Trump Hopes William Barr Keeps Him From Prison–As He Did For Bush

Confirmation hearings have not traditionally garnered glamorous attention outside the D.C. Beltway.

Unless they have a vested interest, most Americans would rather skip over news about cabinet nominees in favor of something more scintillating.

That has certainly changed in the age of Donald Trump.

If you are unfamiliar with William Barr, Trump’s nominee to fill former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ position, read on.

There is a particularly self-serving motive Trump has for tapping Barr to succeed Sessions.

To understand it, we need to go back to December 1992.

Bill Clinton had just defeated George H.W. Bush for the presidency, and in a few weeks a Democrat would be occupying the Oval Office for the first time in 12 years.

But Bush had a problem.

He was looking at potential prison time.


Independent counsel Lawrence Walsh was zeroing in on the 41st president’s involvement in the cover-up of the Reagan administration’s crimes in the Iran-Contra scandal.

As then-Iranian president Abolhassan Bani-Sadr wrote for the Christian Science Monitor in 2013:

“Ayatollah Khomeini and Ronald Reagan had organized a clandestine negotiation, later known as the ‘October Surprise,’ which prevented the attempts by myself and then-US President Jimmy Carter to free the hostages before the 1980 U.S. presidential election took place. The fact that they were not released tipped the results of the election in favor of Reagan.”

Bush, being Reagan’s vice president, played a vital role in his predecessor’s perfidy, according to documents from Reagan’s former defense secretary Caspar Weinberger.

Walsh knew Bush kept a diary.

Weinberger was all set to testify against Bush, and Walsh needed that diary–the “smoking gun”–to prosecute the president.

So Bush summoned his attorney general–William Barr, the man New York Times writer William Safire dubbed “Coverup-General” because of Barr’s subterfuge surrounding Bush’s selling Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein weapons of mass destruction.

About Barr’s unwillingness to appoint an independent counsel, Saffire wrote:

“Why does the Coverup-General resist independent investigation? Because he knows where it may lead: to Dick Thornburgh, James Baker, Clayton Yeutter, Brent Scowcroft and himself. He vainly hopes to be able to head it off, or at least be able to use the threat of firing to negotiate a deal.”

Barr knew if Walsh got a hold of Bush’s diary, they would all–even former president Reagan–be seeing the inside of prison cells.

So what did Barr advise President Bush to do?

Pardon Caspar Weinberger.

Christmas Eve 1992, that is exactly what Bush did.

With that pardon, he shut down Walsh’s independent investigation.

Bush et al. skirted prosecution and rode off into the sunset as the Clinton administration settled into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Now Barr is back.

And this time, his criminal-in-chief is Donald Trump, who has an independent council of his own breathing down his neck.

Who better to have in your pocket as special council Robert Mueller closes in than a former attorney general with a history of squirming guilty presidents out of liability?

Some cite Barr’s statement he would allow “as much transparency as I can, consistent with the law” during his confirmation hearing as an indication he is sincere about allowing the special council’s work to continue and conclude.

But Barr also admitted:

“I don’t know, at the end of the day, what will be release-able.”

In other words, no one will stand in Robert Mueller’s way, but his efforts might be for naught if Barr determines some information invalid for public disclosure.

Barr also admitted he might not follow Jeff Sessions’ precedent of recusing himself from the Russia probe if ethics officials recommend it, saying:

“I will seek the advice of the career ethics personnel, but under the regulations, I make the decision as the head of the agency as to my own recusal.”

It should come as no surprise Donald Trump selected a right-wing ideologue to be his AG.

There is little fundamental difference between him and Jeff Sessions in their views concerning civil rights, mass incarceration, and the “war on drugs.”

He also is complicit in hiding Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

Trump could have named anyone with similar views.

But he chose William Barr.

As attorney general, Barr will be perfectly poised to shut down the Muller investigation as he did the Walsh investigation for George H.W. Bush.

Someone to keep him out of prison and fix it so he fades off into history’s rose-colored sunset is just what Trump wants.

Remember how the media lionized George H.W. Bush when he died late last year?

Was there any mention of the crimes from which William Barr excused him?


Could history be repeating itself?

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, Liberal Nation Rising, and Medium.