Compiled by Lisa Phillips of OpDeepState.com
Updated April 24, 2019
Should William Barr Recuse Himself From Mueller Report? Legal Experts Say Attorney General’s Ties to Russia Are Troubling
April 15, 2019
Here they go again.
Attorney General William Barr is already under fire for his March letter to Congress, which reported the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in a way many feel was mostly beneficial to President Donald Trump.
Now, Democrats are taking aim at Barr’s recent congressional testimony in which he slipped in his opinion that federal law enforcement officials may have “spied” on his boss’ successful presidential run.
But if that wasn’t enough, some experts argue that Barr’s previous work in the private sector could conflict with his continuing supervision of the investigation into Russian tampering in the 2016 election campaign.
Why? A few of Barr’s previous employers are connected to key subjects in the probe. And some argue that, even if Barr didn’t break any rules, his financial ties to companies linked to aspects of the Russia investigation raise questions about whether he should—like his predecessor, Jeff Sessions—recuse himself.
“The legal standard is really clear about these issues. It’s not about actual conflict, it’s about the appearance of a conflict, about the appearance of bias,” Jed Shugerman, a professor at Fordham University’s School of Law and an expert on judicial and government ethics, tells Newsweek . “The problem is that we have so many flagrant conflicts that are so obvious, we get distracted from what the legal standard is.”
This much is known: On Barr’s public financial disclosure report, he admits to working for a law firm that represented Russia’s Alfa Bank and for a company whose co-founders allegedly have long-standing business ties to Russia. What’s more, he received dividends from Vector Group, a holding company with deep financial ties to Russia.
Still, Barr’s potential conflicts could face further scrutiny as Democrats in Congress fight to have the Mueller report released to the public.
By the time you read this, the report may indeed be in the hands of Congress. But legal battles are expected over how much of the document will be redacted to protect grand jury material and other information. And no matter what appears in Barr’s color-coded version of the report, his motives will continue to be questioned.
“All of this raises the need for further inquiry from an independent review, not a Department of Justice investigation,” Michael Frisch, ethics counsel for Georgetown University’s law school and an expert in professional ethics, tells Newsweek . Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project for Government Oversight, says that Barr is probably playing within the rules. But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t recuse himself.
“He’s not doing anything illegal. [But] is it good practice, given that he might have been involved with these entities in private practice? Probably not,” Amey added.
The Department of Justice did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Nonetheless, here’s a pocket guide to Barr’s Russian connections.
On his financial disclosure report, Barr notes that he earned anywhere from $5,001 to $15,000 in dividends from the Vector Group.
The company’s president, Howard Lorber, brought Trump to Moscow in the 1990s to seek investment projects there. The trip is widely seen as the first of many attempts to establish a Trump Tower in Moscow.
The problem, says Shugerman, “is the appearance of bias.”
He added that Donald Trump Jr. “allegedly called Lorber as he was setting up the Trump Tower meeting with a Russian [lawyer]. Lorber has extensive ties to Russia and was allegedly assisting with Trump Tower Moscow plans. On top of Barr’s other choices, which reflect partisan bias, it is bad judgment…to have any financial ties to a person so directly entangled with Trump, Don Jr. and the core of events and questions of the Russia investigation.”
Barr’s former law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where he was counsel from March 2017 until he was confirmed as attorney general in February 2019, represented Russia’s Alfa Bank. (Barr earned more than $1 million at Kirkland.)
Barr also supervises, at Justice, another Kirkland & Ellis alumnus with Alfa ties. Early last year, Trump nominated Kirkland & Ellis partner Brian Benczkowski to the Justice Department’s criminal division. In his role with the law firm, Benczkowski had represented Alfa Bank and supervised an investigation into suspicious online communications between the bank and servers belonging to the Trump Organization.
Investigators found no evidence that the Trump Organization had communicated with Alfa. Still, the bank is partially owned by Russian oligarch German Khan, whose son-in-law, the London-based lawyer Alexander van der Zwaan, was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller for lying to investigators about a report his firm had written for Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Benczkowski was confirmed last July as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s criminal division.
“In terms of a lawyer’s professional codes, it’s definitely legally significant if [Barr] is in counsel position,” Frisch tells Newsweek . “If he is counsel to the company and he isn’t personally working on a matter but the company is, the company’s conflicts are imputed to him.”
Questions have also been raised about whether Och-Ziff Capital Management, a hedge fund where Barr was a board director from 2016 to 2018, may also be too closely connected to the Russia investigation.
The billionaire Ziff brothers, Dirk, Robert and Daniel, provided seed money to hedge fund manager Daniel Och to start the firm in 1992. They retained a small stake in the company after it went public in 2007.
The brothers are also a subject of interest to the Russian government because of their work with billionaire William Browder, a financier who ran afoul of the Kremlin.
Natalia Veselnitskaya—the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr.; Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner; and Manafort in the now infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting—mentioned the Ziff brothers during her meeting as part of the promised “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. (Browder tells Newsweek that Veselnitskaya had mentioned the Ziff brothers only because of their association with him. “It was purely directed at me, and they had the misfortune of being associated with me,” Browder said.)
Some experts argue that Barr’s work for Och-Ziff creates the appearance of a conflict of interest because the Russian government’s interest in the brothers was a component of the investigation.
“The fact that Veselnitskaya is in a meeting, that’s the Trump Tower meeting, talking about Browder and Browder’s associates, there’s a question about this meeting and the focus on Browder and the Ziff brothers. That is ground zero of the collusion question,” Shugerman said.
Yup, them again.
Barr has significant assets, between $100,000 and $250,000, with Deutsche Bank, which was the only bank that would lend to Trump when all other banks viewed him as too hot to handle. The bank has also been implicated in Russian money-laundering scandals. Two congressional committees are now looking into Trump’s business ties to Deutsche Bank.
It is unclear if Barr has divested from Vector Group or pulled his assets out of Deutsche Bank since he became attorney general.
So are all these cases grounds for Barr’s recusal? Has he crossed ared line?
“It would depend on his personal involvement. Did he profit from this in any way?” Larry Noble, a democracy and ethics expert and former counsel for the Federal Election Commission, tells Newsweek . “It’s a little bit concerning generally with this administration because everybody seems to have some connection somehow to people involved with Russian investment or Russia at some point.”
William Barr’s Connection to Ruby Ridge, Defending FBI Snipers
January 16, 2019
Trump’s AG pick was top cop during the federal siege and killing of Randy Weaver’s wife and son.
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for Attorney General nominee William Barr have focused heavily on Barr’s views on Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But nobody is asking about Barr’s legal crusade for blanket immunity for federal agents who killed American citizens.
Barr received a routine questionnaire from the Judiciary Committee asking him to disclose his past work including pro bono activities “serving the disadvantaged.” The “disadvantaged” that Barr spent the most time helping was an FBI agent who slayed an Idaho mother holding her baby in 1992. Barr spent two weeks organizing former Attorneys General and others to support “an FBI sniper in defending against criminal charges in connection with the Ruby Ridge incident.” Barr also “assisted in framing legal arguments advanced… in the district court and the subsequent appeal to the Ninth Circuit,” he told the committee.
That charitable work (for an FBI agent who already had a federally-paid law firm defending him) helped tamp down one of the biggest scandals during Barr’s time as Attorney General from 1991 to early 1993. Barr was responsible for both the U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, two federal agencies whose misconduct at Ruby Ridge “helped to weaken the bond of trust that must exist between ordinary Americans and our law enforcement agencies,” according to a 1995 Senate Judiciary Committee report.
After Randy Weaver, an outspoken white separatist living on a mountaintop in northern Idaho, was entrapped by an undercover federal agent, U.S. marshals trespassed on Weaver’s land and killed his 14-year-old son, Sammy. The following day, FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi killed his wife, Vicki, as she was standing in the cabin doorway. Horiuchi had previously shot Randy Weaver in the back after he stepped out of the cabin. The suspects were never given a warning or a chance to surrender and had taken no action against FBI agents. Weaver survived.
After an Idaho jury found Weaver not guilty on almost all charges, federal judge Edward Lodge slammed the Justice Department and FBI for concealing evidence and showing “a callous disregard for the rights of the defendants and the interests of justice.” A Justice Department internal investigation compiled a 542-page report detailing federal misconduct and coverups in the case and suggested criminal charges against FBI officials involved in Ruby Ridge.
Barr told the New York Times in 1993 that he was not directly involved in the Ruby Ridge operation. Two years later, the Washington Post revealed that “top officials of the Bush Justice Department had at least 20 [phone] contacts concerning Ruby Ridge in the 24 hours before Vicki Weaver was shot,” including two calls involving Barr.
In January 1995, FBI director Louis Freeh announced wrist slaps for the FBI officials involved, including his friend Larry Potts, who supervised the operation from headquarters and who approved the shoot-without-provocation orders that “contravened the constitution of the United States,” according to the Justice Department internal report. When Attorney General Janet Reno later nominated Potts for deputy director of the FBI, top newspapers and members of Congress protested but Barr told the New York Times that his friend Potts “was deliberate and careful, and I developed a great deal of confidence in his judgment… I can’t think of enough good things to say about him.” A few months later, the FBI suspended Potts after suspected perjury regarding Ruby Ridge. (Potts was not charged and retired two years later.)
The Justice Department paid $3 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit from the Weaver family. But when Boundary County, Idaho filed criminal charges against Horiuchi, Barr sprang to action seeking immunity for FBI snipers. He spearheaded efforts to sway the court to dismiss all charges because holding a sniper liable would “severely undermine, if not cripple, the ability of future attorneys general to rely on such specialized units in moments of crisis such as hostage taking and terrorist acts.”
When the Justice Department won an initial appeals court victory in the case in 2000, federal judge Alex Kozinski warned in a dissent of a new James Bond “007 standard for the use of deadly force” against American citizens. The same court reversed that decision the following year. Kozinski, writing for the majority, declared: “A group of FBI agents formulated rules of engagement that permitted their colleagues to hide in the bushes and gun down men who posed no immediate threat. Such wartime rules are patently unconstitutional for a police action.”
Does William Barr still endorse “wartime rules” and a “007 standard” that absolve federal agents for questionable shootings of Americans? Does Barr consider “illegal government killings” to be an oxymoron? Best of all, can Barr explain to us his understanding of the phrase “government under the law”?
Trump’s Attorney General nominee Barr a drug dealing assassin?
December 7, 2018
Anybody who thinks Trump is out to drain the swamp and bust the Deep State just got a dose of reality medicine, in the form of Trump’s nomination of swamp monster William Barr as our next Attorney General.
According to former Bush-CIA black ops specialist Chip Tatum, Barr was part of Operation 40, an Agency-linked criminal gang that moved huge quantities of drugs and was involved in many high-level political assassinations, including those of the Kennedies, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, and dozens of others. Ironically, Trump—who tossed a few rhetorical punches at the Bush Crime Family during the 2016 Republican primaries—has just nominated a man who represented the Bush CIA drug cartel, both within the CIA itself (1973-1977) and later when he served as “Opium Poppy” Bush’s Attorney General.
David “DC Dave” Martin sends the following snippet of Tatum’s conversation with FBI investigator Ted Gunderson:
* * *
Chip Tatum: Several of the members that I flew to this meeting in El Ocatal – here are the people who were there: it was General Noriega, Mike Harari, who was a retired Mossad agent assigned to Gen. Noriega, Felix Rodriguez, Joe Fernandez, who was the CIA station-chief in Costa Rica, Gen. Gustavo Alvarez, who was the U.S. – or the Honduran Army chief of staff, and a guy named William Barr, who represented the assets of this enterprise.
Gunderson: Now, wait a moment. William Barr used to be attorney general of the United States.
Tatum: He later became, under his boss George Bush, the attorney general of the United States, that’s correct.
Gunderson: That’s right. He replaced Thornburgh, wasn’t it?
Tatum: Yes, I believe so.
Gunderson: Well, isn’t that interesting? …so we have Vice President Bush, we have Ollie North, we have William Barr involved in the drug-operation. It’s that simple, isn’t it?
Yes, it is.
* * *
So why would Trump fire Jeff Sessions and appoint a depraved denizen of the Deep State to replace him? Because Trump is the slimiest, scaliest reptile from the deepest darkest part of the Deep State swamp. If you haven’t figured that out yet, you aren’t paying attention.
Note that Trump has been slyly boasting of his swamp creature status for years. Watch him rapturously identifying with the title character in his favorite poem, “The Snake.”
Published on April 29, 2017 courtesy of CBS News
Whistleblower Chip Tatum shares his information and experiences on CIA/US Army drug trafficking and the Iran-Contra scandal and more.
Gene “Chip” Tatum was a Vietnam Special Forces Air Combat Controller, Defense Intelligence Asset, and US Army special operations pilot flying classified missions during the US invasion of Grenada.
Tatum was also involved in the Nixon Administrations relations with China, NASA’s Apollo Program, the Iran Contra Affair, and several other classified intelligence operations dating through through 1992.
Tatum was a member of the ultra-secret, international G7 run Pegasus “Hit Team” working directly for the sitting President. From sensitive and highly secret – and hitherto largely unknown – Special Forces covert operations in Cambodia, to wandering CIA asset, through to “black ops” activities in Grenada and Oliver North’s Iran-Contra “Enterprise,” and on to membership in an international “hit team,” Gene “Chip” Tatum has seen it all, done it all and is now telling it all.
The General Has To Go
February 7, 2019