Incompetent or Lying

29 July 2020


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Attorney General Barr Does Not Remember Much


The Attorney-General of the United States appeared before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday to avoid answering questions from the elected representatives of the people. No one seriously thought he would provide any useful information. However, he did fall back to a lawyer's answer to beat possible perjury charges; "sorry, I don't remember." Alternatively, his answer was "I did not know that." Given his many memory failings and professed ignorance, one must ask if the man should continue in his role.

While one has not reviewed the entire five-hour transcript, Mr. Barr stated that he did not remember at least half a dozen times. Running the Justice Department is a big job, to be sure, and one cannot expect an AG to be cognizant of everything that occurs in an operation that employs thousands upon thousands of people. At the same time, there are high profile matters he should know by heart. For instance, he should remember a press conference request from Mr. Trump related to Ukraine and clearing the president of misconduct. After all, this was a matter over which Mr. Trump was impeached. Mr. Barr's memory failed him. Moreover, he clearly did not think it worth his time to prepared for the hearing by reviewing what happened then. That sounds like a man ignoring his responsibilities.

Then, there were the matters of which Mr. Barr was ignorant. The re-incarceration of Mr. Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen was the least credible matter about which he claimed to know nothing. Mr. Cohen was released from prison due to Covid-19 concerns, and he was returned to prison when he hesitated to sign an agreement not to write a book about the president. Mr. Barr said he knew nothing of Mr. Cohen's return to prison (from which a judge has released him on the grounds that it was unconstitutional). The president's lawyer being returned to prison is something Mr. Barr should have known about. He was derelict in his duty if he was telling the truth about not knowing.

Mr. Barr is responsible for the federal marshalls and other officers being deployed as a secret police force in Seattle, Portland and other American cities. He is responsible for the politicization of the Justice Department. He is the Trump administration's hatchetman rather than the people's lawyer at the federal level. For all of this, he is a political target, and rightly so. There were questions that were entirely political.

However, this journal believes that he has either lied to Congress or he is mentally unfit for the job. If he truly did not know what he claims not to have known, he is a lousy manager. If he truly does not remember what he claims not to remember, he is not mentally fit to lead the Justice Department. Those are the charitable readings of his testimony.

Less generously, he lied to Congress to avoid any sort of supervision of his Justice Deparment by the committee of the House charged with such supervision. That strikes at the core of American democracy. Congressional oversight of executive actions is a major check on the abuse of power that resides in the executive. Evading such a check allows for the kind of Justice that lets Roger Stone, a convicted felon, walk while Michael Cohen, a convicted felon, goes back to jail. The difference between the two is simple; Mr. Stone is a friend of the president, and Mr. Cohen is not. Equality before the law does not exist under William Barr.

Impeachment will not remove him from office as the Senate will never vote to convict. However, it would be a permanent stain on what little honor remains and might lead to his disbarrment after the Trump administration rides off into the sunset.

© Copyright 2020 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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