Trump Found His Roy Cohn In Deep State Fixer Bill Barr

In protecting President Trump, Attorney General William Barr is meeting the president’s demand for a loyal legal fixer in the radical right mold of the canny, connected and immoral Roy Cohn.

djt roy cohn tuxedos sundance film sonia moskowtizThat is the not-so-hidden backstory of the radical gutting of American constitutional government now underway to expand and cover up Team Trump's corruption.

The synergy between Barr's ugly past as a CIA-trained strategist implicated in massive drug, arms and financial crime cover-ups decades ago makes his current alliance with Trump far more dangerous for United States democracy than Cohn's long-ago relationships with the big-talking hotelier Trump of the early 1980s or even with Cohn's own 1950s mentor, the red-baiting Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy.

Some see Barr as a conservative "institutionalist" committed to a "rule of law" at the Justice Department. Others increasingly regard him as the president's puppet and defender against other law enforcers. We argue in this column that his track record shows a pattern of cynical manipulation of law and rhetoric to enhance the power of the already powerful.

First, our deep dive into this history introduces the cast of characters. The future president is shown at right (photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Altimeter Films) with Cohn, his one-time mentor, attorney and Manhattan nightlife companion before Cohn's 1986 death from AIDS.

Fast forward to March, where Trump is shown below at left congratulating Barr at the White House upon Barr's joining Team Trump as Attorney General.

Updates:

Barr Defies Flynn Judge: Despite court order, prosecutors don’t release transcripts of Flynn, Russian ambassador, May 31, 2019.

e jean carroll headshotCBS Delivers Softball "CBS This Morning" Interview of Barr, May 31, 2019.

Worst Trump Assault Claim Yet? E. Jean Carroll: “Trump attacked me in the dressing room of Bergdorf Goodman,” (shown via Twitter), June 21, 2019.

Trump last week gave Barr unprecedented power to declassify, upon his own initiative, U.S. intelligence, as reported by the New York Times and elsewhere in such stories as Trump Gives Attorney General Sweeping Power in Review of 2016 Campaign Inquiry on May 24. "The directive gives Mr. Barr immense leverage," the Times reported, "over the intelligence community and enormous power over what the public learns about the roots of the Russia investigation."

djt william barr doj photo march 2019Congruent with Barr's view on near-unlimited powers for a president under what others might view as a fascist "unitary executive" theory of the Constitution, Trump's delegation of power could be an attempt to mobilize the Justice Department against his political opponents.

Based on Trump's Twitter rants, these opponents could include intelligence analysts and law enforcers who have raised suspicions about corruption in Trump Team's foreign alliances and funding relationships.

Potentially lost in the blizzard of other news is the historical fact that such efforts by the Nixon administration prompted so much public outrage and legal liability as to form one of the building blocks for the impeachment momentum that drove Nixon from office in 1974 before the House could vote to impeach.

Our Justice Integrity Project was founded nearly a decade ago to expose instances of federal political prosecutions. So this looming Constitutional and human rights crisis sits squarely within our charter.

Barr's Rise To Power, Again

With that background, our column today focuses on Barr's disgraceful past as a fixer, cover-up artist  and world-class hypocrite spouting high-minded rhetoric about "rule of law" while abusing his power in service of corrupt goals and masters. The Mueller Report and its revelations provide our news peg, underscoring the importance of this historical inquiry at this point, but are not themselves our focus today. The Justice Integrity Project publishes daily updates of such developments in our sections summarizing general news, Trump Watch and Deep State.

For this more in-depth column, we start by citing Trump's repeated complaints about the Justice Department, as quoted in a documentary film, Where's My Roy Cohn?, which has been described as a "thriller-like exposé," released in January.

A year previous, on Jan. 4, 2018, the specific concept that Trump wanted a fixer in the mold of Roy Cohn to run the nominally independent U.S. Justice Department became prominent also with publication of a New York Times story by Michael S. Schmidt. It began:

“President Trump gave firm instructions in March to the White House’s top lawyer: stop the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, from recusing himself in the Justice Department’s investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s associates had helped a Russian campaign to disrupt the 2016 election.

"Public pressure was building for Mr. Sessions, who had been a senior member of the Trump campaign, to step aside. But the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, carried out the president’s orders and lobbied Mr. Sessions to remain in charge of the inquiry, according to two people with knowledge of the episode.

"Mr. McGahn was unsuccessful, and the president erupted in anger in front of numerous White House officials, saying he needed his attorney general to protect him. Mr. Trump said he had expected his top law enforcement official to safeguard him the way he believed Robert F. Kennedy, as attorney general, had done for his brother John F. Kennedy and Eric H. Holder Jr. had for Barack Obama.

"Mr. Trump then asked, 'Where’s my Roy Cohn?' He was referring to his former personal lawyer and fixer, who had been Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s top aide during the investigations into communist activity in the 1950s and died in 1986 [emphasis added]."

In the film clip, and as amplified in a Vanity Fair article, Where’s My Roy Cohn? Digs into One of the 20th Century’s Most Evil Men, Trump bemoaned (with his emphasis on the "my"), in effect, not being able to use the the Justice Department as a kind of personal legal team.

A weirdly evocative still photo from the documentary shows Cohn and Trump (at left below, both in headdress) during one of their gala evenings on the town together.

DJT roy cohn sundance film wheres my roy cohnmariette pathy allenrIn the structure of the column unfolding below, we next touch briefly on the kind of criminal undertakings common for Trump and Cohn during the future president's early years in business.

We then move to Barr's concurrent rise as a loyal legal apparatchik for ultra-right-wing politicos during the 1980s.

Barr's work most notably served the Bush family and its allies, who became heavily involved in organized crime during the Iran-Contra scandals of the 1980s, according to multiple sources. These included Republican operative and former Reagan-Bush aide Roger Stone, author of Jeb! and The Bush Crime Family (2016), a remarkably detailed account of the family's corruption and deviance, as recounted by an insider notorious for his own dirty tricks. 

roger stone jeb coverBefore undertaking that history, however, we must note at the outset the shocking failure of society's watchdogs during recent years to refresh public recollection about Iran-Contra.

That's especially harmful when so many of the malefactors are still prominent. These include Barr, the recent National Rifle Association President Oliver North and Presidential Special Envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams.

Barr, who was U.S. attorney general from 1991 to 1993 as he protected President George H.W. Bush from corruption investigations, had sought the Trump post with a unsolicited 19-page memo to the Justice Department last year arguing for expanded presidential immunities.

Not surprisingly, the embattled Trump then chose Barr to replace Trump's first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who had angered the president by failing to protect him from the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller into claims of 2016 Trump presidential campaign wrongdoing and cover up.

Barr went on at news conferences to spin his redacted version of Mueller's 448-page report before anyone in Congress or the public could see it.

Trump's designation of new powers for Barr is an invitation for Team Trump to cherry pick information to argue that Trump is the victim of "spying" and other unfair practices during the 2016 campaign. Scant rebuttal is possible because Team Trump controls much of the classified documentation and has vowed minimal cooperation with Congress or other oversight bodies.

The rest of the public can safely assume -- based on past practices and the indictment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on May 23 on spy charges for releasing classified documents -- that Team Trump will try to use Barr to thwart independent investigations of the classified materials at issue.

Cohn's Corruption

djt roy cohn mob clients carmine galante john gotti tony salerno1533348924301

Trump's desire to replicate his relationship with Cohn using a U.S. attorney general necessarily requires at least a brief summary of Cohn's deeds and his shared experiences with Trump. 

Cohn became prominent as a federal prosecutor in the early 1950s and then as Sen. McCarthy's chief counsel from 1953-54 as the senator crusaded against supposed Communist and other leftist threats against major U.S. institutions, including the Army, State Department and Hollywood. The blustering McCarthy and his aide Cohn intimidated officials Washington by inflaming right-wing anger until the Senate censured McCarthy. He died soon afterward as a lonely, forlorn figure, according to his friend, the liberal Washington Merry-Go-Round columnist Jack Anderson.

As for Cohn, his legal brilliance, ruthless tactics and diverse alliances enabled him to work in private practice as a radical right political operative with FBI leaders, organized crime, the Catholic Church and big business.

roy cohnCohn, shown left in a file photo, was a member of the ultra-conservative John Birch Society. and represented three of New York City's most powerful Mafia families, as shown above. This editor reported on the mob during this era and once interviewed Cohn regarding his representation of Carmine Galante, then head of the Bonanno Mafia Family.

Among other notable Cohn clients were media mogul Rupert Murdoch, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and GOP political operative Roger Stone, who became a close friend of both Cohn and Trump.

Cohn also represented Donald Trump and his father Fred Trump. Trump credited Cohn with teaching him to litigate fiercely and exhaust the resources of opponents, even including the federal government on occasion, by increasing pain for them in any way possible. 

Good relations between the mob and a New York City builder and New Jersey casino operator like the younger Trump would have been absolutely vital in the era before federal racketeering prosecutions in the mid-1980s broke omerta, the Mafia's code of silence, and the larger power of the mob.

Relevant also is that mob leaders had a number of relationships with both "legitimate" businesses and government officials in those days because of mutual goals, such as assassination or other regime change, smuggling and vice operations.

Cohn, who was ultra-right wing politically, was also a closeted but active homosexual, according to widespread reporting through the decades that illustrates his hypocrisy. Cohn had also been disbarred for fraud at the end of his career despite his legendary legal ability and high-level connections, including representation of seemingly eminent officials and institutions, including church leaders.

More generally, the late Air Force Col. Fletcher Prouty, the top Defense Department liaison to the CIA for covert operations, entitled his breakthrough 1973 memoir The Secret Team to show how what he called "The High Cabal" of U.S. and U.K. oligarchs deploy operatives widely and covertly to manage events and information flow. 

Covert action, in the U.S. and worldwide in spy operations by major nations, might involve elimination of undesirable government leaders, money-laundering to enhance government operational budgets without the prying eyes of legislators, and prostitution rings to create more revenue for operatives and their underworld assets and to enhance blackmail potential that assists spy operations, among other goals.

Money-laundering is a key skill for all major crime operations because the money has to re-enter the financial system without triggering scrutiny. Condos and casinos are especially popular as conduits.

david cay johnston headshotThat helps explain much of the current investigative focus on Trump's financial records as well as his mob connections regarded as relevant to Trump's construction projects, casino gambling and colossal bankruptcies. Major biographies focused on such topics include Trump by Wayne Barrett (1992), TrumpNation by Timothy O'Brien (2005), The Truth About Trump by Michael D'Antonio (2015), and The Making of Donald Trump by David Cay Johnston (2016, shown at right), fleshed out by innumerable investigative and tabloid reports.

Russian, Asian and European mobsters would replace the Italian-American hoodlums in Trump's orbit during more recent decades, according to more current researchers who include David Corn and Michael Isikoff (Russian Roulette, 2018); Craig Unger (House of Trump, House of Putin, 2018); and Wayne Madsen (Trump's Bananas Republic, 2018, and the daily Wayne Madsen Report). Madsen created a chart showing thousands of relationships between Team Trump (Trump, his family and such key campaign and administration figures as Paul Manafort and Wilbur Ross) with Eastern European or Asian entities.

Barr's Rise To Power

While Trump's career captured headlines, companies, condos and casinos in the 1980s, Barr was ascending the federal government's ranks as a diligent bureaucrat within the U.S. Justice Department.

Barr's father Donald Barr, a veteran of the World War II Office of Special Services, the precursor to the CIA, was an educator long associated with Columbia University as a professor and later as headmaster at two elite private schools, Dalton and Hackley. See New York Times, Barr Quits Dalton School Post, Charging Trustees' Interference, Gene I Maeroff, Feb. 20, 1974.

jeffrey epstein at harvard universityIn 1974, Dalton hired the future notorious pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, right, to teach classes at Manhattan's elite K-12 all-girls Dalton School even though Epstein lacked a college degree, according to a news report in April by syndicated columnist and author Wayne Madsen.

Madsen's reporting came just after a Miami federal judge found that prosecutors, most notably then-Miami U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, had violated the law in granting Epstein a sweetheart plea deal in 2006 without notifying Epstein's many underage victims.

They numbered scores and perhaps in the vicinity of one hundred, with two claiming at one time in a withdrawn lawsuit that they had been raped by both Epstein and Trump. The two, "Katie" and "Maria," have alleged that Epstein and Trump raped them at ages 12 and 13. But the lawsuits have been withdrawn, purportedly after death threats, as Wayne Madsen and this reporter described in a series last year that began under the headline: Welcome To Waterbury: The city that holds secrets that could bring down Trump

maria wmr jip waterbury graphic 1 8 18 CustomIronically, the Florida ruling puts younger Barr and his Justice Department under pressure to reopen the suppressed federal investigation of Epstein, a Trump friend shown at right, on charges that Epstein molested scores of teen girls in Palm Beach and Manhattan.

At the core of the controversy is evidence that Acosta, now Trump's Labor Secretary in charge of federal efforts to fight sex trafficking nationwide, bagged the federal-state Epstein case when he was a Bush U.S. attorney in Miami, thereby benefiting the wealthy Epstein and his powerful friends, who have included Prince Andrew of the United Kingdom's royal family, Bill Clinton and Alan Dershowitz.

The elder Barr's hiring of Epstein in 1974 to teach could mean nothing aside from coincidence -- or it could call for official scrutiny. But, as ever, one must wonder who scrutinizes the scrutinizers in a political environment when suspicions of law enforcement cover-up are so widespread?

cia logoIn the early 1970s, the younger Barr was educated at the Horace Mann school, where he told a high school guidance counselor that his goal was to lead the CIA. Horace Mann had also educated Roy Cohn.

Barr established a ruthless reputation, as recalled later by a schoolmate, James Lohman, who went on to become an attorney and write a 1991 op-ed describing Barr as a loathsome bully in the Florida Flambeau alternative newspaper. Headlined What William Barr Isn't telling his questioners, Lohman wrote in his column, "I had the misfortune of knowing the AG dude pretty well (a lot better than I wanted to) in jurnior, high, high school and college....Barr was a sick and sadistic kid."

Barr obtained a bachelor's and master's degrees (the latter in Chinese studies) from Columbia and then worked at the CIA as an analyst. This work included the pivotal year of 1976 when CIA Director George H. W. Bush, fresh from his post as U.S. envoy to China, rallied the agency against Watergate-era congressional investigations and reforms in order to reassert the agency's long secret power to undertake covert activities that historically included propaganda, regime change, infiltration of groups, creation of scandals, assassinations and revolutions. 

Barr went on to attend George Washington University's law school as a night student clerk, upon Bush's recommendation, for U.S. District Judge Malcolm Wilkey in Washington, DC. Wilkey had dissented, as widely reported, from the court’s historic opinion ordering President Richard M. Nixon to turn over his secret Watergate tape recordings, arguing that discussions between a president and his advisers are protected by “absolute privilege.”

Bush-Barr At CIA

Bush's one-year leadership of the CIA was a critical point in modern American political history that is usually glossed over by mainstream media because the importance lies in sinister activities undermining conventional views of constitutional powers and democratic norms. But its significance is underlined by the naming of the CIA's headquarters after Bush and many documents, books and other evidence.

We cited credible books on these topics in our series last December, “Poppy Bush's Seed and Bitter Harvest: Half Truths / History (Part 4),” on the life, corruption and other legacy of President George H.W. Bush, who served as Barr’s patron at the CIA when Bush was CIA director (as shown in the file photo at right).

george hw bush cia seal

One pivotal moment during this era came when retired CIA operative David Atlee Phillips refused to answer questions during the House Select Committee on Assassinations' probe into potential CIA involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Deputy Committee Counsel Robert Tanenbaum resigned in protest along with his boss, Richard Sprague, when House leaders dared not require Phillips and the CIA to answer questions. As part of the context, Cuban exile assassination squad leader Antonio Veciana has said that he worked with Phillips on unsuccessful plans to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro and that Veciana at one point in the fall of 1963 met Phillips in Dallas in the company of Lee Harvey Oswald, who would be accused several weeks later of killing President Kennedy.

In 1975, Phillips, right, had retired from the CIA and organized AFIO (the Association of Former Intelligence Officers), which became david atlee phillipsa powerful organizing force on behalf of the spy agencies.

AFIO, while established as a non-partisan non-profit, helped also to show how former intelligence personnel could use the means at their disposal to support agendas congruent with the GOP's CIA-friendly Reagan-Bush 1980 Presidential campaign against incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter, a former Naval officer who supported reforms.

The Reagan-Bush campaign manager was William Casey, a financier and media executive who would lead the CIA as director for the first seven years of the Reagan-Bush administration.

Barr & Reagan-Bush Justice Department

President Ronald Reagan, right, and Attorney General Edwin Meese, left, greeted in a White House 1983 meeting future Attorney General William P. Barr, a former CIA staffer who was then deputy assistant director of legal police at the Justice Department (Reagan Library photo)

President Ronald Reagan, right, and Attorney General Edwin Meese, left, greeted in a White House 1983 meeting future Attorney General William P. Barr, a former CIA staffer who was then deputy assistant director of legal policy at the Justice Department (Reagan Library photo)

The Washington Post published on May 14 a useful account of Barr's career in How William Barr, now serving as a powerful ally for Trump, has championed presidential powers by the experienced reporter Tom Hamburger.

"Embracing a theory that the Constitution grants presidents sweeping authority," the story begins, "Barr is part of a group of conservative intellectuals who have been leading the charge to expand the powers of the executive branch over the past four decades. The doctrine, which gained support amid a backlash against post-Watergate constraints on the presidency, is back in the fore as President Trump and Congress are locked in a bitter fight over the bounds of executive power."

An even deeper look shows that Barr had been trained in the dark arts as a CIA intern, analyst and attorney in the 1970s. This was during the pivotal directorship of CIA Director Bush.

Bush, during his year-long appointment mostly during 1976, had turned the agency away from post-Watergate reforms pushed by Congress and instead reasserted instead the agency's its role as a decisive unelected "Deep State" force at the service of the nation's most powerful private-sector oligarchs pursuing their covert adventures in the United States and abroad.

These power brokers are not necessarily presidents (unless their politics are congruent with those of the agency's true masters in the private sector, as we documented in Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters).

Barr went on to demonstrate a career-long willingness — as did Roy Cohn — to use his unusual legal talent in all-out defense of powerful officials, especially in the radical right, even when their actions are unconstitutional, grossly damaging to the American public, or degenerate on a personal level.

Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA, authored by former CIA contract pilot Terry Reed and John Cummings, contains one such terry reed john cumming compromisedallegation: That Barr represented as a private attorney the CIA front company Southern Air Transport, a major trafficker in narcotics. That allegation is made on page 542 of the 1994 book, describing the kind of sensitive work Barr performed before the Reagan-Bush administration invited him to join the Justice Department. 

In May 1982, in a secret memo signed by President Reagan's National Security Advisor William Clark (and later declassified), Vice President Bush was appointed chief of all U.S. covert action. A Special Situation Group (SSG) was appointed, chaired by Bush.

Later investigations showed that during this period federally coordinated "off the books" Iran-Contra smuggling operations began that violated a law forbidding aid to overthrow Central American governments. The smuggling of arms and drugs was ostensibly focused primarily on fighting leftist elements in Central America.

But it developed into a vast illegal money-making scheme that reached a peak between 1983 and 1986 under North's leadership from within the White House.

The operation was exposed in October, 1986 after an American arms smuggling airplane was shot down over Nicaragua. Cargo handler Eugene Hasenfus, the only survivor, confessed CIA involvement after he parachuted to safety and was captured by Nicaraguan soldiers.

One common denominator for those that Barr and Cohn have defended is the kind of sinister business dealings and crimes in which Donald J. Trump has immersed himself.

More generally, both Barr and Cohn have extensive track records in hiding such crimes as massive money laundering and tax fraud, which typically (and we can strongly suspect in Trump's situation also) involve income derived from foreign-born mobsters and their dope dealing, arms smuggling, massive financial frauds and corrupt relationships with high-ranking officials.

The most visible disgraces in own Barr's career, at least so far, involved his role as a high-ranking Justice Department official during the Reagan-Bush administration. Barr's cover-up daniel hopsicker barry boys coverwork at the Reagan-Bush Justice Department helped thwart investigations of the huge scandal known as Iran-Contra that reached fruition from 1984 to 1986.

Compelling evidence shows the covert crime spree was under the direction of Vice President Bush (although Bush denied it, most famously during an interview with CBS Anchor Dan Rather). Oliver North worked closely with Bush's team, which maintained plausible deniability even while other evidence amassed of massive drug-running and arms-smuggling (in part through a small town airport located in Mena, Arkansas where the smuggler Barry Seal was particularly active until he was gunned down in 1986.).

Other evidence — including several congressional investigations and many federal prosecutions and books — indicates that the officially sanctioned crime spree was only partly to benefit the right-wing "Contras" in their CIA-assisted military activities against left-wing officials.

Al Martin's memoir The Conspirators and Daniel Hopsicker's biography Barry and the Boys about Barry Seal specifically show that such massive operations could only have occurred with the help of high-level federal and state officials who were profiting along with their backers from the crime, even while honest law enforcers fought an oft-losing battle to stop it.

The damage? Hopsicker, who obtained exclusive access to Seal's remaining papers after he was murdered in 1986 with many of his papers stolen at the time, reported the damage as including $5 billion in narcotics personally smuggled by Seal. Much of it was through Arkansas, Florida and Seal's native Louisiana for redistribution throughout the United States, helping fuel the crack cocaine epidemic and the massive imprisonment of lower-level distributors under "tough on crime" political leaders.

Hopsicker's book cover (shown at right) displays a photo taken at a celebratory 1963 dinner of the CIA's assassination squad Operation 40. Seal, third from the left, is sitting next to future CIA DIrector Porter Goss, second from the left.

tom cruise barry seal american madeAnother photo shows Seal's early training as a pilot in Louisiana's Civil Air Patrol under the leadership of expert pilot and notorious smuggler David Ferrie. The actor Tom Cruise portrayed Seal in the 2018 Hollywood major production American Made.

Besides narcotics and arms smuggling, other purposes of Iran-Contra criminality are reported to have included massive financial frauds involving major officials and banks, with taxpayers and gullible investors absorbing what Martin estimated as $350 billion in losses.

He describes how much of the loot went to well-connected insiders and their primarily (but not exclusively) Republican political backers, leaving a greatly empowered political class and a corrupt justice system.

And, sitting at the top, according to some accounts like Hopsicker's iconic (and expensive to buy) Barry and the Boys, was billionaire banker Jackson Stephens, referenced mostly by underlings as "The Old Man" and by Seal as "the real boss of the operation." Stephens, with a military, intelligence and banking background, would go to become one of the largest contributors to both Bush and Clinton presidential campaigns.

bill clinton wFor those Republicans who wonder why Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, left, and his financial backers were not prosecuted for Iran-Contra activities involving the Arkansas airstrip in Mena the answer could be fairly simple, albeit alarming: Iran-Contra was a covert "federal" matter during the Reagan-Bush administration, which appointed the U.S. attorneys and many of the judges and other federal authorities with relevant jurisdiction.

An especially interesting career path is that of current Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican.

He was the Reagan-Bush U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas from 1982 to 1985 during the height of Barry Seal's and other CIA smuggling via Mena, which is located on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border 56 miles from Hutchinson's longtime home in Fort Smith. Hutchinson led the Arkansas Republican Party, was elected to Congress and then served as U.S. Drug Enforcement Administrator  during the Bush-Cheney Administration, which later named him as Homeland Security Undersecretary.

asa hutchinsonHutchinson, right, could surely argue, as have many, that he's never been in a position to know enough to do anything about big-time crime allegedly involving the CIA and national security, including in Mena.

So might many other officials (in the unlikely event they are ever questioned), including 1990s Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and his ambitious Republican aide Brett Kavanaugh, Starr's aide on years of "Whitewater" investigations of the Clintons and later Trump-nominated U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Starr, Kavanaugh and the rest of their rabidly anti-Clinton Republican-appointed "Independent" investigators surely knew that Mena clues would lead back to fellow Republicans and patrons. So they kept their Whitewater investigation of the Clintons far away from major crimes of the kind described here.

william sessionsIn a nearly forgotten FBI intrigue relevant to that cover up and to current justice issues, Defraud America author and former World War II Navy pilot and Federal Aviation Administration Rodney Stich wrote that Barr, as Bush attorney general, set in motion the unwarranted ouster in  of FBI Director William Sessions, left, on trumped-up corruption charges.

Stich, author of more than 20 books on government corruption before his death in 2015, wrote in the 1998 third edition of his Defrauding America -- which was subtitled Encyclopedia of Covert Operations by the CIA, DEA and Other Covert Agencies -- that Sessions supervised an FBI investigation into the vast criminal network that Barr had been seeking to cover up.

Sessions, shown at left, is a native of Fort Smith, Arkansas. He was a former federal judge nominated by Republican presidents to high-ranking federal posts, including as a federal prosecutor and federal judge in the Western District of Texas before his appointment by President Reagan to lead the FBI.

Stich wrote that the Sessions FBI was probing drug-running via Mena and related money laundering via BCCI that implicated the Bush and Clinton networks, and Barr himself in various ways, including a purported 1980s money laundering relationship with Vince Foster, a partner with Hillary Clinton at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock. 

trump family london june 2019Barr had started the Justice Department's internal investigation of the FBI director, Sessions, in 1992. Sessions was forced to resign in early 1993 by the incoming Clinton Administration, including its Attorney General Janet Reno. Foster, by then White House deputy counsel during the first six months Clinton Administration, was found dead that summer in a Northern Virginia park in a purported suicide that has long raised questions among independent investigators about the official story.

"The basis for the investigation of the FBI head?" Stich asked.

"Sessions used government telephones for private business, allowing his wife to ride with him on government aircraft on a space-available basis, and installing a security fence at his home to protect government secrets. Big deal! If applied in the same manner, this charge could be leveled at major segments of the federal and state governments."  At right is a  photo of the Trump family on their state visit / vacation to London during the first week of June 2019.

'The Conspirators'

Al Martin claimed to be so much in the thick of Iran-Contra crime that he said he wrote his book to become sufficiently prominent to avoid sharing the fate of what he estimated as 400 of his former Iran-Contra colleagues who died early from "suicide" or "accident" or "Columbian drug dealers."

al martin conspirators coverMartin described also how the careers of many congressional investigators, news reporters and whistleblowers were destroyed by a cover-up system that he alleged included Barr at or near the top of the Justice Department.

He cites a Mother Jones 1991 article called Shredded Justice by Mary Fricker and Steve Pizzo that mentions two names now much in the news. According to the Martin version:

[Bobby] Muller [sic] had said Barr would go around to the sixth floor of the Justice Department building. That's where all the shredders are. And Billy would call himself "Billy, 'I never saw a document I didn't want to shred,' Barr."

As a reader warning: Martin is himself not above suspicion, either as a capable researcher or honest witness. As noted above, his book contains multiple misspellings of well-known figures, including Robert Mueller and former Clinton Associate Justice Department Attorney General Webster Hubbell, and others. Plus, Martin admits that he became a fraudster with numerous arrests following his post-military career.

But his book does contain accolades from former U.S. Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Arkansas), who led a major House probe of Iran-Contra using Martin as a witness. The spelling mistakes, the most obvious all involving phonetically correct usage, might be because the book was dictated in a low-budget operation. Most importantly for current purposes, few sane people accuse powerful people of drug-dealing and murder in print without reason. Defamation litigation is one reason but an arrest or unfortunate accident are other possibilities.

From other sources also, we know that beneficiaries of financial corruption include major corporations and top officials from both major parties. Among them were the Republican Bush family and the well-connected Democrats, including Washington luminaries Clark Clifford and his finance partner Robert Altman, both leaders at the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) when it was exposed as a huge money laundering operation for smugglers and fraudsters. Clifford ended his life in disgrace but Altman has bounced back to assume prominent positions.

Most of these facts, aside from the most recent, are amply documented in the public domain for those who dare read the material with a reasonably open mind.

Barr Bombshell Allegations

Investigative historian Anton Chaitkin has raised serious, specific allegations against Barr from his work at the CIA through his first stint as an attorney general, ending in early 1993. Chaitkin’s main allegations appeared in “William Barr, the Bush clique and their friends at Dope, Inc.,” a five-page feature published by the Executive Intelligence Review (EIR) in its anton chaitkin headshotOct. 21, 1994 edition.

The article stands as one of the most disturbing treatments of Barr. This was congruent with a treatment of George H. W. Bush in George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography that Chaitkin (shown at left) co-authored with Webster G. Tarpley.

As background, Chaitkin, Tarpley and their publications were affiliated with the historian, political activist and presidential Lyndon LaRouche, who died in February at anton chaitkin webster tarpley george bush coverage 96. LaRouche and his colleagues had long argued that a number of otherwise prestigious British and American families and institutions have long profited from covert trading in narcotics, dating back to “The Opium Wars” with China during the 1800s. Those allegations were first published at book-length in Dope, Inc. in 1978, which has since undergone many editions and updates implicating many well-known leaders in covert drug running and money laundering.

In 1988, federal authorities sent hundreds of agents to raid LaRouche’s Virginia and Massachusetts offices. That began long-running prosecutions of the LaRouche organization -- including a mistrial where most jurors were reportedly inclined to acquit -- that resulted in a speedy trial in Virginia and prison sentences for LaRouche and several colleagues, primarily on claims they had misused credit cards to bilk prospective donors out of millions.

The defendants and their supporters have maintained that the prosecution was unwarranted political retribution for their advocacy and research.

Regardless of fund-raising methods and those convictions, some LaRouche-affiliated research and researchers are been well-regarded in certain Washington insider circles for their acumen even though they are almost totally ignored by the mainstream media.

jon meacham bush coverThus, the CIA collections at the National Archives have extensive materials from EIR and some of the substance seems clearly drawn from close contacts with the agency and other experts. There even reports from DC insiders that the CIA invited LaRouche on more than one occasion in the early 1980s to brief Agency Director Bill Casey's staff at on the top floor of CIA headquarters. Those headquarters are now named for Bush but Casey was far closer on a personal level to Reagan than Bush. 

In contrast are such works as Destiny and Power, the widely praised 844-page authorized biography of George H.W. Bush by his friend Jon Meacham (Random House Trade paperback, 2016).

Destiny and Power carries the appearance of comprehensive and authoritative study of Bush by Meacham, a Pulitzer-winning author of a biography of Andrew Jackson and a former Newsweek and Random House editor-in-chief who frequently comments on television about historical events.

The Bush family had selected Meacham, shown at right in a 2014 photo, to write Bush's biography and invited him also to give eulogies at the recent separate funerals of the former jon meacham 2014president and his wife, Barbara Bush.

Meacham's book does not once mention Barr, much less any of the disturbing incidents and players described in Chaitkin’s 1994 article, which includes these paragraphs:

Barr was already in the CIA’s legal office in 1976 when Bush became Director of Central Intelligence. Bush promptly brought back assassinations manager Theodore Shackley as associate deputy CIA director for covert operations along with Shackley’s deputy Thomas Clines. Shackley had been head of the CIA Miami Station in the early 1960s, following the disastrous invasion of Cuba. Shackley and Clines has assembled the Cuban irregulars, who had been trained assassins and smugglers, into a permanent covert action force. Men like Felix Rodriguez had served under Shackley as he ran the opium-growing projects in Laos and the Operation Phoenix mass murder project in Vietnam….

William Barr joined this team as it matured under George Bush’s hand at the CIA. Barr prepared briefs for Bush’s stonewalling responses to congressional probes, led by Sen. Frank Church and Rep. Otis Pike, that attempted to bring the Bush and [Secretary of State Henry] Kissinger covert action under the rule of American law….

On George Bush’s recommendation, the 27-year-old Barr was hired in 1977 as clerk to Federal Circuit Court Judge Malcolm Wilkey. During the 1960s, Wilkey had been general counsel to a copper-mining conglomerate operating in Chile under the political management of Prescott Bush’s banking partner, Spruile Braden. Salvador Allende became Chile’s President and confiscated Braden’s huge El Teniente mine. Allende was soon overthrown and murdered in 1973.

In 1976, Chilean opposition leader Orlando Letelier had been blown up by a car bomb in Washington, D.C. Though the U.S. media generally blamed the Chilean secret police for the killing, it is well established that then-CIA director George Bush had penetrated the Chilean agency and had squelched all U.S. police investigation into the murder [which killed also Letelier’s American aide Ronni Moffett in Sheridan Circle in the city’s downtown]. Bush’s new boss, Malcolm Wilkey, later served as George Bush’s ambassador to Uruguay and arranged cool-out payments to Chileans who might have fingered Bush’s CIA for the Letelier bombing.

Later, in 1992, Chile’s Supreme Court decided that President Bush could be legally ordered to appear in Chile, to testify on the role of the CIA in the Letelier case; Chilean generals claimed that they have been wrongly blamed for the killing, and that the Bush’s CIA ordered the 1976 bombing. The U.S. chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General William Barr, did not respond. But what he did was to hire Malcolm Wilkey as a special prosecutor to intimidate the Democratic Congress in the House Post Office affair.

Chaitkin, the author of the article excerpted above, went on at considerable length in that vein with other allegations. They include reporting that Barr was involved as a private attorney with the BCCI drug money laundering operation as early as 1978 when he represented B.F. Saul, chairman of Financial General Bankshares, a component of what was later revealed as the CIA-affiliated money laundering operation BCCI. Saul was so prominent that he was succeeded as his bank's chairman by Clark Clifford, one of Washington's most eminent foreign policy advisors and lawyers of his time.

Chaitkin asserts that by the 1990s federal investigations of most of the 40 major banks affiliated with BCCI had been “sabotaged and shut down.” Chaitkin continued:

And in December 1991, Attorney General Barr announced that BCCI had entered a guilty plea to certain racketeering charges, in return for which the U.S. Justice Department agreed to drop all other federal and state charges that might be brought against BCCI entities in the future. In the plea bargain arrangement, BCCI forfeited all of its estimated $550 million in assets in the United States, and there were some minor jail sentences. But the global drug apparatus, which had for a time been publicly challenged, was safe.

Again, not one name from the account above, including BCCI, is mentioned in the Meacham biography of Bush aside from Kissinger, who is referenced in other contexts. This is lost history but could well be highly relevant these days when Barr is again in charge of the U.S. Justice Department, with unprecedented power also to declassify intelligence to achieve his goals.

William Barr's Senate Confirmation Hearing

william barr senate hearing cnn screengrab jan 15 2019This editor attended Barr's Senate confirmation hearing in January. Democrats challenged Barr's independence, sometimes in blunt language. Republicans extolled his virtues before his confirmation along party lines.

As is often the case, some of the most telling history (such as that above) or commentary was too disturbing for anyone to mention at an official proceeding, even to raise questions.

Thus it was a blogger, Wayne Madsen, a former Naval intelligence officer and longtime investigative reporter, who pulled no punches in a column on the Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), published the day Barr's confirmation hearing began. His column started this way:

Donald Trump's nominee for Attorney General, William Barr, the former Attorney General under George H. W. Bush, has a sordid track record that would make him the envy of any criminal syndicate, including, obviously, the Trump administration.

After describing Barr's key role in helping Bush arrange pardon of "the Iran-Contra Six" of high-level criminals, Madsen noted the curious circumstance that a high-level U.S. Senator and former Senator investigating Iran-Contra crimes had died in separate airplane crashes, thereby helping also to thwart the Iran-Contra investigations:

john heinzBarr became Attorney General under Bush on November 26, 1991, six months after the back-to-back deaths of a sitting and former senator who were involved in investigating Iran-Contra and the October Surprise. They were John Heinz III, right, Republican of Pennsylvania, and John Tower of Texas, respectively. Tower's nomination by Bush to be Secretary of Defense in 1989 was defeated by his one-time Senate colleagues over allegations surrounding Tower's drinking and "womanizing." When Bush discovered that Tower, who chaired the Tower Commission that investigated Iran-Contra, was coming out with a tell-all book about his experiences, Bush leaked the damaging information on Tower to media allies like New York Times columnist William Safire. Tower's book is titled Consequences: A Personal and Political Memoir.

Heinz died in a suspicious plane crash on April 4, 1991 over Lower Merion Township, outside of Philadelphia. Heinz and the two charter pilots of his Aerostar PA60 aircraft were killed when it collided in mid-air with a Sun Company Bell 412 helicopter dispatched from the Sun Company's plant in Chester, Pennsylvania to investigate a problem with the landing gear on Heinz's aircraft. Coincidentally, on October 24, 1980, the U.S.-flagged merchant vessel, SS Poet, departed from the same Sun shipyard in Chester — where the Sun helicopter was based — laden with illicit U.S. arms for Iran.

A personal aide to Teresa Heinz Kerry, who married Senator John Kerry in 1995, told WMR that she believed foul play was involved in the death of her husband and that it involved his knowledge of criminal activity of Bush in relation to both the October Surprise and Iran-Contra. One of the chief Senate investigators of the money laundering involved in Iran-Contra and the related Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL) scandal involving weapons shipments to Iraq and the scandal surrounding the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) was Kerry. And two senators who Kerry worked with closely, included Heinz and Tower.

On April 5, 1991, Tower and his daughter and research assistant, Marian Goodwin Tower, were killed while flying on board Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) flight 2311, which crashed while approaching the Brunswick, Georgia airport. The crash killed all the passengers and crew members.

john tower wTower, left, and his daughter were attending a book party, sponsored by his publisher, Little, Brown & Company, at a resort on Sea Island. WMR learned that Marian was carrying copies of documents linking George H. W. Bush to various aspects of Iran-Contra. Little, Brown & Co., was a subsidiary of Time Warner. Time-Life, the firm's previous incarnation, had deep connections to the CIA through its owner Henry Luce and his wife, Clare Boothe Luce.

Barr, as Bush's Attorney General, not only helped Bush in his pardon of the Iran-Contra Six but he did everything in his power to stymie the Walsh investigation and efforts by Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations, and House Banking Committee chairman Henry Gonzalez of Texas, to get to the bottom of Iran-Contra, the October Surprise, BNL, BCCI, and the Inslaw scandals.

WMR has learned from a relative of a victim on the ASA crash that Tower and his daughter, as well as four other passengers -- a NATO official; a Department of Defense cyber-security expert; NASA physician, chemist, and Shuttle astronaut Manley "Sonny" Carter; and American College of Physicians president-elect Dr. Nicholas Davies — were all attending a secretive and classified meeting at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia.

Bush not only wanted Tower and his daughter permanently out of the picture but plans for a second edition of Tower's book and the secret FLETC meeting to be scrubbed. Bush's willing accomplice in these acts of murder was William Barr, the man who will be undergoing questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), someone else with many skeletons in his closet.

Many books and congressional investigations focused on the Iran-Contra scandal and related frauds and money laundering. "Mainstream" books and news articles seldom raise the possibility of foul play, as do Madsen, Martin, Hopsicker and others who publish with small, independent book outlets.

Among the many disturbing incidents described by Martin in The Conspirators is that longtime San Antonio Congressman Henry Gonzalez, who served from 1961 to 1991, pulled back from his aggressive leadership of Iran-Contra crimes after his empty car, parked in front of his home, was riddled with bullets from an automatic rifle by an unidentified shooter. Gonzalez, part of JFK's motorcade in Dallas on the day of his 1963 assassination, had called for the impeachment of President Reagan and later of President Bush.

robert parry new hsOne of the pioneering Iran-Contra reporters of the 1980s, former Associated Press and Newsweek reporter Bob Parry, left, alleged during a lecture before independent researchers at the National Press Club that the mainstream media lost much of its stomach for in-depth reporting in the late 1980s on topics associated with "national security" — and that's why he founded an independent web-based site, Consortium News.

Yet mainstream print and broadcast media are not just intimidated but are now economically ravaged by Internet competition. In that case, where are the watchdogs? 

Parry's 1999 book Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & Project Truth keeps some of this history available to an increasingly jaded public. (It's one of a number of books by his colleagues from the Iran-Contra probe

At the Barr Senate confirmation hearing in January, not one senator, not even one of the Democrats, questioned Barr about his CIA past or Iran-Contra pardons during public questions of the nominee, as the Justice Integrity Project reported in Senators Fail To Grill Barr On His CIA Past, Iran-Contra Cover-up.

If, as so often is the case, the U.S. Senate cannot drill down on a nominee's history, who does that leave as society's watchdog?

The courts? The Trump Administration, including the Barr Justice Department, are in the process of transforming the federal judiciary into their image. And, if Al Martin and a great deal of reporting is to be believed, the courts and Justice Department have a long tradition as fixers on the bench and at the department skilled at using legal acumen to punish designated targets harshly and avoid serious prosecutions of favored insiders. 

That would seem to leave William Barr as society's watchdog, with powers occasionally interrupted by interim federal court decisions on appeal to the Republican-run U.S. Supreme Court.

‘Where’s My Roy Cohn?’

djt robert mueller headshots

Film producer Matt Tyrnauer premiered in January his documentary Where's My Roy Cohn? at the Sundance Film Festival.

From a film summary:

"Roy Cohn personified the dark arts of American politics, turning empty vessels into dangerous demagogues — from Joseph McCarthy to his final project, Donald J. Trump. This thriller-like exposé connects the dots, revealing how a deeply troubled master manipulator shaped our current American nightmare."

american flag upside down distressMob assistance to the CIA for repeated assassination attempts against Cuba's leader Fidel Castro would inevitably require the assistance of fixers both in the private sector and in government.

The late Air Force Col. Fletcher Prouty, the top Defense Department liaison to the CIA for covert operations, entitled his breakthrough 1973 memoir The Secret Team to show how what he called "The High Cabal" of U.S. and U.K. oligarchs deploy operatives widely and covertly to manage events and information flow. 

Roy Cohn and Bill Barr are part of this tradition. A distress signal is surely warranted at this point.  

One lesson from this overview is that readers here, like citizens everywhere, must assemble and digest information from varied credible sources even when we are continually bombarded by propaganda from prestigious sources whose track record can be mixed, depending on the situation.

Read more and trust your own judgment.

 

william barr prin dep asst ag edward ocallaghan rod rosenstein april 18 2 2019 Small

Attorney General William Barr, center, flanked by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, right, and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Edward O'Callaghan of the National Security Division are all Republicans and stand united for their version of justice. (Justice Department news conference on April 18, 2019 on release of the Mueller Report.)

 

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Selected Additional Reading / Updates

October

Oct. 14

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, God Is Now Trump’s Co-Conspirator, Bigotry, both racial and religious, is the last refuge of a scoundrel, Paul Krugman, right, Oct. 14, 2019. Listening to the speech William Barr, the attorney general, gave last week at the University of Notre Dame Law School, I found myself thinking of the title of an old movie: “God Is My Co-Pilot.” What I realized is that Donald Trump’s minions have now gone that title one better: If Barr’s speech is any indication, their strategy is to make God their boss’s co-conspirator.

Given where we are right now, you might have expected Barr to respond in some way to the events of the past few weeks — the revelation that the president has been calling on foreign regimes to produce dirt on his domestic opponents, the airport arrest of associates of the president’s lawyer as they tried to leave the country on one-way tickets, credible reports that Rudy Giuliani himself is under criminal investigation.

Alternatively, Barr could have delivered himself of some innocuous pablum, which is something government officials often do in difficult times. But no. Barr gave a fiery speech denouncing the threat to America posed by “militant secularists,” whom he accused of conspiring to destroy the “traditional moral order,” blaming them for rising mental illness, drug dependency and violence.

Consider for a moment how inappropriate it is for Barr, of all people, to have given such a speech. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion; the nation’s chief law enforcement officer has no business denouncing those who exercise that freedom by choosing not to endorse any religion.

And we’re not talking about a tiny group, either. These days, around a fifth of Americans say that they don’t consider themselves affiliated with any religion, roughly the same number who consider themselves Catholic. How would we react if the attorney general denounced Catholicism as a force undermining American society?

And he didn’t just declare that secularism is bad; he declared that the damage it does is intentional: “This is not decay. It is organized destruction.” If that kind of talk doesn’t scare you, it should; it’s the language of witch hunts and pogroms.

So what’s going on here? Pardon my cynicism, but I seriously doubt that Barr, whose boss must be the least godly man ever to occupy the White House, has suddenly realized to his horror that America is becoming more secular. No, this outburst of God-talk is surely a response to the way the walls are closing in on Trump, the high likelihood that he will be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Oct. 3

atlantic logoThe Atlantic, Commentary: The Mafia Style in American Politics: Roy Cohn connects the McCarthy era to the age of Trump across more than half a century, George Packer, Oct. 3, 2019.  In the new documentary Where’s My Roy Cohn? nothing is more mesmerizing and disturbing than Cohn’s eyes: flat and hooded; rare flickers of charm, but void of emotion by default; darkly staring down his prey in TV footage from the ’50s; washed-out blue and shifting away when asked whether he is gay and dying of AIDS in the ’80s. Cohn once included among his flaws “a total failure to sympathize with the emotional element in life.” The eyes turn his face — especially after the skin has been pulled taut by cosmetic surgery — into a living death mask. And throughout the film, these lifeless eyes keep appearing in other guises, other faces: the puffy, drowning drunk’s eyes of Joe McCarthy; the close-set reptilian stare of Roger Stone; the tight, appraising eyes of Donald Trump.

Cohn’s life connects the McCarthy era to the age of Trump across more than half a century — a dark thread in American politics. Cohn was trained as a lawyer, but he was a fixer by trade. McCarthy hired him as chief counsel to his Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and made him infamous as a Communist hunter. Cohn in turn mentored Stone, who got his start as a Nixon dirty trickster and later introduced Cohn to Ronald Reagan, whom Cohn introduced to Rupert Murdoch. Cohn and Trump met at a New York nightclub in 1973, when Trump was in his mid-20s and the Trump Organization was being sued by the federal government for racist housing practices. Trump recognized a man after his own self-image: a ruthless player who knew how to win. In the film, Cohn remembers Trump saying, “I’ve spent two days with these establishment law firms, and they’re all telling us, ‘Give up, do this, sign a decree and all of that.’ I’ve followed your career and you seem — you’re a little bit crazy like I am, and you stand up to the establishment. Can I come see you?”

Trump became Cohn’s client and protégé. They won the case by not losing — by counterattacking, raising phony charges, admitting no wrong. Trump paid careful attention. “Roy would always be for an offensive strategy,” Stone says in the film. “These were the rules of war. You don’t fight on the other guy’s ground; you define what the debate is going to be about. I think Trump would learn that from Roy. I learned that from Roy.”

In 1953, Harry Truman described McCarthyism as “the corruption of truth, the abandonment of our historical devotion to fair play. It is the abandonment of due process of law. It is the use of the big lie and the unbounded accusation against any citizen in the name of Americanism and security. It is the rise to power of the demagogue who lives on untruth. It is the spread of fear and the destruction of faith in every level of our society.” But even this accurate list of brutal tactics and crushing effects doesn’t quite convey the malevolent quality that hovers over the story of Roy Cohn.

Cohn and Trump embody the Mafia style in American politics. I don’t mean the Sopranos; I mean the cold will to power that carries a threat of murder without shame. (Cohn was accused of being responsible for the death by fire of a crewman on his yacht in an insurance plot; like so many other charges, this one was never pinned on him.) There’s a soft spot in American life for this type. He’s admired in mob movies, in war movies (George C. Scott as General George S. Patton: “Americans have never lost and will never lose a war, because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans”), in sports (Al Davis, the owner of the Oakland Raiders: “Just win, baby”), in entertainment (Jay-Z: “I never prayed to God, I prayed to Gotti / That’s right, it’s wicked, that’s life, I live it / Ain’t asking for forgiveness for my sins”).Two people interviewed in Where’s My Roy Cohn? describe Cohn with the word “evil.” The film shows the Mafia style as it recurs in modern American politics — a kind of metaphysical spirit that inhabits different characters at different times, always identifiable by the dead eyes.

September

Sept. 27

Trump Defender Bill Barr

Palmer Report, Analysis: Bill Barr is spiraling out of control, Isabel Stamm, Sept. 27, 2019. One day, when the smoke has cleared and the dust has settled, lawmakers will have to tackle the difficult task of trying to patch up the weak spots and the gaping holes that have become apparent in the fabric of the American system of government. It will be a truly herculean task, and the burden will probably fall mostly on the shoulders of Democratic members of Congress, since the Republicans apparently checked their ethics and principles at the door at some point in 2016.

bill palmer report logo headerOne of the many things that lawmakers will need to address as they wade through the debris of what was assumed to be a perfect system of checks and balances will be the role of the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. The OLC is a small office that rarely garners any public attention, but it holds extraordinary power. By law, the function of the Office of Legal Counsel is to help the Attorney General provide legal advice to the president and federal agencies. In its current form, the OLC operates like a black box. Important legal questions are submitted to the office for deliberation and the OLC then issues an opinion – often in the form of a memo – which is binding on the executive branch. Yet the process of decision making and the rationales underlying the final opinion can be kept secret from everyone, except high-ranking administration officials.

We have witnessed the great and lasting influence exercised by the Office of Legal Counsel in the context of the Mueller investigation when the Special Counsel declined to make a prosecutorial judgment because of an OLC memo stating that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Mueller followed an old OLC directive – not a law – which was the result of deliberations on whether or not a sitting president could be criminally tried without the proceedings interfering with his official duties in a way that might be harmful to the country.

Under Attorney General Bill Barr and Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel, who is heading the OLC, the office – which is accountable to no one in particular – has played a pivotal role in shielding Donald Trump from congressional oversight. Among other things, the Office of Legal Counsel has declared that Congress may not obtain Trump’s tax returns and has asserted that the president’s counsel and senior advisers have immunity from congressional investigation.

In recent days, the current DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel has flexed its muscle again, inserting itself into the processing of the Ukraine whistleblower complaint by simply asserting that – contrary to ICIG Michael Atkinson’s judgment – the complaint was not urgent or credible and should therefore not be passed on to Congress. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who handled whistleblower complaints in the aftermath of Snowden, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he wasn’t aware he had had the power to withhold a whistleblower complaint from Congress, thus pointing out the unprecedented nature of what Acting-DNI Joseph Maguire did under the OLC’s directive, which is in clear opposition to the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA).

It is quite ironic that the Trump regime, which regularly and loudly denounces the devious workings of an imagined “Deep State”, has managed to create for itself such a powerful tool that it resembles the notorious Court of Star Chamber of King Charles I and operates outside the provisions made by the American Constitution.

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Just How Corrupt Is Bill Barr? Michelle Goldberg, right, Sept. 27, 2019 (print ed.). Trump’s attorney general is implicated in the Ukraine scandal, but refuses to recuse. The whistle-blower’s complaint was deemed credible and urgent by Michael Atkinson, Trump’s own intelligence community inspector general, but Bill Barr’s Justice Department suppressed it. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion saying that the complaint needn’t be turned over to Congress, as the whistle-blower statute instructs. When Atkinson made a criminal referral to the Justice Department, it reportedly didn’t even open an investigation. And all the time, Barr was named in the complaint that his office was covering up.

Under any conceivable ethical standard, Barr should have recused himself. But ethical standards, perhaps needless to say, mean nothing in this administration.

Then there’s Barr’s personal involvement in the Ukraine plot. In the reconstruction of Trump’s call with Zelensky that was released by the White House, Trump repeatedly said that he wanted Ukraine’s government to work with Barr on investigating the Bidens. Barr’s office insists that the president hasn’t spoken to Barr about the subject, but given the attorney general’s record of flagrant dishonesty — including his attempts to mislead the public about the contents of the Mueller report — there’s no reason to believe him. Besides, said Representative Jamie Raskin, a former constitutional law professor who now sits on the House Judiciary Committee, “the effort to suppress the existence of the phone conversation itself is an obvious obstruction of justice.”

But Barr’s refusal to recuse creates a sort of legal cul-de-sac. It’s only the Justice Department, ultimately, that can prosecute potential federal crimes arising from this scandal. Barr’s ethical nihilism, his utter indifference to ordinary norms of professional behavior, means that he’s retaining the authority to stop investigations into crimes he may have participated in.

That makes the impeachment proceedings in the House, where Barr will likely be called as a witness, the last defense against complete administration lawlessness. “Just as the president is not above the law, the attorney general is not above the law,” said Raskin. “The president’s betrayal of his oath of office and the Constitution is the primary offense here, and we need to stay focused on that, but the attorney general’s prostitution of the Department of Justice for the president’s political agenda has been necessary to the president’s schemes and he will face his own reckoning.”

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Book Review / Investigative Commentary: Daddy Dearest: the weirdness of Donald Barr, the father of Trump's mob lawyer Attorney General, Wayne Madsen, Sept. 27, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). Attorney General William Barr is in the news regarding his criminal conspiracy involving Donald Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, and Ukraine.

It is highly relevant that the activities of Barr's father, Donald Barr, a former Office of Strategic Services (OSS) officer during World War II and the headmaster of the Dalton School, who was influential in hiring the late convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein as a teacher, be closely examined. Understanding the senior Barr may explain the actions of his scion in one of the worst constitutional crises to hit the United States since Watergate.

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Just How Corrupt Is Bill Barr? Michelle Goldberg, right, Sept. 27, 2019 (print ed.). Trump’s attorney general is implicated in the Ukraine scandal, but refuses to recuse. The whistle-blower’s complaint was deemed credible and urgent by Michael Atkinson, Trump’s own intelligence community inspector general, but Bill Barr’s Justice Department suppressed it. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion saying that the complaint needn’t be turned over to Congress, as the whistle-blower statute instructs. When Atkinson made a criminal referral to the Justice Department, it reportedly didn’t even open an investigation. And all the time, Barr was named in the complaint that his office was covering up.

Under any conceivable ethical standard, Barr should have recused himself. But ethical standards, perhaps needless to say, mean nothing in this administration.

Then there’s Barr’s personal involvement in the Ukraine plot. In the reconstruction of Trump’s call with Zelensky that was released by the White House, Trump repeatedly said that he wanted Ukraine’s government to work with Barr on investigating the Bidens. Barr’s office insists that the president hasn’t spoken to Barr about the subject, but given the attorney general’s record of flagrant dishonesty — including his attempts to mislead the public about the contents of the Mueller report — there’s no reason to believe him. william barr at dojBesides, said Representative Jamie Raskin, a former constitutional law professor who now sits on the House Judiciary Committee, “the effort to suppress the existence of the phone conversation itself is an obvious obstruction of justice.”

But Barr’s refusal to recuse creates a sort of legal cul-de-sac. It’s only the Justice Department, ultimately, that can prosecute potential federal crimes arising from this scandal. Barr’s ethical nihilism, his utter indifference to ordinary norms of professional behavior, means that he’s retaining the authority to stop investigations into crimes he may have participated in.

That makes the impeachment proceedings in the House, where Barr will likely be called as a witness, the last defense against complete administration lawlessness. “Just as the president is not above the law, the attorney general is not above the law,” said Raskin. “The president’s betrayal of his oath of office and the Constitution is the primary offense here, and we need to stay focused on that, but the attorney general’s prostitution of the Department of Justice for the president’s political agenda has been necessary to the president’s schemes and he will face his own reckoning.”

GQ, How Bill Barr Turned the Justice Department Into a Cover-up Operation for Trump, Jay Willis, Sept. 27, 2019. During a now-infamous July phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, Donald Trump paired his request that Ukraine open an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden with a very specific recommendation: that Zelensky get in touch with attorney general William Barr, too. "Whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great," Trump said, according to the White House's notes of the conversation. He wrapped up the conversation by promising to have Barr call Zelensky soon. "We will get to the bottom of it," he said. "I'm sure you will figure it out."

For the whistleblower who filed a complaint about the call — a complaint that just launched the fourth presidential impeachment inquiry in U.S. history — the invocation of the nation's chief law enforcement officer was an alarming development. "Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well," they wrote.

It isn't clear whether Trump actually looped Barr into this effort to coordinate with a foreign head of state on a clandestine probe of his political rival, and the Department of Justice has flatly denied Barr's knowledge or involvement. But the whistleblower's report alleged that this was not the first time White House lawyers concealed politically sensitive records of Trump's conversations, and lawyers in Barr's Justice Department stymied efforts to transmit that report to Congress. Once again, Barr finds himself involved in a presidential cover-up — or now, as Nancy Pelosi put it, the "cover-up of a cover-up," too.

Barr has also been untroubled by Trump's penchant for calling for investigations of his perceived enemies — a favorite subject of a famously paranoid president. In May, Barr evaded questions from California senator Kamala Harris about whether anyone at the White House had ever asked him to abuse his authority in this manner.

This willingness to ignore the rule of law in order to expand his president's power is the most persistent—and most consequential—theme of Barr's tenure. The Department of Justice has long prided itself on maintaining its independence from the political process, because a justice system's legitimacy depends on the willingness of those in charge to enforce the law against anyone who breaks it, regardless of the partisan fallout.

Barr, however, views the powers of his office as a political prize to be won, and uses those powers to protect the administration's friends and attack its enemies with impunity. As Maryland congressman Jamie Raskin put it, although Trump's conduct in the Ukraine scandal is the "primary offense," Barr's "prostitution of the Department of Justice for the president’s political agenda has been necessary to the president’s schemes." Trump is a lawless person, but it is Barr's quiet willingness to work the system on Trump's behalf that allows this lawlessness to flourish.

Sept. 26

More Barr Conflicts

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept.’s Dismissal of Ukraine Call Raises New Questions About Barr, Katie Benner, Sept. 26, 2019. The Justice Department’s response to President Trump’s call with the leader of Ukraine has helped further the perception that Mr. Trump regards his attorney general not as the nation’s highest law enforcement officer but as a political ally.

At the end of August, when two top intelligence officials asked a Justice Department lawyer whether a whistle-blower’s complaint should be forwarded to Congress, they were told no, Attorney General William P. Barr and his department could handle the criminal referral against the president of the United States.

About four weeks later, the department rendered its judgment: President Trump had not violated campaign finance laws when he urged Ukraine’s president to work with Mr. Barr to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The very same evidence, a reconstructed transcript of a July call between Mr. Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, has whipped Washington into an impeachment crisis in a matter of days.

The sharply different responses to the call’s reconstruction, released by the White House on Wednesday, has helped further the perception that Mr. Trump regards Mr. Barr not as the nation’s highest law enforcement officer but as his political ally and legal protector.

Sept. 24

atlantic logoThe Atlantic, We’ve Reached the Breaking Point, David Frum, Sept. 24, 2019. The Ukraine scandal confirms that Trump knows he can act with impunity — and no one will stop him. In June, President Donald Trump was enjoying a rare respite from scandal. He had successfully squelched Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Mueller had agreed to abide by Department of Justice guidance that the president could not be indicted for violating any criminal law. Since Mueller had also limited his examination of “collusion” to potential violations of criminal law, the Mueller investigation had marched itself into a dead end of predetermined futility.

Trump celebrated by granting a rare non-Fox News interview to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. Stephanopoulos asked him: What if another foreign government offered him dirt on an opponent in 2020? What would Trump do?

“I think you might want to listen; there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” he said. “If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘We have information on your opponent’ — oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”

And: “It’s not an interference. They have information — I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research. ‘Oh, let’s call the FBI.’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressmen, they all do it, they always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.”

So don’t say you weren’t warned. Trump got away with it the first time. The lesson he learned was to try again.

David A. Graham: Trump has no shame

Back in the early days of the Trump presidency, Trump’s enablers wistfully suggested that he might grow into the job as he learned not to do corrupt things.

In June 2017, news broke that Trump had demanded FBI Director James Comey go easy on Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser. “The president’s new at this,” then–House Speaker Paul Ryan said at the time. “He’s new to government. So he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses. He’s just new to this.”

Give him time, Ryan seemed to suggest, and Trump might stop acting like a criminal in office.

Trump drew a very different conclusion from the one to which Ryan had hoped to nudge him. He concluded: Nobody is going to stop me.

The breathtaking thing about Trump’s latest abuse is how many people knew about some, or all, of it as it happened. Vice President Mike Pence personally spoke to the Ukrainian president about the importance of “corruption”—which in Trump-speak means the importance of doing more of it, not less.

Sept. 20

 ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Roy Cohn Is How We Got Trump, Michelle Goldberg, right, Sept. 20, 2019. From McCarthyism to the mob to Trump, Cohn enabled evil. Why did elites embrace him?

Near the beginning of “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” the new documentary about the lawyer and power broker who mentored Donald Trump, an interviewee says, “Roy Cohn’s contempt for people, his contempt for the law, was so evident on his face that if you were in his presence, you knew you were in the presence of evil.” He wasn’t being hyperbolic.

The film, which opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, will likely be of wide interest because of how Cohn helps explain Trump. In the attorney’s life, you can see the strange ease with which a sybaritic con man fit in with crusading social reactionaries. You see the glee Cohn derived from being an exception to the rules he enforced on weaker people.

From him, Trump learned how, when he was in trouble, to change the subject by acting outrageously, to never apologize and always stay on the offense. When the Justice Department claimed that apartment buildings owned by the Trump family were discriminating against black renters, it was Cohn’s idea to countersue the Justice Department for $100 million.

August

Aug. 2

william barr swearing in wife djt roberts

Chief Justice John Roberts administer the office oath to Attorney General William Barr as his wife and Donald Trump look on.

Buzzflash, William Barr and Opus Dei, the Secretive Ultra-Conservative Catholic Organization That Poses an Existential Threat to Democracy and Pluralism, Bill Berkowitz, Aug. 2, 2019. It is no secret that Attorney General William P. Barr has ties to Opus Dei, the highly secretive, ultra-conservative Catholic organization. Opus Dei, which literally means "The Work of God," “is known for recruiting very influential members, especially those simpatico with culturally conservative causes,” veteran journalist Frank Cocozzelli recently explained. Barr’s connections to Opus Dei – it is unclear how deep it runs -- might in part explain, as Cocozzelli pointed out in an early May story headlined “Did Opus Dei Teach A.G. Barr to ‘Puts Away His Scruples’?,” Barr’s “apparent ‘ends justifies the means’ strategy” regarding his testimony about the Mueller Report before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
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“Before his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in January, Barr had completed a questionnaire,” Betty Clermont reported. “On page 4, he listed positions he’s held as director of the Catholic Information Center [which is managed by priests from Opus Dei], (2014-1017), director of the [decidedly right wing think tank] Ethics and Public Policy Center (2004-2009) and director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (1994-2015).

In her blog, The Open Tabernacle, Clerment, the author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America, wrote: “the Opus Dei Catholic Information Center’s ‘members and leaders continue to have an outsize impact on policy and politics. It is the conservative spiritual and intellectual center … and its influence is felt in all of Washington’s corridors of power,’ the Washington Post stated recently.”

“As Cozocelli points out,” researcher D. Cary Hart told me in an email, ”Barr was on the board of Catholic Information Center. The priests who manage CIC are all Opus Dei members and it is generally believed that membership is required of the board of directors. [However] [y]ou will never be able to prove it, [since] Supernumeraries and Cooperators keep their identities secret.”

“The Attorney General has in the past spoken with language that is in line with the goals of both Opus Dei’s and the EPPC’s [the Ethics and Public Policy Center where Barr was director from 2004-2009] overlapping agendas,” Cocozzelli suggested. “This past December Americans United’s Rob Boston reminded us of Barr’s past theological screeds. These run the gamut from condemning public schools (they had undergone a ‘moral lobotomy’); in a 1992 address to Bill Donohue’s Catholic League, he called for the imposition of ‘God’s law’ in America. In that same address he went after contemporary supporters of the separation of church and state (‘The secularists of today are clearly fanatics’).”

“In 1995,” Laura Murray-Tjan wrote in late May, “Barr wrote that he was troubled by the ‘steady erosion of the Judeo-Christian moral system’ in the United States, and argued that law should aid in the restoration of the ‘traditional moral order.’ Roe v. Wade has contributed to the nation’s ‘permissiveness,’ Barr argues, by causing fewer people to view abortion as ‘evil.’ In short, the ‘character of the judiciary’ is crucially important because, Barr believes, our morals track what judges say is legal.”

The Rev. C. John McCloskey, who was a member of Opus Dei, became director of the Catholic Information Center in 1998. He helped drive CIC from a little known organization to becoming a major player in DC politics; he was described as “Catholic Church’s K Street lobbyist.” After a few years of growing his and CIC’s profile, he suddenly disappeared. In early January of this year, it was disclosed that McCloskey had victimized “a woman who had gone to him in 2002 for spiritual guidance,” The Washington Post’s Joe Heim reported.

The priest Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, who believed “that lay Catholics could achieve holiness without entering a religious order”, founded opus Dei in Spain in 1928. According to Cocozzelli, among other things, “Escriva also taught his followers to put away their scruples (The Way, Nos. 258 and 259), seemingly teaching that the ends always justify the means. Perhaps maxims 258 and 259 might explain the Attorney General’s prior misleading House testimony as well his unwillingness to answer questions that merely required a yes or no response. Much of what Escriva preached dovetails nicely with the William Barr’s ideal of a society built upon religious orthodoxy. That being the case, it also seems that Escriva’s means for realizing that goal similarly dovetails.”

“Opus Dei has historically worked to purge progressives from church ranks, notably in Latin America, and infuse Catholicism with right-wing principles,” Cocozzelli pointed out in a 2009 story posted at Political Research Associates titled The Politics of Schism in the Catholic Church. “John Paul saw Opus Dei and other authoritarian-minded groups such as the Legionnaires of Christ and Communion y Liberacíon as a means to a more conservative Church.”

In a 2006 article posted at Talk to Action titled “The Catholic Right, Part Two: An Introduction To The Role Of Opus Dei” Cocozzelli noted that “The danger that a politically active Opus Dei membership currently represents to liberal democracy is not from assassinations by imaginary albino monks (for the record, there are no Opus Dei monks), but in its very Plutocratic attitude in abhorring dissent.”

July

July 25

Epstein: The Big Picture

Mint Press News, Government by Blackmail: Jeffrey Epstein, Trump’s Mentor and the Dark Secrets of the Reagan Era (Part II), Whitney Webb, right, July 25, 2019 (Excerpted; Click link for full story]. Appalling for both the villainous abuse of children itself and the chilling implications of government by blackmail, this tangled web of unsavory alliances casts a lurid light on the political history of the U.S. from the Prohibition Era right up through the Age of Trump.

Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire who now sits in jail on federal charges for the sex trafficking of minors, has continued to draw media scrutiny in the weeks after his arrest on July 6. Part of the reason for this continued media interest is related to Epstein’s alleged relationship to the intelligence services and new information about the true extent of the sexual blackmail operation Epstein is believed to have run for decades.

As MintPress reported last week, Epstein was able to run this sordid operation for so long precisely because his was only the latest incarnation of a much older, more extensive operation that began in the 1950s and perhaps even earlier.

Starting first with mob-linked liquor baron Lewis Rosenstiel and later with Roy Cohn, Rosenstiel’s protege and future mentor to Donald Trump, Epstein’s is just one of the many sexual blackmail operations involving children that are all tied to the same network, which includes elements of organized crime, powerful Washington politicians, lobbyists and “fixers,” and clear links to intelligence as well as the FBI.

This report, Part II of this series titled “The Jeffrey Epstein Scandal: Too Big To Fail,” will delve into Cohn’s close ties to the Reagan administration, which was also closely tied to the same organized crime network led by the infamous mob figure Meyer Lansky, which was discussed in Part I. Of particular importance is the “Iran Contra” network, a group of Reagan officials and associates who played key roles in the Iran Contra scandal. Though it has remained relatively unknown for years, many key figures in that same network, and several fronts for the CIA that were involved in funneling money to the Central American Contra paramilitaries, were also trafficking minors for their sexual exploitation and use in sexual blackmail rings.

Several of these rings made headlines at one point or another over the years — from the “call boy ring” run by Washington lobbyist Craig Spence, to the Franklin child-sex and murder ring run by Republican operative Larry King, to the scandal that enveloped the Catholic charity Covenant House in the late 1980s.

Yet, as this report will show, all of these rings — and more — were connected to the same network that involved key figures linked to the Reagan White House and linked to Roy Cohn — revealing the true scope of the sordid sexual blackmail operations and sex rings that involved the trafficking of children within the U.S. and even in Central America for their exploitation by dangerous and powerful pedophiles in the United States.

Appalling for both the villainous abuse of children itself and the chilling implications of government by blackmail, this tangled web of unsavory alliances casts a lurid light on the political history of the United States from the Prohibition Era right up to the present day and the Age of Trump, a fact made increasingly clear as more and more information comes to light in relation to the Jeffrey Epstein case.

“Roy could fix anyone in the city”

Since Donald Trump burst onto the political scene in 2015, the legacy of his mentor, Roy Cohn – as well as Cohn’s influence on his most famous protege — have begun to garner renewed media attention. Many of the profiles on Cohn following Trump’s rise have focused solely on certain shadowy aspects of Cohn’s history, particularly his association with major figures in New York organized crime, his corrupt dealings, and his eventual disbarment. Some of these portrayals even went so far as to label Cohn as politically impotent. While Cohn was known to deal with a sizable amount of sleaze in his career, such depictions of the man fail to note that he had created an influence machine of unrivaled power that included some of the most prominent people in media and politics as well as a cadre of celebrities.

Cohn was closely associated with numerous celebrities, famous politicians and political operatives. Many of his birthday parties over the years attracted such famous figures such as artist Andy Warhol, fashion designer Calvin Klein, and comedian Joey Adams, as well as notable political figures including former Mayor of New York Abraham Beame and then-Assemblyman from Brooklyn and future Senator Chuck Schumer, among others. In 1979 Margaret Trudeau, mother of current Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, attended Cohn’s birthday party, where she famously toppled his custom birthday cake; and of course Donald Trump, who became Cohn’s protege in the mid-1970s, was a frequent fixture at social events held in Cohn’s honor.

The politicians, journalists and celebrities invited to Cohn’s exclusive parties were said to be those who “had open accounts in Cohn’s ‘favor bank,’” his nickname for his unofficial balance sheet of political favors and debts that was surely informed and influenced by his extensive involvement in sexual blackmail operations from the 1950s well into the 1980s.

Many of Cohn’s celebrity friendships were cultivated through his relationship with and frequent appearances at the famous and famously debaucherous New York nightclub Studio 54, which was described by Vanity Fair as “the giddy epicenter of 70s hedonism, a disco hothouse of beautiful people, endless cocaine, and every kind of sex.” Cohn was the long-time lawyer of the club’s owners, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager.

Among Cohn’s closest friends were Barbara Walters, to whom Cohn often referred as his “fiancee” in public, and whom he later introduced to the head of the U.S. Information Agency, Chad Wick, and other high rollers in the Reagan White House. Yet, Walters was just one of Cohn’s powerful friends in the media, a group that also included Abe Rosenthal, executive editor of the New York Times; William Safire, long-time New York Times columnist and New York Magazine contributor; and George Sokolsky of The New York Herald Tribune, NBC and ABC. Sokolsky was a particularly close friend of both Cohn and former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, whose involvement in Cohn’s sexual blackmail operation is described in Part I of this investigative series. Sokolsky ran the American Jewish League Against Communism with Cohn for several years and the organization later named its Medal of Honor after Sokolsky.

Cohn was also the attorney and friend of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and, according to New York Magazine, “Whenever Roy wanted a story stopped, item put in, or story exploited, Roy called Murdoch;” and, after Murdoch bought the New York Post, Cohn “wielded the paper as his personal shiv.” According to the late journalist Robert Parry, the friendship between Murdoch and Cohn first began thanks to their mutual support for Israel.

Cohn also leaned on his life-long friend since high school, Si Newhouse Jr., to exert media influence. Newhouse oversaw the media empire that now includes Vanity Fair, Vogue, GQ, The New Yorker, and numerous local newspapers throughout the United States, as well as major interests in cable television. New York Magazine also noted that “Cohn used his influence in the early ’80s to secure favors for himself and his Mob clients in Newhouse publications.” In addition to Newhouse, Cohn’s other high school pals, Generoso Pope Jr. and Richard Berlin, later became the owners of the National Enquirer and the Hearst Corporation, respectively. Cohn was also a close friend of another media mogul, Mort Zuckerman, who – along with Rupert Murdoch – would go on to befriend Jeffrey Epstein.

Cohn’s media confidants, like journalist William Buckley of The National Review and Firing Line, often attacked Cohn’s political enemies – particularly long-time Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau — in their columns, using Cohn as an anonymous source. Buckley, whom historian George Nash once called “the preeminent voice of American conservatism and its first great ecumenical figure,” received the George Sokolsky medal alongside Cohn’s mob-linked client and “Supreme Commander” Lewis Rosenstiel from the Cohn-run American Jewish League Against Communism in 1966. Buckley later got a heavily discounted $65,000 loan to buy a luxury boat from a bank where Cohn held influence and whose president Cohn had hand picked, according to a 1969 article in LIFE magazine.

Cohn, Murdoch and the Contras

Though Cohn’s influence in the Reagan administration and his friendship with the Reagan family and their inner circle has been acknowledged, less well-known is how Cohn aided the CIA’s covert propaganda efforts that were part of the larger scandal known as Iran-Contra.

Cohn, whose influence over the press has already been detailed, forged close ties with the director of the U.S. Information Agency, Chad Wick, even hosting a luncheon in Wick’s honor that was widely attended by influential figures in the conservative press, as well as senators and representatives. Soon after, then-CIA Director and Cohn friend William Casey was spearheading an extensive PR campaign aimed at shoring up public support for Reagan’s Latin American policies, including support of the Contra paramilitaries.

This domestic propaganda effort was technically illegal and required that the CIA outsource the job to the private sector to minimize the risk of fall-out. As Robert Parry reported in 2015, Wick took the lead in obtaining private funding for the effort and, just a few days after Wick promised to find private support, Cohn brought his close friend, the media mogul Rupert Murdoch, to the White House.

“The man in the black tuxedo”

Roy Cohn was not the only one close to the Reagan administration who was simultaneously running sexual blackmail operations that abused and exploited children. In fact, there were several figures, all of whom shared direct connections to CIA Director William Casey and other close friends and confidants of Cohn.

The downfall of “Washington’s Jay Gatsby”

After having left his job as an ABC News correspondent in the 1980s, Craig Spence found success as a prominent conservative Washington lobbyist. Spence would soon find his fortunes shift dramatically when, in June 1989, it was revealed that he had been pimping out children to the power elite in the nation’s capital throughout the 1980s in apartments that were bugged with video and audio recording equipment. Much like Jeffrey Epstein, who ran a similar operation, Spence was often likened to Jay Gatsby, the mysterious, wealthy figure from the well-known Fitzgerald novel The Great Gatsby.

A 1982 New York Times article written about Spence said that his “personal phone book and party guest lists constitute a ‘Who’s Who’ in Congress, Government and journalism” and stated that Spence was “hired by his clients as much for whom he knows as what he knows.” Spence was also known to throw lavish parties, which the Times described as “glitter[ed] with notables, from ambassadors to television stars, from senators to senior State Department officials.” Roy Cohn, William Casey and Roy Cohn’s journalist friend William Safire were just some of the other attendees at Spence’s festivities.

Spence later stated that his contacts within the White House, which allowed him and his “call boys” access, were “top level” officials and he specifically singled out George H.W. Bush’s then-National Security Advisor Donald Gregg. Gregg had worked at the CIA since 1951 before he resigned in 1982 to become National Security Advisor to Bush, who was then vice president. Prior to resigning from his post at the CIA, Gregg had worked directly under William Casey and, in the late 1970s, alongside a young William Barr (emphasis added) in stonewalling the congressional Pike Committee and Church Committee, which investigated the CIA beginning in 1975. Among the things that they were tasked with investigating were the CIA’s “love traps,” or sexual blackmail operations used to lure foreign diplomats to bugged apartments, complete with recording equipment and two-way mirrors.

Barr would later become Bush’s Attorney General, rising to that post yet again under Trump. Furthermore, Barr’s father worked for the precursor to the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and recruited a young Jeffrey Epstein, then a high school drop-out, to teach at the elite Dalton School, from which Epstein was later fired. A year prior to hiring Epstein, Donald Barr published a science fiction fantasy novel about sex slavery. Notably, the same year Donald Barr hired Epstein, his son was working for the CIA.

Bill Barr has refused calls to recuse himself from the Epstein case, even though he worked at the same law firm that has represented Epstein in the past.

whitney webbWhitney Webb, right, is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets, including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

 Barr Team Thwarting Trump Probe?

william barr sad face uncredited

CNN, Prosecutors unlikely to charge Trump Org executives, sources say, Erica Orden and Kara Scannell, July 12, cnn logo2019. A federal investigation into whether Trump Organization executives violated campaign-finance laws appears to be wrapping up without charges being filed, according to people familiar with the matter. For months, federal prosecutors in New York have examined whether company officials broke the law, including in their effort to reimburse Michael Cohen for hush-money payments he made to women alleging affairs with his former boss, President Donald Trump.

In recent weeks, however, their investigation has quieted, the people familiar with the inquiry said, and prosecutors now don't appear poised to charge any Trump Organization executives in the probe that stemmed from the case against Cohen.

A spokesman for the Manhattan US Attorney's office declined to comment. An attorney for the Trump Organization declined to comment.

michael cohen ap file croppedn January, one month after Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison, prosecutors requested interviews with executives at the company, CNN reported. But prosecutors never followed up on their initial request, people familiar with the matter said, and the interviews never took place.

Meanwhile, there has been no contact between the Manhattan US Attorney's office and officials at the Trump Organization in more than five months, one person familiar with the matter said.
There is no indication that the case has been formally closed, and former federal prosecutors cautioned that it is always possible that new information could revive the inquiry. The Manhattan US Attorney's office continues to have at least one other ongoing Trump-connected investigation, a probe concerning the President's inaugural committee.

The Trump Organization investigation was launched out of the Cohen case, in which he pleaded guilty to eight counts, including two counts of campaign-finance violations for orchestrating or making payments during the 2016 election to two women -- adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal -- who alleged affairs with Trump. (Trump has denied the allegations.)

After Cohen made the $130,000 payment to Daniels, he was reimbursed, prosecutors said in court filings, by the Trump Organization. The company's executives authorized payments to him totaling $420,000, in an effort to cover his original payment, tax liabilities and reward him with a bonus, according to prosecutors, and they falsely recorded those payments as legal expenses in their books.

The criminal inquiry centered on whether those payments, like the hush money Cohen gave to Daniels, violated campaign-finance law.

June 30

Constitutional Crisis?

william barr smile fox screengrab Small

atlantic logoThe Atlantic, Opinion: Bill Barr’s Dangerous Pursuit of Executive Power, Donald Ayer (Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General under George H. W. Bush), June 30,2019. Shown in a screenshot above, Barr is using the office he holds to advance his extraordinary lifetime project of assigning unchecked power to the president.

Buried behind our president’s endless stream of lies and malicious self-serving remarks are actions that far transcend any reasonable Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)understanding of his legal authority. Donald Trump (shown in a Defense Department photo) disdains, more than anything else, the limitations of checks and balances on his power. Witness his assertion of a right to flout all congressional subpoenas; his continuing refusal to disclose his tax returns, notwithstanding Congress’s statutory right to secure them; his specific actions to bar congressional testimony by government officials; and his personal attacks on judges who dare to subject the acts of his administration to judicial review.

Attorney General William Barr has not had the lead public role in advancing the president’s claims to these unprecedented powers, which have come to us, like most everything about this president, as spontaneous assertions of Trump’s own will. To the contrary, in securing william barr o 1992his confirmation as attorney general, Barr (shown in a 1992 photo) successfully used his prior service as attorney general in the by-the-book, norm-following administration of George H. W. Bush to present himself as a mature adult dedicated to the rule of law who could be expected hold the Trump administration to established legal rules.

Having known Barr for four decades, including preceding him as deputy attorney general in the Bush Administration, I knew him to be a fierce advocate of unchecked presidential power, so my own hopes were outweighed by skepticism that this would come true.

But the first few months of his current tenure, and in particular, and his handling of the Mueller report suggest something very different — that he is using the office he holds to advance his extraordinary lifetime project of assigning unchecked power to the president.

June 29

Palmer Report, Opinion: President Jimmy Carter just dropped a house on Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, June 29, 2019. As Donald Trump has continued to debase and criminalize the presidency, he’s destroyed most of the norms of the office from within. That’s left others in the no-win position of trying to decide whether to ignore the norms of the office from the outside. For instance, the living former U.S. presidents have each taken different and measured approaches to calling out Trump’s horridness. That is, until now.

bill palmer report logo headerYesterday, President Jimmy Carter – long viewed as one of the highest character people to ever hold the office – flat out stated that Donald Trump isn’t a legitimate president because Russia helped alter the outcome of the election on his behalf. It’s not a big deal for you and me to state this obvious fact. But when Carter said it, his words carried the weight of the office itself, as he’s one of only four people on the planet who have previously occupied and are still around to speak on the office’s behalf.

jimmy carterThe whole thing was even more of a bombshell when you consider that President Carter didn’t merely say that Donald Trump is a bad president or a failed president – he essentially said that Trump is not president. Keep in mind that while Carter has always been known to call it like he sees it, he’s always done it in gentlemanly fashion – he’s a ninety-four year old guy who builds houses for the homeless, after all – so when he comes out swinging like this, it jeff flake omeans a whole lot.

President Carter’s words were met with widespread agreement and praise. Not everyone was happy, though. Retired GOP Senator Jeff Flake, left, tweeted that “This is an awful thing for one American President to say about another. Argue that he shouldn’t be reelected, sure, but don’t say that he wasn’t legitimately elected.” But then Flake’s tweet got hit with about twenty times as many comments as likes – a sign that most people were siding with Carter over Flake.

June 28

washington post logoWashington Post, Jimmy Carter says Trump wouldn’t be president without help from Russia, John Wagner, June 28, 2019. Former president Jimmy Carter said Friday that he believes a full investigation of the 2016 election would show that President Trump prevailed jimmy carter portrait deftnewsbecause of Russian interference on his behalf and otherwise would not be in office.

“There’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the election, and I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016,” said Carter, shown in a file photo. “He lost the election, and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.”

His made his comments during a panel discussion at a conference in Leesburg, Va., sponsored by the Carter Center, a nonprofit organization he founded in 1982 that focuses on human rights.

Pressed by historian Jon Meacham, who moderated the discussion, on whether he considers Trump to be “an illegitimate president,” Carter replied: “Based on what I just said, which I can’t retract.”

 

June 26

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: The Nazification of the Attorney-General's office, Wayne Madsen, June 26, 2019 (subscription required). The American public is beginning to witness the transformation of the Justice Department into a political police and retribution force eager to carry out the diktats of Trump.

June 21

New York Magazine, E. Jean Carroll: “Trump attacked me in the dressing room of Bergdorf Goodman,” Sarah Jones, June 21, 2019 (excerpted). The cover story New York published today details an encounter the writer E. Jean Carroll had over two decades ago with Donald J. Trump, in which the then–real-estate mogul allegedly assaulted her in a dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman department store in midtown Manhattan. Trump is shown in a graphic by A Banana Peeled.

donald trump monster abananapeeledcom dcmaThe episode is one of six incidents Carroll details in the article of attacks on her by men over the course of her life. Another episode involves the disgraced former CEO of CBS, Les Moonves. The cover story is an excerpt from her newest book, What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal, which will be published on July 2 by St. Martin’s Press.

When Carroll meets Donald Trump in Bergdorf Goodman, the encounter starts as a friendly one. Trump recognizes her as “that advice lady”; Carroll recognizes him as “that real-estate tycoon.” Trump tells Carroll that he’s there to buy a gift for “a girl,” and though we don’t learn the identity of this mystery woman, Carroll places the ensuing incident in late 1995 or early 1996, during which time Trump was married to Marla Maples.

When Trump asks Carroll to advise him on what to buy, she agrees, and the two eventually make their way to the lingerie section. Trump suggests a lace bodysuit and encourages Carroll to try it on; she, deflecting, jokingly suggests that he try it on instead. After they reach the dressing rooms, e jean carroll twitterevents turn violent. In Carroll’s account, Trump shoves her against a wall inside a dressing room, pulls down her tights, and, “forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me.”

Carroll, 75 (shown in her Twitter photo), is a venerated Elle advice columnist. At the time of the attack, she was well known in her own right. A frequent feature writer for magazines like Playboy and Esquire, she had her own television show on America’s Talking, the precursor to MSNBC.

Carroll is now at least the 16th woman to accuse Donald Trump of sexual misconduct and the 14th to accuse Moonves of similar offenses. The incidents, which date from the 1990s, are highly specific and related with dark humor.

Carroll says that she disclosed the Trump incident to two friends at the time. New York has verified that Carroll did disclose the attack to these friends at the time, and has confirmed that Bergdorf Goodman kept no security footage that would prove or disprove Carroll’s story. New York has also sought comment from Moonves and Trump. Through his representative, Moonves told New York that he “emphatically denies” the incident occurred. A senior White House official said in a statement, “This is a completely false and unrealistic story surfacing 25 years after allegedly taking place and was created simply to make the President look bad.”

June 15

How Young Trump Bullied

djt 1980s screenshot oprah winfrey show

Donald Trump shown in a 1980s screenshot from an Oprah Winfrey show.

Raw Story, New documents reveal how a young Trump bullied the press for years as he hid his actual wealth, Matthew Chapman, June 15, 2019. On Friday, journalist Jonathan Greenberg published a stunning exposé of how Donald Trump, in his younger years, managed to maintain his brand of success and fortune — and keep attracting investors to his projects — even in the face of devastating business losses and incompetence.

The short answer: he threatened, intimidated, and bullied reporters out of telling the truth about his business empire.

“I turned up three never-before-published letters from Trump to Forbes from 1989, in which he claimed to be worth $3.7 billion,” wrote Greenberg. “We now know that he reported losses of about $100 million that year and that he was treading near insolvency. Then I started to contact other people who had collided with Trump in those years. Journalists told me how he’d tried to block their reporting on his empire — by making up ethical scandals about them, furnishing fake documents and, in one case, threatening to expose the private life of a closeted media executive. Wall Street analysts witnessed a campaign of intimidation that began when Trump got one of them fired for (correctly) doubting his casinos’ ability to pay off their debts.”

In the late 1980s, Trump reportedly put out inflated estimates of his business assets and profitability that were perfectly timed to get him onto the coveted “Forbes 400” list of richest people in America — even though, behind the scenes, his real estate empire was bleeding money and floating junk bonds. But in 1990, when Forbes Senior Editor Richard Stern and writer John Connolly prepared a story on this, Trump bullied them into gutting the story.

“On the Monday of the week the story was to be published, Stern met with Trump to seek a comment he could include in the article,” wrote Greenberg.

“The mogul exploded, threatening to sue Forbes. On Tuesday, ‘orders came from on high’ to change the story’s estimate of Trump’s net worth to $500 million, Stern recalls. ‘I got into a shouting match with [Jim] Michaels,’ Forbes’s powerful top editor, Stern says. ‘Forbes bent. We had to jigger the numbers to give Trump a positive net worth.’ (Michaels died in 2007.) Connolly says the cover line was also changed, from ‘Is Trump Broke?’ to ‘How Much Is Donald Really Worth Now?,’ which is how it appeared on May 14, 1990.”

June 10

Barr's Power

william barr smile fox screengrab Small

ny times logoNew York Times, People Are Trying to Figure Out William Barr. He’s Busy Stockpiling Power, Sharon LaFraniere, Charlie Savage and Katie Benner, June 10, 2019 (print ed.). Is he the operator who spun the then-secret Mueller report? Or the straight shooter who later disclosed portions that were damaging to President Trump?

His rising power over the intelligence community has been accompanied by swelling disillusionment with Mr. Barr among former national security officials and ideological moderates. When he agreed late last year to take the job, many of them had cast him as a Republican straight shooter, steeped in pre-Trump mores, who would restrain an impetuous president.

Now they see in him someone who has glossed over Mr. Trump’s misdeeds, smeared his investigators and positioned himself to possibly declassify information for political gain — not the Bill Barr they thought they knew.

“It is shocking how much he has echoed the president’s own statements,” said Mary McCord, who led the Justice Department’s national security division at the end of the Obama administration and the start of the Trump era. “I thought he was an institutionalist who would protect the department from political influence. But it seems like everything he has done so far has counseled in the opposite direction.”

An examination of his record, coupled with interviews of more than two dozen associates, suggests elements of both: He is neither as apolitical as his defenders claim, nor as partisan as his detractors fear. Instead, he is a complex figure whom the right cannot count on to be a Trumpland hero and whom the left cannot dismiss as nothing more than a political hack.

June 7

wayne madsen may 29 2015 croppedWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Beware the 'Trump Trump Macoute,' Wayne Madsen (above, syndicated columnist, former National Security Agency analyst), June 7, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). For anyone who does not believe that Trump has the motive and the means to command a network of vigilantes capable of carrying out political assassinations, torching opposition campaign offices, beating up opposition political campaign volunteers, and attacking journalists, think again, because we have already witnessed the advent of such operations.

ap logoAssociated Press via Huffpost, Trump Supporter Arrested After Allegedly Threatening To Kill Members of Congress, Brady McCombs, June 7, 2019. A Utah man has been arrested on accusations he threatened to kill members of Congress during a three-year stretch with more than 2,000 phone calls to the U.S. Capitol and profanity-laden tirades about Democrats threatening the presidency of Donald Trump.

scott havenIn one call last month, Scott Brian Haven, right, dialed the office of an unnamed U.S. representative and purported to be standing right behind him and ready to “shoot him in the head” because “the Russians want him taken out because he is trying to remove a duly elected President,” according to charging documents unsealed Wednesday.

Haven, 54, said, “I’m going to do it now, are you ready?” before hanging up, prosecutors allege.

He was arrested Tuesday in his hometown of Kaysville, Utah, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Salt Lake City. He is charged with interstate transmission of threats to injure. State online records indicate he has no criminal history in Utah.

republican elephant logoAt his initial hearing Wednesday, a magistrate judge ordered Haven to remain jailed pending the outcome of the case, calling him a danger to the community.

Haven commonly alluded to him and other gun owners taking matters into their own hands, charging documents show. He told a staffer for an unnamed senator in September 2018 that there were “far more Second Amendment people than whiny, crying liberals,” the documents said. He called back the next month to the same office and said, “We will exercise our Second Amendment rights to address Democrat mobs that threaten conservatives,” according to the documents.

Haven threatened to cut off the heads of two senators in another call and in yet another one identified himself as Hitler and yelled repeatedly he would “put a bullet” in the head of the senator, the documents said.

June 3

indicter logo sloganThe Indicter Magazine: Monthly review on geopolitical & human rights issues, Trump Found His Roy Cohn In Deep State Fixer Bill Barr, Edited by Dr. Marcello Ferrada de Noli, founder and editor of The Indicter Magazine, with article by Andrew Kreig (Editorial Board member and associate editor at The Indicter Magazine, published in Stockholm, Sweden), June 3, 2019 (originally published by Justice Integrity Project).

In protecting President Trump, Attorney General William Barr is meeting the president’s demand for a loyal legal fixer in the radical right mold of the canny, connected and immoral Roy Cohn. That is the not-so-hidden backstory of the radical gutting of American constitutional government now underway to expand and cover up Team Trump’s corruption..

June 1

william barr cbs jan crawford 60 minutes may 31 2019

Washington Post, Opinion: What was William Barr’s fleece vest trying to tell us? Monica Hesse, June 1, 2019. He could have worn a suit for his TV interview. But the attorney general picked a folksier vibe for floating conspiracy theories.

William Barr showed up to his CBS This Morning interview looking like he was prepared to discuss not the investigation into possible Russian coordination with the 2016 Trump campaign but rather how to bait a fishing hook. The attorney general was working a distinctly “River Runs Through It” cosplay vibe: a tan half-zipped fleece vest over a checked button-down shirt, and in the background, a roaring fire.

cub scout webelos badgeTo be fair, the interview, which aired Friday, did take place in Alaska, where Barr was traveling. But there are business suits available in Alaska; Barr had worn one earlier on the trip, during a meeting about rural law enforcement issues. his decision to skip a suit as he held forth on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation seemed like an attempt to communicate a message.

And that message was: I am a man of the people, and I am here to speak truths and help you earn a [Cub Scout] Webelos badge.

May 31

Barr Defies Flynn Judge

washington post logoWashington Post, Despite court order, prosecutors don’t release transcripts of Flynn, Russian ambassador, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman, May 31, 2019. The Justice Department also declined to give an unredacted version of parts of the Mueller report related to Michael Flynn. Federal prosecutors on Friday declined to make public transcripts of recorded conversations between Michael Flynn (shown below left in a file photo) and Russia’s ambassador to the United States in December 2016, despite a judge’s order.

michael flynn state department CustomIn a court filing Friday, the Justice Department wrote that it did not rely on such recordings to establish Flynn’s guilt or determine a recommendation for his sentencing.

Prosecutors also failed to release an unredacted version of portions of the Mueller report related to Flynn that the judge had ordered be made public.

Flynn, who served briefly as President Trump’s first national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and he cooperated with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation. He is awaiting sentencing.

emmet sullivan 2012The government’s unusual response came after U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, right,  in Washington ordered earlier in May that the Justice Department make public various materials related to the case, including transcripts of any audio recordings of Flynn, such as his conversations with Russian officials.

Prosecutors provided one item that Sullivan ordered be released: a transcript of a voice mail left by an attorney for Trump, much of which had already appeared in Mueller’s report. It is unclear how the judge will react to the government’s noncompliance with other elements of his order. Late last year, Sullivan postponed Flynn’s sentencing after angrily lambasting the former national security adviser for his actions, saying, “Arguably, you sold your country out.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Democrats tell intelligence chiefs they must help monitor Barr’s review of Russia probe, Karoun Demirjian, May 31, 2019. The House Intelligence william barr new oCommittee chairman sent letters to the heads of the CIA, FBI, National Security.

In a separate letter, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), asked the spy chiefs to “immediately” inform the panel “if you see signs” that Barr’s inquiry risks compromising intelligence-gathering sources and methods, affecting relationships with foreign liaisons, or adversely impacting the intelligence community’s workforce.

He also asked that they notify the panel of any “selective declassification” that appeared politically motivated.Agency and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, demanding in-person briefings to discuss what materials the attorney general has sought thus far.

cbs news logoCBS News, Barr Explains his differences with Mueller on obstruction, Jan Crawford, May 31, 2019. Attorney General William Barr sat down for an exclusive interview with Jan Crawford for "CBS This Morning." He told Crawford helieves special counsel Robert Mueller could have reached a decision on whether President Trump committed obstruction of justice, regardless of long-standing Justice Department policy that prohibits the indictment of a sitting president.

william barr cbs jan crawford 60 minutes may 31 2019

During a nearly hour-long interview in Anchorage, Alaska, CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford (shown above with Barr) pressed the attorney general on a number of issues from obstruction to his new review of the Russia investigation.

William Barr interview: Read the full transcript

“Once I realized it was going to take three or four weeks, I felt I had to say something in the interim,” Mr. Barr said.

One comment by Mr. Barr raised tensions with his congressional testimony about whose interpretation of the law he had applied to the evidence in pronouncing the president cleared of obstruction.

Mr. Barr has taken the position that obstruction laws cannot apply to presidents who abuse their official powers to impede investigations for corrupt reasons. Mr. Mueller’s report insisted obstruction laws do apply to presidents.

In Senate testimony on May 1, Mr. Barr said that while he disagreed with Mr. Mueller that official presidential actions could be obstruction as a matter of law, he had accepted the special counsel’s understanding of the law for his own analysis of the facts. Even so, he said, the evidence fell short of showing a crime.

May 30

helena holmberg haroldo conti

Foreign Ministry official Elena Holmberg and renowned writer Haroldo Conti were among those who disappeared at the hands of security forces during the Argentine dictatorship

  • Buenos Aires Police Chief told CIA "he wanted no prisoners for interrogation, only cadavers"
  • Junta leader General Rafael Videla sought to hide mass murder to protect Argentina’s image
  • Before coup, CIA analysts predicted rise of "hardline mentality... to dominate the Army”
  • U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Patricia Derian reported that “Argentina has the worst human rights record in South America”

National Security Archive at George Washington University, Inside Argentina’s Killing Machine: U.S. Intelligence Documents Record Gruesome Human Rights Crimes of 1976-1983, Carlos Osorio, Silvia Tandeciarz and Johanna Weech, May 30, 2019. On August 20, 1976, Argentine security personnel dynamited the bodies of thirty people – ten women and twenty men – who had been detained by the Federal Police and executed in the town of Pilar, north of Buenos Aires.

The explosion scattered human remains over a wide radius. This gruesome display of repression was intended to send a bloody message to other alleged militants to cease their activities five months after the military coup, according to a CIA intelligence report posted today by the National Security Archive. But military junta leader General Rafael Videla was “annoyed that the bodies were left so prominently displayed,” sources told the CIA, because it “reflects adversely on the good name of Argentina."

Not that Videla opposed the mass murders, noted the CIA. “Videla is in agreement that subversives should be killed, but [believes] that the entire matter should be dealt with discreetly.”

For the duration of the “dirty war” during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship, Argentine officials took extensive steps to hide their atrocities through the use of secret torture centers, disappeared victims, and faked battles with insurgents to cover up human rights crimes. Ceaseless efforts by the families of their victims, human rights organizations, courageous prosecutors and judges and survivors of the abuses have lifted the veil on the scale of repression and institutionalized brutality of the Argentine military.

Now, recently declassified U.S. intelligence reports provide comprehensive new information on the killing machine run by Argentina’s security forces during the military era. Officials from the CIA, FBI, and other U.S. government agencies recorded vivid details of the “extensive use of torture” by Argentina’s military regime to quell the leftist insurgency during the 1976-1983 dictatorship, according to a posting today of now-declassified U.S. intelligence materials by the National Security Archive. The recently released records describe “brutal methods employed by the military” during the period. "While numerous innocent people were tortured and killed by paramilitary units, most of the victims were at least supporters of the ERP or the Montoneros,” the CIA reported.

“We continue to receive numerous highly credible reports that torture is used routinely in the interrogation of detainees,” noted a graphic 1979 summary to the Secretary of State from Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, Patricia Derian. “The electric ‘picana,’ something like a supercharged cattle prod, is still apparently a favorite tool, as is the ‘submarine’ treatment (immersion of the head in a tub of water, urine, excrement, blood, or a combination of these),” Derian reported. “There is no longer any doubt that Argentina has the worst human rights record in South America.”

Legal Schnauzer, Analysis: In the wake of Robert Mueller statement, AG William Barr takes a beating in the press -- even from Fox News -- as he fills the shoes of former Trump fixer Roy Cohn, Roger Shuler, May 30, 2019.  The big loser from Robert Mueller's statement yesterday about the Trump-Russia investigation appears to be Attorney General William Barr, The special counsel, in announcing his resignation and closing his office, made it clear Barr lied to the public in summaries of the Mueller Report -- and absolved Donald Trump on obstruction of justice in a way that was not supported by the evidence.

Even right-wing Fox News blasted Barr in the wake of Mueller's statements. And Andrew Kreig, of the Justice Integrity Project, has a timely and insightful piece that shows, in many respects, history is repeating itself as Barr acts as a protector and fixer for Trump. From the Kreig piece, titled Trump Found His Roy Cohn In Deep State Fixer Bill Barr.

April 11wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative commentary: Is William Barr a "peripheral third party" in the Mueller report? Wayne Madsen (WMR editor, syndicated columnist, author wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallof 16 books, and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, shown below left during a 2015 panel discussion), April 11, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission).

Attorney General William Barr told the House Appropriations Committee that the 400-page report by Robert Mueller on the 2016 Trump campaign’s foreign connections is being redacted of all information dealing with grand jury hearings, information that would reveal intelligence sources or methods, information on other current investigations, and information that would “unduly infringe on the personal privacy and representational interests of peripheral third parties.”

Barr may have a major conflict of interest in the last category. While many pundits are viewing “peripheral third parties” as Donald Trump daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared william barr o 1992Kushner, as well as Trump’s two sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, the category of third parties might include Barr himself.

There is a connection between Barr's cover-up now and while he was in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations. In the late 1980s, Donald Trump's twin condominium towers in West Palm Beach, Florida were financed by a savings and loan bank in which the now-defunct Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). Barr was the Deputy Attorney General and Attorney General who succeeded in covering up details of the BCCI scandal.

As Deputy Assistant Director for Legal Policy in the Ronald Reagan White House, Barr (shown in 1992) would have been involved in the nascent stages of the illegal Reagan administration and Central Intelligence Agency operations to arm the Nicaraguan Contras.

In order to hide financial transactions between the CIA, the Contras, Colombian narco-lords, and others, the Reagan White House and CIA used the banking network of BCCI, which was primarily funded by the then-president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan.

Sheikh Zayed was succeeded by his son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, in 2004. Sheikh Khalifa controls the Abu Dhabi Investment george nader c spanAuthority (ADIA), which controls $875 billion in assets. Since [Sheikh Khalifa suffered] a stroke in 2014, his half-brother, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ), has served as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces. MbZ, for all intents and purposes, is the de facto ruler of the UAE.

And MbZ may be a “peripheral third party” in the Mueller report. That is because the convicted pedophile, George Nader, left, an emissary of MbZ, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) held an August 3, 2016 meeting at the Trump Tower in Manhattan with Donald Trump Jr., among others, present.

May 1

Madcow News, Trump, Khashoggi, Deutsche Bank, & Chabad Lubavitch, Daniel Hopsicker, right, May 1, 2019. An unofficial investigation into RussiaGate has uncovered a shocking and daniel hopsickerpreviously-unknown new connection— a CIA-connected man who became instantly famous after the Boston Marathon bombing — involved in recent allegations against Trump associate Felix Sater that he laundered $440 million of stolen money for billionaire oligarchs in Kazakhstan through American real estate.

Evidence in the case also showed a startling similarity between suspicions of money laundering in Trump’s sale of a Palm Beach mansion to a Russian billionaire gangster and a billionaire gangster from Kazakhstan purchasing a similarly over-priced mansion in London from Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, a member of the British royal family, son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and at one time second in line to the throne.

deutsche bank logoWhen Donald Trump filed suit yesterday to keep his business dealings with Germany’s criminal Deutsche Bank secret, it prompted a review of notes for clues that led to long-unanswered questions about why Mueller’s investigation showed no apparent interest in linking crimes Deutsche Bank was committing while Trump was doing business with the bank with a man with whom he had clear ties: Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi.

Was an unwillingness to unmask CIA involvement behind both situations?

Donald Trump’s Palm Beach ‘homies’ in the news

Adnan Khashoggi, one of Donald Trump’s longtime Palm Beach ‘homies,’ was committing crimes with Deutsche Bank, and, as this website never tires of pointing out, during the same time period Trump was involved in what many suspect was similar business, money laundering, with the bank.

See also: Madcow News, From Barry Seal to Donald Trump II, Daniel Hopsicker, June 7, 2019. Part II of a brief primer about Donald Trump’s connections in the U.S. with transnational organized crime.

2018

March

City University of New York TV, What Did Donald Trump Learn from Roy Cohn? Conversations with Jim Zirin, March 12, 2018 (26:43 min. video). In 1978, gifted writer Ken Auletta profiled for Esquire the pugnacious attorney Roy Cohn whom he called the "personification of evil." Cohn died in 1986 discredited and disbarred. Donald Trump was a Cohn client and close friend. He called Cohn his mentor. Ken Auletta tells Jim Zirin some of the dirty tricks Trump learned at the feet of the master of the smear.

Conversations with Jim Zirin is a talk show designed to illuminate the news by taking the time required to understand and interpret national and world events.

The series features high-profile guests from the worlds of politics, law, business, foreign relations, national security, counterterrorism, media, lifestyles, literature, the arts, and the military. The series is hosted by Jim Zirin, a leading litigator and contributor to major publications including Forbes, the Daily Beast, the Nation, The Times of London and the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of two books, The Mother Court -- Tales of Cases That Mattered in America's Greatest Trial Court, and Supremely Partisan — How Raw Politics Tips the Scales in the United States Supreme Court. Jim served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York in the Criminal Division under the legendary Robert M. Morgenthau.

December

LewRockwell.com, Opinion: George Herbert Walker Bush, Charles Burris, Dec. 1, 2018. George H. W. Bush is dead. Regime journalists across the nation are scrambling to compose obituary prose concerning the late president. Here are hard cold facts which will not be included in such puerile accounts.

peter brewton“Former reporter for the Houston Post, Pete Brewton [right, now a professor of journalism and law at Texas Tech University], tells of one of the most momentous stories of the past 50 years and how it has been suppressed by the establishment media and the Congress. Pete’s book The Mafia, CIA and George Bush, shows the incredible complexity of the relationships in the operation of the destruction of hundreds of Savings and Loans at the hands of the CIA and the Mafia, stealing peter brewton bush mafia covermany billions of dollars in the process, and leaving the taxpayers to bailout the banks.

Big names at the state and national levels of power are involved, including Lloyd Bentsen, the Bush family, and power brokers in Houston. People such as Charles Keating and Don Dixon, who are mentioned prominently in the press in connection with the S & L debacle, were merely front men or “cutouts” for the main movers. Keating and his ilk only took millions; the CIA and the Mafia looted billions.”

In his classic book on power elite analysis, The Yankee and Cowboy War, researcher Carl Oglesby divided up the Post-WWII American ruling class into two internecine factions: the northeastern seaboard Yankees versus the Sunbelt nouveau riche Cowboys. The amazing political success of George Herbert Walker Bush was his uncanny ability to stand astride and have one foot firmly planted in each of these competing factions.

Essential to understanding the Bush legacy is the historical background of the 1980 October Surprise when key individuals of the Reagan/Bush campaign covertly met with top members of the Iranian government to prevent the release of the 55 Americans held hostage in Tehran before the November election, ensuring the defeat of Democrat incumbent Jimmy Carter. The hostages were released on the day Ronald Reagan took office. Critical arm shipments, materiel and military supplies soon began flowing to the Khomeini regime, years before the more widely known Iran-Contra Scandal, which almost brought down the Reagan administration.

Barbara Honegger worked as a researcher at the Hoover Institution before joining the Ronald Reagan administration as a researcher and policy analyst in 1980. She was the Director of the Attorney General’s Anti-Discrimination Law Review at the Department of Justice. After leaving Washington, she became the Senior Military Affairs Journalist for the barbara honeggerNaval Postgraduate School.

While working for Reagan, she discovered information that convinced her that George H. W. Bush and William Casey had conspired to make sure that Iran did not release the U.S. hostages until Jimmy Carter had been defeated in the 1980 presidential election.

In 1987, Honegger began leaking information to journalists about the Reagan administration.

However, it was not until Reagan left office that Honegger published October Surprise (1989). In her book, Honegger claimed that in 1980 William Casey and other representatives of the Reagan presidential campaign made a deal at two sets of meetings in July and August at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid with Iranians to russ baker cover Customdelay the release of Americans held hostage in Iran until after the November 1980 presidential elections. Reagan’s aides promised that they would get a better deal if they waited until Carter was defeated.

For more on the sordid backstory of epic criminality of Bush see the following volumes:

The Mafia, CIA & George Bush, by Pete Brewton; Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, The Powerful Forces That Put It In The White House, And What Their Influence Means For America, by Russ Baker; American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush, by Kevin Phillips; peter dale scottSecrecy And Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, by Robert Parry; American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan, by Peter Dale Scott (shown at right); Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA, by Terry Reed and John Cummings; Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press, by Alexander Cockburn; he Iran Contra Connection: Secret Teams and Covert Operations in the Reagan Era, by Jonathan Marshall, Peter Dale Scott, and Jane Hunter; The Crimes of Patriots: A True Tale of Dope, Dirt, Money, and the CIA, by Jonathan Kwitny; and Shadow Masters: How governments and their intellience agencies are working with international drug deals and terrorists for mutual benefit and profit, by Daniel Estulin.

See also: George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, by Webster Griffin Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin. Historian and investigative journalist Anton Chaitkin has worked in politics with Lyndon LaRouche since 1966. Author of hundreds of "scoops" on economic and political history, Chaitkin is History Editor for Executive Intelligence Review. He co-authored with Webster Tarpley George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, which helped defeat Bush's 1992 re-election attempt.

Chaitkin's 1985 book on American political history -- Treason in America: from Aaron Burr to Averell Harriman -- documented from "blue-blood" family archives the takeover of U.S. policymaking by agents and allies of the British empire. Chaitkin's father, a New York attorney, fought in the courts to break up the Wall Street and London sponsorship of Adolf Hitler's dictatorship in Germany. Many of the lawsuits were anton chaitkin webster tarpley george bush coveragainst international Nazi interests managed by Prescott Bush, father and grandfather of the two Bush Presidents.

Justice Integrity Project, Poppy's Seed and Bitter Harvest: Half Truths / History (Part 3), Andrew Kreig, Dec. 13, 2018. This continues a Justice Integrity Project series on life and legacy of the President George H.W. Bush, who died on Nov. 30.

The material in this Part 3 covers his family life and career as he advanced from Texas politics to the national stage in Washington as a congressman, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, director of the Republican National Committee, U.S. envoy to China, CIA director and vice president to Ronald Reagan. The material is excerpted from this editor's book Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters (2015 updated edition).

Justice Integrity Project, Poppy's Seed and Bitter Harvest: Half Truths / History (Part 2), Andrew Kreig, Dec. 11, 2018. Because the corporate-owned media have published only partial truths regarding life of the late President George H.W. Bush the Justice Integrity Project is providing what's most important about the rest of the story. The late, president, who died on Nov. 30, is shown below left in an official photo used during his term from 1989 to 1993.

The material in this series is excerpted from this reporter's book Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters (2015 updated edition).
Presidential Puppetry charted the secret ties of recent presidents to the nation's elite private sector power structure (including major media organizations), which sometimes work collaboratively with the CIA and FBI operational arms.

One of the book's central findings was to document via more than 1,100 endnotes that all recent presidents between President Jimmy Carter and Donald Trump established covert ties to the CIA or FBI before they entered politics.

Justice Integrity Project, Poppy Bush's Seed and Bitter Harvest: Half Truths / History (Part 1 of 4), Andrew Kreig, Dec. 9, 2018. The corporate-owned mainstream media have provided only partial truths regarding life of President George H.W. Bush, below left, whose death on Nov. 30 led to days of prominent coverage of his career and positive aspects of its lasting impact.

Our Justice Integrity Project excerpted prominently on these pages such accolades over the past week. Now it's time for the rest of the story, which draws heavily from the three chapters about the Bush family in our 2013 book Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters, which documented the secret ties of America's recent presidents with the power structure.

Excerpted below is the introduction to our chapter "George H.W. Bush: Poppy's Seed and Bitter Harvest," which draws on the late president's nickname "Poppy." Immediately before that in the book is a chapter about his father, "Prescott Bush: Roots of the Bushes," and his son, "George W. Bush: Shameless, Heartless and Selected — Not Elected."