If there will ever be justice for the violations of the Trump Administration, part of that will include William Barr spending the rest of his sorry ass life in a deep, dark hole. I’d call for a firing squad if I weren’t a Buddhist. So the deep, dark hole will have to do.
It was on the advice of Barr’s Justice Department that the Director of National Intelligence refused to pass on a properly filed whistleblower complaint to the intelligence committees in Congress, as required by law. It’s because of Barr’s Justice Department that Corey Lewandowski could get away with being openly contemptuous of the House Judiciary Committee, sneeringly refusing to answer questions and generally behaving like a bratty eight-year-old. He should have been charged with contempt, but he knew William Barr would never prosucute him. Ditto for all the people who have refused to answer subpoenas.
The whistleblower and Lewandowski episodes are related, according to Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare:
What links the Lewandowski testimony to the new whistleblower issue? They both involve allegations of outrageous presidential behavior. And they both feature aggressive efforts by the administration to impede congressional inquiry into those allegations by using claims of executive branch confidentiality. If Congress is to engage the current moment remotely effectively, it needs to think about them together.
In one case—that of Lewandowski—the Mueller report spells out with exquisite precision what the allegations consist of. In the other case, that of the whistleblower, we don’t know precisely what the allegation is, though the contours of the complaint are beginning to take shape. We know that the inspector general of the intelligence community regarded the whistleblower as credible and the matter as raising an issue of “urgent concern.” And thanks to the Washington Post, we know some other stuff as well: that the whistleblower is an intelligence community employee who was working in the White House, that the matter concerns the conduct of President Trump, that it involves a promise of some kind to a foreign leader, and that it involves specifically a call between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25.
There is much speculation that the whistleblower is former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who was either fired on resigned on July 28; or else it was former deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon, who resigned on August 8. That was the same day Trump announced that Joseph Maguire, the current director who sat on the whistleblower report, would be the new DNI.
At this point, the story is that in the July 25 phone call, Trump pressured Zelensky to dig up dirt on Joe Biden that Trump could use in his re-election campaign. Trump was sitting on $250 million in military aid to Ukraine that was allocated by Congress, and it’s presumed release of the funds was to be payment for the dirt. Threat of a bipartisan censure inspired Trump to finally release the funds ten days ago.
The particular dirt appears to relate to the time Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden spent on the board of a Ukranian energy company, which I wrote about a few months ago. Unless there is more to the story I don’t know, there doesn’t appear to be a real scandal there, but it’s the sort of thing that could easily be spun to look scandalous. And it appears Trump wanted Ukraine to help him with the spinning in exchange for the $250 million.
The next matter for consideration is, how badly did Trump screw up here? Tom Nichols:
The president of the United States reportedly sought the help of a foreign government against an American citizen who might challenge him for his office. This is the single most important revelation in a scoop by The Wall Street Journal, and if it is true, then President Donald Trump should be impeached and removed from office immediately….
…As the Ukrainian Interior Ministry official Anton Gerashchenko told the Daily Beast when asked about the president’s apparent requests, “Clearly, Trump is now looking for kompromat to discredit his opponent Biden, to take revenge for his friend Paul Manafort, who is serving seven years in prison.”
If this in itself is not impeachable, then the concept has no meaning. Trump’s grubby commandeering of the presidency’s fearsome and nearly uncheckable powers in foreign policy for his own ends is a gross abuse of power and an affront both to our constitutional order and to the integrity of our elections.
The story may even be worse than we know. If Trump tried to use military aid to Ukraine as leverage, as reporters are now investigating, then he held Ukrainian and American security hostage to his political vendettas. It means nothing to say that no such deal was reached; the important point is that Trump abused his position in the Oval Office.
Yes, lots of threats to the constitutional order, in the actions of Donald Trump, aided and abetted by William Barr. Our constitutional order has been helpless to function in the face of people, including Mitch McConnell, who simply refuse to follow it. Donald Trump is immune from everything because he is president. He doesn’t have to answer to anybody because he is president. He can order people who never even worked for the government to not respond to subpoenas, call it “executive privilege,” and Barr will back him up. Because he is president. He can openly accept money from Saudis and divert the military to spend money at his bleeping Scottish golf resort because he is the bleeping president. And nobody can touch him, because Mitch McConnell controls the Senate and Bill Barr controls the Justice Department. They should all spend the rest of their miserables lives in a deep, dark hole.
Next: Suspending the Bill of Rights (except for the 2nd Amendment, of course). Why not? If you can ignore any of the Constitution at will, why not just ignore the whole thing?
At Slate, Tom Scocca suggests that somebody should do something.
After seeing the events of the past few days, in the light of the events of the days before those, in relation to the events that took place in the weeks, months, and years before that, I am strongly considering writing something that would address the question of whether Nancy Pelosi is bad at her job. If I did, I would argue that the House of Representatives, under Pelosi’s leadership, has come to function as a necessary complement to the corruption and incompetence of President Donald Trump—that a lawless presidency can only achieve its fullest, ripest degree of lawlessness with the aid of a feckless opposition party, which the Democrats are eager to provide.
My editor thinks that I should write this article. I understand that in a week when one of the president’s most dedicated flunkies went before Congress to openly sneer at the idea that he should answer questions, making a show of obstructing what was supposed to be an investigation into obstruction of justice—a week now ending with reports, confirmed by the president’s jabbering ghoul of a lawyer on television, that the president tried to force a foreign country to act against the Democrats’ leading presidential candidate—there is good reason to feel that something needs to be written. It is certainly the sort of situation that someone could write about: the opposition party sitting on its hands and issuing vague statements of dismay while the entire constitutional order is revealed to be no match for the willingness of a president and his enablers to break the law.
Yes, it is certainly that sort of situation. We should be doing something.