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FOCUS: It's Time for a Special Counsel to Investigate William Barr for Perjury
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=50255"><span class="small">Ryan Goodman and Andy Wright, Slate</span></a>   
Sunday, 28 July 2019 10:49

Excerpt: "Barr can't have it both ways. Either he had no knowledge of the Mueller staff's concerns or he believed that Mueller's letter reflected staff concerns."

Bill Barr. (photo: Getty Images)
Bill Barr. (photo: Getty Images)

It's Time for a Special Counsel to Investigate William Barr for Perjury

By Ryan Goodman and Elizabeth Holtzman, Slate

28 July 19

There’s already more than enough evidence to warrant a probe.

ith special counsel Robert Mueller’s upcoming public testimony, not only is the president’s job and potential criminal liability on the line. Mueller’s testimony about Attorney General William Barr’s handling of the special counsel report could also place the attorney general in further professional and legal jeopardy.

Based on the available public record about the Russia investigation, it’s clear that the attorney general has repeatedly deceived Congress in a manner that appears to have crossed the line established by federal criminal law. It’s a federal offence if anyone intentionally “falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact” or makes a “materially false” statement before Congress. The cautious Speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, accused Barr of committing a crime when questions first arose two months ago about the truthfulness of his testimony concerning the Mueller report. Even more evidence of Barr’s misconduct has emerged since then.

After Mueller testifies, the House should consider transmitting Barr’s multiple testimonies to the Justice Department, and since Barr cannot investigate himself, call for a special counsel to do so.

A criminal investigation of Barr would be unusual but not unprecedented. The House of Representatives has twice held an attorney general in criminal contempt and referred the matter to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia to pursue (a resolution against Eric Holder in 2012 for his refusal to provide information subpoenaed by Congress concerning the Fast and Furious gun-trafficking program; and the recent resolution against Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for their refusal to provide information subpoenaed by Congress about efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census). Members of Congress also referred Jeff Sessions for potentially lying to Congress about contacts with Russians, and the FBI approved that investigation of the attorney general.

Though Congress should wait for Mueller’s testimony to see if it reveals further incriminating or exculpatory evidence against Barr, it is sobering to consider the current record: right now, there is a strong and sufficient basis for Congress to call for a criminal investigation of our attorney general for deception.

First, at a hearing in April, Rep. Charlie Crist asked Barr if he knew what was meant by news reports that “members of the Special Counsel’s team” felt that Barr’s summary of Mueller’s report was not adequate. Barr replied, “No, I don’t.” Casting doubt on his veracity, we learned days later that Mueller had sent the attorney general a letter making explicit the special counsel’s concerns about Barr’s four-page summary.

Mr. Barr’s defenders claim that his answer was literally true since Crist did not specifically ask if the attorney general knew whether Mueller himself had these concerns. That defense is unavailing. As the country’s top legal ethics expert Stephen Gillers wrote, “the law would call Barr’s answer a lie.” That’s because, as Gillers explains, a literally true answer can also be false and misleading.

Second, at a hearing the following month, Barr told Sen. Patrick Leahy that he really didn’t know what Mueller staff’s concerns were, saying: “I talked directly to Bob Mueller, not members of his team.” But then Barr contradicted himself, stating that Mueller’s complaint letter “was probably written by one of his staff people.” Barr repeated that the letter was “staff-driven” in a subsequent CBS interview.

Barr can’t have it both ways. Either he had no knowledge of the Mueller staff’s concerns or he believed that Mueller’s letter reflected staff concerns. What’s extra damning here is that Mueller’s letter said, “We communicated that concern to the Department.” Get that? “We.” Presumably meaning Mueller and his team.

Third, in the same Senate hearing, Sen. Kamala Harris posed a precisely worded question: “Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?” Barr tried to avoid answering but finally said: “I don’t know.” If he did know, he could be in serious legal trouble.

In answering Harris, was Barr “conceal[ing], or cover[ing] up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact”? There’s evidence that President Donald Trump wanted Barr to investigate the Biden-Ukrainian allegations cooked up by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Did Trump or his White House staff ask Barr to look into that matter? If so, Barr may have lied. And what about Barr’s “investigation of the investigators,” that is, of U.S. officials who probed Russia’s 2016 election interference? Less than two weeks after Barr’s exchange with Harris, news broke that “Attorney General William P. Barr has assigned the top federal prosecutor in Connecticut to examine the origins of the Russia investigation … a move that President Trump has long called for.” Did the president (or his White House staff) ask Barr to do this? If so, then Barr may have violated the criminal statute.

Fourth, another concern involves the all-important question of how Barr concluded that Trump did not l obstruct justice, especially since over 1,000 former federal prosecutors think Trump did. In written testimony, Barr told Congress that he “accepted the Special Counsel’s legal framework for purposes of our analysis and evaluated the evidence as presented by the Special Counsel in reaching our conclusion.” It was initially reassuring that Barr did not apply his own (discredited and outlandish) legal theories on obstruction, but used Mueller’s standard instead.

Now, though, there’s reason to doubt that Barr told Congress the truth about this as well. In the CBS interview, Barr noted his disagreement with the legal analysis in the special counsel report, describing it as “the views of a particular lawyer or lawyers.” “So we applied what we thought was the right law,” Barr said. So, Barr applied his own legal theory instead? He then added, “but then we didn’t rely on that.” Confusing, isn’t it?

In a press briefing, the attorney general admitted that he “did not rely solely on” his views of the right law in analyzing obstruction. So he did rely on his own theory in part? That’s sharply different from what Barr testified. It raises the question whether his testimony was deliberately untruthful.

Finally, there’s Barr’s four-page summary itself. Many legal experts believe it basically “conceal[ed] or cover[ed] up by a[] trick, scheme, or device … material fact[s]” of the Mueller report. Although Barr released the summary to the public, it was addressed directly and delivered to Congress. It, too, should be a part of any investigation.

The Mueller hearing may well shed even greater light on Barr’s statements to Congress. Members of Congress can ask simple questions such as whether Mueller agrees that the evidence in his report shows that Trump was “falsely accused” of conspiring with Russia in the 2016 election (compare Barr’s statements to Congress on that matter). Mueller’s truthful responses may thus highlight not only concerns about the president but also about the public deception engaged in by the attorney general.

We can’t draw firm conclusions about whether Barr violated the criminal law without knowing more, including what conversations he had with the White House about opening investigations and what standard he used in reviewing the Mueller report. That’s where an independent review mechanism needs to come in.

Barr’s misleading and contradictory testimony is too serious to ignore. A special counsel must look into the matter just as the special counsel looked into whether then–Attorney General Sessions lied to Congress about Russia contacts. Congress must make it clear that it will not tolerate deceptions by any witness, including the attorney general himself.

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+4 # lorenbliss 2019-07-28 15:01
Has it occurred to anyone the domestic strategies of the Trump/Pence Regime are identical to the Imperial War Machine's strategies for global conquest?

Note how the dagger-point of each strategy is identical: create so much chaos the targeted society becomes permanently nonfunctional.

In the Middle East, this enables the Empire to seize most if not all of the petroleum. In the U.S., it enables the Neoliberal (NeoNazi) Ruling Class to expand and consolidate its tyranny.

The question of course is what is intended to replace the chaos.

Obviously in either case it is some 21st Century form of zero-tolerance, total-surveilla nce Nazism.

Meanwhile the fact the Imperial War Machine has not moved against Trump should alert us to the probability the two have clandestinely joined forces.
+9 # chrisconno 2019-07-28 16:12
Sure seems like just one lie after another. How does he keeps his lies straight? How do those Trumpsters continue to adore him?
0 # Robbee 2019-07-28 16:32
It's Time for a Special Counsel to Investigate William Barr for Perjury
Ryan Goodman and Elizabeth Holtzman, Slate
28 July 19

- dickhead is still waiting for l of his attorneys general to -

1) lock hillary up, and, quite recently -

2) subpoena all of barak's records

hence for the repuke senate to presently move to investigate barr appears premature!

it's simply government by "catch 22!"

is dickhead above the law? no?

then how come a sitting prez cannot be accused of crime? - go figure!

"law and order" is a worn-out phrase long past its "use by" date!

clearly it EXPIRED IN JANUARY 2017!

dickhead is GREAT AMERICA!

L O V E - D I C K H E A D - O R - L E A V E - D I C K H E A D !

+9 # WorkingClass 2019-07-28 17:13
Barr has been called on before to bail out a GOP President's backside when their corruption was about to be exposed. Case in point, he helped facilitate George H.W. Bush pardon of all the key players, some convicted already, in the Iran-Contra affair/crimes. This act killed the ongoing investigation into Iran-Contra before it got to Bush himself and also Reagan. "Bury It Bill" Barr has a record.
+5 # Elroys 2019-07-28 17:53
What more is needed to openly and firmly declare that the core findings of the Mueller report are accurate and truthful and that Barr has lied on numerous occasions to congress and to all Americans.
Mueller clearly states that the Russians successfully attacked us in 2016 (and prior, the are attacking us right now and will continue to do so in 2020 and beyond.
Mueller also told us that trump and his campaign accepted Russia's help with no hint of any pushback - trump himself announcing to the world that 'Russia, you will be mightily rewarded for sending the 30,000 hacked emails from the Clinton campaign.

On Barr - it is so clear that he is lying and obfuscating on behalf of trump and is disregarding his responsibilitie s to the American people solely to protect the liar in chief, donald trump.

The challenge is that virtually every Republican member of Congress is now complicit in the lying, obfuscation, corruption of the trump administration.

Barr's attempt to attack and criminalize those who are shining any sunshine on truth and justice in these issues is the epitome of corruption and lies on behalf of the most vile, racist and corrupt POTUS in our history. These crimes and treasonous activities must be disinfected by the sunlight of truth and honesty - 2 words this cabal knows nothing about.
+4 # Shorey13 2019-07-28 20:32
So,who exactly is going to appoint the Special Counsel? Pay attention, folks, the Rule of Law is in the toilet. The Supreme Court has contempt for it, and Mitch the Impaler has flooded the country with extreme right wing judges. Our country, our entire political system is based on the Rule of Law.

Once again, in former colonies (including this one!), outlaws are culture heroes, because there is a collective memory that the Rule of Law was imposed to provide control by the colonizer. Some thins never change: the real Golden Rule, as we all know, is that those who have the gold make the rules.
+1 # logical1 2019-07-28 22:18
This is good way to get rid of an unconscientious Trump liar appointment.
Get Barr, in Trumps words "lock him up".
Oh, Trump din't mean Barr. But it would be just!
0 # chapdrum 2019-07-28 22:52
Oh yeah, they'll get right on that.
+1 # DongiC 2019-08-01 02:28
So Barr is a liar, so what? He constitutes a key bulwark of defense for his boss, Sir Donald. Many Democrats and all of Trump's base think he is doing a good job. His fairness (?) and honesty (?) make him beyond reproach. "Bury it Bill" has been active before, he's back in the saddle again. Defending Republican corruption is what he does best.