Friday, February 14, 2020

Who's on First?

Yeah, but the Washington Post says Barr was asserting the independence of the DOJ with his ABC interview:

The flare-up over the Stone case comes against a backdrop of growing behind-the-scenes anger from the president toward the Justice Department — more about whom the department has not charged with crimes than about whom it has charged, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Trump has repeatedly complained about FBI Director Christopher A. Wray in recent months, saying that Wray has not done enough to change the FBI’s culture, purge the bureau of people who are disloyal to him or change policies after violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

He has also tweeted many times that he thinks Comey should be charged with crimes, and he was particularly upset that no charges were filed over the former FBI director’s handling of memos about his interactions with Trump. An inspector general report faulted the former director for keeping some of those memos at his home and for arranging for the contents of one of the memos to be shared with a reporter after Comey was fired in 2017.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz referred Comey’s handling of the memos to prosecutors for possible criminal prosecution, but lawyers quickly determined it was not a close call and did not seek to build a case.

That sent Trump into a rage, according to people briefed on his comments. He complained so loudly and swore so frequently in the Oval Office that some of his aides discussed it for days, these people said. Trump repeatedly said that Comey deserved to be charged, according to their account.

“Can you [expletive] believe they didn’t charge him?” Trump said on the night of the decision, these people said. Trump has also wanted charges filed against Comey’s former deputy, Andrew McCabe. A separate inspector general investigation concluded that McCabe lied to investigators about his role in authorizing disclosures for a Wall Street Journal story in October 2016 about internal FBI tensions over an investigation of the Clinton Foundation. A grand jury in Washington seemed poised to make a decision on the case last year before fizzling into inaction.

Trump’s anger over the lack of charges against FBI personnel flared again in January, prompted by two unrelated developments, according to people familiar with the matter.

First, prosecutors updated their position in the case of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, saying a sentence of some prison time would be appropriate. Around the same time, The Washington Post reported that U.S. Attorney John Huber in Utah — tapped years earlier to reinvestigate several issues related to vague allegations of corruption against Hillary Clinton — had quietly wound down his work after finding nothing of consequence.

At least, that's what Devlin Barrett wants you to focus on:

But when does Barr explain to the nation, and the President, that this is a government of laws?  That charges require evidence of a violation of criminal law sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?  Or does Trump think his authority extends to throwing people in jail and throwing away the key?

All of that frustration has fed into the public fight over the Stone case.
So Barr asserts the independence of the DOJ by placating Trump?  Is that what I'm getting here?  How, again, is leniency for Stone connected to frustration over the failure to indict Comey or McCabe or even Hillary Clinton?  And how is that not interference, if you have to placate Trump by changing the sentencing recommendations at the last minute?  (And contrary to Barrett's reporting, Barr was not surprised by the 7-9 year sentence recommendation, he was surprised it wasn't withdrawn a week before it was due.  That problem is on him, as I've said before.)   This thing stinks like week-old fish, and the stench is just getting stronger.

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