On Bill Barr's Senate Judiciary Committee Testimony

Yesterday, Attorney General William Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the Mueller report, and it was something. (As I mentioned, Aaron Rupar has an extensive Twitter thread with video, if you want to watch the highs and lows.) Barr's performance was so egregiously awful that multiple Democratic senators called for his resignation.

[Senator Kamala Harris stops to talk to reporters and laughs about how they're waiting for her, before agreeing to quickly answer some questions]

Female reporter, offscreen: You finally got [Barr] to sort of narrow down— Quick question on exactly what you wanted to hear: Do you feel like there's a huge conflict of interest now for him moving forward in any sort of capacity?

Harris: I do, I do believe that. And I believe that what was, I mean, absolutely enlightening and should be deeply troubling to the entire American public is that he made a decision and didn't review the evidence! No prosecutor worth her salt would make a decision about whether the President of the United States was involved of an obstruction of justice without reviewing the evidence. This Attorney General lacks all credibility and has, I think, compromised the American public's ability to believe that he is a purveyor of justice.

Male reporter, offscreen: Should he resign.

Harris: Yes. [walks away]
Harris is referring to the exchange in which she straightforwardly asked Barr if he reviewed all the evidence before deciding to clear Trump of possible obstruction of justice charges and he admits that he did not.

Barr also admitted, under questioning from Senator Dick Durbin, "that he had already been working on decision saying Trump did not commit obstruction — before receiving the Mueller report or having anyone look at it."

Barr was, in sum, a total disgrace, managing to undercut even my rock bottom expectations.

But all of the Democratic Senators running for president who are on the committee — Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, and Cory Booker — did an outstanding job nailing Barr's ass to the wall.

Harris and Klobuchar were particularly great, which is the value of having prosecutors on your senate committee. (And, as Joy Reid noted, they were both demonstrating "what having a prosecutor on stage debating Trump would look like.")

Here is Klobuchar, backing Barr into a corner where he is unable to answer the simplest question about whether Donald Trump's actions, as detailed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, meet the Constitutional requirement that the president uphold the law:

Barr: ...as have other officeholders.

Klobuchar: Okay, last question: Are the president's actions detailed in this report consistent with his oath of office and the requirement in the Constitution that he take care that the laws be faithfully executed?

Barr: Is what consistent with that?

Klobuchar: I said: Are the president's actions detailed in the report consistent with his oath of office and the requirement in the Constitution that he take care that the laws be faithfully executed?

Barr: Uh, well, the, the evidence in, in the report is conflicting and, and there's different evidence, and they, they don't, they don't come to a determination as to, uh, how they're coming down on it.

Klobuchar: And so you made that decision.

Barr: Yes. And, and as, as, yeah, if it's, if—

Lindsey Graham: All right, we got two minutes left.

Klobuchar: Okay.
In other words, the answer is no. Donald Trump's actions have not been consistent with his oath of office. We didn't need the Attorney General to confirm that, but there it is.

Perhaps because nothing about this shitshow has the ability to surprise me anymore, the thought that I couldn't shake watching the proceedings was this:

The problem is not just that Trump himself is surrounded by unethical, sadistic, civically disloyal sycophants who abet his behavior, but that each of them is surrounded by their own gang of unethical, sadistic, civically disloyal sycophants who abet their behavior in turn.

It's a toxic bubble which decency cannot penetrate. And it's going to consign us all to a terrible fate, unless we can find a way to pop it. Fast.

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