United States Justice Department, President Trump, Donald Trump discussed on Amicus with Dahlia Lithwick
The events of this week, bring us back to the United States Justice Department and notably to one William Bar. The attorney general who has very abeille. Re purposed his DOJ to perform functions was undertaken by Michael Cohen, which is to say that bill bar is now formally in the role of Donald Trump's booster fixer issue of threats and all purpose legal rotor. This, past week featured continued threats from the justice, Department of criminal sanctions that are about to be levied any minute. Now on Donald, trump's political enemies as well as the gob smacking motion to have the department takeover a state defamation lawsuit from aging Carol She's a journalist who accused Donald Trump of raping her in the nineteen nineties. Bilbao. has also continued to press the president's patently false talking points about all the dangers of voting by mail, describing it as playing with fire and falsely claiming that the Justice Department has indicted someone in Texas for collecting seventeen hundred ballots and altering them all to vote fraudulently that never happened. We have talked before on this show about the weaponization of the machinery of justice and how really dangerous that can be. But with this week's developments and the election impending, I, really wanted to talk to somebody who could make that which seems like an abstraction at times just very concrete and immediate and real and for me that person really is Donald be air he served as United States Attorney and Principal Deputy Solicitor General in the Reagan Administration and then as deputy attorney. General. Under George H W. Bush indeed. It was air who turned over the keys to the DOJ to one bill bar and he has been a vocal critic of what bar has wrought at DOJ calling in the Atlantic. This past winter for bar to step down last month, he joined a group of one time Republican presidential appointees who served as senior ethics or Justice Department aides to endorse Joe Biden for president out of concern for the legitimacy of the Department of Justice. I wanted to talk to him about what recent events portend for the future of the possibility of an independent Justice Department, and also about the next four years and I wanted to talk to him about what it all portends for the election itself. So it is a great pleasure Donald Air to welcome you to Amicus for having me. Happy to be here. I think I. Wanted to start with this abstraction if I may which is just the very notion that there can even be an independent neutral department of Justice I that you have thought harder than almost anybody about post Watergate reforms about Edward Levy, what he tried to do, and the changes that were put into place to at least try to fix the ideal of an independent dealer Jay. And I feel like I want you to respond to what the cynic is going to say, which is a commodity was only ever an ideal and the DOJ is always politicized and Hillary Clinton's Justice Department would have served her priorities in ends just as much as Donald Trump's and look they all serve at the pleasure the president. So none of this is different and none of this is troubling will think I think you can talk with almost anybody who has worked in the department you know in the last literally forty five years. And see the glow on their face when they talk about their time there and the idealistic sense they have of what they were doing A lot of of what is being undermined radically now is in the nature of attitudes and norm. Certainly, there are lots of practices that are being violated but the idea that what we aspire to in the Department of Justice is a system in which you know literally as Edward Levy put it. In his words no man is above the law. And and the law must be applied in an even-handed way that people will trust in. In fact that that has not been perfect but it's been pretty darn good for forty five years. What's gone on in the last eighteen months and to a lesser degree before that under under sessions is a gross undermining of that and and you know this long list of things that that Bill Bar has done which which you're well familiar with and I think your audience is we can certainly go through them and it's getting worse and worse and the bottom line right now is that this spring In countless ways, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Bill Bar has made his office and the end the Department of Justice tools of the president's reelection campaign. Well, let's start with I. Think one of the things that you really honed in on in your Atlantic piece from last February. was bars willingness to intervene in cases cases I think at the time what was setting you off with Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, what you called eleventh hour intercessions to benefit the president's associates. And let's start there because I think the leap from even Roger Stone and Michael Flynn to what happened with e Jean Carroll. This week is noteworthy, but let's start with Flintstone maybe yeah. Well, those are those are two examples where best anyone can tell the president obviously had personal associates who he had. He had opinions he tweeted his opinions about how they were being treated by his own. Department. Any really believes in this vision that bar has told him is his constitutional right to be all powerful and direct what goes on in the Justice Department. That's what bar has told him. That's what bar has written, and so he darnell well wanted to treat these guys stone and Flynn better than they were being treated. So Bill Bar arranges a series of acts including getting rid of the US attorney substituting crony of his in order to change all of that and the various ways that's been done one raking a lighter sentencing recommendation for stone and the other making A. Motion to dismiss entirely the case of Flynn who would twice pled guilty and that's still going forward in pending you know, and then ultimately the president commuted the sentence because he didn't want to have any sense. So so those are two incredible act simply doing the president's bidding because the president wants it done a lot of the other things like lying flat out about the findings of the Muller report with regard to obstruction you know were things that were really designed to protect the president not just whims that he had about things wanting things to be done in a certain way. But you know things that protected him because Gosh it isn't good. If people know that the president did clearly obstruct justice as he in fact, did you know and others of the things? These are the ones that I've really gotten distressed about lately are simply acts and there many of them to advance the president's prospects of re-election and bar is now full-time appealing the base and a bunch of different ways and doing what he can including violence in our cities to create the narrative and and you know create videos for the narrative that trump is telling about America. Being a country under siege, it goes on and on and on, and it just gets worse and worse. Let's just hone in on one thing that you mentioned briefly but I'm not sure all listeners fully understand the implications and that is these US attorney. So you're thinking of Jesse Louis, you're thinking of Jeffrey Berman in the Southern District of New York and these are folks again at some level serve at the pleasure of the president not the first time US attorneys have been shuffled around first of all I. Think there is the fact that Bill Bar Straight..