'Plausible deniability': Experts warn on Barr's 'carefully staged PR pushback'
Attorney General Bill Barr's record and not his remarks should govern how the people and the press perceive the Justice Dept. chief. So say experts who are weighing in Thursday afternoon after Barr gave an interview to ABC News in which he appears to complain about President Donald Trump's tweets.
“I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody ... whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president,” Barr told ABC News. “I’m gonna do what I think is right. And you know … I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”
But government, legal, and authoritarianism experts, and some journalists are saying "don't fall for it," literally. Those words came from NBC News National Security Contributor Frank Figliuzzi, a former FBI Assistant Director, on MSNBC minutes ago.
"It all rings very hollow to me and I don't think we can take anything the Attorney General says at face value," former U.S. Attorney, law school professor, and MSNBC contributor Joyce Vance just said on "Meet the Press Daily."
Journalist Judd Legum, who founded ThinkProgress and Popular.info, warns that Barr should not be taken at face value, because what he really wants is plausible deniability.
What Barr is objecting to here is that the president's tweets don't give Barr PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY. So Barr is sig… https://t.co/bUJDlkTAQq— Judd Legum (@Judd Legum)1581628676.0
Former CIA officer and former White House National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price suggests Trump's tweets make it harder for Barr to do what Trump wants:
It's the APPEARANCE of impropriety he finds so objectionable. The impropriety, on the other hand, is a feature, not… https://t.co/qR3YV2XxDp— Ned Price (@Ned Price)1581629320.0
Progressive newsletter The Daily Edge:
Why is Barr gaslighting America on @ABC News today instead of testifying under oath NOW? #DOJEmergency #Corruption https://t.co/3ls8h1kkaW— The Daily Edge (@The Daily Edge)1581629759.0
Former Office of Government Ethics director:
MSNBC Justice & Security Analyst, former DOJ chief spokesperson:
Don't be fooled by this one, people. Barr is telling the president that his impulsiveness is making it politically… https://t.co/4MJ6DsJ7QR— Matthew Miller (@Matthew Miller)1581628064.0
This Barr interview is DeNiro in Goodfellas yelling at Johnny Roastbeef for buying his wife a Cadillac after the Lufthansa heist.— Matthew Miller (@Matthew Miller)1581629045.0
Lawfare Executive Editor, Brookings Senior Fellow, CNN National Security and Legal Analyst, Former IC attorney:
Now he thinks a little carefully staged PR pushback against Trump is going to restore the perceptions of legitimacy… https://t.co/PzVWjQLjZ6— Susan Hennessey (@Susan Hennessey)1581629525.0
Pulitzer prize winner and National Security Correspondent for The Washington Post:
U.S. Representative (D-FL), and former Orlando Police Chief:
The best indicator of future performance is past performance. Attorney General Barr's past performance was to misl… https://t.co/mww10rHxyC— Rep. Val Demings (@Rep. Val Demings)1581630418.0
MSNBC chief legal analyst and anchor:
Shorter Bill Barr: I stand by intervening to help a convicted Trump adviser, but I wish Trump did not admit what we are doing on Twitter— Ari Melber (@Ari Melber)1581630965.0
Attorney, CNN commentator, former White House aide:
Either Trump approved this little political theater with Bill Barr or Barr is about to get the Jeff Sessions treatm… https://t.co/LW7bxxjrPv— Keith Boykin (@Keith Boykin)1581631211.0