Last week was a bit of an historical moment in American politics, though perhaps not in the way those exhibiting a spectacle for the ages on Capitol Hill intended it to be.
Specifically, on Wednesday Attorney General William Barr was subjected to a four-hour interrogation in the Senate Judiciary Committee over his handling of the Mueller Report. Barr wasn’t fazed by the questioning from the minority members of the committee, though a man with lesser patience and composure — the man Democrats like Richard Blumenthal, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Mazie Hirono, and Dianne Feinstein were hoping he was — would likely have lost his cool and engaged in the kind of bickering they were aiming to enmesh him in.
Instead, Barr sounded a more disappointed and mournful tone. In the midst of questioning from Hirono, the wholly unimpressive senator from Hawaii, which culminated in her demand for his resignation and her upbraiding at the hands of committee chairman Lindsey Graham for having “slandered” Barr, the Attorney General did a succinct job of laying out the absurdity of where we are.
“How did we get to the point here where the evidence is now that the president was falsely accused of colluding with the Russians and accused of being treasonous and accused of being a Russian agent,” Barr said, “and the evidence is now that was without a basis, and two years of his administration have been dominated by the allegations that have now been proven false?”
“And, you know, to listen to some of the rhetoric, you would think that the Mueller report had found the opposite,” Barr added.
The answer isn’t complicated, and among at least some of those who didn’t bother to watch the spectacle (or didn’t share House Democrats’ reaction when Barr stood up the House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday rather than subject himself to 30 minutes of questioning from staff which he never agreed to) it’s quite obvious.
The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel, writing Friday, perhaps said it best…
Mr. Barr made real news in that Senate hearing, and while the press didn’t notice, Democrats did. The attorney general said he’d already assigned people at the Justice Department to assist his investigation of the origins of the Trump-Russia probe. He said his review would be far-reaching — that he was obtaining details from congressional investigations, from the ongoing probe by the department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, and even from Mr. Mueller’s work. Mr. Barr said the investigation wouldn’t focus only on the fall 2016 justifications for secret surveillance warrants against Trump team members but would go back months earlier.
He also said he’d focus on the infamous “dossier” concocted by opposition-research firm Fusion GPS and British former spy Christopher Steele, on which the FBI relied so heavily in its probe. Mr. Barr acknowledged his concern that the dossier itself could be Russian disinformation, a possibility he described as not “entirely speculative.” He also revealed that the department has “multiple criminal leak investigations under way” into the disclosure of classified details about the Trump-Russia investigation.
Do not underestimate how many powerful people in Washington have something to lose from Mr. Barr’s probe. Among them: Former and current leaders of the law-enforcement and intelligence communities. The Democratic Party pooh-bahs who paid a foreign national (Mr. Steele) to collect information from Russians and deliver it to the FBI. The government officials who misused their positions to target a presidential campaign. The leakers. The media. More than reputations are at risk. Revelations could lead to lawsuits, formal disciplinary actions, lost jobs, even criminal prosecution.
The attacks on Mr. Barr are first and foremost an effort to force him out, to prevent this information from coming to light until Democrats can retake the White House in 2020. As a fallback, the coordinated campaign works as a pre-emptive smear, diminishing the credibility of his ultimate findings by priming the public to view him as a partisan.
The Democrat Party has run afoul of the ancient nostrum that if you strike at the king, you must kill him, and the price for that mistake will soon be upon them. Because what Barr has perceived, which no one seriously doubts — and that includes those Capitol Hill Democrats who so loudly denounce the Attorney General — is the entire Trump-Russia collusion narrative was a bought-and-paid-for lie of the Clinton campaign, fed through the intelligence and law enforcement apparatus of the Obama administration to give it false legitimacy and to weaponize it against Candidate and then President Trump, and perpetuated in an attempt to destroy his presidency and effect a de facto coup d’état against the duly-elected leader of the free world.
And Barr is now the instrument of the destruction of those Obama administration and Clinton campaign operatives, who are now faced with horrors — legal, financial, and reputational — to come which may not be avoided. Investigations have begun; recriminations are coming.
And what is worse, those Democrat operatives have no respite ahead from the factual record. It will be found, from the evidence, that the FISA warrants allowing the Obama administration to spy on individuals associated with the Trump campaign were attained through deliberate falsehood and abuse of power, and it will likely be in evidence, when the investigations get to the appropriate point, that this abuse came from the highest levels of government.
Furthermore, the investigation will prove not only that the Obama administration covered up criminal activity associated with and underlying Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct government business as Secretary of State under Obama, activity not only tolerated but participated in by officials at the highest levels of government.
And nothing can stop this. Nothing, that is, but political pressure on Barr. As Strassel said, he must be demonized and discredited before the inspector general’s report and the related investigations of the Trump-Russia mess are made public and the prosecutions begin.
That’s why the Democrats on Capitol Hill are so intent on attacking Barr. He is the messenger, and he must be silenced before the message can be delivered.
Except there’s a problem. CNN buried its own poll results last week, and those results made it obvious why — in a survey of 1,007 random adults from April 25-28, some 69 percent of the respondents “think Congress ought to investigate the origins of the Justice Department’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including 76% of Democrats, 69% of independents and 62% of Republicans.”
Those aren’t registered voters or likely voters, levels of respondent screening which would produce results more closely akin to what elections would produce. “Random adults” contains uninformed people who don’t vote and usually don’t skew Republican, and yet better than two in three want to get to the bottom of what Barr is now investigating.
That same poll also found that support for impeaching Trump is descending — just 37 percent are for the Democrats’ signature political goal, while 59 percent give it a thumbs-down. Those aren’t the numbers the Democrats need in fighting a no-prisoners political war against Trump and Barr. Quite the opposite.
And the Democrats have nothing else but their political theater aimed at demonizing Barr and impeaching Trump in advance of the 2020 elections. The only legislative achievement they’re even feigning an attempt to work on is a $2 trillion infrastructure bill Trump gave his support to which has very little support among the Senate’s Republican majority absent a full vetting. And with Democrat demands to turn that infrastructure bill into a mini-version of the Green New Deal, rather than simply sticking to roads, bridges, airports, and rural broadband access per Trump’s stated preferences, it’s highly unlikely that anything will come from the infrastructure bill.
So that’s it. Some two dozen Lilliputian presidential candidates, each trying to outdo one another in a buffoonery competition, an ineffective and feckless legislative agenda if one exists at all, and countless pointless congressional investigations aimed, we now know, more at obstructing the coming of nemesis for their own party’s sins than scoring the winning touchdown against Trump. All with the 2020 elections 18 months away and the clock ticking.
No wonder Bill Barr is now the bogeyman. He is what they fear most. He represents the reckoning to come — in front of voters and juries.
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