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Donald Trump & William Barr Put on a Little Corruption Play

Isn't that cute.

Attorney General William Barr frowns at Donald Trump, sitting in front of him, out of focus.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Yesterday, Attorney General William Barr spoke out against Donald Trump’s interference in the justice system, saying Trump’s constant tweeting makes it “impossible” for him to do his job.

“I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me,” Barr told ABC News. “To have public statements and tweets made about the department, about people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.”

Barr also denied that Trump asked him to interfere with the Roger Stone case, saying, “I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody … whether it’s Congress, newspaper editorial boards, or the president.”

Some news outlets are calling Barr’s statements “stunning,” “shocking,” and “remarkable” but to most, the whole thing seems transparently (and clumsily) orchestrated.

Here’s a little timeline:

First, Trump tweeted about how unfairly his buddy Roger Stone was being treated after Justice Department prosecutors gave a standard sentencing recommendation based on his many crimes.

Then, Barr swooped in and overturned their recommendation. In response, all four prosecutors withdrew from the case. This was a BIG DEAL and people reacted as such, but Trump continued to use Twitter to attack the prosecutors and praise Barr.

So now Barr has gone on television to chastize Trump for interfering (via him) and the White House has responded by basically saying they don’t like what he said but they respect his right to say it–an excessively un-Trumpian response.

Trump’s press secretary Stephanie Grisham said, “The president wasn’t bothered by the comments at all, and he has the right, just like every American citizen, to publicly offer his opinions.”

And here’s what Trump tweeted:

Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham came out with a statement praising Trump for selecting an honorable man like Barr to lead the DOJ.

The whole thing is just so obviously staged.

CNN’s Don Lemon called Barr’s statements “too good to be true,” adding, “no one’s buying this.” Rachel Maddow told her viewers not to “abandon our powers of reasoning and common sense” about the “official lie that was rolled out today to try to alleviate this crisis.” Democratic Rep. David Cicilline told CNN it was “important to question the sincerity” of Barr, calling him “the president’s defender.”

No one believes this move from Barr is genuine.

It’s not just people on the left calling out Trump and Barr’s BS, though. Former RNC chairman Michael Steele called Barr’s interview “a carefully staged message to cool down pissed off DOJ attys whom Barr undercut & to avoid any further internal strife.”

John Dean, former White House counsel under Richard Nixon, isn’t buying it.

Even some Fox News hosts are drawing attention to the clear orchestration (even if they’re trying to frame it as a positive thing).

But good for Trump and Barr (and a cameo by Lindsey Graham) for thinking they were good enough actors and smart enough humans to pull this off.

(via HuffPost)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.