If they’ve opposed the Russia investigation in any way, Donald Trump will find them and put them in charge. Trump’s Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was a very public critic of the probe before Trump appointed him to oversee it, and now it turns out Trump’s new attorney general nominee also voiced his opposition to a key part of the inquiry, if only in a more stealthy way.
The Wall Street Journal writes that William Barr sent the Justice Department an “unsolicited memo” this summer trashing the special counsel’s obstruction investigation as “fatally misconceived.” That’s right, no one reached out to Barr, who’s a former agency official, he just took it upon himself to offer his legal view in the form of a 20-page document.
Barr reportedly argued in his June 8 memo that Trump acted within his authority when he asked then-FBI Director James Comey to back off the investigation into his recently resigned national security adviser Michael Flynn. And when Trump ultimately fired Comey after he declined to offer his boss a firm loyalty pledge—also not a problem according to Barr.
The ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein, is thinking exactly what you’re thinking right this very second.
We need answers as to why William Barr proactively drafted a memo against Special Counsel Mueller's investigation. There’s no reason for a lawyer in private practice to do this unless he was attempting to curry favor with President Trump.
— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) December 20, 2018
There also seems be some question over whether the memo was actually provided to a lawyer at the White House. At some point, WSJ added in a line to the story suggesting as much, then removed it again. The line no longer exists in the story, which claims Barr’s memo didn’t factor into Trump’s decision to “choose” him.
Very odd that this sentence, which is maybe the biggest piece of news in the WSJ story on Barr's memo, wasn't in the original version that posted at 10:19 last night and now shows up in graf 23 as if it is no big deal. It is a huge deal. pic.twitter.com/qwDn21q5ux
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) December 20, 2018
One way or the other, Trump seemed to pluck Barr, a former attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, out of nowhere. It’s not like Trump had been admiring Barr’s work since the early ‘90s, as Trump himself admitted when he announced the nomination.
“I did not know him until recently, when I went through the process of looking at people, and he was my first choice from Day One,” Trump said earlier this month.