Last updated on December 8, 2020
Attorney General William P. Barr is considering stepping down before President Trump’s term ends next month, according to three people familiar with this thinking. One said Mr. Barr could announce his departure before the end of the year.
It was not clear whether the attorney general’s deliberations were influenced by Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede his election loss or his fury over Mr. Barr’s acknowledgment last week that the Justice Department uncovered no widespread voting fraud. In the ensuing days, the president refused to say whether he still had confidence in his attorney general.
The “writing on the wall” is an idiom from the Biblical book of Daniel, where the Babylonian emperor sees a mystic hand write nonsense words on the wall of his dining room, and next day his empire falls to the Persians. (Daniel says it falls to the Medes, but he was wrong.) Trump is the emperor equivalent, of course, with Biden in the role of Cyrus (the Great), but Barr fit in nicely as one of the courtiers reacting in shock.
The writing on the wall in this case is Trump’s fury at Barr’s sudden (and really, out of character) refusal to keep supporting Trump’s reality disconnect. Barr long ago showed he has no scruples when it comes to bolstering the power of the president — Republican presidents, anyway. And he has arguably committed enough crimes that a functional Justice Dept. should easily find evidence to indict him. And no way is the Malignant Mangoface going to give him a pardon now.
Other Republicans, like Kemp and Raffesperger, can afford to have bouts of conscience and morality; Barr is more vulnerable. Yet he chose to shoot down Trump’s fiction that he won the election, and to do it at a damaging moment, when Trump needed something, anything, to keep his fiction going. Barr has seen up close and personal the way Trump operates and he knew this would make Trump just a wee bit displeased.
That may explain why Barr is now making noises that he won’t be around long enough for Trump to tweet-fire him. If that’s really his thinking, he can’t count on it; he’s seen how Trump fired other people as soon as they hinted at resigning, so he could make them leave at his whim, not theirs.
What’s his game, then? I may have some more thoughts as I mull this over. In the meantime, this is submitted for your mull.
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