Chauncey Devega in Salon:
If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,” as an old piece of political folk wisdom holds. The Democratic Party has apparently not learned this lesson. This is why (among other reasons) Donald Trump will likely defeat the Democratic nominee — whoever that may be — and win the 2020 presidential election. On Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report about obstruction of justice and Donald Trump and his inner circle’s collusion with Russia.
Barr again showed himself to be Donald Trump’s henchman and a man who does not serve the American people or the rule of law. In that role, Barr basically argued that Donald Trump is a king who is above the law; repeatedly lied and misrepresented Mueller’s findings; deflected what Mueller in (now) two separate letters has communicated as serious concerns about how Barr distorted the findings of the Trump-Russia investigation; and in total sullied the office of the attorney general and the Department of Justice. Barr and the Trump regime have contempt for basic democratic norms such as checks and balances. As such, Barr refused to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Political consultant David Rothkopf described the importance of Barr’s testimony before the Senate this way:
I don’t think we fully realize the profundity of Barr’s assertions yesterday. The ideas that a president can determine whether or not he ought to be investigated or that a president is incapable of committing obstruction are not just outrageous assaults on Constitutional values.
Taken in the context of this administration’s systematic rejection of the oversight role of Congress and of the law — whether it is the emoluments clause of the Constitution or the obligation of the IRS to hand over tax returns to the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee — what we are seeing is nothing less than a coup, to use a word the president has grown fond of. Trump and Barr are seeking to eliminate the checks and balances that are a hallmark of our system and to effectively render the Congress subservient to the presidency.
This was less a story of the Democrats forcing Barr out of the shadows and shaming the devil than of Barr showing the world, out of his own hubris, who he really is — Trump’s vassal and human puppet. How did Senate Democrats respond to this? With somewhat flummoxed but generally polite annoyance. There was little if any fury and fire given Barr’s behavior and the threat to American democracy he represents.