Bill Barr’s CNN interview was a train wreck


Attorney General Bill Barr took to CNN on Wednesday – and quickly demonstrated why he rarely strayed from Fox News friendly boundaries for TV interviews.

Barr’s interview with Wolf Blitzer began with the attorney general making unsubstantiated statements about the circumstances surrounding the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. This ended in desperate efforts to substantiate Trump’s baseless and politically motivated claims about how postal voting will result in a rigged election. On more than one occasion, Blitzer seemed surprised at how unconvincing Barr’s arguments were.

The whole show showed how, under Trump, the office of the country’s top law enforcement official was reduced to something akin to a campaign surrogate for the president.

Barr’s comments on Jacob Blake and Black Lives Matter revealed how insecure he is about racial unrest

The half-hour interview got off to a bad start when Barr made a flawed argument to try to justify Blake’s August 23 shooting – which sparked protests, looting and violence from right-wing vigilantes in Kenosha – then stayed true to his case even after Blitzer corrected him.

Barr claimed Blake was “armed” – the implication being that officers had good reason to shoot him seven times in the back. In fact, while there was a knife in Blake’s car, no evidence emerged that he brandished it against police officers.

“His family say he was unarmed,” Blitzer pointed out to Barr. “There may have been a knife in the car, but it was unarmed when he was shot. That’s what his family and his lawyer said.

But Barr’s account seemed insensitive to the facts.

“Well I declared what I believe to be [the case], ” he has answered.

From there, Barr half-heartedly argued that systemic racism is not a factor in police violence against black men like Blake, insisting that “the narrative that the police are on some, you know, the epidemic of shooting unarmed black men is simply a false story. and also the race-based narrative.

In fact, a number of studies have shown that black Americans are much more likely to be victims of the police than whites. For example, a Washington Post analysis of police shootings data found that while black Americans make up 13% of the American population, 36% of unarmed officer gunfire victims are black.

Barr wouldn’t even admit voting twice is a crime

If Barr’s ignorance of the reality of racial disparities in the country was infuriating, his comments on the postal vote were arguably even worse.

Barr’s interview with Blitzer came hours after Trump encouraged his supporters in North Carolina to vote twice to test the state’s postal voting system – comments widely interpreted as encouraging voter fraud.

“Looks like he’s encouraging people to break the law and try to vote twice,” Blitzer told Barr. But Barr was unwilling to admit that the sky is blue.

“I don’t know what the law of the state in question says,” he replied, prompting Blitzer to point out the obvious fact that “you cannot vote twice.”

“I don’t know what the law says in this state,” Barr said. “If you know what he is saying, why are you asking me if you are saying it.” “

“You are the Attorney General of the United States,” Blitzer said.

Trump’s remarks were intended to give the impression that postal voting is ripe for fraud. In fact, the experience of a number of states that already hold elections almost entirely by mail shows that it is relatively safe not only in terms of preventing fraud, but also in terms of allowing people to Safely exercise their right to vote amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. .

Alluding to this disconnect between reality and Trump’s rhetoric, the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent interpreted Barr’s defense of Trump as “telegraphing his willingness to legitimize Trump’s eventual effort to try and invalidate countless ballots. postal ballot, which Trump has already told us will be coming.

When Blitzer urged Barr to cite evidence that postal voting is as prone to fraud as Trump says, Barr was unable to. When asked if he had seen any evidence to support his own claims that a foreign government forged ballots to influence the election, Barr instead said those concerns were “a matter of logic.” Blitzer appeared taken aback by the weakness of Barr’s case.

Barr was then unable to answer Blitzer’s simple questions about the number of people indicted by Barr’s DOJ with electoral fraud. And the interview concluded with Barr, making an extremely unconvincing argument that China is a greater threat to the U.S. election than Russia – comments at odds with the intelligence community’s findings but in line with Trump’s desire to minimize Russian interference.

“I’m not going to discuss it,” Barr said, urged by Blitzer to justify his request. “I’m not going to go into this.”

The attorney general has been reduced to something that looks like a repairman for the president

It’s no surprise that Barr uses his desk to respond to Trump’s auction – he’s been doing so since the first weeks of his tenure early last year when he got ahead of the Mueller report by publishing a misleading summary of his main findings aimed at exonerating the President.

As my colleague Andrew Prokop explained, the DOJ may not have become “a well-oiled machine that immediately responds to President Trump’s auction at all times,” but Barr has proven that he “did not afraid of criticism that he is acting politically to help the president or his friends. “:

Barely a month after Barr was sworn in, he released his misleading version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s findings a month before the report itself. His Justice Department has ruled that Trump’s request that the Ukrainian president investigate the Bidens was not worth investigating, and other federal investigations into Trumpworld appear to have failed. Barr has personally asked prosecutors to weaken their sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, and he’s trying to get the case against Michael Flynn dismissed entirely. He instituted a new rule requiring his personal approval for any investigation of presidential candidates or campaigns. And he has attempted to place loyalists in key US prosecutor positions, such as the Southern District of New York and the District of Columbia.

Wednesday was the case. A rudimentary questioning by Blitzer revealed that he did not know the basic facts surrounding the key cases, the reality of racial disparities in America, and apparently even the fact that it is illegal to vote twice in America. And he seems more determined to repeat his boss’s talking points than to update himself.

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