Yesterday, Attorney General William Barr took the surprising step of publicly criticizing the President, complaining that his tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job.”
While at first glance it appeared to be an extremely rare rebuke of the President, the more discerning commentators quickly realized that all he was doing was attempting to soothe tensions in the Justice Department, which has been wracked with the resignations of at least five prosecutors over the Attorney General’s decision to revise the sentencing memo for convicted Trump associate Roger Stone.
President Nixon’s former White House Counsel, John Dean, is an expert at detecting dishonesty in the affairs of corrupt presidents and quickly took to Twitter to make it clear that he believes the entire thing was staged with Trump’s knowledge.
Barr staged it and I’d bet with a heads up to the White House! https://t.co/tPn5MsK02i
— John Dean (@JohnWDean) February 14, 2020
His accusation was all-but-confirmed by the White House’s surprising and rapid declaration that actually, the President had no problem being criticized by the Attorney General — an extremely uncharacteristic statement from a president who is notorious for his intolerance of anything that might resemble disloyalty.
But Trump couldn’t even keep the act up for an entire day, taking to Twitter on Friday morning to announce that he does have the legal right to interfere in Justice Department investigations — a warning that might as well have read “you better keep on doing exactly what I want or I will do it myself.”
“The President has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.” A.G. Barr This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2020
The entire charade appears to have been a distraction from Attorney General Barr’s next move, which is to install an outside prosecutor and open an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the opening of the inquiry into disgraced ex-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, which is the subject of a trove of right-wing conspiracy theories.
Flynn has been charged with a series of extremely serious crimes including lying to the FBI and lying about acting as a paid foreign agent, but once again Barr appears to be abusing the power of his office on behalf of the president’s cronies, making it clear the Justice Department now serves at the whims of a petty tyrant.