With the investigation of “Crossfire Hurricane” by U.S. Attorney John Durham looking more serious by the day, it’s obvious what the political cover is now. The memo has gone out to everyone in the Democrat Party and the media (but I repeat myself) to paint Attorney General Bill Barr, who had the gall to appoint Durham in the first place, as a purely political AG. Why, he’s not there to consistently enforce the law of the land; he’s just there to be President Trump’s protector, his lackey, his “wingman,” so to speak. (Wait, no, that was Eric Holder’s self-described role as attorney general for President Obama.)
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, with visions of impeachment still dancing in his head, assisted in this effort last week by bringing in federal prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky to speak to his House Judiciary Committee about Barr’s “interference” last February in the sentencing of Trump campaign associate Roger Stone.
Keep in mind that Zelinksy was a member of Mueller’s get-Trump special counsel team and also used to work under Rod Rosenstein. He was one of four prosecutors who dramatically resigned from the Stone case; in fact, he even chose to leave his position but (big surprise) continues to work with the Justice Department. In an interview for NPR on Thursday, Barr dismissed his testimony as “simply false” and “double hearsay.”
"I was the decision-maker in that case,” he said, “because there was a dispute. And usually what happens is, disputes, especially in high-profile cases, come up to the attorney general.” He said he had not discussed the sentencing with Trump and had already decided to change his recommendation before Trump’s angry tweet. Barr said that Stone “doesn’t deserve a break, but he doesn’t deserve to be...singled out, and treated more harshly than everyone else.”
I’ll point out what few Barr critics have: this was simply a sentencing RECOMMENDATION. Judge Amy Berman Jackson may follow the suggested guidelines or not. So what is the all-fired big deal?
Trump’s political enemies want looooong sentences for his associates because that puts pressure on him to pardon them, and that would unleash a media hysteria to last until Election Day. If this means putting a 67-year-old man behind bars potentially for life (especially if he gets coronavirus in there), so be it.
The narrative from now on will be that Barr is motivated only by the desire to help President Trump. Therefore, everything he does will be examined strictly from that perspective. It doesn’t matter that Stone’s sentence WAS harsh, that invading his home with a SWAT team while CNN cameras rolled WAS an abuse of power, and that the Russia “collusion” story in which he was ensnared WAS a hoax.
But Kimberly Strassel, writing about the Michael Flynn case in the WALL STREET JOURNAL, departs from the chosen media narrative. She points out that the three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled on Judge Emmet Sullivan’s rejection of Barr’s decision to drop the case has done something beyond simply rule on the legal merits.
Importantly, the ruling is also a rebuke of the FBI and Robert Mueller’s special counsel team. This isn’t being widely reported, of course, but Strassel says it marks the first time a federal court has acknowledged the misconduct that Barr is trying to bring to light.
Judge Sullivan had bought into the same (debunked) Democratic conspiracy theories the FBI had been using; recall that he flew into a fit and even called Gen. Flynn a “traitor,” right there in the courtroom. So, naturally, he couldn’t let this case go just because the attorney general told him to, choosing instead to call on retired Judge John Gleeson to take on the role of shadow prosecutor.
Strassel makes an important point: that if the circuit court judges had any thought that Sullivan was right about Barr playing political favorites, they could have allowed him to continue fighting that. Instead, they said quite bluntly that there was “no legitimate basis” to question the Justice Department's behavior.
They even went after Judge Gleeson for relying in his amicus brief on “news stories, tweets, and other facts outside the record,” contrasting that with the DOJ’s motion that “includes an extensive discussion of newly discovered evidence casting Flynn’s guilt into doubt.”
They said this “includes evidence of misconduct by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
According to Strassel, the DOJ had provided voluminous evidence --- I would add that this is thanks to the determination of Flynn attorney Sidney Powell --- that the FBI had improperly pursued Flynn, kept the investigation open even when it had produced no evidence of wrongdoing, gone after him on the never-used Logan Act when he had acted appropriately, and schemed to trap Flynn into perjury with an interview that had no “legitimate investigative basis.”
Recall that in February of this year, Barr appointed U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen to review the Flynn case, and four months later, Jensen concluded that dismissal was “the just and proper course.” The appeals court decision was consistent with this.
Former U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman was on FOX & FRIENDS on Friday to offer a similar viewpoint, saying that Flynn was so wronged that he should consider a “Bivens Action” against the Department of Justice and former Obama administration officials. A Bivens Action is the legal remedy to use when one’s rights have been violated by a federal investigator.
"I hope he is looking at it strongly,” Tolman said. I would imagine that at this point, Powell's team is already putting together that lawsuit. Let’s hope they are, and also hope he becomes an extremely wealthy man after losing his career and financial security over this bogus case.
Tolman agreed with Powell’s brief that the newly obtained notes penned by Peter Strzok, which describes the underlying action of Flynn’s phone calls as legitimate, show that stunning exculpatory evidence was withheld from Flynn’s defense.
He described what happened as “an absolute effort --- call it collusion, conspiracy, whatever you want to say --- that now we know goes as high as the Vice President and the President. To not only withhold information about the investigation to the incoming President, but to go after the incoming President through the incoming national security advisor on an investigation that did not have a foundation to it.” The fact that they should still have managed to bring a case should concern everyone, he said.
Tolman dared to voice what we’ve known for a long time: that they were trying to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office.
So remember when Barr continues to be accused of politicizing the DOJ, it’s just another example of Democrats accusing others of what they themselves are doing. The attack on Barr is political, and it’s coordinated. It sure seems to me that Barr’s the one trying to get the politics OUT. If his decisions at times help President Trump, perhaps it’s because the President actually has the truth and the law on his side.