How Trump’s Relationship With Barr Got So Complicated

A whipsaw week of charged decisions by the Justice Department, some favored by the president and others not, has bewildered much of Washington.

Comments: 237

  1. We basically have a criminal gang running the country now. Trump, Giuliani, Barr and a few other loyalists are basically a small criminal organization which has taken over the country. But the most important aspect is that the GOP and the people wearing MAGA hats are in full support of this enterprise. They would much rather have criminals allied with Republicans running the country than any honest, decent and law abiding Democrat in the office.

  2. @Talal: The US has found some of the world's most tremulous cowards to place-hold the Senate. The dead hand of slavery still helms the USA.

  3. @Talal How could a man who has obviously never cracked a book in his life, claim he knows more than the men who wrote The Constitution? Any 4th grader can explain the three separate branches of government, all independent, and the system of checks and balances our forefathers devised to stifle monsters like this. No wonder he threatens any school he ever "attended" if they release his transcripts. Not casting aspersions here but it would seem anyone who blindly follows this man, whether in D.C. or at his raucous rallies, probably skipped those classes too. This is painful.

  4. Was it for this the fields of the flowers of youth were mowed down storming those beaches, so that the inheritors we might be of the defeated tyrant’s ideology? If we put up with the autocrat I’ll know for sure of the electorate what was recently proven of the Senate— a nation no longer worthy of its founding documents

  5. And this still won’t be enough for the Republican Senate to step up and get a backbone.

  6. @NTL Wait, don't assume they aren't showing their true beliefs. Mitch McConnell and the GOP senators AGREE and SUPPORT the destruction of the rule of law! It is our mistake to think otherwise. They are not men of reflection or any sense of duty toward their oath of office.

  7. @NTL No, but fear not - Susan Collins will probably furrow her brow again.

  8. @NTL Shoot if Trump and Putin decided to join forces and have one United Crooked State the GOP still wouldn't grow a spine. They are useless.

  9. Yet another example of Trump's complete ignorance of the Constitution and his powers therefrom. This man is clearly unfit for office and would have been removed if not for the compliance of Mitch McConnell and the GOP majority in the Senate. Our only remedy is to vote him out next November; the alternative is unthinkable.

  10. @alboyjr And do not forget Robert Mueller for giving him a pass to do whatever he wants without fear of indictment. Because he and Mr. Comey before him put their own partisanship before this country, we have a dictator to deal with.

  11. @alboyjr I hope voters remember that one of the arguments used for electing this thug was that he HADN’T BEEN IN GOVERNMENT! However, he was in business where being top dog and the one in charge is the premium value — not coordination and/or compromise.

  12. @alboyjr ...Oh, he's not ignorant, he just doesn't care about our Nation's historical traditions, history, and laws. Profit is all that matters to DJT! If you can't monetize a thing, then it has no value to Donald Trump!

  13. “This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!” He is correct. He also has the unlimited right to pardon any individual for any crime under federal jurisdiction. He could arrange for an assassination in the District of Columbia, which part of the federal government under the constitution. And after the assassination, he could issue a pardon to the perpetrator which is also specifically allowed under our Constitution. Our founders made certain assumptions, which did not anticipate one such the current individual becoming President.

  14. @Call Me Al " He also has the unlimited right to pardon any individual for any crime under federal jurisdiction" No, he doesn't. Individuals FIRST must be convicted, and he cannot pardon people who have been impeached.

  15. @Moehoward No, presidential pardons can be given without a conviction. The example is President Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon. Impeachment implies that the hypothetical assassin was an elected federal official which is not the assumption of my comment.

  16. @Call Me Al I beg to differ. Our founders made certain assumptions, which did not anticipate one such as the current individual becoming President, and in addition, that the Congress would be unwilling to hold such a person to account. The Founding Fathers did provide for impeachment, trial, conviction, removal from office and a permanent disqualification to hold any public office. Article I, Section 3: Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law. That also allows for CRIMINAL prosecution of a person who has been impeached.

  17. So Trump is now going to micro manage DOJ? And how will he "interfere"? Will he determine who does or does not get prosecuted, and chose which crimes they get charged with? Will he remove judges he does not like? Will he cancel verdicts he does not like? Will he set up his own set of rules for picking juries? Change the rules of evidence? Ignore statutory and case law? This is a slippery slope to dictatorship.

  18. @Jerseytime Dictatorship has already arrived, thanks to the Republican party.

  19. @Jerseytime the dictatorship is already here!! By intervening in the senate trial in a conspiracy with his fellow Republicans, obstructing the Congress, and ordering his Attorney General to overrule career prosecutors in the Roger Stone Criminal Sentencing against Department Guidelines..this is what autocrats and dictators difference between him and Vladimir Putin or Recep Erdogan

  20. @Jerseytime He can already "cancel verdicts he does not like." He can pardon anyone, anytime for any crime.

  21. Trump is exactly what the Founding Fathers envisioned and forecast for the new republic and, hence, drafted a Constitution that would allow the rogue and venal and crooked president to subsume the Nation into his corrupt Kleptocracy. The End.

  22. Testing it out. Barr feigns outrage, Trump challenges him, throwing out the "legal right" argument. Fox News picks that up presenting it as a serious argument. A few GOP senators are immediately on board, and soon a key senator. "Independent" pundits like Turley say that yes, it's legal. Before McConnell sanctions it, Collins says yes, it's legal, but she doesn't like it. In two weeks, it's a done deal. Our Justice Department is no longer independent and Trump literally could shoot the proverbial 5th Avenue citizen. At least we know how the process works.

  23. @Tom J Exactly correct. And don't forget the S. Ct. is always standing by ready to endorse whatever right-wing power grab is being perpetrated.

  24. @Tom J "At least we know how the process works." Indeed. It's the Russian/Putin model.

  25. @Tom J Nothing new there, it happened before in an other part of the world 87 years ago.

  26. It is interesting to see the moral gymnastics the Republicans will contort themselves to in order to justify this.

  27. @Carmel McFayden Not “interesting” s much as - to use one of Trump’s favorite words - “disgraceful”.

  28. Sure, a "would-be Dictator" would say that, and he will do all he can to turn his words into action. The man US Americans voted into power is no better than his buddy Vladimir Putin. They have the same personal enrichment objectives and the same utter lack of scruples. They also both have no hesitation in breaking laws, traditions and oaths. The USA is well on its way to becoming a Banana Republic, courtesy and with full support of the Republican Party.

  29. @Don F Remember he wasn't elected, he was appointed by the electoral college. Lost the popular vote. Need big numbers in November to remove him.

  30. @Don F The US Government has been intentionally implicit in establishing and supporting the military dictatorships of many "Banana Republics" for many years. What is happening in the US now is just the actions of our own government coming home and being used on the American people. The iron fist beneath the velvet glove.

  31. @Don F, just a rhetorical question: How long will people keep saying we are on our way to becoming a "Banana Republic" before someone says we're there. Trump is doing exactly what Erdogan did to consolidate power, and making us, via the Republican Party Election Machine, a client state of Neosoviet Russia. Is the only reason we aren't already a banana republic in people's minds because climate change hasn't warmed the New York hub of the Press sufficiently to grow bananas there? *We have a state-run TV station. *We have a compliant judiciary. *Trump's General Milley acts just like Barr. *Our high court sanctions corruption and election malfeasance. *Our President rewards war crimes *The President's family work in the White House *Our population is getting less educated by the minute What exactly do we need to add to the list to be a banana republic? Just the banana trees?

  32. At what time is Mr Trump practicing law without a license in violation of state law? While a human can generally appear pro se, a non individual client generally must hire counsel. If he is calling the shots and not the DOJ isn’t he practicing law? I doubt he could pass a bar exam anywhere. So which state AG would like to get involved (obviously doesn’t work in the DC) when the POTUS decides to make strategy decisions in a case in a federal district within a sovereign state.

  33. @Gerald: Interestingly, a court may disallow a lawyer licensed in another state to represent a spouse in a lawsuit working with a locally licensed lawyer.

  34. @Gerald Trump could not pass a 3rd grade minimal state standrds test...but yes- you are correct

  35. @Gerald DC has its own bar, and many people are admitted to practice in DC. Bill Barr is one such example. In my opinion, Bill Barr should be investigated by the DC bar for bringing disrepute on the legal profession, which is a violation of the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and Rule 8.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rule 8.4--Misconduct It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to: (a) Violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another; (b) Commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects; (c) Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; (d) Engage in conduct that seriously interferes with the administration of justice; (e) State or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official; (f) Knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law; or (g) Seek or threaten to seek criminal charges or disciplinary charges solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter.

  36. Post-impeachment, Trump may be Teflon Don, but what about Barr and any of the other compliant minions? Besides their tarnished reputations, is there no potential legal liability attached to their DoJ shenanigans, even after they leave office? Years of court cases, civil and criminal, would be a well-deserved fate for the enablers. If anything has been lost since Trump came to office, it's dignity. The clock is ticking down to expiration.

  37. @MCV207 - Don't wait for any of the moderate Democrats to authorize pursuit of prosecutions once the Republican administration is ousted. If any of the more liberal Democrats take the election and decide to legally pursue the corrupt members of the Trump administration watch for the assassination.

  38. @MCV207 Not only dignity was lost since Trump came to office. Truth, acceptable language and behavior, morals, compassion for the least fortunate among us, humility, taste, manners, etc., etc., all went out the window.

  39. @MCV207, Barr could be, and perhaps should be, impeached. But the House Judiciary under Nadler is back to it's pre-impeachment behavior of singing, "As Snails Wiz By," and getting to ready to strike while the iron cools down. March 31st Barr might testify unless the administration decides to declare Absolute Privilege again.

  40. On a daily basis, Trump shows that he’s completely out of control. This behavior will continue unless he is rebuked by Congressional Republicans. Don’t count on that. However, November is coming—but not soon enough.

  41. @Brian November won't matter even if democrats win the popular vote and the electoral college. Trump will simply say "illegals" voted and void the election. Mark my words.

  42. @Brian but so many predict he will win again....and him as a lame duck...well, me thinks we ain't seen nuthin yet. I am scared. Please give me hope...someone...anyone?

  43. @Sharon. A lightning bolt from the heavens will strike during one of the many occasions he plays golf?

  44. It is a blessing in a way that President Trump is so transparent in his thoughts and intentions. He doesn't seem to dwell privately on his thoughts, but rather lets us all know exactly what's on his mind.

  45. The reporter should have interviewed constitutional law scholars regarding the President’s claim that he is exercising his legal authority. He is likely correct, even if in terms of propriety and politics his participation in DOJ criminal cases is not wise.

  46. I am no authority, but wouldn’t his, or anyone’s, declared right to interfere in a case to be tried in a court, and by a jury, put them above the law? The jury decided the case, sentencing guidelines are in place and have been established through precedent. I don’t think Presidents were meant to decide cases or sentencing. That’s why we get mad when Presidents pardon their crooked friends. Why didn’t Trump just wait until legal system had finished with Stone ? I think he was afraid to, but too stupid to realize what he did was worse in that it interfered with the completion of legal procedures. And Barr is equally stupid to be so blatant - and he’s not a good liar. Off hand, I’d say they’re all stupid.

  47. @FLP Um, they already know - of course, he has the "power," the question is his abuse of that power, which is obviously what's happening here. Prior presidents knew better - "Past presidents in both parties have respected long standing traditions that are aimed at preventing political influence from the White House on Justice Department investigations, especially criminal inquiries that involved administration officials or friends of the president. The rules have been in place since the Watergate investigation, in which President Richard M. Nixon sought to pressure the F.B.I."

  48. When Trump speaks his own words he never clarifies an issue, only muddles it. Barr would probably agree that a President has that legal right. That wasn’t the point of Barr’s comments. Barr has enough sense to see that when a president creates the appearance of leaning in his top law enforcer to go easy on his friends, credibility and effectiveness are undermined.

  49. It's become fairly obvious by now that if, by chance, we dodge the dictatorship that this country is becoming under Trump, the legal limits of what a President can and cannot do need to be both well defined and enforced. It's now proven that the process of Impeachment holds no water in constraining any holder of this office who chooses to obstruct and ignore what was previously considered the "last resort" on doing so. Particularly with a spineless Senate where the party in the majority is beholden to the President.

  50. I have been following national news every day from Spain, telling work colleagues here that the situation in America can’t get much worse, yet every day I am proven wrong. Trump’s latest Twitter rant that he can interfere in our democracy whenever and wherever he chooses should once and for all show congressional Republicans that his words and actions are treacherous to our future. But they won’t listen to reason, and therefore nothing will stop the news from getting progressively more infuriating each day as the very notion of democracy fades into the past.

  51. Where is the outrage? The people in this country need to understand the implications of what this man is doing before it's too late. Today he infringes on the DOJ and Judiciary System, and after the election, I have someone knocking on my door for writing a comment here.

  52. @Gary Yeh, and as in Mexico the cartels have killed the journalists or driven them out, so here might the autocrat go...

  53. @Gary Exactly, we’re on a slippery slope and might not even be able to change that with an election.

  54. Second Amendment remedies may be our recourse. Who wants to be the first or last storm trooper to find a fully armed, resistant public, ready and willing to defend their 1st Amendment rights using their 2nd Amendment ones at the door of their castle.

  55. Trump still has no understanding of how government functions or is supposed to function. He also hasn’t a clue that he could be impeached again.

  56. @Brendan Varley Agree. There could literally be over 1,000 articles of impeachment for this person. He has committed an impeachable offense almost every day since taking the "oath" of office. Also, the electoral college system must go. The people of this country have suffered 11 years out of the last 19 (soon to be 12 out of 20) with a president not chosen by the majority of the american people. That's 60% of the time where the current system has failed miserably.

  57. @Brendan Varley Agree. There could literally be over 1,000 articles of impeachment for this person. He has committed an impeachable offense almost every day since taking the "oath" of office.

  58. @Brendan Varley There would have to be a quiet meeting between the House an the Senate first. Two acquittals would be the end.

  59. The only way I can deal with the abject terror this administration is causing me is to focus on a vision of a US based on bringing out our better selves and coming together to create a future America with a leader of great trustworthiness and integrity, who understands how we can do better. We can unite the rest of the world to address our common enemy of climate change and this current mass extinction event and create jobs for everyone with the Green New Deal. All hands on deck and we can lead to make the world a better, sustainable place again. All we need is the public will to make it happen.

  60. Freedom of speech is not an option in a business environment. Trump is the chief executive of the administrated branch of the USA. No one would find it appropriate for anyone dictating to anyone their legal obligation. Trump think he is above the Law. The law of our land that looks upon fairness and equality. This is a reality television show that need to be cancelled.

  61. The dictator has spoken. He and he alone is the law. No one else is worth a damn.

  62. This will not get better. It will get worse. Mealy-mouthed ∫Barr is telling Trump to be quiet and let him do the dirty work for him. He knows what Trump wants and will give it to him; they have the same goal, and that is to make all of government a tool to reward friends and destroy enemies. It is a profoundly dangerous road we are on, and as the neutral institutions that protect us are vanquished, freedom and democracy are forever lost.

  63. @Independent Voter The road to fascism.

  64. @heinryk wüste very much so!

  65. @Independent Voter Well put. I had not thought of Barr's actions in this context, but you have made a very worrying, very valid point.

  66. It used to be La Cosa Nostra. Now its The Donald J. Trump Administration. Barr is Roy Cohn, Pompeo is the consigliere, Rudy is the guy who chops off the horse's head. The Don-Father!

  67. @Kathy H Yeah, but Homer Simpson is playing the lead man...

  68. Don’t forget the connolis!

  69. Actually, it has been widely known as the Trump Family Crime Syndicate for awhile.

  70. Let's see... after King Donald ruins our democracy, I guess he'll head to the fields on horseback chasing a fox with hounds? Oh wait, I meant shooting released caged grousesfrom his golf cart. We must make sure the idiot kings are updated in their pastimes after their tyrannies.

  71. @PK: As a corporate asset disposition consultant I visited a corporate game farm for selling heavy equipment on behalf of the acquiring company considering to sell it off. The place was crawling with good old boys blasting away at birds and buying cranes. It was an essential sales tool. It did not get sold off.

  72. @PK ....False news! By then he will have pardoned the fox and named the hounds to cabinet positions. Caged grouses are members of the Lying Press, and can be shot from golf carts with impunity.

  73. @PK Or maybe he'll be shooting released caged children apprehended at our southern border.

  74. The US badly needs constitutional reform. High up there: a truly independent judiciary, including independent prosecutors. Having the executive in charge of prosecution (with an "attorney general" with cabinet rank not separated from the executive) is a relic of a bygone era in which separation of powers did not exist.

  75. @Ricardo So true. One would have thought that the president is not supposed to decide whom to investigate, whom to prosecute, how to sentence the convicted, insult jurors either before or after the trial, or the judges. But apparently one would be wrong. Who knew?

  76. The funny part is, Barr is just trying to help. He is in essence communicating to Trump, "I could get so many more shady things done on your behalf if you would just SHUT UP about them!"

  77. @sedanchair Exactly !!!

  78. @sedanchair perfect!

  79. @sedanchair But the bully has to rub it in.

  80. Trump is a DISGRACE. Simple as that. He should take a lesson from his wife and "BE BEST". But he is incapable of controlling himself. HOW SAD THIS IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. Democrats get your act together and get him OUT before he totally destroys the country.

  81. This president can't get it through his thick skull that there are three separate but equal branches. He seems to be operating under the delusion that because he is the president, he can pretty much do whatever he wants whenever he wants, and wherever he wants...

  82. @Mike B. Why do you think it's delusion? Who's going to stop him or even slow him down?

  83. Real news. Fake fight.

  84. Trump has stretched and weaponized every presidential power to abuse for self-preservation. He is a tautology spinning down to a black hole, and dragging the whole US with him.

  85. Earth to Susan Collins.

  86. Mr. Barr saying that the president “has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.” Not that i believe anyhting Teump writes or says- but if Barr is just jacking with justice on his own- still a bad thing fake postus.

  87. This is what you expect from an authoritarian, narcissistic, contemptible, thug of a President, that feels he is above the law.

  88. because the President is King.

  89. America, welcome to Fascism.

  90. Trump is a criminal protected by the presidency he stole and the GOP. Anyone who is part of administration is complicit, including Barr.

  91. That's right, Mr. Barr. You cannot protect and defend the Constitution while bowing to Trump's wishes. Where do you think your obligation lies?

  92. Imagine if conservatives freaked out about this as much as they did with Loretta Lynch meeting Bill Clinton on a tarmac...

  93. I hope the Republican Party is happy with what they have unleashed by not impeaching Donald Trump. We now have a tin-pot dictator and yet they seem not to care. The Republicans will be responsible for the destruction of American democracy.

  94. @Jacquie: No, they won't. Because the rest of America is going to outvote them in November, and prove that more of us care about preserving the balance of power and the Constitution. We are going to put this administration on the dustheap of history, where it belongs.

  95. At what point is the NYT going to report that trump lied about the ability to influence the justice department? His statements do not “ contradict “ his previous statements he lied !

  96. I think this shows that Barr's stab at saying he's independent was a barmecide feast.

  97. Of course POTUS can interfere with anything he wants to. When you’re the king, you can do anything.

  98. Trump is right. This whole thing is a disgrace -- caused by him.

  99. Barr clearly never heard the old saying about never wrestling with a hog...Now Barr is getting dirty and Boss Hogg is loving every minute...

  100. Barr should resign. Won’t miss him.

  101. @K.Kong Perhaps if he does resign Trump will have a great deal of difficulty finding a replacement. In fact the whole Cabinet should quit.

  102. @K.Kong: Be careful of what you wish for. Barr's replacement would be worse.

  103. One thing the spineless, sycophantic Republicans and others who condone the Trumpian assault on our Constitution have not thought through - sooner or later he will come for you and/or your children, friends and loved ones (because kids tend to grow up and think on their own). And when he does you will have so gutted your own legal protections, so throughly abdicated and destroyed your constitutional powers and our checks and balances that there will be no one to protect anyone who dares to say he's a thug that needs to be tossed out. My moniker for this forum has been "Not Really" because I thought our republic was strong enough to withstand this conman in office. I have changed my mind; we are in dire straights.

  104. I pledge allegiance to the Donald of the Divided States of America, and to the Banana Republic for which he stands, two nations under the Devil, divisible, risible, with tyranny and justice for some.

  105. This is tyranny. Trump must be removed.

  106. Trump is practicing law without a brain, making him the most dangerous lawyer in America. He's to dumb to understand that he has no knowledge in law, military, medicine, ecology, banking, international relations, and this list could go on an on. The smartest executives hire the best in the fields they are working in and then listen to what they have to say and the really smart ones hire people that will know when to disagree with them so as to make the best decisions.

  107. So, in what section of the Constution ma we find Trump's right of overeeing all Federal Criminal trials?

  108. The WH is chaos. The State Dept is chaos. The Defense Dept—is well funded—and chaos. The SCOTUS Nomination process is chaos. The Home Security Dept is chaos. The DOJ is chaos. The Treasury Dept is chaos. The Senate is chaos. And—in this wonderland of economic prosperity he keeps reminding us about—his government has had to cut interest rates three times so far. Hmmmm? Wonder why.... Any questions on Trump’s executive mgt and leadership ability? He’s incompetent. Just about every key position is now staffed by an “acting” head. His kids are in the Administration. Etc. People are tired of it and weary. They’ll be a massive turn out—just to pay him back—for all the chaos he’s caused our Country.

  109. @Scott A little aside here, because you touched on it--Do you know if "acting" cabinet members can have a say under the 25th amendment? There may be more to this "acting" stuff than just bypassing confirmation hearings.

  110. Of course! And they ask, “how could this have happened in Germany?”

  111. This is the path to autocracy and tyranny. Someone stop him, please!

  112. @Hazlit: The "someone" you are asking for help is you , me and all the other American voters. The solution is get out and vote the Democratic Party ticket in every election in the nation.

  113. This president seeks to run the country the same ways he ran (runs) his business, expecting to be instantly obeyed in all things by all people. I've got news for him. While this is still a democratic republic, and even when/if it ceases to be that in all but name, I and many others will NOT cease to oppose him and all his lawless and corrupt machinations. He may have the White House (for now), but he will never have my obedience.

  114. Is no sane adult with power going step up and fix this cluster? I am ashamed and embarrassed for our "leaders", and fearful for our democracy. I do not hink it will ever be the same- ever.

  115. @as: The sane adults in power, don't seem to want to use their power which ultimately is the voting booth.

  116. Trump's ignorance of basic law and history is exceeded only by his defiant ego, which says "I can do anything I want whenever I want." If it looks like a dictator, talks like a dictator and walks like a dictator it MIST be a dictator. What is coming next?

  117. “This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!” he said. what constitution, law book, and rules is he reading? More importantly, who is giving this person advice.... its obvious he does and says whatever he wants.... This is just another example of the authoritarian lunatic the Senate has unleashed on our society after his "AQUITAL".

  118. Roy Cohn trained Trump to behave this way. If Trump doesn't know that he can't interfere, he knows the value of saying it's his right. Democrats made a big mistake of not impeaching him for every last thing he's done.

  119. Yes sir, mr. boss-man... we-the-people will just roll over and pretend that 250 years free from the yoke of a monarch never happened. Or not...

  120. trump just can't help himself.

  121. Thanks, Senator Susan Collins.

  122. The President, but only this one, can do anything he pleases, even if a criminal act. If you question that, just ask Senator's McConnell and Graham. The Republican Party is just rotten to the core.

  123. Obviously was reading the Handbook for Tinpot Dictators rather than paying attention in civics class. Intervention by the president, in the rare case it is warranted, happens after the trial and sentencing.

  124. Above the law is just fine with the Republican party.

  125. Of course he thinks he has the right to interfere. Didn't the Republicans in the Senate recently declare him King?

  126. If Donald Trump says it, it must be true. If Donald Trump does it, it must be perfect. His followers know he is the Chosen One. Who could doubt it?

  127. How can a few men, with Trump as leader, seize all the institutions to do their will, regardless of the Constitution or millions of inhabitants? Something similar I only see in Vladimir Putin's Russia ...

  128. Am I the only person in this country who is beginning to feel like a punch-drunk fighter?

  129. @Olenska Where are the bells? I hear bells ringing.

  130. Thank you Senator Susan Collins. It appears that he has learned something from last week's events: he knows that he is a dictator.

  131. Trump probably thinks he can fire members of congress too

  132. @Barry Maybe he will dissolve Congress.

  133. If the Times has covered the Mueller Report when it was released, the way it summed up the Report at the end of this article today, Mr. Trump would no longer be President.

  134. @Greg: Don't be naive! There was nothing in the Mueller Report about Trump's actions that the Republican Congress did not already know about and approve. Never forget that before the impeachment trial started, the Republicans in Congress declared that they would not find Trump guilty.

  135. Perhaps Barr is looking forward and hoping that some of his reputation can be salvaged. John Kelly seems to have just taken that path. Hopefully there will be more Republicans who can revisit their positions on this out of control want-to-be-dictator.

  136. This gets uglier by the minute. Barr's public rebuke is a complete joke for the public to consume. Trump has railed on the Justice Department from day1. While he does have a right to his own opinion, it would be best if he would simply stop trying to influence those tasked with upholding Rule Of Law. Leave them alone. Barr for his part has done everything he can to accommodate trump, only now it's blowing up in their face with Stone.

  137. So far, the media have taken Barr’s comments about Trump as a rebuke to the president. But Barr only really said that the president’s tweets and comments made his job impossible. It seems to me that Barr’s statement was more just telling him to shut up so Barr could continue doing the dirty work of undermining the Justice Dept—as if to say: the more Trump tweets, the more attention people pay; if Trump would just shut up then it would be a lot easier to operate and do the president’s bidding.

  138. @Kevin Did he even say it was the president’s tweets? Or just people in general?

  139. @Kevin Agree, I noticed his wording made me feel like he wanted to be able to do Trump's bidding in secret. Trump is going to go on like this however and hopefully at some point he will start attacking his own allies in Congress and they will suddenly start distancing themselves from him. It's only a matter of time for the Petty Prince in Power to overstep as he doesn't think he has any bounds anymore.

  140. @Hugh Robertson He thinks he has no bounds because the Republican Senate told him so.

  141. So this legal right of the Executive to intervene in criminal cases, from what authority does this proposition originate? It's not in the Constitution. Silly me, the Senate Republicans made Trump above our Constitution and the Rule of Law. He's our de facto King! Trump's bastardization of our system of government and shattering of its institutional norms is a staggering and an unacceptable affront. (McConnell, Collins, Gardner, Murkowski, Alexander are all hiding in the corner away from the media spotlight)

  142. I'm struck by these unsurprising and repetitive cases that present Trump's behavior as a quasi-straight news story. Barr is quoted. Trump is quoted. Mr. Shear, why don't you and other journalists include comments from Democrats, from lawyers, from historians, from citizens who are outraged by the president and his authoritarian claims? Instead, you offer blandness -- is that how you see journalistic objectivity? You write that one of his tweets is "contradicted by [his] record". You meet Trump's brazen and blared claim of authoritarian power with an intellectual, abstract fact. How about using quotes from professionals who can meet Trump head on? His critics are a valid part of this so-called news event, but we don't hear from them. Why not?

  143. There are no checks and balances if either the House or the Senate is morally bankrupt. Turns out the "genius" of our Constitution is a fraud; there is actually a giant loophole.

  144. Anyone who thinks there is a limit to how low Trump will go is a fool. I'm reminded of a quote from the great investor, Peter Lynch, who said: "After the dark comes pitch black". Except in this context, it's far from funny. This is serious, serious business. If this country can't muster the common sense to remove Trump and his criminal enterprise from office in November, then this will no longer be the country that has existed since the time of the Founders and we will not be happy with what is in its place. I'd also point out that we've already lost four precious years in fighting the climate crisis at the level of the US gov't, since Trump thinks he knows climate science better than climate scientists. We are rapidly running out of time. Four more years of this insanity could be game over.

  145. The facts are plain. If the President has no oversight from Congress and can use the Justice Department to protect his friends and put his enemies behind bars, then we live in a dictatorship.

  146. Certain movies come to mind..."The Godfather" is one. Clearly this president is either ignorant of the law, or he is being aided and abetted by people who believe they are above the law. Or, just possibly, the rule of law no longer counts in this country. Many in the Senate, or wearing the MAGA hats, seem to think this way. This is making America "Great"? Time to vote them all out. We need a new broom that sweeps clean.

  147. I have had it with the rationalizing of Trump's behavior has either good or no different than any other politician, Democrat, Republican, or otherwise. He has no comparison, either now or in history, except to those who have actively taken up arms against the United States. Any person supporting Trump at this stage is either among the dumbest, most ill-informed persons in history, or is someone intent on undermining, and quite likely destroying, the very fabric of the United States. Donald Trump has shown himself to be an enemy of the people. The U,S, Constitution limits treason to either waging war against the U.S. or giving aid and comfort to its enemies. I maintain that supporting and voting for Trump now falls into the second category.

  148. When criminals get help from a foreign power to assume an office they are wholly unqualified for... This used to happen mostly in other countries.

  149. @Christopher Well we, the USofA, have done so in many foreign countries, and no one has protested about it. In fact we are trying hard right now to affect the leadership in many countries like Venezuela and Iran just to name the obvious. So as a nation we must think that this is just fine. Trump has over and over praised dictators around the world and bragged about what good "friends" they are. Let's get a clue.

  150. How can the President obstruct Justice? You can't obstruct something that doesn't exist. The President with the help of the Republican Senate has brought to light the lie that our justice system is independent and impartial. While we may be disappointed and a little frightened now that we know, at least we know. When a vote on Garland confirmation wasn't brought to the Senate floor it was pretty clear the jig was up.

  151. “This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!” I hope that Americans are afraid of this. Trump is saying that because he is duly elected by the people that the he thinks that the people are saying that he knows more than anyone else. This is the sort of thing that kings used to say.

  152. @Russ Wrong, Kings used to invoke their rights as God given and therefore infallible. Oh, wait, Trump has also tried to take on the "appointed by God" story. Incredible as it all seems. His religious followers have pushed this belief and it scares the pants off me. Back to the medieval times we go. But with modern communications. Sort of like Saudi Arabia.

  153. @Russ i am tired of hearing how trump was "duly" elected- he wasn't - he cheated- like he's already planning to do for the next election. when is enough, america?

  154. He's learned no lessons and he's not backing down.

  155. “This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!” he said. Because -- we all know he means -- I am above the law. Give Sen. Collins her due. Trump did learn a lesson from the impeachment experience and this is it.

  156. Haha, Trump, the legal expert and scholar. To borrow his favorite word, this so-called president is a disgrace. But he's right in one way, he has the pardon right. It's just another "nail" that when he uses it, I hope the people will use the ultimate remedy, the election, and send him along with this Republican Senate to the dustbin of history.

  157. If it is true that he has "the right to do it" as Collins and Fox News say, it is news to me that the Judicial Branch of our government is subject to the powers of a rogue president in the Executive Branch. So much for an independent Judiciary. I wonder if Chief Justice Roberts senses this threat to the nation and will stand up to it. So sorry Collins "doesn't like it." I wish she and the other Republican toadies would just stop and be quiet. Their moral machinations are truly tedious. I at first thought maybe this was just serious enough to persuade a lot of Americans (not his base) that he has to go in November, but maybe nothing is a big enough threat in their eyes as long as Trump's boasts are so overpowering. There is no governance; he is just in perpetual campaign mode. He is destroying our country and it is dangerous and unspeakably sad.

  158. I'm sorry but the word "tradition" does not apply here. (It's in the sub-heading and the body of the article.) We would not be a democracy if the "president" had power over the judiciary. A tradition is something you chose to do to pass on a custom, like eating chili at the Super Bowl or the bride wearing white at a wedding. This is our constitution we are talking about; our very way of life. We should take care not to play into Trump's hand by devaluing our values. Words matter.

  159. What a laughing stock the President and his actions are. What are we to allow this?

  160. There’s got to be a way to close the door on the tweeting— A way to take the magic cell phone away from the bully, so he can’t obsessively thumb it. What would happen if Twitter announced that they were closing him down because of repeated and documented and pathological lying.

  161. @srwdm The only thing to stop him tweeting is to take down Twitter. Imagine what would happen in that kind of catastrophe! Trump wouldn't know what to do with himself.

  162. @srwdm: Sorry, but what you are asking for is the violation of the US Constitution. right to free speech. That kind of thinking is no different than the average Trumpista.

  163. @srwdm Or just set something up—some fake Twitter—where he thinks he’s tweeting and getting millions of likes, but it doesn’t really reach anyone outside his family. I think you are on to something.

  164. With the impeachment in the rear view mirror, Trump is obviously feeling totally unfettered. This is no surprise especially in light of Trump’s egocentricity which is a hallmark of people with a narcissistic personality disorder. My hope is that Trump will bring about his own downfall by over reaching. He will eventually do something so egregious that even Republicans in power cannot look away. It is an interesting coincidence that another well known narcissist who met an ignominious demise is back in the news. I will be watching to see of Bernie Madoff’s request for compassionate release from prison will be granted.

  165. He’s already crossed the line, and they’ve done nothing. They’re frightened little men, except for Mitt.

  166. @Mimie McCarley My thoughts exactly.

  167. @Vin Mitt voted for witnesses and to not acquit without them. Good and strong stand on his part. That said, he votes 80% the way Trump wants him too including for the sexual predator, Brett Kavanaugh, for Supreme Court Justice. As a religious man, he didn't stand up for his beliefs that time.

  168. This is all being staged as propaganda. It dovetails right along with Barr’s viewpoint of executive privilege, and it’s pure spin to the masses. Don’t be fooled.

  169. If the republicans in Congress were real Americans they'd be working on an impeachment right now. I suggest Pelosi make a list of asks for when they come to her on bended knee

  170. I can only imagine how Judge Jackson is reacting to all this prosecutorial fol-de-rol. The sentencing decision is hers and hers alone. She must be hopping mad. For these Justice Department people to pressure the court to impose a lighter sentence on a defendant (convicted of multiple felonies) purely on the president's preferences would make her court appear as beholden to politics—not justice. Especially in light of the resignations of the prosecutorial team. It's become a total mess. This whole thing may explode in the Justice department's face, as well it should!

  171. 4 out of ten voters will allow Trump to do anything and not desert him, because they think he’s their man and the rest of us are their existential adversaries. He can do anything and he will.

  172. @Robert Burns Now the "justice" deparment is just another extension of Trump's desires.

  173. Will no one stop the destruction of our government?

  174. @Meighley No one person can, but if we all join together this November, we can do it.

  175. SDNY - I hope you have your case ready to go on January 20, 2021. As voters, we will do our part to make sure Mr. Trump is voted out. You just need to have those charges ready to go.

  176. Then why are we wasting all that money on the courts, the Justice Department and the FBI? Let Trump just mete out justice by tweets.

  177. @james haynes": You forgot to put quote marks around justice.

  178. @james haynes He is working on that.

  179. To gop senators voting against removal : he sure has learned a lesson , just not the one you had in mind .

  180. @john granwehr Perhaps this is the lesson they had in mind. They just neglected to mention it.

  181. Surely this comes as no surprise to anyone (uh, except perhaps to Susan Collins): Trump has demonstrated time and again he doesn’t understand and/or have any interest in respecting the Constitution and the rule of law. Why would he start now, especially when the Republicans have shown him they’ll let him get away with anything?

  182. @Evelyn Susan Collins is a big nothing. She talks a good game, but she votes the party line. She knows perfectly well that Trump has abused his power, and she knew he would continue to do so. She voted to acquit anyway. She is no better than a co-conspirator in the president's crimes.

  183. @Evelyn Susan Collins is in really big trouble in Maine. People in Maine want to know how she stands not just today, but tomorrow. She's pulled this trick of duping her state one too many times. Many had indigestion over her Kavanaugh flip flop, this looks like she is toast, McConnell isn't looking that strong in Kentucky either.

  184. Richard Nixon and his then Attorney General John Mitchell interfered in the administration of justice. Nixon was forced to resign, and Mitchell went to jail. Sadly, the Republicans by acquitting Trump of impeachable offenses have now placed him "above the law" and he's moving quickly to exploit it by brazenly threatening the administration of justice and the "rule of law." In hindsight, it's clear that for the Department of Justice, created in July, 1870, to be independent of such presidential interference it must be moved from the Executive branch where the President appoints the Attorney General into the Judicial branch where a non-partisan Attorney General is nominated by a super-majority of the Supreme Court (that is, by at least a 7-2 vote) for a 10-year term of office. What we are witnessing is a major flaw in our tripartite Constitutional governance that allows an autocrat like Trump to undermine and corrupt the law for his own ends.

  185. @Paul Wortman What we need, as a nation, is men and women of good faith in responsible governmental positions. Most of us Americans simply assume that elected officials will abide by the laws and have the best intentions for our remarkable democratic society. And we assume it because we want to get on with our individual lives without fear of oppression. Under trump, my personal fear is that all the good, faithful, committed government employees will depart in disgust, and we will be left with ignorant and disruptive trump and his pitiful minions. I am beginning to worry about the viability of the upcoming election. Who can we trust?

  186. @Paul Wortman The trouble I see with your solution is that the Supreme Court itself has become partisan so they could appoint another partisan as the AG negating the whole purpose of the plan.

  187. @ExPatMX Thats why it must be by a super-majority vote of at least 7-2.

  188. November can't come soon enough. Remember, Democrats - no matter who emerges victorious through the nomination process, we must all rally behind them and make certain they win in a landslide. There must be long coattails. We must retain the House and flip the Senate. Every person running (not named Tulsi Gabbard) is at least an order of magnitude improvement over First Criminal Trump. The facts speak for themselves - there are simply more Democrats in the US than Republicans. The math is straightforward - if more Democrats mobilize behind whomever the candidate is, we cannot help but emerge victorious. Then we can all rejoice in the expungement of this festering wound in the White House.

  189. @John If the nominee is named Tulsi, she will still be an improvement. Our bar is set that low.

  190. @John Your wrong.. It is not 'straightforward math'. It's an Electoral Collage system. And unless Democrats smarten up & get their act together, they will win the math and lose the election again. ..-Democrats must win back the swing states they lost in 2016: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida..etc. Its about being smart and savvy, and knowing how to win this election.. It's a lot more than math.

  191. @mike You're missing the point. The point is that the Democrats have those numbers in those states. They simply need to mobilize them. It is literally that easy. Where it becomes hard is in trying to get the populace to take an interest in their government and vote.

  192. The principle is: Semper Est Recta Regem - The King Is Always Right. Get used to it, The Senate's acquittal of Trump at his Impeachment trial has removed most restraints. He now knows he will not be held accountable for anything he does. He is moving steadily towards ruling by decree. The only thing that is causing him to be even slightly cautious it the election. If he is reelected, even that will be removed, we will see our democracy ended.

  193. @Bruce1253 Rex: regem is accusative.

  194. @Bruce1253 I fear democracy has already ended. Trump will just declare the election results invalid, if he does not win, and he'll just not leave the White House. His cabal of criminal politicians actually think a Dictator Trump would be just fine -- greedy for power as they are, and ignorant and immoral as they are. They foolishly think an alliance with Trump will get them, even after Trump has betrayed everything, everyone, every thought, every alleged ideal, every promise he ever made. They are horrible, evil people and they are taking us down with them. The toothless hordes at his rallies will have a lot to answer for, but they are too benighted to understand the question. I grieve for our country.

  195. @Bruce1253 If he is re-elected, he will ram through a reversal of Presidential term limits, originally imposed after FDR ran and won 4 times. If he is not re-elected, we can only imagine what he will do. And none of it will be pretty.

  196. Regardless of Mr. Barr's supposed frustration with presidential tweets, Barr seemingly complies with all of Trump's tweets. If Mr. Barr wants us to believe him then a first step would be to reinstate the sentence the prosecutors recommended for Mr. Stone. No doubt Trump will provide a pardon for his friend, but Mr. Barr has an opportunity to withdraw and allow us to be skeptical rather than just credulous.

  197. Each Senator who voted to acquit Mr. Trump of Abuse of Power needs to do some serious sole searching. If this is not Abuse of Power, its hard to imagine anything being abuse of power.

  198. @Jon02452: You assume that Republican Senators care about something other than absolute power. They created "President" Trump. They got just what they wanted.

  199. @Jon02452 They need to be removed from office!

  200. @Jon02452 As long as Donald abuses his power to further the goals and desires of the GOP, they are perfectly happy to give him cover. They long ago sold their principles to the highest bidder, calculating that such a trade would enable them to corrupt the system enough to establish permanent control of the government. They aren't worried about what a Democrat in the white house might do with the power they have given to Donald. They believe they can run "elections" as Putin does, with just a pretense of choices.

  201. The position of Attorney General was created by the first Congress and signed into law by the first President, specifically to separate Federal law enforcement from the politics of the presidency. It was designed to be independent of the president. The Justice Department was created later, for the same reason. Trump and Barr are corrupting Federal law enforcement so Trump can end all limits on his power and stay "president for life." George Washington didn't want the president to use Federal law enforcement for political attacks. Trump does.

  202. It's hard for me to understand how Trump supporters can accept this. I only ask each one of them to imagine how he or she would react if the Bill Clinton or Obama justice had done the same thing... Override the prosecution to reduce the sentence of the president's personal friend. Surely there is a threshold across which republican senators and Trump supporters can see their own hypocrisy.

  203. @cud Watching Susan Collins up close here in Maine, there seems to be no threshold at all. Her mentor William Cohen must be deeply disappointed in Susan (as she likes to say all the time, she's disappointed but does what Mitch wants her to do as needed) Fortuantey we have a good movement here to defeat her in November. Her fear of being primaries from the right may have been a factor but she will meet her limits in November.

  204. @cud As long as the dow jones keeps going up, the president can do exactly as he wants to do, and nobody holding equities will care.

  205. No need to imagine how Republicans would react if a Democrat did the same, just remember back to when Bill Clinton got on that plane with Loretta Lynch.

  206. Trump isn't wrong as long as presidents (and governors) have the right to pardon. This has always been the case, restrained only by decorum. Trump (and other leaders who have abused the right to pardon) is showing that we can no longer depend on our leaders to respect social norms. We really need to spell it all out.

  207. @Rogan The right to grant pardons is not a right to demand a lesser sentence for a friend.

  208. @Rogan I have always hated the right to pardon, regardless of who sits in the White House. Yes it is considerably worse with a corrupt occupant,but it is always wrong, and I really don't know why the founders thought it useful. It is a remnant of monarchy, imo.

  209. @Rogan Spot on! I'll have the Constitutional Convention, please.

  210. If only the people who get so publicly emotional about the constitution and the national anthem voted in a way that reflected those public shows of respect. If they did, Trump would have to answer for this. But he goes to those rallies and he knows he has nothing to worry about. Decades of sub-standard education has left us with an electorate that cannot fathom the basic concepts that underpin how our American society works.

  211. @Baldwin "Decades of sub-standard education has left us with an electorate that cannot fathom the basic concepts that underpin how our American society works." Say it louder for the people in the back!

  212. @Baldwin I know some very well-educated people who voted for trump. Ignorance is not necessarily the problem. Hatred, white supremacy (without mentioning that word specifically), greed (keeping the status quo in place), and sometimes fear of change are motivating factors. It is mind boggling.

  213. @Baldwin I don't think they care about how American society works. They believe Trump is working for them and they will support anything he does to achieve their goals.

  214. Yesterday we marveled at the Attorney General's apparent rebuke of Individual #1 and wondered whether it was sincere or a disingenuous set-up. David Leonhardt even devoted his column to the question ( It took less than a day to find the answer. Yup, they're in cahoots. (Or, in more legal terms, in collusion.)

  215. @Bengal Richter "Conspiracy" I believe is the actually precise legal term.

  216. @Bengal Richter Love the term "Individual #1"!

  217. @Bengal Richter William Barr is either extremely incurious or doesn't care about his employees in the Justice Department. What didn't we hear from Barr during his interview with ABC? We didn't hear any contrition ... for the damage to the organization he leads, for his employees and those that just left. There was no self-awareness of any kind. It's obvious that Barr and Trump cooked up this "feud" to cover their complicity in corrupt activities. Barr needs to resign or be impeached. He is not doing the people's business, and appears to be happily destroying our system of justice, along with his demented boss.

  218. Are they "traditions" or "rules?" You use both words and there is a big difference. (If tradition is the more appropriate word, then are we surprised that Trump would break from tradition?)

  219. L'etat c'est moi

  220. l'état, c'est moi, says the tiny, tiny man in the Oval Office.

  221. Il Duce has spoken. He can do whatever he wants.

  222. Trump is still consulting with ghost of Roy Cohn. He’s whispering in his ear, “Never admit you’re wrong. Always double down on a lie. Destroy your enemies.” Don’t look for anything gracious or charitable from a malignant narcissist.

  223. "L'état c'est moi." DJT the new Louis the XIV

  224. The GOP is full of criminals. Anyone who aids and abets this criminal administration is one him/herself.

  225. At what point does commenting become interference? There's a real fuzzy line there. His position as President is not an exception to the 1A. I do wish the Don would stuff a sock in his Twitter account, but I also recognize that he has a 1A right to stick his foot in his mouth. If all else fails, there's always the Hannibal Lecter restraint device......

  226. @Mike when the President Tweets, his minions respond. If they don't respond properly...."you're fired." He never speaks as an individual when he uses the term President in front of his name, he speaks for the country. Of course, he really doesn't love the country, and would much rather be the dictator in a small banana republic. He has said as much, when talking about China and Russia.

  227. @Mike I don;t think it's fuzzy. It's out of line for a political official - including the President - to use the Presidency as a "bully pulpit" to interfere with legal matters and prosecutions. He is interfering as directly as possible with the legal process - and now he is asserting his right to do so. He basically instructed his AG as to what he wanted and he is doing his best to intimidate a judge. He does this all via twitter to confuse some followers with an alleged technicality-- over whether his tweets are official policies and communications. Does he communicate in any other way (other than by shouting near the Presidential helicopter)? This is not a first amendment issue. He is speaking as the President. He is also issuing orders, and letting it be known that he will go after anyone who doesn't please him. His disrespect for the law has devolved into outright attacks.

  228. I believe it is past time for us as individuals who have been paying attention to what is going on to strike up conversations with those who have fallen into the sand trap. We need to have uncomfortable conversations with those who are too busy trying to survive on the importance of placing informed votes come nine months from now. The baby that is "Our Government" gestating at this time if born in November will make Damian look like a Saint. We will only have ourselves to blame because we are the people and there is no "I" in team.

  229. @Mark The Welder Tried numerous times at the very beginning of this farce (before election). I was amazed at how pleasant, respectful students excused this monster's behavior. I teach in the heart of trump country. We're in huge trouble.

  230. Lest we forget, the President began this sort of behavior in the earliest days of his administration when he asked the FBI to go easy on General Flynn, cutting him some slack. Despite that early misstep metastasizing into major problems, it seems he has learned nothing.

  231. Trump takes aim at one more liberal institution, an independent judiciary, in his continuing effort to make the laws conditional upon the political power of the individuals involved in cases. I think that he’s violating his oath of office, again, and is bent on abusing his power to undo the legal system. Not a crime Mr. Dershowitz but is wrecking the institutions which you claim to cherish a high crime or misdemeanor?

  232. Susan Collins was so right. Acquitting Trump surely taught him a lesson: he can do anything he wants and no one will hold him accountable.

  233. @617to416 Reporters ask the so-called moderate Republicans "What do you think Trump learned from impeachment?" when the question they should ask is "What did you learn about from the impeachment?" All that Collins and Murkowski want is to cluck their tongues or grimace enough to seem moderate while backing Trump at every turn.

  234. @617to416 Amen.

  235. Susan Collins' comment has proven that she is gallactically gullible. She not only drink's Trump's purple Kool-Aid, she enjoys its taste!

  236. This back and forth between Trump and Barr is orchestrated by them to accomplish the administration's destruction of the firewall protecting the Justice Department from Presidential interference. Barr's mouth noises on ABC did not prevent him from actually executing Trump's control of the justice process. I'm shocked by how much respect and attention Barr's little performance has garnered. That fig leaf covers very little of Bill Barr.

  237. Haven't you picked up on the fact that trump claims to have legal right do things he has ALREADY done repeatedly. Stop giving him headlines that means his intentions seem uncertain