January 16, 2019

AG Nominee William Barr

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Some highlights from the dozens of emails we received:

“This edition, concept and content, is next level.”

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On Tuesday, Attorney General nominee William Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left is divided on whether Barr can be an impartial Attorney General.

“On June 8, 2018, while a private citizen, Barr had delivered a 19-page memo to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein… It starts out with an acknowledgment that Barr has no idea what facts Mueller has uncovered… He goes on to make assumption after assumption about the evidence Mueller does or does not have. He then proceeds to offer his admittedly uninformed opinions based on those assumptions… Barr is plainly setting up straw men just to knock them down.”
NBC News

During the hearing, he “criticized former FBI Director James Comey for his decision, mere weeks before the 2016 election, to publicly criticize Hillary Clinton when announcing the decision to not prosecute her over her email security while secretary of state. ‘If you’re not going to indict somebody, you don’t stand up there and unload negative information,’ he explained. That raises questions about how much information he’ll disclose about the Russia investigation if it’s not used to bring criminal charges.”
New Republic

He also “[claimed] not to know what [the emoluments clause] is… but the emoluments clause — and litigation around it — has become a key flashpoint in the larger debate over Trump’s financial conflicts of interest and lack of disclosure about his finances… Under the circumstances, the safest path for Barr was probably to say nothing — which is what he did.”

“Trump has eschewed job candidates with Bush ties. As a result, Trump’s most important appointments have been mostly inexperienced… [But Barr is] someone who is proudly and in a highly traditional way presenting himself as a mainstream, experienced, Republican official… Expect Barr to defend the president’s legal prerogatives aggressively… But also expect that, if Mueller can show Barr definitively that Trump colluded with Russia to subvert [the] 2016 election, committed crimes or engaged in an unlawful cover-up, Barr will listen — and act accordingly.”

Barr stated, “‘In the current environment, the American people have to know that there are places in the government where the rule of law, not politics, holds sway’…That was an important and reassuring message… [Barr] is a conservative Republican with views that not every American will embrace. But he came across as highly qualified and committed to the traditions, procedures and mores of the Justice Department.”
Washington Post

Many note that “Biden’s opposition to [marijuana] legalization… puts him at odds with the great majority of Democrats, 75-plus percent of whom back legalization. Biden’s opposition even puts him at odds with the median Republican, with polls showing that even a majority of Republicans support legalization. Politically, then, legalization should be low-hanging fruit… Yet Biden is not quite there… It’s an especially bad look for Biden. He has a long record of pushing for punitive criminal justice and drug policies — not just supporting but actually writing many of the laws in the 1980s and ’90s that helped shape America’s modern war on drugs. For Biden to hang on to marijuana prohibition, then, just reinforces one of the major concerns that criminal justice reformers like Booker have about him.”
German Lopez, Vox

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right supports Barr and is optimistic about his confirmation chances following the hearing.

From the Right

The right supports Barr and is optimistic about his confirmation chances following the hearing.

Many are highlighting Barr’s statement that, “I’m in a position in life where I can do the right thing and not really care about the consequences, in the sense that I can truly be independent… President Trump has sought no assurances, promises, or commitments from me of any kind, either expressed or implied, and I have not given him any, other than that I would run the department with professionalism and integrity.”
Daily Signal

“Barr emphasized that the conclusion of Robert Mueller’s investigation required as much transparency as the law allows. That may not be great news for the White House, depending on what Mueller includes in his report… Barr’s even-handedness and straight-arrow approach will give Senate Democrats few opportunities to launch any effective attacks that will paint Barr as a Trump toady.”
Hot Air

Credit to Mr. Barr for defending his memo [last year] as entirely appropriate, and for refusing to say he’d recuse himself from the Mueller probe…

“The Constitution’s guardrails are especially important when passions are high and political mobs want heads on pikes. As Mr. Barr’s memo put it: If a Justice investigation ‘is going to take down a democratically-elected President, it is imperative to the health of our system and to our national cohesion that any claim of wrongdoing is solidly based on evidence of a real crime—not a debatable one.’”
Wall Street Journal

Barr “not only survived his eight-hour Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday but left it with a strong chance of picking up Democratic votes… The smooth confirmation of a new attorney general seemed unimaginable last year, when Democrats warned that Trump's decision to fire Jeff Sessions had sparked a ‘constitutional crisis’ amid fears that Trump was looking to take control of the ongoing investigation into whether he colluded with Russia to win the election in 2016.”
Washington Examiner

“If the Democrats oppose someone like William Barr, there is no one that they would support… Barr is the right man to clean up the political gamesmanship that corrupted the upper echelons of the Justice Department and FBI under the previous administration and should be confirmed without delay.”
Fox News

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“After adding in the ultra-millionaire’s tax and factoring in the other capital taxes Warren wants to levy — on financial transactions, on unrealized capital gains, on corporations — we’d be asking every billionaire to hand over more than two-thirds of their total wealth over a 10-year period. If the government actually managed to collect it, their fortunes would rapidly erode — and so would tax collections. The plan might be a good way to smash wealth, but it’s a terrible way to fund the nation’s health-care system…

“If Warren makes it to the White House, and tries to pass a plan, the Congressional Budget Office will eventually attach more reasonable numbers, with more defensible assumptions, sparking an even more spectacular political blowback than the one that greeted Friday’s announcement. Outside of the progressive Twitterati, there isn’t necessarily an enormous constituency for spending $20.5 trillion to herd every American into a national health insurance program; there would be even less support for spending what Warren’s plan would actually cost.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

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