Impeach Barr?

grab him

Rich Lowry lives in a rightwing house of mirrors, but he gets an anomaly that pretty much everyone else is overlooking: “Let’s be clear. If Barr wanted to cover for Trump, he could have crimped the Mueller probe, sat on the report, or redacted it into meaninglessness. He did none of the above.”

Having grasped the apparently large gap between what Barr says and what Barr does, Lowry leaps to the risible conclusion that only what he does is important; what he says makes no nevermind. (Or, at least I think that’s the burden of his essay; I couldn’t make myself read the whole thing.)

Today, there’s talk of beginning impeachment proceedings against Barr. My initial impression is that might not be the world’s worst idea. Not mainly because he richly merits removal from office—for lying to Congress, lying to the public, and holding heterodox and authoritarian legal opinions. No, in my view, the best reason to start the process would be establishing a stronger basis to watch him like a hawk, in respect of his supervision of ongoing investigations.

My hypothesis is that Barr is playing Trump for a sucker—a strategy that implies he has to play the rest of us like suckers for the next little while. As of now, I adhere to that hypothesis.

But I might be wrong. So, to ensure Barr’s good behavior, it might be well to begin the impeachment process> Let Nancy Pelosi grab him down where the hairs are short, get a good and steady grip, and give a strong squeeze as and when necessary.

Also, there is this. If my hypothesis happens to be right, Trump will wake up one day and realize what is happening. He will want to fire Barr. But if he fires Barr while Barr is under threat of impeachment, it will look weak. Paradoxically, then, beginning the process of impeachment might help ensure that Barr isn’t replaced by someone worse.

Today, in Non-Trump-Related News …

King Vajiralongkorn of Thailand has married his girlfriend, a former flight attendant.

American men of a certain age who feel threatened by female equality may wish to consider Thailand as a retirement option. They will be much happier there, and we will be much happier with them out of the country.

On Thursday, William Barr Needs to Wash His Hair, Get a Pedicure, and Pick Up Some Groceries

pedicure

So he will not be able to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

Pundits continue to marvel that William Barr Didn’t Really Need This Job—and that in his testimony today he showed “casual contempt and disdain”for the proper role of the attorney general. He was just sort of phoning it in.

But the Trumpster, we are told, loved it. Ate it up with two spoons. Saw Barr’s testimony as a great victory for his team.

But don’t forget: what Barr redacted is important, but so is what he didn’t redact.

And what Barr says is important, but so is what he does.

Most importantly, will he obstruct the many ongoing investigations? (Dr. Aardvark asked, “How will we know?” Good question. The answer is that, if he obstructs, there will be leaks. Man o man, will there be leaks.)

A performance so wretched as materially to diminish his, and Trump’s, already diminished reputations. Imbecilic exclamations of delight from Trump—elicited by a man who “really didn’t need this job.”

I become increasingly persuaded that Barr has decided that if he is going to live in Looneytown, then the only way he will be effective is to act the part of the looniest loon around.

That’s what Looneytown’s mayor wants. That’s what Barr is giving him.

Meanwhile, overacting so badly that sometime soon the only one who will not get the joke is the mayor.

Looneytown

Just Bonkers

crazy like a fox

Jennifer Rubin, William Barr and his horrible hearing:

So far, Attorney General William P. Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee has done himself and the administration no favors. To the contrary, former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal observes, “Barr has been evasive and misleading from the first paragraph. It’s conduct totally unbecoming of an attorney general. He’s not even very good at misleading.”

Fordham law professor Jed Shugerman were more blunt. “This is nuts . . . just bonkers, ” he told me mid-morning. …

The attorney general seems determined to incinerate his professional reputation. Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti says, “Barr is deliberately misleading the U.S. Senate by making statements that are highly deceptive but technically accurate.

Putting Barr’s Testimony in Context

As Freud may or may not have said, sometimes a pencil is just a pencil. Sometimes bonkers behavior is just bonkers behavior.

But Barr comes out of a “BigLaw” and big business environment where people often deceive others about their true motivations. A fair share are crazy—or become crazy with time. Some are crazy like a fox. Some THINK they can act crazy like a fox, and achieve some hidden objective.

So, I’m tellin’ you, whether you believe me or not, something other than simple bonkers behavior is going on here. If Barr “seems determined to incinerate his professional reputation”—and that’s a very fair summary of the situation—then it’s a conscious decision, and there’s a reason behind it. Maybe not a good reason. Maybe not a reason that you or I would approve. But there is a reason.

Ann Coulter for President!

Coulter

If you happen to be a long-time reader, you know that I have said repeatedly that Trump’s vulnerability with racist jerks is that he is so incompetent that he gives racism a bad name.

This morning, a poster on Bill Kristol’s thebulwark.com, has this to say: What Ann Coulter Needs to Know About the Mueller Report: Trump is killing MAGA world with his incompetence:

Time and again, the special counsel’s report makes Trump look ridiculous and out-of-the-loop. …

In another episode, Trump ordered the White House counsel, Don McGahn, to have Mueller fired. But he then sort of forgot about that, too, after a while. This is part of a pattern. Trump is prone to ordering people to do very serious, important things and then not following through or even entirely forgetting he’s given the order. Trump famously decided to formally withdraw from the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement and ordered his aides to draw up the paperwork for his immediate signature. As word spread of this decision, serious people in the administration panicked, recognizing what this would do both to the U.S. economy and to America’s defense interests in the Pacific. The problem was solved by the simple expedient of removing the paperwork from Trump’s desk and the president never raised the topic again. There’s a similar story about withdrawing from NAFTA.

To be sure, the presidency is a stressful job and there are, no doubt, a lot of things to keep track of. But you would think that withdrawing from NAFTA is the kind of thing you would remember. …

[The Mueller report provides little help to Trump challengers like Weld or Kasich.] The bigger problem for Trump is if he draws a challenger from his other flank. Because if you’re a person who loves Trump’s nativism and nationalism, then the humiliating picture of incompetency and chaos from the Mueller report is a very new, and very big, development.

Imagine, for example, Ann Coulter jumping into the Republican primary. Her message would be that Donald Trump lied to his base and, to make matters worse, is a bumbling incompetent who isn’t capable of delivering on his promises. Where Trump’s slogan is ‘Make America Great Again” Coulter’s slogan would be “Where’s Our Wall.” Which, you have to admit, would look great on a hat. #WOW

I don’t know how Coulter would handle retail politics, but on television and in head-to-head debates, she’d be a force of nature. Ann Coulter is a lot of things and among them are intelligent, articulate, merciless, and shameless. On top of all that, if she entered the race, she’d instantly neuter Trump’s FOX/talk radio advantage. Just imagine Coulter being interviewed on Hannity.

Aardvark’s Animadversion

Well, I don’t know whether Ann Coulter might be The One. But there sure as hell is a political space for a racist reactionary who is “intelligent, articulate, merciless, and shameless,” but not a blithering idiot.