The media will stop at nothing to slander cabinet members of the Trump administration as evil, political actors, even if their only sin is disagreeing with them. MSNBC's Morning Joe presided over this latest burning at the stake Wednesday, with Attorney General William Barr. Barr testified on Capitol Hill yesterday, but his responses generally disagreed with Democrats and MSNBC punished him for it on their segment, deriding the political actor behaving on behalf of the president.” That’s ironic coming from MSNBC. The entire network is full of political actors!
Here's John Heilemann:
William Barr is someone who in his speech, Willie, I was reminded of this yesterday, he said that the Revolutionary War was against Parliament, not the monarchy. He said that last year in a speech at Notre Dame. That is the way this attorney general views the presidency, and this is a president who he has defended over and over again. And so, when he talks about trying to ignore the president's tweets, he's trying to set himself up as someone who is following the rule of law and not being a loyalist. But he also couldn't say definitively, or at least walked around whether or not a president should accept help from a foreign government in an election, and he said that he could -- of course would discuss the presidential re-election as a member of the Cabinet. There were time and time again where we did see how the relationship was close together.
Did the media watch the same briefing as most Americans did? You know, the one where Attorney General Barr repeatedly said that he would hold up the rule of law? The short answer is that they saw that bit, but are choosing to ignore it because he disagrees with them. This led them to shift to their favorite narrative of 2020, that Trump is going to steal the election but this time with the help of Barr.
The attorney general has now sided with the President of the United States in saying that wholesale mail-in voting is susceptible to corruption. And I think if anybody watching this, this -- there are a lot of lessons to take, a lot of headlines out of Barr's testimony yesterday, but the totality of it on this question, which is, is William Barr, the Attorney General of the united States, in the conduct of this election as we go forward, between now and election day, and in the crucial period after election day and up until January 20th, is the attorney general taking pains to communicate to America and the congress that he is going to be a neutral player, enforcing the rule of law, or is he going to be what he has been so far, which is a political actor behaving on behalf of the president? There is no question, if you watched his testimony yesterday that he is happy, perfectly willing, and is clear that he is happy to have us all think the latter, that he's going to be acting as a political agent of the president, not as someone who's trying to enforce the integrity of the American election or on the side of the American rule of law and the American people.
MSNBC hosts are obsessed with this conspiracy theory about the November election and the administration's plans to circumvent it. In the eyes of the media, Eric Holder saying he was Obama’s wingman is perfectly normal and acceptable, but William Barr saying that mail-in voting has a potential to be fraudulent? Well he must be burned at the stake! Good job everyone, we are officially back to hunting witches.
Read the full transcript below to learn more.
MSNBC’s Morning Joe
6:53 a.m. ET
JERRY NADLER: Yes or no, have you discussed the president's re-election campaign with the president or with any white house official or any surrogate of the president?
WILLIAM BARR: Well, I'm not going to get into my discussions with the president --
NADLER: Well, have you discussed that topic with him, yes or no?
BARR: Not in relation to this program.
NADLER: I didn't ask that. I asked if you discussed that --
BARR: I'm a member of the cabinet and there's an election going on, obviously the topic comes up.
NADLER: So the answer’s yes, then yes.
BARR: Well, the topic comes up in cabinet meetings and other things. It shouldn't be surprised that it's a topic of the election --
NADLER: I wasn't surprised. I just asked if you had done that. So, as part of those conversations with the president or his people about the re-election campaign, have you ever discussed the current or future deployment of federal law enforcement.
BARR: In connection with what?
NADLER: In connection with what you just said, in connection with your discussions with the president or with other people around him of his re-election campaign, have you discussed the current or future deployment of federal law enforcement?
BARR: As I say, I'm not going to get into my discussions with the president, but I've made it clear that I would like to pick the cities based on law enforcement need and based on neutral criteria --
NADLER: But you can't tell me whether you've discussed --
BARR: No, I'm not going to discuss what I discussed with the president.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: The unrest in Portland was a major topic during the contentious five-hour grilling of Attorney General William Barr by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee. He called the violence outside of the federal courthouse an assault on the government of the United States. Jonathan Lemire, what are you looking at here? Might there be some sort of agreement as to how we move forward and where exactly federal agents can and cannot be?
JONATHAN LEMIRE: Mika, we reported last night at the AP that there have been some back-channel talks between the Trump administration -- namely, Department of Homeland Security -- and the Governor of Oregon's office, about the situation there, about potentially drawing down some of the federal presence in Portland. But if, and only if, the Trump administration insists that Oregon itself, the state of Oregon, ups their own law enforcement response. This is reminiscent of what we saw in the early days of the George Floyd protests, those first weeks where, among the widespread protests, which, to be clear, were largely peaceful, there were some outbreaks of violence. And the president, you'll recall, really pushed these governors and big-city mayors to clamp down, to crack down. He kept threatening to send the National Guard, basically suggesting -- and federal law enforcement -- suggesting that if you can't handle this, we will. And that's borne of that moment is when he took his infamous walk across Lafayette Square just to my right, when they cleared that park and he had that photo op with the bible in front of the church. These are preliminary talks. It's unclear where they will go. And the administration has also sent the signal to Oregon's governor that if they do draw down and the violence picks back up again, they will immediately return the federal presence that has been so controversial to so many and that that many on the ground in Portland believe their presence has really inflamed the situation. But this is, as a final point, Mika, what the administration believes is a political win. They still feel like that every time the Democrats are talking about Portland, it makes them, according to Trump advisers, look weak. They think that this is something that will resonate among suburban voters, among senior voters who don't like seeing these scenes of chaos, these violent clashes, and they're going to, as the attorney general said yesterday in his testimony, this is something they're still eyeing about deploying in other cities, too.
WILLIE GEIST: Let's bring into the conversation now NBC news correspondent Julia Ainsley. She covers the Justice Department for us. Julia, good morning. I want to get your take on another exchange yesterday, when Congressman Eric Swalwell asked Attorney General Barr why the president is not being investigated for commuting the sentence of Roger Stone.
ERIC SWALWELL: You would agree that it's a federal crime to lie under oath. Is that right?
SWALWELL: It's a crime for you. It's a crime for me. And it's certainly a crime for the President of the United States. Is that right?
SWALWELL: So, if Donald Trump lied to the Mueller investigators, which you agree would be a crime, then Roger Stone was in a position to expose Donald Trump's lies. Are you familiar with the December 3rd, 2018 tweet, where Donald Trump said Roger Stone had shown guts by not testifying against him?
BARR: No, I'm not familiar with that.
SWALWELL: You don't read the president's tweets?
SWALWELL: Well, there's a lot of evidence in the president's tweets, Mr. Attorney General. I think you should start reading them. Because he said Mr. Stone showed guts. But on July 10 of this year, Roger Stone declared to a reporter, "I had 29 or 30 conversations with Trump during the campaign period. Trump knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably, but I didn't. The prosecutors wanted me to play Judas. I refused." Are you familiar with that Stone statement?
BARR: Actually, I'm not.
SWALWELL: So, how can you sit here and tell us, why should I investigate the President of the United States, if you're not even aware of the facts concerning the president using the pardon or commutation power to swap the silence of a witness?
BARR: Because we require, you know, a reliable predicate before we open a criminal investigation.
SWALWELL: And I just gave to you, sir --
BARR: I don't consider it. I consider it a very rube Goldberg theory that you have.
SWALWELL: It sounds like you're hearing this for the first time today and --
BARR: If I applied this standard, there would be a lot more people under investigation.
GEIST: So, Julia, there's a lot to comb through there with Roger Stone and also Michael Flynn, the charges being dropped after he pleaded guilty to them. Attorney General Barr has said recently that he doesn't necessarily agree with the commutation of Roger Stone's sentence, but of course, the Justice Department did step in to reduce his sentence. What did you take away from that exchange?
JULIA AINSLEY: Well, over and over again yesterday, Willie, we saw the attorney general defend decisions that he made, saying that this can be done. He kept going back to Roger Stone's age, as if that was a big reason to try to keep his prison sentence reduced. But he distanced himself from being a Trump loyalist. I think the thing that wasn't addressed, and either it's because the questioning wasn't there or Barr himself was just good at walking around this, is the perception of the attorney general. When you add up all of these incidents and you add up how he did the summary of the Mueller report a month before we were able to see the redacted version, when you add up what he's done on the Michael Flynn case, pulling out of the prosecution, when you add up his very, his hand in all of this, his overreach, you would say, to reach into things like the Stone case -- how is that perceived, even if he can separate himself from the president? And I think what we saw over and over again was his defense of the presidency. William Barr is someone who in his speech, Willie, I was reminded of this yesterday, he said that the Revolutionary War was against Parliament, not the monarchy. He said that last year in a speech at Notre Dame. That is the way this attorney general views the presidency, and this is a president who he has defended over and over again. And so, when he talks about trying to ignore the president's tweets, he's trying to set himself up as someone who is following the rule of law and not being a loyalist. But he also couldn't say definitively, or at least walked around whether or not a president should accept help from a foreign government in an election, and he said that he could -- of course would discuss the presidential re-election as a member of the Cabinet. There were time and time again where we did see how the relationship was close together. So, it's hard to see how he would be putting on blinders and ignoring these tweets that clearly lays out what the president prefers and highly encourages in each of these prosecutions.
GEIST: As you say, there was a lot of ground covered in that hearing, including mail-in voting. Attorney General William Barr expressing some skepticism about what might happen if there is widespread mail-in voting. He also was pressed about what was happening in the upcoming election.
HAKEEM JEFFRIES: What will you do if Donald Trump loses the election on November 3rd but refuses to leave office on January 20th?
BARR: If the results are clear, I would leave office.
JEFFRIES: Do you believe that there is any basis or legitimacy to Donald Trump's recent claim that he can't provide an answer as to whether he would leave office?
BARR: I really am not familiar with these comments.
GEIST: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, questioning the attorney general there. John Heilemann, obviously, we've heard President Trump sort of lay this predicate that the election could be rigged or will be rigged, if there's widespread mail-in voting, which there is likely to be, and Attorney General William Barr seemed to support that, saying yesterday that if there is a lot of mail-in voting, who knows what's going to happen. Open to fraud.
JOHN HEILEMANN: Yeah, I don't think he seemed to support it, Willie. I think he basically said that he thought if there was wholesale mail-in voting, that that was very susceptible to fraud. He's on the president's side in this question. And I'll point out, as I point out every time we have this discussion, more than 40 million people voted by mail in 2016. 40 million people. We're going to have more -- we're going to have wholesale mail-in voting in this election. We had it in the last election. We're going to have it even more so in this election because people, rightly, are going to be concerned about not putting themselves in harm's way by going and standing in massive lines on election day. So there's going to be a huge movement for people to vote early, a huge movement in many of the key states. Every battleground state, Willie, every battleground state has mail-in voting. So, the election is going to be determined in states that have mail-in voting. And the President of the United States has said mail-in voting is corrupt. The attorney general has now sided with the President of the United States in saying that wholesale mail-in voting is susceptible to corruption. And I think if anybody watching this, this -- there are a lot of lessons to take, a lot of headlines out of Barr's testimony yesterday, but the totality of it on this question, which is, is William Barr, the Attorney General of the united States, in the conduct of this election as we go forward, between now and election day, and in the crucial period after election day and up until January 20th, is the attorney general taking pains to communicate to America and the congress that he is going to be a neutral player, enforcing the rule of law, or is he going to be what he has been so far, which is a political actor behaving on behalf of the president? There is no question, if you watched his testimony yesterday that he is happy, perfectly willing, and is clear that he is happy to have us all think the latter, that he's going to be acting as a political agent of the president, not as someone who's trying to enforce the integrity of the American election or on the side of the American rule of law and the American people. And I think if you think what the traditional role of the attorney general is, Barr has done many things that trouble people who see him deviating from that, but he is now telegraphing to us, in this testimony, that we have a lot more to worry about between now and election day. And as I said, again, in that crucial period after election day and before the inauguration in 2021.
BRZEZINSKI: So Claire Mccaskill, a related question, and it's a question that often I asked about President Trump. But in terms of what happened yesterday, the attorney general's testimony on Capitol Hill and all the moments where Democrats were able to reveal something or, ooh, psych, this happened. What goes beyond yesterday? What actually has oversight? What actually has consequences? What was revealed yesterday that then will change the course of how some believe things are going right now, which is an incredibly corrupt fashion? Because we have dramatic testimony, dramatic headlines, we have dramatic interviews, but it seems like nothing happens to actually change a wrong, to make it a right. Are there constructs from anything that we've heard yesterday in our system to provide some oversight to the attorney general?
CLAIRE MCCASKILL: Well, typically, Mika, when you have -- frankly, this is unprecedented, to have an attorney general in the tank -- I mean, he's in the tank. He is not what we expect our attorney general to be. He is a political actor through and through. Now, the problem is -- I mean, the best example of that yesterday, the law says clearly that you cannot accept or solicit foreign assistance in a federal election. The fact that he had to dance around that question is all you need to know, because that's the law. So, here's the problem. To make something happen against this attorney general, you need the help and assistance of Congress. And what is blocking the help and assistance and accountability in congress are the Republicans in the Senate who are also in the tank. Look no further than Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Judiciary committee in the Senate. Look no further than Ron Johnson, the chairman of the committee that should be looking into what is happening to the people they're pulling off the streets by unmarked federal agents. Where are they going? Have they been charged? He is busy talking about Hunter Biden, for gosh sakes. I mean, it is unbelievable! So, the problem here is we will not get real action against Barr, because the Republicans in the Senate are also in the tank.