutes people for lying to them all the time, and there's little doubt that McCabe probably put people in jail for exactly what he's accused of doing. So many observers might conclude that what goes around comes around. But this looks to be a political prosecution and therefore the stakes are on a whole other level.

McCabe has clearly been targeted by Donald Trump personally, along with his defenders in the Department of Justice. Why? Because after Trump fired FBI director James Comey and McCabe assumed his job, the latter ordered the inquiry into the president and Russia that eventually became the Mueller investigation. Trump has been pushing to punish McCabe for that ever since.

It may seem counterintuitive that the lie McCabe is accused of telling had to do with the FBI confirming negative information about Hillary Clinton, but that's a tried and true move from this administration. James Comey was also ostensibly fired on the basis of his unfair treatment of Clinton — or at least that was the first excuse. One can't help but think of this as some elaborate form of DOJ trolling, particularly since, according to the Mueller report, Trump repeatedly sought to have former Attorney General Jeff Sessions prosecute Clinton (and was mercifully ignored.

The New York Times likewise reported that Trump had asked former White House counsel Don McGahn to seek DOJ prosecution of both Clinton and Comey:

The lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, rebuffed the president, saying that he had no authority to order a prosecution. Mr. McGahn said that while he could request an investigation, that too could prompt accusations of abuse of power. To underscore his point, Mr. McGahn had White House lawyers write a memo for Mr. Trump warning that if he asked law enforcement to investigate his rivals, he could face a range of consequences, including possible impeachment.

The president needn't have worried about impeachment, apparently. The Democrats are at sixes and sevens, unable to muster much of anything but very, very slow handwringing.

Still, the fact that the DOJ is prepared to prosecute Andrew McCabe says that whatever resistance there once was to giving Trump his enemies' heads on pikes, metaphorically speaking, seems to have gone the way of Jeff Sessions. If House Democrats were actually inclined to charge the president with abuse of power, this case would certainly be among the elements of the crime.

At this writing, it's unclear whether prosecutors will actually follow through by indicting McCabe. According to the Post, they called back the grand jury that hadn't met for months this week, presumably to seek such an indictment. But as of Thursday they had been dismissed with no indictment forthcoming, which is unusual. The case is weak. Prosecutors involved in it have quit, with at least one expressing concerns that it is being mishandled. The president's tweets and comments would almost certainly be used by McCabe's defense to demonstrate that the prosecution is political in nature. Just this week a jury in the same jurisdiction acquitted former Obama special counsel Greg Craig for lying to the FBI, the same crime for which they could prosecute McCabe. Perhaps Trump's team is not feeling as confident as they might.

If no prosecution occurs, I think we know someone at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who will be very, very upset. But he should be soothed by the knowledge that he has accomplished something important anyway. Members of federal law enforcement will know that they should look the other way if they see any evidence of criminal behavior by Trump or his close associates. Who wants to be the next Andrew McCabe?

Trump surely feels very good about his latest attorney general these days. His personal Roy Cohn is firmly ensconced among a team of loyal Trumpers, dedicated to seeing that the president is protected from all who presume to oversee him. And who knows? They may yet get a show trial out of this.