The New York Times and other media outlets, citing anonymous sources, recently reported that the Department of Justice inquiry into the origins of the Russia investigation has “shifted” from an administrative review to a criminal investigation.
Latest in Bill Barr
The Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Adam Schiff published a letter written to Attorney General Bill Barr regarding the Department of Justice’s involvement in the whistleblower complaint. Schiff characterized the intervention as “improper and contrary to both a clear, categorical statutory directive and longstanding IC whistleblowing practices” before demanding the formal legal opinion, allegedly from the Office of Legal Counsel related to the complaint.
Judge Randolph Moss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacated on Friday a presidential proclamation barring people who enter the country outside ports of entry from seeking asylum. The policy had been temporarily enjoined by a judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Northern California. The ruling is available here and below.
On Tuesday, July 23, Attorney General William Barr delivered a keynote address at the International Conference on Cyber Security at Fordham University. The complete speech can be read below.
Jan Crawford’s extraordinary CBS interview with Attorney General William Barr was released on Friday, May 31. In it Barr said some good things about why his investigation of the Trump campaign investigation is needed. He also said some bad things about his attitude toward his investigation that reveal the depressingly ugly state of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement institutions.
On the Need for an Investigation
In the wake of Watergate, a remarkable series of legislative and administrative reforms sought to prevent future abuses by making the attorney general responsible for keeping intelligence agencies within the law.
Times have changed.
The extent to which federal obstruction of justice statutes apply to the president, especially when concerning actions facially within the office’s powers under Article II, has been hotly contested at least since President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.
Jack Goldsmith’s defense of Attorney General Barr’s handling of the Mueller report is typically thoughtful but ultimately unpersuasive. While certain aspects of Barr’s behavior could be defensible if they stood alone, taken as a whole his course of conduct—what he said, how he said it and what he didn’t say—shows that Barr is not merely “defen[ding] the presidency” institutionally, as Goldsmith argues, but defending this particular president politically.
The House Judiciary Committee will consider a contempt citation against Attorney General Bill Barr on Wednesday, May 8. The citation involves Barr's failure to comply with the committee's subpoena for an unredacted version of the Mueller report and underlying evidence. The full draft citation resolution is available here and below.
I’ve been in a cave for several weeks crashing to complete my new book and am only now emerging to read Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report and the commentary on it. I’ll hopefully have more to say on the report, especially on its legal analysis of criminal obstruction of justice as applied to the president.