William Barr's Move To Rid The DOJ Of Independence Shows One Of Many Reasons Josh Hawley's FTC Plan Is Dangerous

from the a-banana-republic-if-you-can-keep-it dept

Karl already took some time to highlight just one of the many absurdities in Senator Josh Hawley’s “plan” to revamp the FTC by turning it into a sub-agency of the Justice Department, rather than an independent agency. First of all, the Justice Department is the law enforcement arm of the government, and the FTC is supposed to be engaged in protecting consumers from “unfair or deceptive acts” by businesses. It is a separate and different focus than straight law enforcement by the Justice Department.

But, even more telling is that at just about the same time as Hawley was making his pitch to dump the FTC’s current five commissioner structure, in favor of a single director working directly for the Attorney General, we find out that the current Attorney General, William Barr, has broken with decades of tradition that had made it clear that the Justice Department was an independent agency, separate from the White House. As was widely reported, Barr has made it clear that he will step in and protect the President on matters that concern the President. As such, the DOJ is no longer an independent law enforcement agency, but it is now the state police, doing the bidding of the President.

That should concern just about everyone — no matter which party you’re in. And the idea that the FTC should take sole orders from what is now a political office, including in investigating companies and potentially fining or breaking them up, is hugely problematic. You would think that Republicans, like Hawley, would recognize this. However, Hawley — who once pretended to be for smaller government and for “keeping government out of business” — has long shown his true colors as someone who simply loves to use the government to get his own interests in place. And if that means enabling his vendetta against a group of companies he doesn’t like, so be it.

We’ve had our concerns with both the DOJ and the FTC over the years, but putting the FTC into the Justice Department will make all of those concerns worse, not better. At a time when the Justice Department can no longer be considered an independent agency from the White House, it is especially concerning that someone would seek to shove the FTC into that setting.

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Comments on “William Barr's Move To Rid The DOJ Of Independence Shows One Of Many Reasons Josh Hawley's FTC Plan Is Dangerous”

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90 Comments
Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re:

Did Obama?s attorneys general investigate his political rivals on his orders? Did they do everything they could to keep Obama?s friends and associates from going to jail, or from going to jail for a significant amount of time?

Please, feel free to cite the ways Obama?s DOJ had his back that Trump?s DOJ does not. From where I sit, the Trump DOJ has done more to protect Trump?s ass than Obama?s DOJ ever did to protect Obama?s.

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re: Re: Re:

Did Eric Holder interfere with a sentencing recommendation for a convicted Obama associate? Did Loretta Lynch release a misleading statement about an investigation into Obama?s activities that let Obama say he was completely exonerated even when he wasn?t?

Unless you can come up with something Holder/Lynch did to help Obama in the same way Barr is appearing to help Trump, your whataboutism is even more pointless than usual.

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re: Re: Re:7

I don?t see how. Every one of my replies in this chain has asked for the same thing: proof that the Obama DOJ/AG acted to protect Obama in the exact same way that the Trump DOJ/AG has acted to protect Trump. You can?t claim I moved the goalposts when they?ve been in the same place all along.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

no, failure to provide evidence is no such thing. stalwell is one of the dumbest lawyers I’ve ever heard, right up there with the great nifong and schiff.

example:
joe: where is my slice of pizza, dog?
dog:( no answer)
joe: that’s all the proof i need that you stole it, don’t you dare try to shift the blame to my obese girlfriend, you misogynistic cur

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re: Re: Re:7

failure to provide evidence is no such thing

Except it is. If someone makes a claim but refuses to back their claim with evidence (or citations thereof), I can make an adverse inference against them???that is, I can assume their claim is bullshit.

The implicit claim from the AC says Obama?s DOJ/AG acted in at least a similar way to Trump?s DOJ/AG vis-?-vis protecting the president. The AC?s refusal to back that claim by provding either a citation of existing evidence or wholly new evidence allows me to assume they can?t provide either of those things (i.e., make an adverse inference against them). That inference leaves me with no other choice but to believe their claim is bullshit.

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re: Re: Re:9

I intended no such implicit claim.

Let?s look back at your comments, then.

Apparently, you have never heard of Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch.

Here, you imply that Holder and Lynch acted with the kind of corrupt intent that Barr is accused of acting with, and that you can provide evidence that backs up your implicit claim.

you are moving the goalposts and narrowing what can be said about AG misdeeds during Obama?s time as President

Here, you imply that I somehow ?moved the goalposts? of the argument to make sure no one can mention any potentially corrupt acts from the Obama DOJ/AG. All I did was ask for evidence of any such acts that are either exactly like or similar to the acts of corruption attributed to Barr.

definitely an OD fanboy with no substantial understanding of the role of the US AG

While I have no idea what ?OD? means in this context, I can infer that you believe I would neither hear nor consider any evidence of corruption in the Obama DOJ/AG in comparison to the Trump DOJ/AG, even though I explicitly asked for such evidence.

?Intent follows the bullet?, as the saying goes. The implications of your comments say something you may not have meant to say. And I?ll note that for all your whining, neither you nor anyone else in this particular comment thread has yet provided a citation of evidence toward my original query.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

That is because you have defined what you consider acceptable so narrowly that it is virtually impossible to provide you an answer. Your basic premise here is that the AG is a puppet, so to speak, of President Trump, something which anyone not burdened by partisanship and familiar with the role of the AG in our system of government would not readily conclude based on a superficial correlation.

Of course, I cannot discount the possibility that you believe the seniormost official within the DOJ has no business disagreeing with the opinions of his subordinates. I, however, believe it is his responsibility to monitor the work of his subordinates and speak up whenever he believes they have or are about to do something that is inappropriate.

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re: Re: Re:11

That is because you have defined what you consider acceptable so narrowly that it is virtually impossible to provide you an answer.

I asked for a set of facts concerning similar behaviors between the DOJ/Attorneys General of two separate presidential administrations. If you consider such a request ?virtually impossible? to fulfill, I have to wonder whether that is because you can?t find a set of facts that fit the query or you can?t make the facts you have on hand fit my query.

Your basic premise here is that the AG is a puppet, so to speak, of President Trump, something which anyone not burdened by partisanship and familiar with the role of the AG in our system of government would not readily conclude based on a superficial correlation.

William Barr decided to interfere with the sentencing of Roger Stone, a convicted Trump associate, after Donald Trump noted his displeasure with the initial sentencing recommendation from the DOJ prosecutors. Barr claims the timing was irrelevant, but it sure looks like Trump?s complaint led to the interference, even if Barr wasn?t following a direct order.

William Barr put out a misleading statement concerning the Mueller investigation that either downplayed or outright lied about the findings of that investigation (depending on who you ask). Trump used Barr?s statement to declare himself ?exonerated?, even though he wasn?t.

Even if I accept the idea that Barr isn?t a puppet of Donald Trump, these two acts alone give me the idea that maybe Barr has a motive for those acts that isn?t f?at j?stitia ruat c?lum?.

I cannot discount the possibility that you believe the seniormost official within the DOJ has no business disagreeing with the opinions of his subordinates.

He can disagree with those opinions, sure, but he put those four prosecutors on the case for a reason. So?

I ? believe it is his responsibility to monitor the work of his subordinates and speak up whenever he believes they have or are about to do something that is inappropriate.

?if he felt they had gone too far at any point before the sentencing, he should have pulled them before the sentencing. That he chose to undermine them when he did, in the way he did, implies that he did so specifically to make Donald Trump stop whining about his friend going to jail.


?????Let justice be done though the heavens fall?, which means ?let justice be done regardless of the consequences?.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

Those prosecutors who were overridden began their prosecutorial efforts against Mr. Stone before Barr was appointed as AG.

First you alleged that Barr misrepresented Mueller?s report…which he most certainly did not. Now you are saying he made a misleading statement…and even this is wrong. Try reading what Mueller actually said in his report, and then compare what both Barr and Rodenstein had to say about it after their review. They said nothing that was contravened by the report, which you would realize if you had actually read it.

As for the timing, perhaps you missed Barr stating that he informed DOJ subordinates, well before Trump commented, that the sentencing memorandum was problematic and needed to be changed. Perhaps Barr is clairvoyant and can anticipate upcoming tweets, but I rather doubt this is the case.

As for presidents interfering with criminal matters, ponder the prior administration publicly opining on the actions of HRC during the conduct of an FBI investigation into her email practices while Secretary of State. This took place before WJC met with Loretta Lynch in private, and conclusion of the FBI investigation that was presented at a news conference by James Comey.

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re: Re: Re:13

Those prosecutors who were overridden began their prosecutorial efforts against Mr. Stone before Barr was appointed as AG.

So what?

They said nothing that was contravened by the report

?which is why the statement was misleading. Rather than state the facts of the report as a whole (including the ten or so instances in which Trump acted in a way that could be seen as obstruction of justice), the statement only talked about the findings that painted Trump as purely innocent of any possible crimes. Under the most charitable interpretation, the Barr statement misrepresented the report as exonerating Trump of any crimes.

perhaps you missed Barr stating that he informed DOJ subordinates, well before Trump commented, that the sentencing memorandum was problematic and needed to be changed

Has he provided proof of that? Has the claim been independently verified? The statement is self-serving; it has no value until and unless someone or something corroborates it.

ponder the prior administration publicly opining on the actions of HRC during the conduct of an FBI investigation into her email practices while Secretary of State

Did Obama order the Attorney General to do anything to cover up the results of the Clinton email investigation or mislead the public about that investigation in any way? Did Obama order the DOJ/Attorney General to shorten the sentence of any Obama or Clinton associate convicted of a crime? And if the answer to either or both of these questions is ?yes?: Can you provide a citation of proof to back up your answer?

Bruce C.says:

Re: Re:

I see your "But Obama" and raise you a "but Nixon", and his attorney general John Mitchell.

"After his tenure as U.S. Attorney General, he served as chairman of Nixon’s 1972 presidential campaign. Due to multiple crimes he committed in the Watergate affair, Mitchell was sentenced to prison in 1977 and served 19 months"

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Nixon did nothing wrong."

Except for using government espionage in order to closely surveill his political adversaries – something which may or may not have been completely illegal at the time but certainly was enough to force even his most fanatical adherents to hold their noses.

Today of course if trump were to do the same his closest adherents would simply say it was Donald just bein’ Donald.

When the aberrant and unacceptable becomes normalized, people stop thinking. If Clinton had tossed out less than 1% of the lies trump spouts on daily basis, he’d have been impeached so fast he’d have left skid marks on the white house lawn on his way out…

tzsays:

That is NOT what Barr did

You could make an even better case about Comey protecting Hillary, and Holder and Lynch protecting Obama.

Barr has not done or said anything indicating the DoJ is not independent, but elections and appointments matter. Just because the DoJ isn’t actively attacking Trump, or that their out of control lawyers aren’t allowed to run roughshod over his supporters, doesn’t mean that they aren’t independent.

Otherwise Obama would have been similarly hounded and the Clintons, friends, donors, and Foundation would have been jailed and shut down “just to show the DoJ was independent of Obama”.

That is not a reasonable standard. I know, “but Orange Man Bad!!!” overrides everything. How about standing back and considering the whole story from all sides? We don’t need a Tech version of Buzzfeed or CNN or MicroSoftNBC. Or Faux news for that matter.

So if Trump came out in favor of preserving the FTC as it, would you then switch sides and say it must be part of the DoJ just because Trump tweeted it?

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re:

Barr has not done or said anything indicating the DoJ is not independent

You mean other than interfering in the sentencing of a fairly-tried-and-convicted Trump associate hours after Trump tweeted his dissatisfaction with the DOJ?s sentencing recommendation? You know, the interference that caused four career prosecutors to leave the case, three of whom left the DOJ altogether? Is that ?nothing? to you?

How about his statement on the Mueller investigation that was an intentionally bullshit summary of the investigation?s findings meant to bolster Trump?s ego? Was that an act of an ?independent? DOJ that doesn?t let ?politics? get in the way of doing its job?

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re: Re: Re:

I have three yes-or-no questions. A refusal to directly answer any or all of them with ?yes? or ?no?, or any attempt to pull a ?whataboutism? or other such deflection tactic in lieu of answering them, will be used as an adverse inference against you.

  1. Did William Barr/the U.S. Attorney General?s office say the sentence recommendation for Roger Stone would be reduced mere hours after Donald Trump tweeted his dissatisfaction with the original recommendation?
  2. Did William Barr personally release a summary of the Mueller investigation that misrepresented the investigation?s findings, such that Donald Trump claimed the investigation exonerated him of wrongdoing?
  3. During the Obama administration, did the Department of Justice/Attorney General do anything even remotely similar to either of those two acts, both of which come off as the department/the Attorney General aiding the personal agenda of the president?
Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re: Re: Re:3

One answer at a time.

correlation is not causation

With Trump, it doesn?t have to be. He runs the presidency as if he were a mob boss; he doesn?t explicitly order illegal/questionable things be done for him, but he makes his wishes known and those who can do those things for him get to work. They?d hate to upset the godfather, after all.

No

The Barr statement on the Mueller investigation is largely considered to have been, at best, a misleading statement on the findings of the investigation. Mueller and his team found at least ten instances of Trump and his administration acting in a way that obstructed justice; the Barr statement made no such mention of those findings.

Yes

By all means, show me an example of the Obama-era DOJ/Attorney General making misleading statements to exonerate Obama of obstruction into a legal investigation or interfering with the sentencing of a convicted Obama associate.

I?ll wait.

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re: Re: Re:3

whataboutism???noun???a tactic used to deflect and derail criticism of someone?s behavior/speech by pointing to wholly unrelated behavior/speech from other people in the hopes that the critics will ignore the original troublemaker and instead shift their attention to those other people

EXAMPLE: Bringing up Barack Obama?s misdeeds to derail a discussion thread exclusively about Donald Trump?s misdeeds is a classic case of whataboutism.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: That is NOT what Barr did

As for those who contributed to hiding it, perhaps someday in the future you might ask yourselves what is it that makes you unable to tolerate opinions that differ from yours.

Well…

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Thursday that President Trump does not regret calling ?Never Trump? Republicans ?human scum? and said they ?deserve strong language like that.?

Speaking as some of that "human scum" I could give anything but a fuck about your opinion.

Anonymoussays:

Trump is not business as usual. He openly admires dictators, talks about his ‘third term,’ says we should have a ‘president for life’ someday, fired an FBI directer for refusing a pledge of personal loyalty, tried to bully Ukraine into pushing dirt on a political rival using government authority, interfered with Stone’s sentencing, and has turned the Republican party into a personality cult. He really could shoot people on 5th Avenue and nothing would come of it. His lawyers even openly argued presidential immunity would protect him. We don’t have much time left.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The way you evangelicals are willing to turn a blind eye to whats happening now doesn’t exactly engender sympathy from the rest of us. I don’t know that Trump is outright genocidal, but if Stalin’s the best you can compare him with, we are all in seriously deep shit. But you are right of course. Bernie and AOC really do have secret gas chambers that float in the clouds when they are not diving like submarines. Btw, would you care to address any of the corruption that I mentioned?

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re: Re: Re:

I don’t know that Trump is outright genocidal

He isn?t, but a fair number of his followers are death cultists of a sort, seeing as how lots of conservative Christians (the biggest demographic in his voter base) believe in the Rapture prophecy and will do anything???which includes electing an adulterous oligarch with dreams of dictatorship and poor impulse control to the highest political office in the United States???to see that prophecy fulfilled. Trump claims to love Israel, and part of the Rapture prophecy calls for all the Jews to return there, since that will be the event that brings about the Second Coming of Christ. This is why evangelical Christians wholly supported Trump moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem: They see that as another step towards bringing about the Rapture.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re:

"Man will have NOTHING to do about bringing on the Rapture Stone."

Rather than telling an agnostic or atheist about that you might be better served telling the US doomsday cultists that even if they DO manage to bring about the apocalypse it doesn’t mean they’ll successfully have forced a second coming.

Staffersays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: "believe in the Rapture prophecy "

Sir YOU DO NOT KNOW
what any one believes, ever…..
your rant belies your being PAID or Just narcissistic
and I believe that, no I assert that you ARE trapped in your
own projections, and feel a since of powerlessness, thus ACTING out
on anyone you believe to have an opposing view
blinder leading blind comes to mind.. good luck

Anonymoussays:

So what? Read for comprehension your sentence beginning with ?He can disagree…?. Note that Barr could not have assigned them as prosecutors because he because he was not the AG at that time.

Re timeline, all we have right now is Barr?s statement. Do you have any reason other than TDS to believe he is not telling the truth? I don?t, and am reasonably confident it will soon come out if he is not being truthful.

As for your fascination with the Mueller report, read carefully both it and what Barr and Rodenstein stated. Then come back with specific recitals to each supporting what you assert are misstatements or misrepresentations. While you are at it, also take a look at the DOJ IG report critical of the FBI?s actions at the inception of the investigation into Trump?s campaign associates. Maybe you will then understand Barr?s stated concerns about whether or not DOJ policies were being faithfully followed. The Durham investigation is being conducted precisely to address these concerns, and the just announced appointment of another DOJ prosecutor to investigate the Flynn case is another example illustrating Barr?s concerns. Frankly, it is to me a breath of fresh air to have as AG a person who places emphasis on the last word in the name of his agency.

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re:

Barr could not have assigned them as prosecutors because he because he was not the AG at that time.

He could have reassigned them after he became Attorney General, though.

Do you have any reason ? to believe he is not telling the truth?

Yes: His statement is both self-serving and uncorroborated by anyone with knowledge or evidence that proves the statement true.

read carefully both it and what Barr and Rodenstein stated. Then come back with specific recitals to each supporting what you assert are misstatements or misrepresentations

Did the statements from either Barr or Rosenstein mention the parts of the report that found instances where Trump allegedly acted to obstruct the Mueller investigation? If not, their statements on the report were unintentionally misleading at best, intentionally misrepresentative at worst.

take a look at the DOJ IG report critical of the FBI?s actions at the inception of the investigation into Trump?s campaign associates

The real question is, what does Barr have concerns about in that regard: how the investigations were carried out or that the investigations were carried out in the first place?

The Durham investigation is being conducted precisely to address these concerns, and the just announced appointment of another DOJ prosecutor to investigate the Flynn case is another example illustrating Barr?s concerns.

Similar to my point above: Are these investigations being done to ensure proper procedure at the DOJ, or are they being done to help Trump associates/Trump himself?

it is to me a breath of fresh air to have as AG a person who places emphasis on the last word in the name of his agency

Bless your heart, you actually believe this.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Truth, Justice, and thenAmerican Way — the GOP’s three most-hated enemies."

Not really. Just that to an increasing degree they’re using 17th-century definitions of those words.

When a large proportion of a political party considers it a personal affront that they have to skip ethnic and gender-based slurs and derogatory language it’s usually a good sign that said party has lost its shit completely.

The party of Lincoln? Yes, before they adopted the KKK and the rest of the trailer trash which fled the democrats in the 50’s…
These days, not so much.

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