News & Politics

Former RNC Chair Says Barr's Criticism of Trump Was 'Staged'

Former RNC Chair Says Barr's Criticism of Trump Was 'Staged'
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele makes his remarks during a Republican National Committee Winter Meeting in Oxon Hill, Md., Friday, Jan. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Sometimes an apple is just an apple. If people would just take that old adage to heart, there’d be a lot fewer idiotic conspiracy theories flying around.

But in the age of Trump, it’s hard to resist the lure of conspiracy. We usually lead lives of quiet desperation and conspiracies are exciting. Knowledge of them puts us “on the inside,” knowing how events are manipulated rather than helplessly being manipulated by those events.


So it’s hard to resist formulating conspiracies when trying to explain Trump’s inexplicable behavior. Had to be the Russians! The Ukrainians! The Democrats! The Republicans!

Instead, it’s just Trump being Trump.

Former RNC chair Michael Steele isn’t buying Attorney General William Barr’s criticism of Donald Trump poking his nose into Justice Department affairs. He doth think there be method to yon president’s madness.


Citing the White House’s unusually pragmatic reaction to Mr Barr’s remarks, Mr Steele tweeted: “Slow your roll if you think Barr is breaking from Trump.

“This was a carefully staged message to cool down pissed off DOJ attys whom Barr undercut & to avoid any further internal strife.

“This message does not get sideways with Trump because he’s already done what Trump wanted.”

Ah, the old sleight of hand, switcheroo, distraction play. We know it well. Barr pretends to criticize Trump, while giving him a wink and a nudge that he really didn’t mean it. Or perhaps, Barr and Trump cooked up this little Kabuki dance together and are laughing over a single-malt Scotch in the White House at the hysterical reaction of the press.


Or maybe Barr refuses to look like a presidential toady. Which do you think is most probable?

CNN agrees with Steele and has a few other theories as well.

Perhaps Barr was acting to protect his own reputation, amid furious criticism of his conduct as the President’s shield. Or was he trying to head off a mutiny in his department? CNN reported on Wednesday that more prosecutors were considering walking out on the Justice Department amid fears for its independence after four lawyers had already quit the Stone case.

In the days ahead it may emerge that Barr gave the White House a heads-up about his move. A coordinated damage-control mission would not be impossible, since more than anyone in the administration, Barr may have leeway to buy some political capital, after basking in Trump’s praise for a string of decisions that appeared to protect the President.

“In the days ahead it may emerge” that CNN reporters are from another planet, which explains their odd, hysterical reporting on Trump. Just about anything “may emerge” in the next few days as liars at DoJ and the White House look to curry favor with the press by passing on outrageous rumors. It’s an old game in Washington. And the more anti-Trump the rumors, the more likely they will get air time.


If Trump does fire Barr, maybe it’s because Barr wanted to go. Maybe Barr criticized Trump because he was tired of working for the government (and Trump) and wanted to go out in a blaze of glory. Maybe he just wants to take a long vacation on St. Croix.

Or maybe, an apple is really just an apple.


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