Someone on Twitter said last night that this is the most ethical thing Barr has done as Attorney General and he’s probably going to get fired for it.
Which would make this administration two for two in dispatching AGs for the crime of behaving ethically.
I’ll be a little surprised if he survives the day. Trump was already thinking of firing him. Now he has confirmation from the WSJ that Barr could have revealed that Hunter Biden was under federal investigation at any time before the election — and chose not to. Highly “disloyal.”
Maybe Barr will beat him to the punch by resigning?
Attorney General William Barr has known about a disparate set of investigations involving Hunter Biden’s business and financial dealings since at least this spring, a person familiar with the matter said, and worked to avoid their public disclosure during the heated election campaign…
While the investigations in Delaware and Manhattan proceeded, investigators tried to keep the cases out of public view by taking few visible steps in the weeks before the November election, recognizing the impact their work could have, said one of the people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Barr was aware of the investigations involving Hunter Biden before the spring, the person said, though it isn’t clear when or how he first learned of the inquiries.
According to the Journal there are — or were — two separate investigations into Hunter, one based in Delaware and one based in Manhattan. The Delaware one is the one Biden has now copped to, having to do with his “tax affairs.” The Manhattan one focused on his “business and financial dealings, as part of a broader criminal investigation that two people familiar with the matter described as an international financial investigation that had been going on for at least a year.” That sounds like money laundering, which CNN claimed was something the feds were looking at in Biden’s case in a story published a few days ago.
But that’s why I said “are — or were.” It *may* be that the DOJ has cleared Biden of money-laundering charges at this point and is focused exclusively on taxes now. From the NYT:
But it is not clear whether the newly disclosed federal investigation has substantiated the Republican claims. The inquiry originally focused on possible money laundering but did not gather enough evidence for a prosecution, according to people close to the case. Instead, it turned to tax matters.
Various other media outlets collated here by NRO have reported that the Biden investigation focused on money laundering at some point but it’s unclear whether that’s ongoing. Maybe that explains why the probe finally went from covert to overt. There are all sorts of reasons why that can happen, said former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy in another NRO piece today. Possibility: The feds were chasing money-laundering leads on Biden for months, wanted to keep that hush-hush so that neither he nor any of his cronies destroyed evidence, and finally gave up when they couldn’t substantiate the claims. With that angle foreclosed and the probe solely focused on taxes, maybe that’s when they finally decided to notify him formally.
If that’s true then Barr and his team had a good reason not to reveal their investigation. Doing so may have helped Trump politically but it also would have tipped off Hunter that they were sniffing around his finances before they had enough evidence to secure an indictment.
The AP says the president is indeed aware of the news that Barr’s DOJ suppressed this scoop and he’s not happy: “[P]rivately, he demanded to know why the investigation was not revealed ahead of Election Day, accusing officials of deliberately stalling in order to help Biden’s chances, according to two Republicans familiar with the conversations but not authorized to discuss them publicly.” Given that Barr reportedly wanted to stay on as AG in a Trump second term, what incentive did he have to help Biden win? Keeping the Biden investigation a secret only improved the odds that he’d soon be out of a job and end up vilified by the pro-Trump right. Which is a bad place to be when you’re already vilified by anti-Trumpers of all stripes.
I’m coming around to the theory, though, that Barr and his allies are on a reputation rehab tour ahead of his departure from the government. That was one of the theories offered to explain his surprising admission to the AP that the DOJ hasn’t found any evidence of widespread voter fraud. Now here’s the WSJ with a scoop that Barr knew all along that Hunter was under scrutiny and didn’t say anything when doing so might have helped Trump. With the election results having forced Barr to return to private life, maybe he’s trying to make his landing as soft as possible.