Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution, a list of earlier revolutions and the author, Entry #1.
Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether in the next few years, a revolution in the US is still possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Most recent sense check, Entry #332.
Entries for a few months were an intentional diversion from the craziness in Washington. Entry #352 put us back inside the Beltway.
In another stunning setback for the Trump Administration, two key supporters – William P. Barr, formerly Attorney General and Representative Jim Jordan, Republican, Ohio – were publicly rebuked. In an administrative ruling issued today, William Barr was formally disbarred in all fifty states and prohibited from advising on any legal matters for a minimum five (5) years.
Barr, recently convicted of a felony for accepting illegal payments from Russians while Trump’s Attorney General, claimed the charges were trumped up by Democrats who disagreed with his theory that while in office, the president has absolute power and therefore not subject to any laws. Throughout the hearings leading up to the House of Representatives impeachment of Trump, Barr insisted the proceedings were illegitimate.
According to former colleagues, Barr’s fatal flaw seemed to be an illusion that he, as Attorney General and chief law enforcement officer of the US, fell under the same umbrella he promoted for Trump – exempt from any oversight by Congress and above the law.
The indictment against Barr, which originated in the Eastern District of Maryland, did not begin formally until after Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election and a new president inaugurated. While the FBI was aware of illicit payments by the Russians to Barr, the information was kept within a tight circle of agents for fear that any formal investigation would be sidetracked by Barr and/or then president Trump.
Once a new attorney general was approved by the Senate and sworn in, FBI agents came forward with information about the payments from the Russians. FBI agents also identified which foreign agents were funneling money to Barr’s offshore account. When questioned about the strategy of waiting for Trump to leave office, the agents felt vindicated since Trump issued blanket pardons to a number of campaign aides and staff members who had been convicted of various crimes and who were then serving prison sentences.
Much like events in the Mueller investigation and in the Trump impeachment proceedings, several of those indicted or ready-to-be-indicted decided to cooperate with prosecutors. The FBI agents indicated they also followed a tip from Trump’s former lawyer/fixer, Michael Cohen. What Cohen provided was the method Trump used to funnel money from the Russians.
While Cohen was unaware that Barr was on the take, the agents began to analyze transactions that followed the pattern outlined by Cohen. In addition to Barr, apparently several individuals close to Trump were identified as receiving payments from Russians. So far, only Barr has been indicted and prosecuted.
According to staff at the Department of Justice, the appointment of a new attorney general and prosecution of Barr has helped restore morale, especially among FBI agents. Although Barr was never as publicly critical of DOJ as president Trump, his actions of following Trump’s orders rather than following his oath to uphold the Constitution had seriously eroded morale within the Agency. When interviewed, FBI agents, in particular, were much more positive about the prospects under the new president.
At about the time of the announcement that Barr was disbarred, Representative Jordan was arrested and jailed. Jordan was charged with lying to FBI agents about knowledge of sexual abuse of athletes by another wrestling coach while Jordan coached at Ohio State University.
Despite public statements by a number of former athletes that Jordan was well aware of actions by his fellow coach, Jordan has repeatedly denied awareness of any improprieties.
The charges against Jordan were brought by the US Attorney in the Southern District of Ohio. Like the Barr case, FBI agents indicated waiting to bring charges until Trump left office because of concern that either charges would not be pursued or Trump would issue a pardon after any conviction. At the hearing Jordan was denied bail for fear of flight and will likely remain in jail until his trial is completed.
Based on a pattern established during previous indictments of Trump officials, additional indictments are likely to be forthcoming.