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Barr takes the wheel. The entire IC is now on notice. Trump is untouchable.

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Barr takes the wheel. The entire IC is now on notice: Trump is untouchable.

by digby

The Attorney General hobnobbing with political operatives at Trump’s slush fund hotel.  Sure. Fine.

As you know, William Barr has been fighting with the congress, even courting a contempt citation, over his unwillingness to give them an unredacted version of the Mueller Report. He says there is sensitive Grand Jury testimony and classified information that he just cannot release, even to the people clearly entitled to receive it.  And yesterday, his DOJ issued a superseding indictment against Julian Assange on charges including the Espionage Act, one of which is for publishing classified information, a charge that has national security journalists freaking out since this is unprecedented and will likely put them and their publications at risk. 

So, one would assume from these two acts that the Barr DOJ is going to be extremely hardcore when it comes to classified information.

And they will.

Except when it comes to protecting Donald Trump. Last night the president tweeted out that he had given Barr the blanket authority to access and declassify all classified information the government has, across all agencies, in his apparently massive “investigation of the investigators.”

The man who issued a misleading political press release of the Mueller Report in order to spin it more positively for the president has been given carte blanche to access and selectively release classified documents. Knowing what he is — a political hack on a crusade to turn the presidency into a monarchy, punish Trump‘s enemies and save his presidency — this is a very, very dangerous development. This man has zero integrity. None.

Barr has been given maximum authority to override the heads of all the Intelligence services and other agencies in this process. Does anyone think he won’t? Does anyone believe that he will not selectively choose to declassify documents and refuse to declassify any that would be exculpatory or add necessary context? Of course not. He showed what he was capable of with the infamous “Barr Letter.” And if the other agency chiefs object, there’s nothing they can do about it. Barr has the sole power to do this.

It’s pretty clear that Trump wants to find out everything the intelligence agencies know about his relationship with Putin. The New York Times had this chilling nugget:

One official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified matters, said previously that Mr. Barr wanted to know more about what foreign assets the C.I.A. had in Russia in 2016 and what those informants were telling the agency about how President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia sought to meddle in the 2016 election.

Barr has the power to declassify all of that which is deeply concerning, but even if he doesn’t, he will no doubt tell Trump everything he learns putting the entire intelligence apparatus in Russia at risk. Trump is completely untrustworthy, as we know.

Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that much of this is designed to take the heat off of Trump going into 2020. The word has gone forth that if anyone in the Intelligence agencies and the FBI see something untoward about Trump‘s dealings, regardless of the seriousness, they are to look the other way if they care about their careers. I’m sure most of them understand that by now, but going after Comey, McCabe, Strzok and Page by name, in public, as the president and his henchmen are doing — along with giving Barr this tremendous power to persecute people in the government —- sends a very strong message that no one is safe.  Trump has free rein. Or should I say, “free reign.”

This is a very bad development.


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