As the drumbeat toward President Trump’s impeachment grows louder, Attorney General William Barr’s global press to validate his patron's "deep state" conspiracies is picking up velocity. Barr is racing to use the criminal justice muscle of the Department of Justice to derail Congress’ efforts to restore constitutional order by removing the mob boss in the White House.
This article first appeared in Salon.
By threatening criminal prosecution of the career law enforcement and intelligence professionals who alerted the world to Russia’s subversion of the 2016 election, Trump's civil service consigliere hopes to give the President what he’s lacked from day one: legitimacy.
This high stakes strategy works on three levels: It gives the deluded Republican base a horse to root for; it undercuts news media coverage of the congressional impeachment narrative; and it has former CIA Director John Brennan and former director of national intelligence James Clapper looking over their shoulders, puzzled by the prospect of a grand jury subpoena.
As the evidence mounts against Trump in the Ukrainian quid-pro-quo caper, things are getting increasingly desperate for the White House mob’s inner circle. At least that's how it looks based on the behind-the-scenes glimpse provided by the transcripts of Rudy Giuliani’s butt-dial calls to NBC reporter Rich Shapiro.
Apparently, times are tough for the global fixer-for-hire whose own mob crew has been getting picked off by FBI agents and prosecutors from the Southern District of New York. At this point, that U.S. attorney's office appears to be its own center of gravity, resisting the subversion of the rule of law by Barr and the Department of Justice, whose top priority is protecting the despot at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
“The problem is we need some money,” America’s former mayor is heard to say in the recording. Several seconds later he’s heard to say, “We need a few hundred thousand.”
The only thing comparable to this surreal time that comes to mind is the late 1960s TV comedy “Get Smart,” which starred comedian Don Adams as secret agent Maxwell Smart, who worked for CONTROL, a covert American intelligence agency committed to thwarting KAOS, “an international organization of evil” with a Eastern European accent — but domiciled for tax purposes in Delaware.
That spy send-up created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry was the perfect comedic antidote for a nation that just a few years earlier was so convulsed by the threat of thermonuclear war with the Soviet Union that we hid under our desks to “prepare” for incoming.
Decades later, 20 years into a new century we find ourselves caught in a real world “Get Smart” scenario where CONTROL, protectors of the post-World War II liberal democratic world order, are in an existential, winner-take-all battle against the TrumPutin forces of KAOS ruled by a cult of bully personalities.
For Trump, chaos always been a management style used to blow up the rules and create the vacuum he needs to impose his will as the new illiberal order.
Over the last three years, as Democrats huffed and puffed about his outrageous behavior, Trump and his right-wing ideologue enablers have been working 24/7 to dismantle the federal government’s civil service. These are the people who staff the scientific research agencies and industry regulators that act as a check on corporations. With several executive orders that a federal judge ruled unconstitutional, Trump has tried to destroy the unions that have represented these federal workers since 1962.
By leaving key positions vacant and others filled until further notice with “acting” stand-ins, he advances the force of chaos that gives his whim the force of law.
Consider the impact of the vacancies on the federal bench of judges presiding in New Mexico, where the docket has been so overwhelmed by the criminal crackdown on immigrants that a judge was forced to deny a motion for an emergency hearing brought by environmental groups against the Bureau of Land Management over drilling.
Native American and environmental groups are trying to stop the Trump administration push to open up more federal lands to fossil fuel drilling.
“Fossil fuel production on federal lands accounts for about a quarter of U.S. carbon emissions,” according to Climate Liability News. “The Trump administration has vowed to increase fossil fuel leasing on federal lands and waters, including attempting to open protected waters offshore of Alaska and the Atlantic coast for drilling.”
But as the Wall Street Journal reported, swamping the federal courts in New Mexico not only limited the access to the courts for environmentalists, but has led “to longer jail time for migrants.”
If you're Trump what’s not to like about that combination?
It’s hard to overstate how much of a payoff Putin and his network of kleptocrats got from their 2016 soft coup that put Trump in the White House, despite losing the popular vote by 2.9 million. Now, their forces of chaos can run the table while a former superpower eats its own tail.