Nel's New Day

October 24, 2019

Barr’s Criminal Inquiry: No Crime, Just Distraction

Six days ago, the State Department determined no systemic or deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employers in emails sent to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s private computer server. The report, going back nine years and interviewing 130 people, was quietly made public on a Friday evening and reported in the back pages of major newspapers after several years of investigation by numerous agencies and Congress. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) frequently called on his rallies to chant “lock her up” after Michael Flynn initiated the words at the 2016 RNC when DDT became the GOP presidential candidate. In a review of 33,000 emails, the report found 38 current or former employees “culpable” of violating security procedures, but no material had been marked classified until after they had been sent. The vast majority of people “did their best to implement [security policies].”

Despite common security lapses by DDT’s own administration, he continues to attack Democrats with Clinton’s emails and maintains that a server in Ukraine is hiding her emails. The impeachment inquiry into DDT shows that his officials and personal lawyer pressuring Ukraine to pursue investigations that politically benefit DDT used private phones and cell apps to communicate their efforts.

The completion of the report seemed to be a hiatus of meaningless investigations into Democrats—until tonight. In what appears to be an attempt to distract the media from evidence against DDT revealed within the impeachment inquiry, Bill Barr (left), attorney general and DDT’s fixer, opened a criminal inquiry into the DOJ Russia investigation. John Durham, Barr’s prosecutorial puppet supposedly leading the inquiry, may now subpoena for witness testimony and documents, impanel a grand jury, and file criminal charges. 

A criminal inquiry requires only a “reasonable indication” that a crime has been committed, a much lower standard than the probable cause required to obtain search warrants. The decision is not reviewed by a court. The DOJ does require “an objective, factual basis for initiating the investigation; a mere hunch is insufficient.” Without the criminal description, Durham could only voluntarily interview people and examine government files. Some witnesses have refused voluntary interviews.

Barr has typically used his position as a place to protect DDT and fight his enemies since his appointment at the beginning of 2019, but the criminal inquiry is a new low. The situation is unusual as the DOJ conducts a criminal inquiry into the DOJ, using Durham because of the prosecutors’ respected reputation. The DOJ Inspector General typically conducts management reviews, but he cannot empower a grand jury, which may be Barr’s aim. 

In May, Barr claimed that conversations with intelligence and law enforcement led him to think that the FBI acted improperly, if not unlawfully. DDT gave Barr extraordinary powers to declassify intelligence secrets for his initial review, meaning that he can make public documents or information from the CIA and the FBI over their objections.

The FBI investigation into Russian interference began in July 2016 after the Australian government gave information to the FBI that a DDT campaign adviser had been approached with an offer of stolen emails that could damage Clinton’s campaign. At first, the agency didn’t use CIA information but moved forward in August 2016 when John O. Brennan, CIA director at that time, shared intelligence with then FBI director Comey. The CIA provided more evidence to the FBI in early 2017 that Russia tried to get DDT elected. During his investigation, Robert Mueller obtained convictions or guilty pleas from several DDT associates and indictments of over two dozen Russians because of their wide-ranging interference scheme.

According to DOJ guidelines, the FBI “has the authority and responsibility to investigate all criminal violations of federal law not exclusively assigned to another federal agency. Under “Investigations”:

“(1) A general crimes investigation may be initiated by the FBI when facts or circumstances reasonably indicate that a federal crime has been, is being, or will be committed. The investigation may be conducted to prevent, solve, and prosecute such criminal activity.”

Barr’s micro-managing of Durham’s inquiry including trips to Italy to get help from its officials to support a conspiracy theory, that the Italian government helped set up the DDT campaign adviser who was told in 2016 that the Russians had damaging information that could hurt Clinton’s campaign. Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy said that his country’s intelligence services had no such role in the Russia investigation. Barr’s trip, circumventing protocols, followed DDT’s bidding in what should have been an independent inquiry, and Barr made a second trip to Italy with Durham. DDT also called Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, pressuring him to help Barr gather information that discredits the Robert Mueller investigation. 

Earlier, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) caused diplomatic difficulties by sending letters to leaders of Britain, Italy and Australia, urging them to help “investigate the origins and extent of foreign influence in the 2016 election.” With no evidence, Graham declared that an Australian former diplomat was involved in the supposed plot to take down DDT. Australia’s ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, rejected Graham’s description of the role of the diplomat, Alexander Downer. DDT worsened the situation by accusing other countries of a wide foreign plot against him.

Durham’s investigation thus far includes interviews with over two dozen former and current FBI and intelligence officials about possible anti-DDT bias among officials working on the Russia investigation and a possible abuse of power in seeking the court order for a wiretap on DDT’s campaign official of interest. Another question is whether CIA officials tricked FBI into opening the Russia investigation. In rejection of the conspiracy theory that the Russian investigation was to block DDT’s election, a former official pointed out that the FBI openly investigated Clinton’s private email server but hid the counterintelligence investigation into DDT’s campaign.

Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tied Durham/Barr’s inquiry to Ukraine last week, and Durham admitted that he has interviewed private Ukrainian citizens. The DOJ did not give a reason. Most of the people involved in the opening of the Russia investigation have not been interviewed, possibly because Barr is waiting for a criminal inquiry. As this criminal inquiry opens, the DOJ inspector general is finishing his inquiry into the FBI’s conduct during the early time of the Russia investigation including the application for a warrant to wiretap the campaign official.

Thus far, Barr has not clarified what crime Durham is investigating or when the criminal inquiry began. DDT has accused the FBI officials who opened the case of treason, defined as “only in levying War against [the U.S.], or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

The New York City Bar Association has asked Attorney General William Barr to immediately recuse himself from any matters pertaining to DDT’s Ukraine scandal because of Barr’s conflict of interest as head of the DOJ. The tipping point of the concern came from Barr’s refusal to recuse himself in the DOJ’s review, also improper, of the whistleblower complaint regarding DDT’s “July 25, 2019 telephone call to request the Republic of Ukraine to investigate Mr. Trump’s allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and former Vice President Biden and his son.”

Barr got his job as AG by writing an unsolicited memo stating that Mueller’s investigation was “fatally misconceived” and criticized the lack of partisan “balance” on his team. The memo also praised DDT’s firing of Comey and, during his confirmation hearings, refused to recuse himself from the Russia investigation despite these opinions. Getting the AG job, Barr followed through with his commitment to protect DDT from Mueller’s investigation with an erroneous—one could say biased—synopsis of Mueller’s report followed by dragging his heels until he released a heavily redacted version of the report because of criticism from the usually taciturn Mueller.

The report showed DDT’s wrongdoing, but by then Barr’s “no collusion” repetition had taken root with people who ignored the actual report. Not until DDT’s flagrant quid pro quo with Ukraine extorting the president for the congressionally-approved military aid. In May, Barr testified “I don’t know” to Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) question about whether anyone at the White House had “hinted” that he should open an investigation, the one that is now a criminal inquiry.

In other support for DDT, Barr argued for the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census to undercount immigrants and deny communities of federal resources for the next ten years. Barr also has the same obsession to discriminate against individuals and groups with the unconstitutional excuse of “religious liberty.” His focus is to illegally expand DDT’s power through politicizing his own office, to shield DDT’s friends, and to prosecute his enemies. Instead of an independent agency of justice, the DOJ has become a reign of terror guided by the authoritarian leader of the United States.  

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