April 18, 2019

The Barr Press Conference, you may have heard, did not go over very well. Attorney General William P. Barr's credibility has long been shredded since his absurd Mueller Report "summary" memo came out a few weeks ago. For more astute (or cynical — take your pick) folks, it was shredded long before that, when he came sniffing around for the job over the summer. So no one was expecting much from today's presser, but still, it was about as much of a disaster as you'd expect from a now-established Trumpian shill.

Useless, sad attempts to attain credibility by planting Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and some other guy with an admittedly well-groomed beard behind him failed miserably, as Brian Williams correctly characterized the entire show as a "victim impact statement in advance, talking about the feelings and emotions of the subject of the investigation."

Frank Figliuzzi joined in to add the color commentary, identifying basically all the holes in Barr's story, particularly regarding the "very legal, very cool" behavior of all Americans regarding Russian bad actors.

FIGLIUZZI: So I realize we're in unprecedented territory here. But if your viewers are wondering whether this is normalcy, say out in the field, say in an average field office in the FBI, or U.S. Attorney's office or district the answer is no. There are no standards for such a thing in terms of this kind of press conference. So let me start with a positive observation because then it's going to go downhill. The positive observation is that we heard the AG open up with the Russia issue. We heard and I heard close to what I needed to hear, that he acknowledges that a foreign adversary meddled with our election.

But here is where it goes downhill. The AG was speaking with forked tongue today. And, as has been said, he's been emphasizing the criminal standard. We found no crime, we found no criminal elements met here. Then he says, he repeats the president's mantra, there was no collusion. Well, which is it? There is no crime called collusion. If you're applying a criminal standard and then you're saying then you didn't find it, then you can't say, "And by the way, there was no collusion."

Next, we go to this entire fundamental issue of whether the attorney general's role was to make a call that the Special Counsel chose not to make. There's going to be much legal debate about this. Because he says, "We're prosecutors, we're supposed to make calls." But the Special Counsel is not all about that, particularly where counterintelligence case is involved. The American people and Congress need to make this call if the Special Counsel couldn't do it. So today we heard essentially a spin attempt in favor of the president. This issue of no Americans being involved in any of the Russian efforts doesn't ring true to me. We have Manafort handing polling data to a Russian individual known to have intelligence affiliations. We still have Roger Stone under investigation. We still have Wikileaks and Julian Assange under investigation. We don't know the degree to which Russia was involved with them and Americans involved with Wiki. We have a president who said, Russia, if you have the emails, I hope you release them. We need to see this report.

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