Disgraced former attorney general Bill Barr made his way over to Fox studios Wednesday to complain about a prosecutor using the power of their office as a political weapon.
Barr claimed that the prosecutor "grossly" overreached, executing a "political hit job" in a matter related to his former boss, Donald Trump—all accusations that Barr has a wealth of personal expertise in. Only this time, the supposed abuse of power didn't work in Trump's favor. It also included actual evidence that will be tested in a court of law rather than simply being judged in the more mercurial court of public opinion.
Of course, we are talking about the announcement Wednesday by New York Attorney General Letitia James that her office was suing Trump, the Trump Organization, and three of his children—Trump Jr., Eric, and Ivanka—for engaging in an "astounding" decades-long fraud scheme to enrich themselves.
Barr said he "wasn't even sure" James had a solid case against Trump but took particular issue with her naming "the children" in the suit—as in, the adult children, all of whom have served as executive vice presidents at the Trump Organization.
"What ultimately persuades me that this is a political hit job is that she grossly overreaches when she tries to drag the children into this,” Barr said. "This is his personal financial statement, prepared by the CFO, accounting firms were involved in it. … The children aren’t going to know the details of that, nor are they expected in the real world to do their own due diligence and have it reviewed independently.”
Not the children, Barr exclaimed, clutching his pearls!
Actually, if Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric didn't do their due diligence on Trump's financial statements, they should have. The Trump Org and its executives—including "the children"—repeatedly used Trump's statement of personal wealth as a guarantor for numerous loans it obtained over many, many years.
"With the help of his children and senior executives at the Trump Organization, Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and cheat the system," James said in a statement after the lawsuit was filed.
Ivanka, for instance, served as Executive Vice President for Development and Acquisitions of the Trump Organization through early January 2017. As the complaint notes:
Among other duties, she negotiated the lease with the government and a loan related to the Old Post Office property. Ms. Trump also negotiated loans on Trump Organization properties at Doral and Chicago. On each of those transactions with Deutsche Bank, Ms. Trump was aware that the transactions included a personal guaranty from Mr. Trump that required him to provide annual Statements of Financial Condition and certifications.
But the abuse of power claim coming from Barr, one of Trump's chief henchmen during his tenure, is particularly rich given that he repeatedly intervened in legal cases and investigations involving Trump and his allies or enemies. Who will ever forget the way he kneecapped the Mueller probe into Russia's 2016 election interference that documented multiple instances in which Trump engaged in obstruction?
Barr’s dismantling of the Mueller probe may be his most prominent act of deviousness, but it’s by no means without good company. Geoffrey Berman, a former U.S. Attorney who served under Barr, was personally privy to Barr's incessant political meddling while Trump was in office.
"It strikes me as hypocritical for Bill Barr to be accusing another prosecutor of improperly politically interfering in justice, when it was Bill Barr as attorney general under Donald Trump who did the president's political bidding and helped undermine the rule of law," Berman told CNN Wednesday.
In his recently released book, Holding the Line: Inside the Nation's Preeminent U.S. Attorney's Office and Its Battle with the Trump Justice Department, Berman documented multiple instances in which Barr interfered with investigations in the Southern District of New York, alternately targeting Trump's enemies and helping his friends.
So when Barr talks about "political hit jobs" and abuse of power, he's very intimately familiar with the topic. In fact, books have been written about it.
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