Obstruction of Administration
I want to go into more detail on a tweet I sent last week. It was in reaction to a clip from the Fox News interview with Bill Hemmer. His comment stood out because it starts to elevate what the Attorney General is doing beyond the momentary political battles.
I noticed as I listened to Barr that his frustration wasn't on behalf of Trump but on behalf of the the presidency itself. The institution. See if you agree:
Then in an interview he gave yesterday in the Wall Street Journal Barr confirmed that he was motivated by the need to protect the Presidency:
Which of course begs the question, which rules?
Before I attempt to answer that question lets take a look at a little more background. Keep in mind, in his WSJ quote Barr is revealing what motivated him to consider accepting the hugely political job of AG at this moment in time. His concern was clearly a constitutional one relating to the presidency over the long haul.
Well before he accepted the nomination, Barr wrote a memorandum on the obstruction theories being bandied in public presumably by the Mueller team, namely Weismann. It focused on claims of obstruction as a result of the the president exercising his Article 2 powers, in other words firing Comey.
Barr had two issues with this obstruction theory. First the president needs to have the freedom to fire a subordinate director. Particularly one he deems unfit and who is pursuing outcomes that would be damaging to the the administration of his office. Second is the idea that a subordinate agency could then subsequently force the president to submit to inquiry exploring his motivations.
Contrary to many popularly held beliefs, Nixon was not removed from office for firing the attorney general. Yes it is referred to as the Saturday night massacre but Nixon would have survived this action. What ultimately led to his resignation was the exposure, at the direction of the court that he had destroyed evidence. A clear classic obstruction of justice.
What Barr wisely realized was that there were people looking to recreate elements of the Watergate history in order to force a president out of office for political reasons. Instead of waiting to see if there was any classic obstruction, they would use the president's exercising of his executive authorities as the obstruction. Now, at the time Barr wrote his memo, it was directed at the Mueller probe but the true target was McCabe. Barr's concern was with McCabe changing the rules. The reality is that Mueller was completing a probe that McCabe publicly admits was designed to be difficult to end.
What were the two investigations McCabe opened? One was obstruction for firing Comey and the other was a counterintelligence investigation. Now its important to keep two key things in mind about what McCabe did as the acting Director of the FBI. The FBI is a subordinate agency. It works for the president. Especially when it comes to counter intelligence.
The president is not a foreign agent. Even if he likes the Russians. Even if they helped him get elected. EVEN IF he coordinated with a foreign government to win the election. Once elected the president literally cannot be a foreign agent.
In practice when it says the "division protects the United State" what that means is it informs the president so that he can take actions that only he, through other subordinate agencies, can take to protect the United States. The FBI was never designed or intended to "protect the United States" against a president they did not like or who had taken actions they disagreed with.
What actions had the president taken? He had the audacity to use the powers given him by the constitution and at his disposal because the American electorate had chosen him to be in that role. He fired McCabe's boss. He fired the person who was exerting leverage on behalf of the FBI on the duly elected president. But McCabe didn't like it and didn't agree.
In McCabe's view the president was acting too freely. He was unbound by the views of the FBI. He didn't submit to the rulings of the subordinate agencies and their assessments on Russia. So the President had to be reigned in. How do I know this was a motive? Because they admitted as much to CNN.
You'll notice that whoever was sourcing this to the media tried to tie Rosenstein to this view. At the time it was hard to know but recent events have clearly exposed that this was McCabe's assessment and his doing. As Brian Cates posted yesterday:
It's now clear that the charges against Trump were baseless, that the FBI was motivated to use the baseless charges to limit the duly elected president's administration and that, when the President removed the FBI Director, his associates opened investigations in a way that made them difficult to close in order to attempt to reign in the president. For the last two years the media has been focused on obstruction of justice but Barr was rightly concerned with issues that would have impact on our republic long into the future. If the new rules allow for a subordinate agency to "reign in" a duly elected president then we would have weakened the office of the president of the United States and thusly weakened our country.
Ultimately obstruction of administration is much more dangerous than obstruction of justice. It can never be allowed to happen again.