Barr: Turning the tables on Democrats?
President Trump “has officially weaponized the Justice Department to go after his rivals,” said Ryan Bort in RollingStone.com. Attorney General William Barr’s review into whether the origins of the 2016 Russia investigation were politically motivated is now “officially a full-scale criminal investigation,” The New York Times reported last week. The U.S. attorney Barr tapped to lead the inquiry, John Durham, will now be able to issue subpoenas and impanel a grand jury to file criminal charges against FBI and intelligence officials involved in investigating Russia’s interference in the election. It’s a stunning development: Barr is clearly using the vast power of the Justice Department to investigate “baseless conspiracy theories” in the “service of the president’s political agenda.”
Despite their dim view of Barr’s motivations, Democrats should be nervous, said Henry Olsen in The Washington Post. Criminal investigations are initiated only when there’s evidence that someone broke the law. If Durham’s review, launched in May, is now criminal, it means he’s found something. Democrats have spent almost the entire Trump administration pursuing investigations of the president, and now they may find “the tables being turned on them.” Democrats have no reason to whine, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. They are almost certainly going to impeach President Trump “for inviting Ukraine to investigate 2020 election rival Joe Biden.” But there is little difference between this allegation and the contention that the FBI used British investigator Christopher Steele and his Russian sources, paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, to launch its investigation of Trump’s campaign in 2016. Americans deserve to know how and why the Obama administration, the CIA, and James Comey’s FBI justified getting surveillance warrants on Trump campaign allies.
Barr’s investigation may be less dangerous than it seems, said Greg Sargent in The Washington Post. Perhaps the attorney general leaked this news trying to calm “the Mad King who is raging at everyone for not shielding him” from impeachment. The more sinister possibility is that Barr plans “to rig the coming election,” said Michael Tomasky in TheDailyBeast.com. Imagine an election season filled with allegations by Barr that Trump was the target of a “vast ‘deep state’ conspiracy” in 2016. The goal will be to create confusion and false equivalencies in the mind of voters and “cancel out Trump’s actual crimes.”