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Trump Is Now Above the Law

Since the release of the Mueller report, it has become increasingly clear that US Attorney General William Barr and congressional Republicans will do whatever it takes to protect President Donald Trump from legal or political accountability. If there is one safe prediction about what comes next, it is that it will be very ugly.

WASHINGTON, DC – Things have gotten ugly in Washington, DC, since the release last month of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, and they’re about to get uglier. It’s now clear that the United States has an attorney general who believes his job is to protect the president, facts be damned. During his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, William Barr, the country’s top law-enforcement official, obfuscated and lied with contempt and abandon.

Barr’s self-designation as President Donald Trump’s defense attorney and fixer came as no surprise to those who recall how, as attorney general in President George H.W. Bush’s administration, he helped to cover up the Iran-Contra scandal of the late 1980s. He auditioned for his second stint in the post by writing an unsolicited 19-page memo arguing that, by definition, a president cannot obstruct justice, and that Mueller’s investigation of that issue was thus “fatally misconceived.” It is his preposterous position that a president can block an investigation of himself if he believes it’s unfair.

In Barr, Trump finally has his Roy Cohn, the infamous New York attorney who got Trump out of various legal scrapes. Trump was furious that his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from the Russia investigation, and eventually fired him. Despite providing ten examples of likely obstruction, Mueller observed a questionable Department of Justice guideline against indicting sitting presidents, abstained from deciding whether Trump should be charged, and called on Congress to decide. But Barr stepped in to declare Trump’s innocence, first in a March 24 letter to Congress ostensibly summarizing Mueller’s conclusions, and again in a bizarre press conference 90 minutes before he released a redacted version of the report. In his Senate testimony, he claimed not to understand why Mueller declined to decide about obstruction charges. By the time Barr testified, his March 24 letter had been discredited.

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