During the testimony today of William Barr, regarding the Mueller investigation and the recently released 22-month long report’s findings, he saw all manner of demeanor from the panel based entirely on the bias of the Senator addressing him. The Attorney General absorbed a number of contentious lines of questioning from Democrats, with Mazie Hirono was particularly unhinged in her unquestioning rant, calling Barr a liar to his face while exhibiting no curiosity on details.
One of the more revealing inquiries came from Josh Hawley (R), as the Missouri senator was asking some rather pointed questions that were aimed at the process leading up to the Mueller investigation. It was a bit of a departure from much of the posturing seen prior and it was a bellwether of where the focus is going to settle in the coming months.
Hawley began by alluding to the actions of certain FBI officials regarding the Trump campaign, touching on the comments Barr made previously regarding spying taking place. In asking of a counterintelligence investigation ever having previously taken place Hawley presented a major concern which was the practice of lower level agents not being forthright. “Would it be unusual, in your experience and to your knowledge, for FBI agents to hide the existence and results of an investigation from their superiors”.
Barr answered, “Very unusual.”
Another matter Hawley touched on is a now largely bypassed matter, and that was discussions by certain members of the DOJ where the 25th Amendment had been tabled, in order to see a path for the removal of President Trump. These were discussions, held in May of 2017, said to be involving Andrew McCabe and Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein has denied the claim entirely.
What is telling about this #25-A discussion is that it reflects on a decided effort by players to force the removal of the President. On the one hand it could be seen that they possessed a lack of confidence in the supposed evidence they possessed about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. If they were so firm in the proof why have a discussion entertaining invoking the 25th?
The very fact they were exploring an alternative means to remove Trump may show they were not tasked with investigating a possible crime but looking for any means to achieve that desired goal. Recall now, it was early in his investigation that Robert Mueller came into possession of the phone texts from Peter Strzok in which he declared flatly he saw no real story there, regarding the collusion. This is significant because it was Strzok, one year prior in the summer of 2016, who had been tabbed to lead the investigation into possible Russian collusion.
Senator Hawley next launched into an impassioned segment, where he addressed the position of Peter Strzok specifically to illustrate the underlying and troublesome nature of this whole investigatory process.
Speaking of particular individuals who were involved, I have to say I’ve listened to this testimony all day today, and to me, maybe the most shocking thing I’ve heard is this. The chairman read it earlier. August 26, 2016 — this is a text message from Peter Strzok, a top counterintelligence investigator, who we now know started this counter-spy investigation against the president of the United States.
Peter Strzok says, “Just went to a southern Virginia Wal-Mart. I could Smell the Trump support.” Smell is capitalized. “Just went to a southern Virginia Wal-Mart. I could Smell the Trump support.”
Many are very familiar with the venomous stance this FBI agent harbored for President Trump. That such an individual was in a position of significant power to exert agency actions and could exact his influence on the investigation is of deep concern.
In my view, do you want to know what’s really going on here? Do you want to know why the counterintelligence investigation really happened? Do you want to know why we’re all really sitting here today? That’s why, right there, is because an unelected bureaucrat, an unelected official in this government who clearly has open disdain, if not outright hatred for Trump voters like the people of my state, for instance. I could “Smell” the Trump support? Then tried to overturn the results of a democratic election. That’s what’s really going on here. That’s the story. That’s why we’re here today.
I cannot believe that a top official of this government with the kind of power that these people had would try to exercise their own prejudices, and that’s what this is, it’s open, blatant prejudice, would try to use that in order to overturn a democratic election. And to my mind, that’s the real crisis here, and it is a crisis. If there is not accountability, if this can go on in the United States of America, then my goodness gracious, we don’t have a democracy anymore.
This calls back to the fact that Mueller realized early on that there was little evidence on which to operate. Upon seeing the scant evidence Mueller sought out permission to broaden the scope of his investigation. This is how we come to see Paul Manafort convicted for business violations predating the campaign, and Mike Flynn charged with a political crime following the election.
It is also how Mueller has created an air of systemic illegalities by numerous individuals, while at the same time coming up with zero evidence of campaign coordination with Russian interests. There appears to be some serious accountability coming down the road.
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