President Donald Trump has desperately tried to reignite his 2020 campaign and fix the new recession that began in February. But instead of looking for solutions that rework an economy to take into account social distancing and the coronavirus, he is hanging his hat on the idea that reopening will solve his problems. It hasn't worked.
Enter Attorney General Bill Barr, swooping in to try and save President Donald Trump's presidency just in time for election day. According to Vanity Fair, Barr will likely release the findings from the investigation of the Russia Scandal.
Barr brought in Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate former special counsel Robert Mueller and those in the FBI who monitored potentially illegal activities by foreign actors in the United States.
"Robert Mueller's report documented ample reasons for the FBI to have opened a probe; Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice inspector general, declared. The investigation was justified, although he identified FBI procedural errors. "None of which seems to have shaken Barr's longstanding view that the whole Russia thing was a politically motivated conspiracy, so he assigned Durham to find the real facts."
It's possible new revelations exist, but it isn't likely. There might be enough evidence for Trump to order the arrest of former FBI director James Comey, but it isn't likely. Regardless, the investigation's findings will likely be revealed "coincidentally" just before the election to justify Trump's years of paranoid rantings about the Russia scandal being a "witch hunt" and a hoax.
Lately, the president has been blaming former President Barack Obama for "spying" on his campaign because a foreign policy aide Trump called a "coffee boy" was monitored with a FISA warrant.
"The DOJ inspector general identified mistakes in the revised applications for surveillance warrants, so an agent or attorney who was involved in that probably needs a good lawyer," explained former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti. "Based on what we know now, the Comey stuff is pretty weak, for a lot of reasons. I've seen some creative thinking by right-wingers that the memos Comey wrote about his meetings with Trump that ended up leaking are government property, so Comey should be prosecuted for theft. You're never going to get a conviction on that. If he writes up his fantasy football draft on the office computer, is that government property? Come on."
If major criminal prosecutions aren't announced, it won't be easy to justify being wronged as the president has claimed. Still, Vanity Fair thinks Barr will issue another report where he takes liberties with the facts, just as he did with the summary of the Mueller findings.
"Barr has a quite an inappropriate policy of regularly having people he especially trusts, for some reason, handling special issues," former deputy AG Donald Ayer, who served under President George H.W. Bush, stated. "He has people come in and second-guess the career lawyers and sometimes decide they've really screwed up. Having somebody higher up look at a case and say, 'No, I don't think so,' that's fine. But having recurrent ad hoc processes, new review levels that didn't exist before, that's a problem. For instance, there's a person or a group of people who are receiving whatever intake there is from Rudy Giuliani, instead of whoever normally takes such complaints or information. I have not spoken with anyone who is in the department now. But I have spoken with a couple of people who have been there recently, and been in positions to know, who have said that morale is just horrible. That's probably not unrelated to Barr's failure to respect the department's practices."
Trump is taking a big risk hanging all of his hopes that Americans will believe Durham's findings. An April Harvard-Harris poll showed that most Americans (53 percent) still believe the Christopher Steele dossier was probably right. A May survey from the same polling agency showed Americans are still split on whether they think Trump colluded with Russia in the 2016 election. A whopping 60 percent of Americans believe the reports that Russia placed bounties on the heads of American soldiers, despite Trump's declaration that the story was a "hoax."
It's unclear how Durham's findings will be received by voters, particularly given Americans have more significant concerns about the coronavirus, the economy and unemployment.
There's a possibility that the actions by Barr could backfire. If Trump's administration releases information showing corruption in the Russia investigation, there is an option for former Vice President Joe Biden to pledge to scrap the full Mueller report and order a whole new investigation into the Russia scandal in his administration. At that point, Trump could be subpoenaed, forced to testify before the grand jury and indicted if he's found to have done anything wrong.
"A last-minute rescue of Trump's reelection chances would far outstrip all of Barr's previous actions," Vanity Fair claimed. "But even without knowing the results of the Durham investigation, the damage already done to the DOJ's credibility has been deep and wide."