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William Barr Won't Be Invited To Be A Pall Bearer At Trump's Funeral



It must have been hard for William Barr to sit down and decide to write a book about his time working as head of the Justice Department for a president who saw "Justice" as his mortal enemy. Barr must have seen a daunting dual task-- defending his own miserable record and denigrating his boss'. In yesterday's NY Times, Charlie Savage reviewed the book, One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs Of An Attorney General, which will be released March 8. One day it will be a footnote is studies on Trump's mental illness and unfitness for office.


Top line: Señor Trumpanzee's "self-indulgence and lack of self-control cost him the 2020 election and "the absurd lengths to which he took his 'stolen election' claim led to the rioting on Capitol Hill." Barr used the book to urge fellow Republicans to pick someone else as the party’s nominee for the 2024 election, calling the prospect of another presidential run by Mr. Trump "dismaying. 'Trump has shown he has neither the temperament nor persuasive powers to provide the kind of positive leadership that is needed'."


And Barr didn't know any of this when he took the job? Give me a break! He uses the book to defend "his own actions in the Trump administration that led to sharp criticism of a Justice Department setting aside its independence to bend to White House pressure. Barr was long considered a close ally of Trump. But the two fell out toward the end of the Trump administration, when Barr refused to go along with Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election had been stolen. In a statement last June, Trump denounced his former attorney general, calling him a 'swamp creature' and a 'RINO'... who 'was afraid, weak and frankly, now that I see what he is saying, pathetic.' For his part, Barr portrays Trump as a president who-- despite sometimes displaying 'the menacing mannerisms' of a strongman ruler as a 'schtick' to project an image of strength-- had operated within guardrails set up by his advisers and achieved many conservative policy goals. But Trump 'lost his grip' after the election."


Despite his best efforts, Barr can't help coming across, in his own book, as exactly what he is-- a puffed-up narcissistic reactionary.His descriptions of Trump may be apt, but his attempts to defend himself and his actions are exactly how Trump described them: "pathetic." Barr doesn't even seem to realize that the whole world saw him as the ultimate Trump sycophant. He wrote that after the election, Trump "stopped listening to his advisers, became manic and unreasonable, and was off the rails... He surrounded himself with sycophants, including many whack jobs from outside the government, who fed him a steady diet of comforting but unsupported conspiracy theories."


Throughout the book, Barr scorns the news media, accusing them of “corruption” and “active support for progressive ideology.” The political left, he writes, became radicalized during President Barack Obama’s second term. He compares its support for social justice issues to “the same kind of revolutionary and totalitarian ideas that propelled the French Revolution, the Communists of the Russian Revolution and the fascists of 20th-century Europe.”
Barr also denounces the inquiry by the F.B.I. and then the special counsel, Robert Mueller, into links between Russia and Trump campaign aides in 2016. He writes that “the matter that really required investigation” was “how did the phony Russiagate scandal get going, and why did the F.B.I. leadership handle the matter in such an inexplicable and heavy-handed way?”
Barr rejects as “drivel” the criticism that his summary of the special counsel’s report that he issued before the report became public was distorted in a way that favored Trump. Barr insists that his description-- including his declaration that Trump did not commit obstruction of justice-- was “entirely accurate.”
In defending that conclusion, Barr writes that it was a “simple fact that the president never did anything to interfere with the special counsel’s investigation.”
But his book does not address any of the specific incidents that Mueller’s report laid out as raising potential obstruction-of-justice concerns, such as the fact that Trump dangled a pardon at his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, while urging Manafort not to cooperate with the inquiry.
In a chapter titled “Upholding Fairness, Even for Rascals,” Barr defends his handling of two other cases arising from the Mueller investigation. Barr writes that it was “reasonable” for him to overrule line prosecutors and seek a more lenient sentence for Trump’s ally Roger Stone.
And addressing his decision to drop the prosecution of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, for lying to the F.B.I.-- even though Flynn had already pleaded guilty-- he writes that the evidence was insufficient, the F.B.I.’s handling of the case had been “an abuse of power” and Mueller’s charges against him were not “fair.”
As he did while in office, Barr laments that Trump’s public comments about the Justice Department undermined his ability to do his job.
“Even though I was basing decisions on what I thought was right under the law and facts, if my decisions ended up the same as the president’s expressed opinion, it made it easier to attack my actions as politically motivated,” he writes.
Barr also describes resisting Trump’s bidding in some cases. He declined to charge the former F.B.I. director James Comey for allegedly leaking classified information; insisted that the administration had run out of time to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census; and rejected Trump’s “bad” idea that he could use an executive order to end birthright citizenship for children born in the United States to undocumented immigrants.
Lawyers at the White House and the Justice Department had to talk Trump out of those ideas, which could be “bruising” and amounted to “eating grenades,” Barr writes.
On the scandal that led to Trump’s first impeachment, in which Trump withheld aid to Ukraine as leverage to try to get Ukraine’s president to announce an investigation into Joseph Biden, Barr was scathing.
He calls it “another mess-- this one self-inflicted and the result of abject stupidity,” a “harebrained gambit” and “idiotic beyond belief.” But while Barr describes the conversation Trump had with Ukraine’s president on the topic as “unseemly and injudicious,” he maintains that it did not rise to a “criminal offense.”
Similarly, Barr writes that he did not think Trump’s actions before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol-- which he had condemned in a statement the day after as “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress” and “a betrayal of his office and his supporters”-- met the legal standard for the crime of incitement, even though they were “wrong.”
The book opens with a Dec. 1, 2020, meeting with Trump hours after Barr gave an interview contradicting the president’s claims of a stolen election, saying the Justice Department had “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
Trump was furious, he writes, accusing Barr of “pulling the rug out from under me” and saying he must “hate Trump.” After Barr says he explained why claims of various fraud were unfounded, he offered to resign and Trump slammed the table and yelled “accepted!” Trump reversed himself as Barr left the White House, but Barr stepped down before the end of the month.
His book expands on that theme, going through specific “fact-free claims of fraud” that Trump has put forward and explaining why the Justice Department found them baseless. He lists several reasons, for example, that claims about purportedly hacked Dominion voting machines were “absolute nonsense” and “meaningless twaddle.”
“The election was not ‘stolen,’” Barr writes. “Trump lost it.”

The Washington Post's Matt Zapotosky and Josh Dawsey also reviewed an advance copy of the book yesterday. They noted that Barr wrote that the idea of trump running fro president again "is 'dismaying' and urges the Republican Party to 'look forward' to other candidates, concluding after a searing, behind-the-scenes account of his time in the president’s Cabinet that Trump is not the right man to lead the country." They wrote that "Trump’s 'constant bellicosity diminishes him and the office,' and that in the final months of the administration, he came to realize that 'Trump cared only about one thing: himself. Country and principle took second place.'" And that was news to the apparently delusional Mr. Barr?


Barr casts Trump "as an 'incorrigible' narcissist who, 'through his self-indulgence and lack of self-control,' blew the 2020 election and then did 'a disservice to the nation' in falsely claiming his defeat was due to fraud. Barr, of course, is eager to dissociate himself from any and all of the Trump shortcoming he describes. History is unlikely to let that stand.


As attorney general, Barr faced withering criticism that he politicized the Justice Department to serve Trump’s interests, such as by intervening in criminal cases to benefit the president’s allies and launching investigations that targeted the president’s foes. Though he casts himself in his book as resisting pressure to take inappropriate steps, critics are likely to accuse him of offering a self-serving retelling of events to sell books and rehabilitate his own public image.
...“We need leaders not only capable of fighting and ‘punching,’ but also persuading and attracting-- leaders who can frame, and advocate for, an uplifting vision of what it means to share in American citizenship,” Barr writes. “Donald Trump has shown he has neither the temperament nor persuasive powers to provide the kind of positive leadership that is needed.”
...“People are worthwhile to Trump only as means to his ends -- as utensils,” Barr writes. “When they don’t help him get what he wants, they are useless. In my case, Trump’s disenchantment started-- as it was bound to-- when he saw I was not willing to bend the law to do his bidding.”
Barr describes how he grew increasingly frustrated by the president’s public and private comments about Justice Department business, and the president’s wanting him “to deliver scalps in time for the election.”
...Barr takes particular aim at those who had the president’s ear — including former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who Barr says will be remembered as “the man who helped President Trump get impeached not once but twice.” (Giuliani was involved in the pressure campaign in Ukraine, which was at the heart of Trump’s first impeachment, and the effort to overturn the election, which fueled the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol and was at the heart of the second.)
He writes that Trump’s legal team “had a difficult case to make, and they made it as badly and unprofessionally as I could have imagined,” taking particular note of a news conference Giuliani held at a Philadelphia landscaping company to promote his claims.
“It was all a grotesque embarrassment,” Barr writes.


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