If you had told me 10 years ago that my favorite TV programming would one day be day-long congressional testimonies, I would’ve probably said…that sounds about right. Because I’ve always been and always will be a huge nerd. Anyway, these days congressional testimonies are like, totally a thing and yesterday’s showing by Attorney General William Barr was no exception.
For those who have jobs preventing them from watching hours of C-SPAN with the analytical prowess usually reserved for “Game of Thrones,” the Barr hearing was a bit more subdued than the blockbuster dramas spawned of the Kavanaugh and Cohen hearings, but that’s only because Bill Barr is masterful at the strategy of not answering a single question in order to avoid a perjury charge. Mind you, I’m calling this hearing “low-key” despite the fact that it resulted in multiple Democrats calling for Barr’s resignation. That’s just a regular Wednesday now.
As this hearing was a little low on scandalous soundbites and meme-able moments, you may have missed some of the more esoteric questions about Barr’s deeply manipulative approach to law enforcement (that’s me giving you the benefit of the doubt here Bill, because in reality I think you are prob a straight up cRiMiNaL).
One of these questions came from Senator Dick Durbin (D-CT-DUH) who spent his time asking Barr whether or not he had discussed with the president the 14 other criminal investigations that had been spun off the Mueller investigation (remember when Hillary had that many investigations spun off her emails?). Also whether he will recuse himself, which was obviously a nah.
Not only did Barr refuse to recuse (someone should put that on a shirt – you’re welcome for the idea, MAGA people) from those 14 spinoff investigations, but there was another case that Durbin asked about: the 1MDB case. While this initially seemed like it didn’t have anything to do with Trump (a rare thing these days), it turns out that it actually does. Sigh. Because as we can see through things like fraternity rush, scum always manages to find each other. And surprise surprise, Bill Barr has a conflict of interest in this case too, as well as yet another opportunity to protect Trump from having his financial schemes prosecuted.
The 1MDB case is a wild financial scandal involving Leonardo DiCaprio, Miranda Kerr, and the prime minister of Malaysia. That’s not a Zoolander joke, it’s real. So what’s a bridge troll like Bill Barr doing amongst all these hot people?
What is 1MDB?
1MDB stands for 1 Malaysia Development Berhad. It was founded by a lil scammer named Jho Low, a guy who climbed the ranks of Malaysian society to become embedded amongst the upper echelons. He was known for throwing insanely lavish parties around the world and spending unnecessary amounts of money in an effort to show how rich he was, while actually running a Ponzi scheme and money laundering operation. Praise be, we have a bigger, better Billy McFarland.
After a lot of desperate but effective social climbing, Jho Low became friends with the prime minister of Malaysia. His ties to the prime minister enabled him to establish 1MDB, which was ostensibly a sovereign wealth fund for Malaysia, funded partly by the Malaysian taxpayers, and partly by investors like Goldman Sachs and other (real) sovereign wealth funds. In reality, it was a complete front, used to line the pockets of Jho Low, the prime minister/his cronies, and fund random expensive vanity projects, all while essentially pilfering the country rather than legitimately investing its funds.
As with any good scam, 1MDB had barely any employees but used the legitimate-sounding idea of being the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund in order to get people to give them money to allegedly fund infrastructure projects in Malaysia and oil business with the Gulf states (what else is new). They then laundered large portions of the money that was lent to them into offshore bank accounts in the Seychelles, Cayman Islands, and Switzerland (be more obvious). Once laundered, they used the money, estimated at totaling $4.5 billion, for the following: parties, private jets, champagne, giant diamonds for the prime minister’s wife and Miranda Kerr (yes really*), financing the movie The Wolf of Wall Street, flying celebrities like Jamie Foxx and Swizz Beatz around to emcee the aforementioned parties, and other passé billionaire activities.
This whole thing came under DOJ investigation when the prime minister’s stepson made some sketchy property purchases with money from 1MDB, which essentially led to the whole thing being uncovered. Goldman Sachs also came under investigation for money laundering after lending 1MDB $3 billion dollars, while Goldman Sachs bro Tim Leissner pled guilty to skimming more than $200 million off of these transactions.
How Is Bill Barr Involved?
Goldman Sachs, which really should have known better, is being represented in the DOJ investigation by the law firm Kirkland and Ellis, where Bill Barr used to work. And when I say “used to work” I don’t mean like, five jobs ago. I mean as recently as he wrote on his financial disclosure form to become attorney general that he has earned over $1.2 million from the firm since March 2017.
As with every investigation Bill Barr has no business overseeing, he has received a waiver that allows him to not recuse himself from the ongoing DOJ and FBI investigations into the entire 1MDB matter, despite the fact that he has this obvious conflict.
Who Gave Him The Waiver
White House lawyer Emmet Flood. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
Another day, another day-long congressional testimony where some old white guy lies at us for six hours. Grool. Attorney General William Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee today regarding the Mueller investigation, his decision not to charge President Trump with obstruction, and the 4-page summary he provided of Mueller’s report ahead of its actual release. Here are 6 major takeaways from Barr’s testimony for those of you who can’t just casually watch hours of C-SPAN at the office.
1. Republicans Want to Investigate the Investigation
From the people who brought you the Benghazi hearings, I give you…the Mueller investigation investigation! Several Republican senators used their precious time to express concern over how the Mueller investigation was started and the legality of the FISA warrants used to surveil the Trump campaign. When asked by Senator Lindsey Graham if he was concerned about the “counterintelligence probe and how it started,” Barr answered yes, meaning he might be open to the Department of Justice investigating the origins of the investigation itself. All of this is based on a Trump-supported idea that the investigation into his campaign was based on the Steele dossier (aka the thing the pee tape rumor comes from), despite the fact that both the FBI and the Mueller report both demonstrate that the investigation began after George Papadopoulos got drunk and told an Australian diplomat the Russians had dirt on Hillary. Which reminds me, I need to apologize for some things I said after drinks last weekend…
2. Attorney General Barr Needs a Dictionary
Throughout the hearing, AG Barr seemed to be confused over the definition of very simple words. Barr claimed that he needed clarification on the definition of the words “suggest,” “summary,” “members,” and “conclusion.” He also said that President Trump never told White House counsel Don McGahn to “fire” Mueller, he simply asked him to “remove Mueller from his position due to alleged conflicts of interest.” See? Totally different.
3. Lindsey Graham Is Angry!!!!
Lindsey Graham resumed his role as craziest motherf*cker in the room for yet another hearing, Lord help us all. As committee chairman, Graham used his opening speech to yell about Hillary’s emails (of course) and read text messages between then-FBI official Peter Strzok and his girlfriend Lisa Page, one of which literally just said “Trump is a f*cking idiot.” Wait…but if criticizing Trump in 2016 is wrong then what about the guy who said this?
If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed…….and we will deserve it.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 3, 2016
“You know how you make America great again? Tell @realDonaldTrump to go to hell” https://t.co/pBLaZ1kgUV
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) December 8, 2015
Or any of this?
Just a little @LindseyGrahamSC compilation… @realDonaldTrump @POTUS #LindseyGraham #Sad #Kook pic.twitter.com/eD53q42Iok
— Snow Flake (@IceColdSnoFlake) May 1, 2019
4. The 2020 Dems Came To Play
2020 hopefuls and Senate Judiciary Committee members Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar all used the hearing to audition for debating Donald Trump sometime in the future. Booker hammered Barr for “adding normalcy to a point where we should be sounding alarms,” about Russian interference. Klobuchar brought receipts while questioning Barr’s decision not to pursue an obstruction of justice charge, and in a particularly shady exchange, Kamala Harris came to slay when she asked Barr if the President or anyone else had ever suggested he investigate anyone. He responded by saying he doesn’t know what “suggest” means.
Here is the complete exchange, via CSPAN, between Kamala Harris and Bill Barr — including the part where Barr couldn’t say whether Trump or anyone in the White House has ever suggested that he open an investigation into anyone. It’s worth a watch. pic.twitter.com/wJOdSFR7JR
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 1, 2019
5. Mueller Wasn’t Into Barr’s Summary
Much of the hearing was focused on a March 27 letter Mueller sent to AG Barr in which he expressed concern over Barr’s Cliffs Notes version of the report, saying that it “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions” and caused “public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation.” When asked about what Mueller’s concerns, Barr said that he thought the letter was “a bit snitty” and that after he read it, he called Mueller and asked, “Why don’t you pick up and call me if you have an issue?” You have my number, bro!
Barr says Mueller’s letter to him was “snitty” https://t.co/9lw0dzHPzm pic.twitter.com/9qDwVMimzi
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) May 1, 2019
6. Barr Doesn’t Exonerate Trump
Despite the fact that the president tweets “TOTAL EXONERATION” once per hour these days, both Barr and the Mueller report were actually careful not to exonerate him. When asked about his decision not to charge Trump with obstruction Barr said, “I didn’t exonerate. I said that we didn’t believe that there was sufficient evidence to establish an obstruction case.” Nobody tell Trump he said that…
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