Is it possible that Bill Barr has overplayed his hand?
A credibility crisis rocking President Donald Trump’s Justice Department significantly deepened over the long holiday weekend amid rising calls for Attorney General Bill Barr to quit over claims he has politicized of highly sensitive cases.
Latest developments suggest that the President’s destruction of the invisible wall between the White House and the department and the obliging behavior of Barr may already mean that the question of possible political interference will haunt almost every large-scale Washington case for the rest of the current administration.The drama escalated Monday as a letter demanding Barr’s resignation by a bipartisan group of former Justice officials gathered its 2,000th signature.
The officials are dismayed by the attorney general’s decisions to tone down sentencing guidelines in the case of Roger Stone — the President’s long-time confidant and political trickster. The White House however said Monday that Trump still has full confidence in Barr.
This here is a significant new development:
The head of the Federal Judges Association has reportedly taken the unprecedented step of calling an emergency meeting to discuss President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr’s intervention in Roger Stone’s sentencing recommendation. U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe, who leads the association of around 1,100 life-term federal judges, told USA Today that the issue “could not wait.” She said: “There are plenty of issues that we are concerned about… We’ll talk all this through.” Rufe’s announcement follows an open letter signed by more than 1,000 former Justice Department employees calling on Barr to resign over the Stone case. Last week, Trump made clear that he was angry about the length of the sentence recommended for his friend Roger Stone, then Barr’s Justice Department withdrew that recommendation. Trump also attacked the judge in the Stone case, Amy Berman Jackson, with unfounded accusations of political bias. The Washington Post reported that the Federal Judges Association has never called an emergency meeting such as the one described by Rufe in the USA Today interview.
What Barr did in the Stone case in particular is so outrageous that apparently even some Republican legal elites aren’t quite able to close their eyes and think of England.
Whether this will end up making any difference remains to be seen, but at least Barr’s attempt to weaponize the entire DOJ into Donald Trump’s personal law firm is generating real pushback from the legal profession.
Barr is a paranoid authoritarian right wing Catholic, who has being playing a long game for his entire professional life. He’s probably the single most dangerous person in the entire Trump administration, other than Trump himself. Getting rid of him would be an unambiguously good thing, although it’s difficult to imagine who Queens Caligula would appoint to replace him.