Just two weeks after being confirmed, William Barr will announce that Robert Mueller has completed his investigation.
That’s according to “people familiar with the plans”, who spoke to CNN.
While the timing of Barr’s announcement is obviously subject to change, the Justice Department is reportedly preparing for the main event. After receiving the confidential report from Mueller, Barr will then prepare a summary for Congress.
Suffice to say Democrats are skeptical about Barr’s commitment to transparency with regard to the Russia probe.
We’ve spent a ton of time in these pages documenting the myriad reasons why Barr is a questionable choice to oversee the investigation and to serve as the gatekeeper between Mueller’s conclusions and the public.
His history with special counsels isn’t exactly amicable and on top of that, Barr literally wrote a memo to Rod Rosenstein last year criticizing the Mueller probe, calling the obstruction inquiry “fatally misconceived.” That memo is embedded in full below for anyone who needs a refresher.
Barr’s confirmation hearing left many questions unanswered, although generally speaking, it went ok.
Relive the video highlights
Here’s what he told now presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar when asked whether he’d commit to making the conclusions public.
Of course he was asked what amounts to the same question multiple times and in each case, he gave a similar answer. Which exchange you decide to key on is just a matter of personal preference; it’s always the same back and forth.
In written responses to questions from senators earlier this month, Barr reiterated that he would resign before he’d fire Mueller for something other than “good cause”, but some of his answers cast still more doubt on whether he would ultimately make sure the public gets to read the report when it’s finally released.
For instance, the following seems to leave the door open to Barr protecting Trump (see the last two sentences):
Since “prosecuting” a sitting president is a bit of a thorny issue (to say the least), one wonders how it’s possible that Trump could be anything other than an “uncharged third party” in the report. Throw in the fact that Barr harbors a rather expansive interpretation of executive power and you’ll be forgiven for having doubts.
Then again, Barr describes himself as a longtime friend of Mueller’s and here’s what he said when Lindsey Graham asked about the chances that he (Mueller) would preside over a “witch hunt”:
So that’s a “no”. As of yesterday morning, Trump still did not concur with that assessment.
“….(The Witch Hunt) in time likely will become recognized as the greatest scandal in American political history, marking the first occasion in which the U.S. government bureaucrats sought to overturn an election (presidential)!” Victor Davis Hanson And got caught! @FoxNews
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2019
To say Barr’s handling of this report will be under a microscope would be the understatement of the century. This is potentially one of the biggest conspiracies in modern political history and if Democrats think for a second that Barr is complicit in covering up a crime, they will move heaven and earth to remedy the situation.
“The regulations require Mueller to explain in his report all decisions to prosecute or not prosecute matters under scrutiny”, CNN notes, adding that “Barr would also need to inform Congress if the Justice Department prevented the special counsel team from pursuing any investigative steps.”
Clearly, the end of the Mueller investigation is not the end of Trump’s legal worries, which will drag on for the foreseeable future, and likely for the rest of his life (literally).
The other question here is whether the report will leak – after all, it’s not exactly like Trump has a reputation for running a tight ship and you’ve got to think DoJ is teeming with angry employees itching to avenge the president’s daily attacks on the nation’s law enforcement apparatus.
If CNN is correct about the timing, it’s possible Barr will make the announcement while Trump is meeting with Kim Jong-Un, a surreal state of affairs befitting of the surreal times in which we live.
And on that note, we’ll leave you with what Trump said on Wednesday when asked about the situation.