My tabloid style headline for this would have been BARR BURNED BY BUZZFEED. I decided to go with a more literary one. Here’s a bit of explanation for my Shakespearean title:
The phrase’s meaning is literally that the bomb-maker (a “petard” is a small explosive device) is blown up (“hoisted” off the ground) with his own bomb, and indicates an ironic reversal or poetic justice. Wiki
There’s letters sealed; and my two schoolfellows,
Whom I will trust as I will adders fanged,
They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way
And marshal me to knavery. Let it work,
For ’tis the sport to have the enginer (sic)
Hoist with his own petard; and ’t shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines
And blow them at the moon. O, ’tis most sweet
When in one line two crafts directly meet.
— Prince Hamlet, in Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 4
Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked Barr, if it would be obstruction of justice if the president asked someone to give false testimony. Barr said it would be. “So if there was some reason to believe that the president tried to coach somebody not to testify or testify falsely, that could be obstruction of justice,” Graham asked. “Yes. Under an obstruction statute, yes.”
Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to say that Barr’s entire memo is predicated on two broad assumptions: first, that he knows Mueller’s legal theory, and second, that he understands the fact pattern Mueller is investigating. “It appears Mueller’s team is investigating a possible case of ‘obstruction’ by the President predicated substantially on his expression of hope that the Comey [sic] could eventually ‘let … go’ of its investigation of Flynn and his action in firing Comey,” Barr writes in his second paragraph.
The entire memo seems to address only the crimes Barr knew Trump would or might be accused of. He may rue the day he wrote “Obviously, the President and any other official can commit obstruction in this classic sense of sabotaging a proceeding’s truth-finding function. Thus, for example, if a President knowingly destroys or alters evidence, suborns perjury, or induces a witness to change testimony, or commits any act deliberately impairing the integrity or availability of evidence, then he, like anyone else, commits the crime of obstruction.”
He missed the crime reported in the revelatory Buzzfeed investigative report:
President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project
This is summed up in their subtitle: “Trump received 10 personal updates from Michael Cohen and encouraged a planned meeting with Vladimir Putin.”
Now we are hearing from legal pundits not only legal terms like obstruction of justice but also witness intimidation and subordination of perjury added to the list of crime there is growing evidence that Trump committed.
As an afterthought, when I read the Buzzfeed article I thought I was being sent a message by the advertising alogrythms, or whatever computer program determines which ad would appear between text blocks on web pages. It was an ad just below “After Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the matter, Mueller’s team filed a memo in court saying he had offered them “credible” and “useful” information over the course of seven interviews. The special counsel wrote that Cohen had provided details about his contacts with “persons connected to the White House” in 2017 and 2018 and about how he had prepared his statements to Congress.”
It was followed by “The White House did not return detailed messages seeking comment, nor did an attorney for Donald Trump Jr. or the Trump Organization.” It featured a picture of five good guys one one side and four one the other, with one in my imagination looking like Donald Trump.
Perhaps a message from the cosmos!
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