Congratulations, new AG Barr — now get to work investigating and prosecuting the coup plotters

William Barr had no obvious reason to want to become the nation's chief law enforcement officer — again.  He already has that office on his résumé and no doubt has been making millions every year as a high-powered partner at one of the nation's highest-powered law firms, Kirkland & Ellis, in the lucrative specialty of advising big corporations on law enforcement and regulatory issues.  So I will assume that public service, particularly a desire to straighten out the "hot mess" (Kimberly Strassel's apt term) at the Justice Department and its subsidiary, the FBI, is what motivated him.


Photo credit: Department of Justice.

If he succeeds in getting to the bottom of what looks like the biggest political scandal in the nation's history, he will enter the history books as a great hero of the Republic, the man who uncovered and prosecuted the villains who sought to overturn a presidential election in what is could be termed a coup, perhaps prosecutable under the sedition statute:

18 U.S. Code § 2384.Seditious conspiracy

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

I will leave it the lawyers and courts to determine if the claims of Andrew McCabe in excerpts from his forthcoming 60 Minutes interview describing meetings aimed at improperly invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office meet the terms of this statute.  Renowned constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz — a Democrat and outspoken Hillary voter — sees the talk of the 25th Amendment as nothing less than a coup, telling Tucker Carlson (rush transcript ahead):

Well, if that's [McCabe's claim] true, it is clearly an attempt at Coup D'état. Let's take the worst case scenario. Let's assume the president of the United States was in bed with the Russians, committed treason and obstruction of justice. The 25th amendment simple supply irrelevant to that. That's why have you impeachment provision. The 25th amendment is about Woodrow Wilson having a stroke. It's about a president being shot and not being able to perform his office. It's not about the most fundamental disagreements and impeachable offenses. Any Justice Department official who even mentioned the 25th amendment in the context of President Trump has committed a grievous offense against the Constitution. The framers of the 25th amendment had in mind something very specific and trying to use the 25th amendment to circumvent the impeachment provisions or to circumvent an election is a despicable act of unconstitutional power grabbing. And you were right when you said it reminds me of what happens in third world countries. Look, these people may have been well-intentioned. They may have believed they were serving the interest of the United States, but you have to obey the law and the law is the Constitution. And the 25th amendment is as clear as could be incapacity. Unable to perform office. That's what you need. That's why you need two thirds of the house and two thirds of the Senate agreeing and it has to be on the basis of a medical or psychological incapacity. Not on the basis of even the most extreme crimes which there is no evidence were but even if they were, that would not be a basis for invoking the 25th amendment. I challenge any left wing person to get on television and to defender the use of the 25th amendment. I challenge any of my colleagues who are in the get Trump at any cost camp to come on television and justify the use of the 25th Amendment other than for physical or psychiatric incapacity.

Kimberly Strassel:

For the first time in this presidency, the Justice Department will have a leader who is apart from the Russia stink — neither accused of "collusion" nor obsessed with finding it.  He's also uniquely suited to understand the importance of credibility and accountability, having worked in the 1970s at the Central Intelligence Agency, then under intense fire. ...

Mr. Barr may be tempted to fob all this off on the investigations by the U.S. attorney for Utah, John Huber, or the Justice Department inspector general.  But Mr. Huber appears to have done little by way of investigation, the inspector general's report could still be a long way out, and in any event these questions merit answers from the nation's top legal officer.

I would add that in addition to answers, the national interest requires prosecutions of people who violated the laws and abused their positions of trust.

William Barr had no obvious reason to want to become the nation's chief law enforcement officer — again.  He already has that office on his résumé and no doubt has been making millions every year as a high-powered partner at one of the nation's highest-powered law firms, Kirkland & Ellis, in the lucrative specialty of advising big corporations on law enforcement and regulatory issues.  So I will assume that public service, particularly a desire to straighten out the "hot mess" (Kimberly Strassel's apt term) at the Justice Department and its subsidiary, the FBI, is what motivated him.


Photo credit: Department of Justice.

If he succeeds in getting to the bottom of what looks like the biggest political scandal in the nation's history, he will enter the history books as a great hero of the Republic, the man who uncovered and prosecuted the villains who sought to overturn a presidential election in what is could be termed a coup, perhaps prosecutable under the sedition statute:

18 U.S. Code § 2384.Seditious conspiracy

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

I will leave it the lawyers and courts to determine if the claims of Andrew McCabe in excerpts from his forthcoming 60 Minutes interview describing meetings aimed at improperly invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office meet the terms of this statute.  Renowned constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz — a Democrat and outspoken Hillary voter — sees the talk of the 25th Amendment as nothing less than a coup, telling Tucker Carlson (rush transcript ahead):

Well, if that's [McCabe's claim] true, it is clearly an attempt at Coup D'état. Let's take the worst case scenario. Let's assume the president of the United States was in bed with the Russians, committed treason and obstruction of justice. The 25th amendment simple supply irrelevant to that. That's why have you impeachment provision. The 25th amendment is about Woodrow Wilson having a stroke. It's about a president being shot and not being able to perform his office. It's not about the most fundamental disagreements and impeachable offenses. Any Justice Department official who even mentioned the 25th amendment in the context of President Trump has committed a grievous offense against the Constitution. The framers of the 25th amendment had in mind something very specific and trying to use the 25th amendment to circumvent the impeachment provisions or to circumvent an election is a despicable act of unconstitutional power grabbing. And you were right when you said it reminds me of what happens in third world countries. Look, these people may have been well-intentioned. They may have believed they were serving the interest of the United States, but you have to obey the law and the law is the Constitution. And the 25th amendment is as clear as could be incapacity. Unable to perform office. That's what you need. That's why you need two thirds of the house and two thirds of the Senate agreeing and it has to be on the basis of a medical or psychological incapacity. Not on the basis of even the most extreme crimes which there is no evidence were but even if they were, that would not be a basis for invoking the 25th amendment. I challenge any left wing person to get on television and to defender the use of the 25th amendment. I challenge any of my colleagues who are in the get Trump at any cost camp to come on television and justify the use of the 25th Amendment other than for physical or psychiatric incapacity.

Kimberly Strassel:

For the first time in this presidency, the Justice Department will have a leader who is apart from the Russia stink — neither accused of "collusion" nor obsessed with finding it.  He's also uniquely suited to understand the importance of credibility and accountability, having worked in the 1970s at the Central Intelligence Agency, then under intense fire. ...

Mr. Barr may be tempted to fob all this off on the investigations by the U.S. attorney for Utah, John Huber, or the Justice Department inspector general.  But Mr. Huber appears to have done little by way of investigation, the inspector general's report could still be a long way out, and in any event these questions merit answers from the nation's top legal officer.

I would add that in addition to answers, the national interest requires prosecutions of people who violated the laws and abused their positions of trust.