On Friday, former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade penned an editorial in The Daily Beast, raking President Donald Trump’s attorney general over the coals for obfuscating the contents of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia and its implications for the president.
“I have been withholding judgment on Attorney General William Barr, believing that someone who has previously served in the Department of Justice as he did would respect the institution and the rule of law,” writes McQuade. “Barr confirmed my worst suspicions when he stood at the podium to discuss the release of Mueller’s report into Russian election interference. Instead of using the language of a prosecutor, Barr parroted President Donald Trump’s favorite talking point of ‘no collusion’ four times. And it got worse from there.”
McQuade specifically faults Barr for mischaracterizing Mueller’s findings on conspiracy. “The report stated that ‘the investigation did not establish’ conspiracy. Instead, Barr said that the special counsel ‘found no evidence’ that any American participated in the conspiracy to interfere with the election. These are two very different things. In fact, Mueller seemed to anticipate that some might misread his findings … He likely did not expect the person to misconstrue his findings would be the attorney general of the United States.”
McQuade also criticizes Barr for excusing obstruction of justice allegations by saying that “there is substantial evidence to show that the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks.”
“A motive of frustration or anger does not excuse obstruction of justice,” writes McQuade. “In fact, most defendants who commit obstruction of justice experience frustration and anger. These motives are not exonerating, and Barr’s reference to them sounds like the kinds of excuses you might hear from a lawyer representing the accused.”
“When former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, Trump was angry that he did not have a protector. He asked then, ‘where’s my Roy Cohn,’ a mob lawyer who used aggressive and legally questionable tactics to help his clients prevail,” McQuade concluded. “For future presidents, the question may be ‘where’s my Bill Barr?'”