William Barr is a figure of great controversy right now. He’s being hailed as Trump’s version of Roy Cohn, and Roy Cohn compared himself to Machiavelli. Adam Schiff weighed in with the Washington Post:
“The big picture is this,” Schiff said. “The post-Watergate reforms are being dismantled, one by one. The Trump precedent after only two years is that you can fire the FBI director who is running an investigation in which you may be implicated as president.”
“You can hire an attorney general who has applied for the job by telling you why he thinks the case against you is bogus,” Schiff continued. “That new attorney general can then selectively edit the work of an independent or special prosecutor, and allow the Congress and the public to see only parts of it. And that new attorney general can also initiate inquiries into the president’s political opponents.”
Now we get to the big question, how far will Robert Mueller let this go?
“It’s very hard to tell what [Mueller’s] role is,” Schiff argued. “If Barr tells him to redact anything vis-a-vis people who have not been indicted, then I’m sure that’s what Bob Mueller will do. If he instructs him to redact anything that was produced to the grand jury, then I’m sure he’ll do that. It really depends on the marching orders that Bob Mueller is given.”
I asked Schiff whether one can envision a less alarmist scenario, in which Barr redacts less than we expect (he has vowed not to undertake any redactions to protect Trump) and the Gang of Eight gets the full report.
“It’s entirely possible that Barr will surprise us by redacting very little,” Schiff conceded. “It doesn’t seem like he is headed that way.”
Schiff has expressed great respect for Robert Mueller in the past. I hope that that respect and trust has not been misplaced. The Mueller Report needs to be handled transparently, and Barr has made every indication that he’s going to muddy the waters, where and whenever possible.