Former Attorney General William Barr testified before a House committee examining the insurgency on Jan. 6, 2021, that reports of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election were false. But it was his assertion that the former president was “removed from reality” that made the news. Those words could be a “get out of jail free” pass for Donald Trump.
Barr had to know that implying that his former boss couldn’t discern the difference between fact and fiction would make it more difficult for the Justice Department to establish Trump’s guilt.
I’m aware that lawyers with experience in these cases believe there is a strong case to be made against Trump. But I’m not convinced.
We are pretty excellent at ignoring reality as a country. That was demonstrated by the pandemic. Some persons claimed they had not contracted COVID until they died. We all have relatives who live in their own little worlds and whom we only have to put up with on Thanksgiving.
Former US attorney and MSNBC legal expert Barbara McQuade told The New Yorker that defence counsel in white-collar cases focus on intent. The defence may argue that Trump’s actions were all legal “because he truly believed he had won the election and was the one attempting to prevent fraud… He may have been incorrect in the end, but he started from a good place because he believed what he was saying was correct.”
Is someone guilty of “willful blindness” if he hears dozens of arguments to the contrary and still holds on to his beliefs? According to McQuade, a judge might direct the jury to consider facts that should have persuaded Trump that he was mistaken. The prosecution now has another arrow in its quiver.
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Even still, the jury’s decision will be based on the thoughts of the 12 members, who may ponder what it means when someone is so out of touch that no amount of evidence can persuade him otherwise. It would only take one juror’s scepticism to throw the whole thing off. Then we’d have the previous president declaring complete innocence once more.
Barr must be aware of this. That’s why his remark about being “separated from reality” is so powerful. He may have described his former boss as obstinate or adamant about what transpired. He, on the other hand, did not. He speculated about Trump’s mental state.
And Barr has only just deserted Trump’s bandwagon. Remember, he was vying for the Attorney General’s job and wrote a lengthy report criticising special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia during the 2016 election and if Trump committed obstruction of justice. He masterfully debunked the Mueller report as Attorney General before it was released.
He was unconcerned about Trump’s immigration proposals. Following the murder of George Floyd, Barr followed a Bible-toting Trump as police deployed tear gas and pepper spray to pave a passage through peaceful protesters against police violence in Lafayette Square outside the White House.
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Barr’s resignation letter was brimming with compliments. He stated that he was glad to have contributed to the Trump administration’s “many victories and extraordinary achievements,” which he described as “all the more momentous” because they were achieved “in the face of unrelenting, uncompromising opposition.”
Bill Barr’s words in front of House investigators should not be taken as evidence of a genuine change of heart. Barr is the gift that keeps on giving for Trump.