Partisan Judge Strikes at William Barr, Aims at Trump

March 9, 2020 Updated: March 23, 2020
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Commentary

Reggie Walton is a name you should know. An old pal of Eric Holder—Obama’s attorney general and self-described “wingman,” the only attorney general in history, I believe, who has been held in contempt of Congress—Walton is senior district court judge for the District of Columbia Circuit. (He took senior status in 2015.)

People interested in prosecutorial abuse will want to look back at his role in the case of United States v. Libby, in which the infamous federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald went after Scooter Libby, a former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

On March 5, Walton issued an opinion in the Freedom of Information Act case brought by Buzzfeed and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) against the Department of Justice. Buzzfeed and the EPIC are seeking the release of the unredacted Mueller report.

I know, I know, that seems so yesterday. You would think that the less the anti-Trump fraternity heard about former special counsel Robert Mueller the better they would like it. Mueller was supposed to be the Dems not-so-secret weapon to get Trump. As it turned out, two years, hundreds of subpoenas, and $40 million later, all he had to show for his efforts was the destruction of the reputation and careers of a few of Trump’s aides.

The climactic moment was supposed to have been Mueller’s appearance before Congress last summer to answer questions about the report. In the event, his performance was downright embarrassing. It revealed a confused old man who seemed so out of touch with the issues that he declared that he did not know what Fusion GPS was. Never mind that he had spent the last two years investigating leads provided by that anti-Trump organization.

If it happened today, the judges would award Mueller with a Joe Biden Lifetime Achievement Award for Disorientation and Public Senility.

What makes Walton’s memo extraordinary is his gratuitous personal attack on Attorney General William Barr, whom he accuses of “lack of candor” (fedspeak for “lying”) and partisanship in favor of President Donald Trump.

Readers will recall the intense public interest surrounding the release of the Mueller report—a confidential document, by the way, that was commissioned by and intended for the eyes of the attorney general and no one else. Barr, although under no obligation to release any part of the report, nevertheless undertook the herculean effort of reading the nearly 500-page report over a weekend and issuing a lightly redacted version that omitted only bits that were classified or that contained sensitive information.

The bottom line, according to Barr: “The Special Counsel’s report did not find any evidence that members of the Trump campaign or anyone associated with the campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its hacking operations. In other words, there was no evidence of Trump campaign ‘collusion’ with the Russian government’s hacking.”

This was emphatically not to say, by the way, that there were no Russians under the bed. There were plenty. It’s just that neither Trump nor his campaign had anything to do with their activities.

As Barr wrote, “After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, and hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the Special Counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those schemes.”

Game, as the president said at the time, over.

Or so one would have thought. But here is Eric Holder’s pal writing, “The Court has grave concerns about the objectivity of the process that preceded the public release of the redacted version of the Mueller Report,” noting further that he questioned Barr’s “credibility” and wondered whether “Attorney General Barr’s intent was to create a one-sided narrative about the Mueller Report.”

I suppose the moral is that the left will never stop, never tire, and never give up on their quest to tie Trump to the Russians and thereby cancel the legitimacy of the 2016 election.

On March 6, the Department of Justice (DOJ) responded, dismissing Walton’s claims as “contrary to the facts.” For one thing, as DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec noted, “The original redactions in the public report were made by Department attorneys, in consultation with senior members of Special Counsel Mueller’s team, prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and members of the Intelligence Community.”

Furthermore, “in response to FOIA requests, the entire report was then reviewed by career attorneys, including different career attorneys with expertise in FOIA cases—a process in which the Attorney General played no role.”

Conclusion? “There is no basis to question the work or good faith of any of these career Department lawyers.”

Walton is another in the long line of federal judges who have sought to use the power of the bench to undermine the legitimacy of the Trump administration. The DOJ brushed off his intemperate and gratuitous animadversions with the brusqueness they deserve.

The whole “Russian collusion” meme and its chief spawn, the Mueller report, is a desiccated carcass that has been sucked dry by intemperate partisan animus. It is pathetic as well as irritating that a federal judge should condescend to wallow about in that putrid offal.

Roger Kimball is the editor and publisher of the The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books. His most recent book is “The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.