To understand the brilliance of Trump appointing William Barr as Attorney General as a backstop against the results of the Mueller probe, a very brief history lesson is in order. First, it must be understood that Barr was the Attorney General once before and that his ability to use convoluted legal reasoning was what landed him at the top of the DOJ back then, as well.
Many people who question whether Barr is primarily loyal to the rule of law or to his political party cite his role in the Iran-Contra scandal as the basis for their skepticism. But for many of our readers, Iran-Contra was so long ago that people have no idea that the principal defendant in that case, Oliver North, now runs the NRA and is a frequent contributor to Fox News.
For this history lesson, it’s easier to look at both Iran-Contra and “Iraqgate,” since that more clearly parallels what we’re seeing with Barr’s partisan treatment of the Mueller report.
Iraqgate was the accusation that Ronald Reagan and then subsequently George HW Bush, in their capacities as consecutive presidents, built up the army of Saddam Hussein through the 80s and early 90s, all the way up until they could use it as a pretext for war against Hussein’s country, Iraq. It quickly became intertwined in the fate of the Iran-Contra scandal because of the lengthy war that the two nations had just fought — the American public could scarcely tell them apart on a map, anyway.
At the time, Barr became an expert in pushing out court dates and when that failed, missing crucial deadlines in order to create new court cases entirely. He hired a special prosecutor to “look into” what he was defending Reagan and Bush against, then used the threat of firing him the entire time in order to ensure an outcome that favored the administration.
In the end, Bush issued pardons, and the Attorney General — William Barr — was accused of covering up evidence in the investigations that led the President to preempt trials:
If that sounds familiar to you, you should hear some of the names involved: Robert Gates, most recently the Secretary of Defense just before Trump was elected, was the head of the CIA at the time. Joe Biden was the Chair of the Senate Judiciary. Pat Leahy was the Chair of Agriculture.
The only way this could parallel current events more than it does is if Trump lost in 2020, a Democrat ran the country for 8 years, then Don Jr. was elected President in a tight race decided by the Supreme Court. Trump even appointed someone to SCOTUS that drew non-stop comparisons to Clarence Thomas — GHW Bush’s second appointee, and one of the deciding votes in his son’s presidential race.
They say that history repeats itself, but usually not this neatly.
Featured image is from Wikimedia Commons.