Trump Attorney General William Barr finally responded to Sen. Lindsey Graham’s astonishing Sunday show assertion that Barr now had a “process” by which Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani could feed his anti-Biden claims directly to the Justice Department to be “verified”—a direct pipeline of Trump’s demanded smears of a political opponent to federal investigators.
The Justice Department initially refused to comment on Graham’s explosive claim. Speaking to reporters today, however, Barr acknowledged his department has “established an intake process” for Rudy’s claims, while taking pains to portray it as business as usual. Barr, however, has lied throughout the Ukraine probe. And this is not business as usual.
As reported by Politico, Barr responded to a reporter’s question about Graham’s claim at an unrelated Barr news conference this morning. According to Barr, taking information from Giuliani about Trump’s designated political enemy is nothing special. “The Department of Justice has the obligation to have an open door to anybody who wishes to provide us information that they think is relevant. I did say to Sen. Graham, we have to be very careful with respect to any information coming from the Ukraine.”
Barr went out of his way to express theoretical skepticism on that last part, noting that “we can’t take anything we receive from the Ukraine at face value.” But as for Giuliani’s pro-Russia, anti-Ukraine, pro-corruption and anti-Biden pipe dreams from the likes of indicted oligarch Dmytro Firtash, “we’re taking information as we would in any case.”
What Barr is clearly attempting to do in this response (Politico notes that some of it was read from notes, meaning it was prepared in advance) is portray Giuliani as just another crank contacting the Justice Department with crank theories that will be dutifully written down and “evaluated,” rather than as having an administration-arranged direct pipeline to his offices. The problem with this is that Barr has been a liar throughout the Ukraine scandal. Barr has also rendered the Justice Department an explicitly political tool, vigorously using his office to block investigations into alleged wrongdoing by Trump, inventing new justifications for “absolute immunity” from congressional oversight.
The other problem is that the Justice Department does not usually respond to such cranks by establishing “an intake process” personal to them. Giuliani, on the other hand, now has that.
So we know from this that there is indeed now a process for Donald Trump’s personal muckraker to feed disinformation into the Justice Department for “investigation.” We can also assume, based on Barr’s previous lies (e.g. about the Mueller report), that Barr’s suggestions that his office will have theoretical integrity in sifting through anti-Biden “dirt” are not meant to be sincere. Trump and Giuliani have already bent foreign policy, fired U.S. ambassadors, and engaged in an executive-branchwide coverup to pursue; Barr has, at every step, assisted those plans.
This would be yet another thing that Barr should be marched before House committees to explain. He has no grounds to claim immunity from questioning on the connections between Trump “personal lawyer” Giuliani and his department. The House needs to shake the dust of the corrupt Senate off their coats, prepare a new round of subpoenas, and be prepared to use inherent contempt to compel Barr’s testimony immediately.
Trump, Giuliani, and Barr are plainly signaling that they intend to use the United States government as weapon against Trump’s election challengers. There is not a scrap of evidence that suggests they have been dissuaded from this plan after Senate Republicans immunized them from laws barring such behavior. If the House still intends to stop them, there is no time left.