CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin railed against Attorney General Bill Barr after a Wednesday interview in which the nation’s top law enforcement officer repeatedly re-interpreted President Donald Trump’s incendiary and inaccurate comments to make them seem more palatable and truthful.
During a panel discussion on the second hour of The Situation Room, Justice Department correspondent Evan Perez and then Toobin weighed in on the long and news-marking Barr interview with anchor Wolf Blitzer just minutes before. In it, Barr breezily dismissed Trump’s use of the loaded term “treason” to attack the previous administration of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, brushed off the president’s conspiracy theory about a nefarious planeload of black-clad rioters jet-setting around the country, and expressed little concern over Trump’s call for supporters to tamper with the 2020 election by trying to vote by mail and in-person.
“I’ve known the attorney general for many years,” Perez noted. “And one of the things that we’ve noticed this time around, as he’s serving as the attorney general with president, is that we often have the president goes out and says sometimes outlandish things, and then the attorney general tries to figure out a way to make that true. And we’ve seen that repeatedly in the last few months.”
Perez then added that he was “stunned” that Barr would try to somehow lend credence to the debunked, Facebook-spread conspiracy theory Trump has twice floated that anarchist or Antifa rioters are being shuttled to cities to ignite unrest.
“I don’t know that even inside the Justice Department or the FBI people have the evidence to back this up. The attorney general sort of was trying to grasp at straws to try to make that true,” Perez said. “And that’s part of the problem, Wolf, with the attorney general and why he’s perceived in the way he is. He’s very defensive when people accuse him of trying to defend the president being there simply for the sake of the president. And it’s incidents like what we just saw today that make people make that accusation.”
Toobin heartily concurred, saying this the attorney general “acts as kind of a simultaneous translator. The president says something completely outrageous, completely false, and then the attorney general says, ‘Well, no, what he really meant was something less insane.””
“In fact, the president says exactly what he means,” Toobin pointed out. “At the beginning of the interview when it was completely obvious what the president has been doing, leaning on the attorney general to put out the Durham report, to embarrass Biden, to embarrass the previous administration. It’s completely obvious what the president is doing there. And in all disingenuousness, Attorney General Barr says ‘Give me a break, we are actually familiar with the English language here,’ and I think those kind of answers are just an embarrassment.”
“Again, he just tries to sanitize what the president says,” Toobin emphasized. “As far as I’m aware, the president says exactly what he means. When the president says [Barr] has the potential to be a great attorney general by attacking my enemies, that’s what he means. When he says Biden and Obama committed treason, that’s what he means. And the fact that the attorney general tries to sanitize it doesn’t change, you know, the fact that we have a lawless president.”
Watch the video above, via CNN.
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Originally published: 2020-09-02 18:19:03