Just How Corrupt Is Bill Barr? By Michelle Goldberg – NYT

“By now you have probably read the opening of the whistle-blower complaint filed by a member of the intelligence community accusing Donald Trump of manipulating American foreign policy for political gain. But the whistle-blower’s stark, straightforward account of stupefying treachery deserves to be repeated as often as possible.

“In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. government officials that the president of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election,” the whistle-blower wrote. “This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the president’s main domestic political rivals. The president’s personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort. Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well.”

Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well. The whistle-blower’s complaint was deemed credible and urgent by Michael Atkinson, Trump’s own intelligence community inspector general, but Bill Barr’s Justice Department suppressed it. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion saying that the complaint needn’t be turned over to Congress, as the whistle-blower statute instructs. When Atkinson made a criminal referral to the Justice Department, it reportedly didn’t even open an investigation. And all the time, Barr was named in the complaint that his office was covering up.

Under any conceivable ethical standard, Barr should have recused himself. But ethical standards, perhaps needless to say, mean nothing in this administration.

In the Ukraine scandal, evidence of comprehensive corruption goes far beyond Trump. Former prosecutors have said that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, may have been part of a criminal conspiracy when he pressed Ukrainian officials to open an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Vice President Mike Pence is also tied to the shakedown of Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, having met with him this month to talk about “corruption” and American financial aid. When this administration complains about Ukrainian “corruption,” it almost inevitably means a failure to corruptly pursue investigations that would bolster conspiracy theories benefiting Trump.”