Monday, January 18, 2021
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Law chief torpedoes Democrats’ dirty tricks dodge

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DEMOCRATS are furious because the US Attorney General, William Barr, has foiled their plan to walk away from the Obama administration’s criminal conspiracies against President Trump in 2016 as if they never happened.

The attempt by Obama loyalists to pervert the law to stop Trump’s election, and then investigate him for claims of collusion with Russia, which they knew to be false because they invented them, was the worst attack on democracy in US history.

It was an episode of political corruption so egregious that justice for the American people as well as Trump demands it be laid bare in every detail to see the perpetrators punished and stop it happening again.

Democrats, returning to power since Trump’s apparent defeat last month, had hoped to slip it all down the memory hole. Barr has scotched that ploy by giving special counsel status to John Durham, the Department of Justice lawyer who is investigating the crimes and abuses of power of which Trump was victim.

In doing so, he has pre-empted the ability of Biden’s incoming attorney general to fire Durham or to ignore any prosecutions he recommends without risking a public uproar. He has also ensured that the role as essential co-conspirators of the liberal media, without which the long and dishonest persecution of Trump could never have happened, will be made apparent.

Trump’s presidency was so exhausting that 2016 seems to belong to a different era. But it was only four years ago and some of the plotters will be finding jobs in Biden’s government.

To recall the main allegations for which Durham is seeking proof that will stand up in court:

  • The CIA and FBI used the Steele report which Democrats paid for, and Obama knew about, to entrap Trump campaign officials;
  • The FBI misled the FISA security court with information from Steele it knew to be false or unverified in order to spy on the Trump campaign and set up the Russian collusion allegation;
  • FBI director James Comey formally briefed Obama and Trump before the latter took office on the ‘salacious’ details of the Steele report specifically to create an opportunity for the media to make them public and damage Trump;
  • The FBI set an illegal perjury trap for General Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Adviser, to smear him as a Russian colluder;
  • Trump’s firing of Comey was used by the DoJ as an excuse to set up a special counsel investigation of the president which lasted for two years although it established immediately that there had been no collusion with Russia.

There was a lot more, including impeachment and constant media claims by congressman Adam Schiff that he had firm evidence of collusion which he has not produced to this day. But this list is sufficient to show the extent to which the powers of law enforcement and government were misused in what can fairly be called an attempted coup against a legitimately elected president.

It takes a neck of burnished brass to pretend that this was simply politics as usual and does not need a full reckoning to restore the nation’s democratic health which is under attack again from Trump’s charges that the Democrats rigged the November election in Biden’s favour.

Alas, Barr has thrown a grenade into the project to bury 2016 and what came afterwards. Durham has already said that neither Obama nor Biden is in his sights and he hasn’t said who is. However, certain Washington bigwigs who thought they were home free when the Democrats claimed victory in November are again treading on hot coals.

Naturally, Democrats are accusing Barr of getting in the way of Biden’s proclaimed mission of healing the country after the damaging polarisation for which Trump was somehow uniquely responsible, despite all the misdeeds having been committed by Democrats. (Political logic in Washington works in a mysterious way.)

Benjamin Wittes, chief editor at the Lawfare website and one of Trump’s most persistent critics throughout his presidency published a revealing criticism of Barr

He wrote that allowing Durham to finish his job would risk ‘letting a wide-ranging investigation of the Russia investigation run riot over the new administration for as long as Durham wants and with a mandate to issue a public report – including, potentially, on the non-criminal matters that were the subject of the original Durham review – at a time of the special counsel’s choosing’.

In other words, holding the Democrats to account for what they did to Trump would be a bad idea and disrupt the Biden administration, the protection of which takes priority over establishing the truth the country needs at a time of great fragility.

There is a wrinkle to this which is that Durham, as a Department of Justice lawyer, is not normally entitled to the status of a special counsel who should be independent and not a government employee. Strictly speaking, Biden’s attorney general can fire him and shut down the investigation but the political costs would be heavy. It’s a fraught dare that Barr is leaving behind.

Wittes pays Barr the rueful compliment of having been ‘devilishly clever’ in the trap he’s set for the Democrats. In view of all the cynical, self-serving damage they have done to the democratic process over these last two elections, it’s easy to think that they deserve it and the country needs it.

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Donald Forbes
Donald Forbes is a retired Anglo-Scottish journalist now living in France who during a 40-year career worked in eastern Europe before and after communism.

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