Meat and potatoes

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U.S. Attorney General William Barr testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in the Congressional Auditorium at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, in Washington, U.S., July 28, 2020. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Reuters.

Attorney General Bill Barr testified before the House Judiciary Committee this week and it went, well, basically how you might expect. There was some news: in justifying his intervention in Roger Stone’s sentence, Barr said it was “excessive” for a man of his age (67), and he didn’t think any US attorney in the department today would prosecute the case because it couldn’t be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, and the charges (witness tampering, false statements and obstruction) were “esoteric” and “made-up” crimes, not “meat and potatoes” crimes. Okay, but Roger Stone was tried and convicted by a jury. Ken White says this and other moments of Barr’s testimony were ridiculous, unconvincing, implausible, and not reflective of any past or future Justice Department policy.

Michael Cohen is out of prison again. Judge Alvin Hellerstein ordered him released, saying the federal government had retaliated against him for his plan to write a tell-all book about the president. Is it surprising that this happened relatively quickly? Ken says it might be because judges — including the judge who ruled in Cohen’s favor — seem to be increasingly skeptical of the government.

As the federal government has intervened in Portland, trying to stifle sometimes-violent protests, the government has been imposing conditions on people who are arrested and then released by federal authorities. In at least a dozen cases, these people have been given terms of pre-trial release that include a requirement not to attend any protests. If the feds can’t tell Michael Cohen he can only be out of prison if he doesn’t write a book, how can they tell people arrested in Portland that they can only be released if they don’t return to protests?



Sara Fay