Claims of ignorance from Sessions and Barr about leak investigation of House Democrats have to be falsehoods, according to former Watergate prosecutor

 

Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions, under oath

 

Trump attorneys general Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr are lying when they claim to know nothing about secret warrants to spy on reporters and Democratic members of Congress, among others, a former Watergate prosecutor told MSNBC yesterday. From a report at Raw Story

Former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks explained on MSNBC Sunday that there's no way that Attorneys General Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions didn't know about the warrants to spy on reporters, Democratic members of Congress, their staff and families, and [Trump's] own White House counsel.

Barr, Sessions and former Justice Department deputy Rod Rosenstein have all denied they knew of the subpoenas to spy, but Wine-Banks explained that's impossible because something like this would go all the way to the top.

"It may be that the person that they were investigating, had a legitimate predication for the search warrants and that they had some reason to do this," she told MSNBC. "It could have been that he got called by somebody that they were already investigating. It doesn't mean this is normal. It is not normal, and I think the investigation is absolutely critical, holding someone accountable is important to stop this from ever happening again. We can't have members of Congress, the press, and the White House counsel subjected to this. And the reason Don McGahan, of course, is of concern is because he was cooperating with Mueller which made him an enemy of Donald Trump. Donald Trump was calling out [Adam] Schiff, he was calling out [Eric] Swalwell, people who were subject to this search warrant, and he certainly must have felt uncomfortable with his own White House counsel who was cooperating and telling the truth to Mueller. So, that's why it's of concern."

Long-time observers of Alabama politics, who have followed Sessions' machinations as state attorney general and U.S. senator, should not be surprised to learn he has a disconnect with the truth. Sessions' detractors call him "the evil elf" for a reason. How laughable are the claims of ignorance so far? Here is more from Raw Story

Sessions said that he was never briefed on this seizure of records. Barr played fast and loose with the language, saying that he never discussed the leak cases with Trump. That was similar language to Barr's refusal to answer when then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) questioned him about Trump or anybody else who "asked or suggested" that he open an investigation into his political foes. Barr pretended not to know what the word "suggested" meant and refused to answer.

Host Alicia Menendez asked Wine-Banks if it was possible they didn't have any idea what was going on.

"In my opinion, no, and let me tell you why," said Wine-Banks. "First of all, we had [Osmar] Benvenuto, who was brought in at the recommendation of the U.S. Attorney from New Jersey, who was put in by Barr to replace the New York attorney who he was pushing out. He recommended Benvenuto who came in, and Benvenuto has said -- in a recording, that he briefed Barr at least every other week. So, it is not credible. And if Barr didn't know about this, then Barr is the worst manager, the worst Attorney General ever, because that is his job. The Department of Justice policy requires that there be notice and approval from a higher source. So, it's not something that you can just subpoena a member of Congress' records or a reporter's records without something much more. So, it doesn't pass what I call the 'red face test.' It's like, could I stand up before a jury and say this in front of them without blushing or giggling? The answer is, no, I couldn't."

Sessions' denial is particularly nutty, given this from The New York Times, which broke the story last Thursday

Prosecutors, under the beleaguered attorney general, Jeff Sessions, were hunting for the sources behind news media reports about contacts between Trump associates and Russia. Ultimately, the data and other evidence did not tie the committee to the leaks, and investigators debated whether they had hit a dead end and some even discussed closing the inquiry.

But William P. Barr revived languishing leak investigations after he became attorney general a year later. He moved a trusted prosecutor from New Jersey with little relevant experience to the main Justice Department to work on the Schiff-related case and about a half-dozen others, according to three people with knowledge of his work who did not want to be identified discussing federal investigations.

Translation: The leak investigation started on Sessions' watch, and he repeatedly bragged about being a tough guy on leaks, but now he claims to know nothing about what went on. This is a guy who has lied at least three times to Congress about his role in the Trump-Russia scandal, so lying to the press is . . . well, minor-league stuff for this big-league liar.

How uncomfortable could all of this get for Sessions and others? Axios already has labeled it "the emerging scandal of the summer": 

Washington has been served up an unprecedented controversy, and now officials from two branches of government are rushing to get a piece of the scandal spoils.

  • In the spotlight... the Trump-era Justice Department, which seized records from journalists and House Democrats during a leaks investigation over stories about the Russia probe.
  • Now Senate Democrats and the Biden-era Justice Department inspector general are separately launching investigations.

Back in 2017 and 2018, the DOJ obtained a gag order against Apple and subpoenaed the company to hand over data belonging to a dozen people linked to the House Intelligence Committee.

The big picture: "While Justice Department leak investigations are routine, current and former congressional officials familiar with the inquiry said they could not recall an instance in which the records of lawmakers had been seized as part of one," the N.Y. Times reports.

  • The seized records contained no proof of leaks.

The bottom line: The slow drip, drip of stories has now turned into the potential big story of the summer.