Atty. Gen. William P. Barr emphasizes "no collusion" as he prepares to release Robert S. Mueller III’s report.
Why all the talk? Why all the debate? Why all the angst? The case is clear. He deserves to be impeached. So don't wait any longer. Rev up the engines. Start the hearings. Impeach him -- now!
No, I'm not talking about President Donald Trump (not yet!). I'm talking about Attorney General William Barr. If anybody merits impeachment, he does.
And, yes, in case you're wondering, Cabinet members can be impeached, as laid out in Article II, Section 4, of the Constitution: "The President, Vice President and all other civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High crimes and Misdemeanors." Members of the Cabinet count among "all other civil officers."
True, it hasn't happened often. In fact, only once before. In 1876, Secretary of War William Belknap resigned right before the vote, but the House went on to impeach him anyway on five counts of profiteering from his office (sound familiar?). A majority of senators voted to convict him, but not the required two-thirds.
But Belknap's an altar boy, compared to Bill Barr. Belknap made a deal to get a cut of revenue from army trading posts. Mr. Barr has lied to Congress, lied to the American people, and undermined the very system of justice he's sworn to uphold. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, in fact, calls him "the second most dangerous man in America." There's no doubt as to who is the most dangerous.
It's not hard to make the case for impeaching Bill Barr. He's made the case for himself; first, by deliberately misrepresenting the conclusions of the special counsel's investigation. In a four-page memo released on March 24, the day he received the Mueller report, Barr said Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence that anyone on the Trump campaign coordinated with Russian officials in their efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. For a while, Mr. Barr's summary was all that we had to go on. Now, we know it's an outright lie. Mr. Mueller revealed multiple contacts between Trumpers and Russian operatives, just not enough to prove a criminal conspiracy.
In that same memo, Mr. Barr implied that Mr. Mueller left it up to him to decide whether to charge Mr. Trump with obstruction of justice and said he'd concluded there was not sufficient evidence to do so. In fact, as we learned later from the special counsel himself, Mr. Mueller found plenty of evidence that Mr. Trump tried, on at least 10 times, to obstruct justice, but Department of Justice policy prevented his charging the president with a crime: a legal quandary, Mr. Mueller noted, that only Congress could resolve.
In a news conference three weeks later, upon public release of the Mueller report, Mr. Barr went even further in minimizing its impact. Channeling Donald Trump himself, Mr. Barr declared the report found "No Collusion, No Obstruction." It was, for the president, Mr. Barr asserted, a clean bill of health. Except it wasn't.
Not only that, Mr. Barr joined Mr. Trump in attacking the FBI for doing its job. The facts are: the FBI was informed of contacts between Russian officials and certain members of the Trump operation, including Carter Page, whom they'd been monitoring as a possible Russian agent since 2013. Based on that information, the FBI opened an investigation, operating under legal authority granted by the FISA court, into whether members of the Trump campaign were actually colluding with a foreign government, which is illegal. And, for doing its job, as required by law, Attorney General Barr, in testimony before Congress -- again, echoing Donald Trump -- accused the FBI of "spying" on the Trump campaign.
That's still not the end of the story. Now Mr. Barr's launched his own investigation into how the FBI investigation got started, trying to prove, as Mr. Trump has long claimed, that the Department of Justice and the FBI actually engaged in a conspiracy against candidate Donald Trump. When the truth is just the opposite: It was James Comey and the FBI who did more than anyone else to destroy Hillary Clinton's chances.
The only person happy about all of this is Donald Trump, who finally got the suck-up, blindly loyal, roll-over-and-scratch-my-belly puppy dog he wanted as attorney general, while we got stuck with someone who doesn't even deserve the title. Because Bill Barr's not working for the American people, he's working for Donald Trump. Period. His job, as he sees it, and as he's demonstrated, is not to defend the rule of law, but to defend Donald Trump. And for that reason alone, he should be impeached.
Bill Press is host of The BillPressPod, and author of the new book, "Trump Must Go: The Top 100 Reasons to Dump Trump (And One to Keep Him)." His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may also follow him on Twitter @bppod.