A former federal prosecutor exposed an intractable contradiction in Attorney General William Barr's testimony before Congress.
The attorney general told lawmakers that, on one hand, a sitting president cannot be indicted, while on the other hand, the Russia investigation should be viewed as a criminal case, wrote Barbara McQuade, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, for The Daily Beast.
"But these are two different things," McQuade wrote. "You can’t have it both ways. If a sitting president cannot be indicted, then Congress gets to decide whether to charge a crime through impeachment, not a prosecutor through the normal analysis of criminal statutes."
Barr conceded that special counsel Robert Mueller did not say he intended for the attorney general to decide whether evidence showed President Donald Trump had obstructed justice, but the attorney general had made that decision himself because "that’s generally how the Department of Justice works."
But the former U.S. Attorney argued that a special counsel investigation of the president was anything but typical, and McQuade said the normal standards of criminal prosecution Barr cited in his summary of Mueller's report do not necessarily apply in impeachment proceedings.
The attorney general has called his own credibility and integrity into question by sending the White House a 19-page memo arguing the president cannot obstruct justice, before taking the top job at the Department of Justice, and he floated conspiracy theories about "spying" against the Trump campaign despite admitting he had no evidence.
Barr then told lawmakers that he would launch his own investigation into how the Justice Department opened its probe into Trump campaign ties to Russia, and indicated that he already believed top officials had behaved inappropriately -- and McQuade said he was preventing Congress from fulfilling its constitutional duties.
"Barr’s testimony revealed a mindset that is consistent with the Trump narrative of an FBI that is out to get him," McQuade said. "This is the attorney general appointed by Trump after Trump criticized Barr’s fired predecessor, Jeff Sessions, for failing to protect him. Does Trump finally have his Roy Cohn?"