Barr thought ‘Trump-Russian Collusion’ was a joke, even prior to the Mueller Report. In fact, nearly everyone around Trump treated it as a joke.
It has been so long since the “Mueller Report” came out, with so much scandalous stuff since, it is hard to remember the release or the report itself. With regard to Trump and his campaign’s relationship with Russia, Mueller decided that there wasn’t enough evidence to charge the campaign with conspiracy, which doesn’t mean he didn’t find anything, there was a lot of questionable activity. Mueller also specifically said that it was extremely difficult to get information because key people were willing to lie (and be charged), there was extensive use of WhatsApp, and Mueller was prohibited from looking at Trump’s finances.
And yet, as said, Mueller did find a lot of beyond strange contact.
Bill Barr, however, came into office as Attorney General, personally believing that the Russian-Gate investigation was ridiculous and now that he’s out making the rounds, trying to make money off his book, we’re hearing some self-important stories from Barr where he is usually the hero in the room. But in his NPR interview, there is an exception, Barr admits he and other top officials around him thought the probe was a running joke.
“We had this running joke that, whenever the president was chewing out Mike [Pompeo] about something in a private Oval Office meeting, all Mike had to do was mention Russiagate or something like that and the president would, you know, take it and run for quite a while, he’d rant.”
Ha, good times! Trump wouldn’t remember what he was originally mad about? That’s funny. Most people would assume that his instant defensiveness and inability to remember what had angered him meant that Trump was terrified of the issue and what might come up.
Barr moved right along telling the light-hearted tale by explaining how he counseled Trump on the matter:
You know, Mr. President, you’re like a bull in a bull ring and your adversaries have your number. They know how to get under your skin, and all they have to do is wave a red flag over here and you go charging and attack it,’” Barr said, “and I said, at the end of the day, you’re going to be in the middle of the ring sweating and someone’s going to come and put a sword through your head.”
“He didn’t think much of that metaphor.”
Really, Bill? You don’t think it might’ve been because the red flag was a red flag that could metaphorically remove his head. (Trump did think he was king.)
This is the man who took a week to “fix” the Mueller Memo, meaning redact whatever he believed touched upon classified information.
Now imagine a detached A.G. reading the memo. Again, there was a lot in it, and he had this whole string of people charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. He had ten counts of obstruction of justice on Trump alone. Would a detached Attorney General walk away without serious questions as to whether or not there was a lot of evidence that a conspiracy existed, evidence he didn’t even have, at least not enough to push it over the edge if only staff and Trump told the truth?
Not Barr. Barr may have or may not have liked Trump, probably the latter. But Barr did love the idea of the imperial presidency and in Trump, he had his perfect pawn. It sounds like he wasn’t about to let that pawn off the board, at least not until he had lost the election.
Jason Miciak is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is originally from Canada but grew up in the Pacific Northwest as a dual Canadian-American citizen, which he grows increasingly thankful for every day. He now enjoys life as a single dad, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast, getting advice from his beloved daughter and teammate. He is very much the dreamy mystic that cannot add and loves dogs more than most people. He also likes studying cooking, theoretical physics, cosmology, and quantum mechanics. He likes pizza.
Please visit his Substack Newsletter, get the first month free: Much Ado About Everything: By Jason Miciak