If President Donald Trump were a normal president with a sense of humility and a commitment to the national welfare, he could have avoided impeachment and saved the country from three years of political fratricide. A normal president would have accepted the findings of his intelligence agencies and would have called out the Russians for subverting the 2016 presidential election. He would have admitted the Russians were trying to help get him elected, and he would have pledged to do everything he could to defend our democracy from future attacks.
Instead, Trump has continued to pretend the Russians are innocent and that somebody else – the Ukrainians, an overweight hacker in a suburban basement or maybe Martians – was responsible for the dirty tricks. Trump’s acquiescence in Vladimir Putin’s Big Lie – which continued this week when he hosted the Russian foreign minister at the White House – has been the central fault line in this earthquake of a presidency, and Trump has dragged his entire administration and pretty much all of the Republican Party into the abyss with him.
Chief among his supporters is Attorney General William Barr who, once upon a time, had a solid professional reputation. But his name was further sullied by his reaction to the FBI inspector general’s report on the bureau’s investigation into Russian influence in the Trump campaign. Barr was quick to discount the report’s firm conclusion that there is no evidence of anti-Trump motivation in the inquiry and continues to infer there was no sound basis for the FBI probe of the Trump campaign.
Barr called the Trump/Russia connection “a completely bogus narrative,” despite the fact that several key campaign officials, including campaign boss Paul Manafort, have gone to prison or are awaiting sentencing for crimes connected to collusion with Russia – and despite the hard fact that U.S. intelligence agencies, the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee and the Mueller report all say, with no hint of doubt, that the Russians hacked the election to help Trump.
Just as Trump is an aberrant president, Barr is a very different kind of AG; less like the people’s lawyer and much more akin to a loyal staffer for a banana republic’s Numero Uno.
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