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writing for godot

Katy Barr the Door*

Written by Steven Jonas   
Wednesday, 03 April 2019 11:26

By Steven Jonas, M.D., M.P.H.

If this nation does not kill racism, racism will kill this nation. (S. Jonas, Augsut, 2018)


I originally published this column on March 25, 2019, at:  The "Addendum" to it is a cover letter that I sent out with it to my personal distribution list on March 28, 2019.  Unfortunately, given the stalling of A.G. Barr and the White House they are still very much relevant to what is going on vis-a-vis the Mueller Report and the release of its full contents.  If collectively, they don't have something to hide, they are sure making out as if they do.  And now to the column and the Addendum.


As is widely known, Donald J. Trump hired William Barr as his personal lawyer inside the Justice Department (oops, I mean Attorney General) for one reason only: to try to shut down the Mueller investigation entirely and prevent any of its findings/reports from reaching the light of day. Lacking achievement of that objective (and it could have existed only in Trump's head, and perhaps the heads of one or more of his children and his acolytes at Fox"News"), Barr's assignment was: a) to short circuit Mueller's work to the extent possible and b) to make as light of the findings as possible. (Let me point out here, that for the most part I don't enter a claim for total originality in this column, only for certain bits and pieces and for the ordering of the items in it.)

As to the first objective, it is very likely that the probe came to what is really a sudden end, not because Mueller was finished, but because, as he has the power to do, Barr cut the budget, sharply.  Indications of budget cuts? For one, Andrew Weisman's sudden departure. Indications that Mueller was not anywhere near finished? Well, extending Rick Gates' sentencing until May for one. For another, he did have the indictment of Roger Stone hanging out there.  But now the chances of/opportunity for his "flipping" have become sharply diminished. As to the second Trumpite objective, with the release of the "Barr Letter" we don't know what the Mueller Reports says, even in general terms. We only know what Barr says it says (and that, of course is why Trump hired him in the first place).

Of course, the demands for the release of the full document (ex any redactions that need to be made to protect national security) came almost immediately, from a wide variety of sources. And as John Dean, Nixon White House counsel turned State's evidence, said: "We haven't really seen the underlying report, but I have some suspicions that the reason he [Barr] boiled this down the way he did is because it's not very attractive. . . . [Mueller's] words are very different than Barr's, I suspect."

Indeed. And there will be a very simple indicator of the truth or lack thereof of that statement: the degree to which the Trumpites fight to prevent the release of the whole Report. If they have nothing to hide, they should want the full document made public. Of course, as has been frequently noted, the Trumpites' constant campaign-of-destruction against Mueller and the probe indicate the strong possibility that there is more than one election-undermining plot plus who knows what else (see for example Michael Cohen's testimony, and well beyond that, what's in the documents of his that the Federal, and now New York State, authorities have) that the Trumpites don't want revealed.

And so, the process proceeds (covered in a bit more detail just below). The House investigations will continue, accompanied of course by demands for the full Report (plus other materials, like Trump's tax returns). Unless they too are shut down Barr (and don't count that out) the investigations by Southern District of New York, the Eastern District of Virginia, and the District of Columbia (and who knows what other possible Federal jurisdictions) will proceed, along with the those of the New York State Attorney General and possibly other state A.G.'s as well.  Like New Jersey, where Trump's casinos crashed and burned.  It now happens to have a Democratic administration.

The Trumpites will be screaming: "EXONERATION," "LEAKS," "THE DOSSIER," "Witch hunt," "harassment," "never should have been started," "Democratic plot," and so on and so forth. But unfortunately for them, whether or not the full Mueller Report is ever made public, as is well-known Trump faces an ever-mounting pile of other legal difficulties. Some of them are listed for reference here:

1. The convictions or admissions of guilt, for everything from perjury to false statements to Congress or the FBI, to tax fraud, either on Trump's behalf or somehow connected directly or indirectly, to a Trump activity/interest: George Papadopoulos, Mike Flynn, Mike Cohen, Paul Manafort, Mike Cohen, and Rick Gates.

2. The evidence, from Mike Cohen and potentially others (like Felix Sater and Alan Weisselberg) that Trump was negotiating for a Trump Tower Moscow deal during the Presidential Campaign, in exchange for what? That Trump was telling the U.S. electorate that he had "no business with Russia" is an interesting sidelight, but obviously not criminal

3. As best as we can make out, according to the Internal Revenue Service "under audit" is no impediment to releasing one's tax returns. Surely Trump has nothing to hide in them, does he? So, if that's the case, why not just go ahead and release them? But crimes might be hidden there, like simple tax evasion by understating annual income(s). Of course, that's another reason why Barr might have barred the door: he didn't want Mueller turning over such a case to another Federal prosecutor.

4. On that famous "Trump Tower meeting." We don't yet know whether or not Trump knew about it for sure (although surely, if Don Jr. didn't report on it that would likely be the only time something significant happened at a meeting involving either their business or the campaign where Jr. didn't report it to Dad), just to satisfy everyone who wants to know just what went on in it --- given that of course nothing illegal, potentially illegal, or unethical took place, that might just be considered by some --- if not Mueller himself --- "collusion."

5. Then there are the payoffs to Karen McDougal and Stephanie Clifford, and the "Mike Cohen checks," would could indicate anything from bank fraud to election campaign law violations.

6. Then there's the possible sub-borning of perjury to Michael Cohen.

7. As for the Cohen documents, as far as we know, Mueller didn't look at them. That was an SDNY operation.

8. And then we get to the tax fraud (e.g., understating your assets/income), bank fraud (e.g., overstating assets to obtain loans, see Deutsche Bank, and oops, they will shortly be turning over records to several different agencies), insurance fraud (overstating the value of property lost) --- all, according to Cohen at least, and he does claim to have documentation, undertaken by Trump at one time or another.  Then there is possible involvement in money-laundering, for which Deutsche Bank has been well-known. Deutsche Bank has already paid $630 million in fines for laundering Russian money from various sources.

9. And then we come to "The Dossier." Which is still out there, despite Trump's good buddy at Fox"News," Sean Hannity, who keeps hammering away on it as the product of a Clinton Plot (when actually the initial funding to Christopher Steele came from a Republican source. Clinton picked it up only when Trump won the nomination and the "Never-Trump" campaign came to an end, temporarily). The New Yorker's Jane Mayer, yes the same Jane Mayer who just wrote the big expose about the almost incestuous relationship Trump has with Fox"News", just about a year ago wrote an extensive column that showed that a lot of what Steele came up with did have a basis in fact.

10. Finally, Trump has a lot riding on John Roberts, Chief Justice.  Now, because of Trump's two far-far right appointees, he holds what passes for the "swing vote" on the Supreme Court. A whole bunch of document-access issues in re Trump are likely to come before it, from the release of the full Mueller Report, to the release of Trump's income tax records, to the validity of House Committee subpoenas for documentation, and so on and so forth. At that point, John Roberts will become one of the single most important personas in US history.

So, wondering why Trump is still screaming bloody murder even though Barr caste as favorable a light on the (still-unseen) Report that could be cast.  This list represents a healthy menu of reasons.


* "The phrase Katy bar the door!(also known as Katy bar the gate!; sometimes written as Katie) is a very American exclamation, more common in the South than elsewhere, meaning that disaster impends, and so ‘watch out,' 'get ready for trouble,' or 'a desperate situation is at hand.' [It may come from] a traditional [medieval Scottish] ballad usually entitled 'Get Up and Bar the Door,' which is still widely known and sung."


Note: This column is based in part on a recent column of mine, at:


Addendum: Cover letter sent with the SJ/mailing list distribution of the column, on March 28, 2019.

Hello everyone.  I published this column the day after the "Attorney General" (otherwise known as Trump's personal lawyer at the Justice Department) published what will become known in American History as the "Barr Report," on the extensive report on the work that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller did over a two-year period looking into, as is well known, connections between Trump, various family members, and campaign officials, with "The Russians."  (Also, it looked at possible obstruction of justice by the Pres. --- couldn't be, could it?)  The Barr Report, all four pages of it, with no supporting evidence, came to the conclusion that there is no there there.  Of course, that may or may not be in sync with what the Mueller Report actually says.


As I say in this column, Barr will, of course, be doing his job, which is to try to prevent as much of the Mueller Report reaching both the Congress and the general public as he possibly can.  In an early procedural, Mitch McConnell (who happens to be doing terribly in the polls in Kentucky) is doing his best to aid Barr in barring (sorry, couldn't resist) the Report from coming to pubic view (and who knows, maybe to the view of the Congress as well).  So there is power behind the preventive effort, and we shall see where it goes, or doesn't.


And so, one might have the temerity to advise both Right (Hannity, et al) and those on the Left (like Chris Hedges and Matt Taibbi) who have concluded that with Barr's four-pager it's a done deal, and anyway, even if the Report gets to see the light of day, there won't be anything really damning in it anyway, to be a bit cautious in drawing conclusions from Barr rather than Mueller.  And anyway, there's all the Trump stuff going on with the SDNY, and New York State A.G., and etc. Of course, one wonders why solid left-journalists like them are lining up with the Trumpites, but then I guess you will have to ask them.


But oh wait a minute.  I know their answer, because they have given it to us.  It's THE PRESS.  They should have stayed silent until Mueller finished his work (which, as it so happens, we might never see). They shouldn't have covered the trials and guilty pleas of those high-level Trumpites.  They shouldn't have reported on the lies that Trump was telling time-after-time.  They shouldn't have reported on the pro-Russian change in the Repub. platform, and the Trump-tower meeting that Jr. was so excited about and Trump Tower/Moscow, and so one and so forth.  Nah!  They should have just kept quiet until the Barr Report was in.  Ah well.  So far we do have freedom of the press (even though Trump attacks "Die Luegen Presse" [oops, sorry, that's Hitler's phrase; the Trump equivalent is of course "Fake News"] all the time and obviously would like to eliminate it).  So the likes of Hedges and Taibbi are free to write what they want to.  But if that's the case, doesn't that apply to the rest of us too? your social media marketing partner
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