Monday, April 1, 2019

Seven Days in March

Seven days in May was a novel written by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II, published in September 1962. It was then made into a 1964 movie by the same name. It’s a story about a military coup by a disaffected general (Burt Lancaster). The plot was discovered by the general’s aide (Kirk Douglas) who informed the president (Frederick March) who sends a senator (Edmund O’Brien) to investigate a secret military installation. The film also starred Ava Gardner as the general’s former mistress (who has incriminating letters from the general). You should watch the movie - even if you’ve already seen it.

What does it have to do with current events?

I have a nagging fear that the Seven Days in March, the seven days after the Mueller report was sent to AG Barr, will be marked in history as the start of a coup of sorts, in which the U. S. Senate acquiesced to the assumption of autocratic powers by President Trump.

Some pundits observe that the AG’s summary has emboldened Trump. Can you doubt it? Trump is now bragging about total exoneration (even though Mueller’s report says no exoneration). He’s threatened to close the entire US-Mexico border (costing us billions in commerce). He’s announced the termination of foreign aid to Central American countries (making the conditions causing the northward migration to be even worse).

Michael Bryan writing at Blog for Arizona is doing a very good job of tracking the Mueller report - see my post from last Saturday, The Mueller report a month after the Ides of March - we hope.. Sunday he reported on the Trump Constitutional Crisis: Day 7. Bryan writes:

As I said in my last post, I don’t believe that AG Barr intends to turn over the Mueller Report, at least not without heavy redaction that will obfuscate Mueller’s findings, or a long delay that will allow the Administration time to try to discredit the Report.

The list of information to be redacted continues to grow with each Barr letter to Congress! Now he wants to scrub, before anyone else [including Congress!] can ever see it, what in his his sole judgement are ‘unduly’ infringing upon ‘personal privacy and ‘reputational interests’ of ‘peripheral third parties’. Talk about a massive and unaccountable exception!

[W]here the crisis stands: Congress wants the whole, unredacted report along with all underlying evidence; Barr wants to have free reign to only produce what he, in his sole judgement, decides to hand over. Barr, the handpicked Attorney General who auditioned for the job with a 19 page memo basically arguing that the President is above the law, wants to decide what he’s going to hand over of the Report that may well embarass or implicate his boss. This is why we HAD a Special Counsel in the first place: to prevent such a blatant appearance of conflict of interest!

What happens next? Who knows? I can make a few guesses. Barr will surely refuse to honor the Congress’ demand for the full, unredacted report by April 2nd – he’s already notified Congress that they can go pound sand in his second letter, and suggested a mid-April release date instead. When Congress seeks and obtains a subpoena for the whole Report, Barr may seek declaratory relief and tie the subpoena up in court as long as he can, which could be further weeks or even months. In doing so, Barr hopes to give the Administration time to formulate a strategy to further delay release, degrade the integrity of the Report with other redactions, or change facts on the ground prior to release. Or the Administration just intends to continue to make conciliatory noises in public, while completely stone-walling Congress, as they have done for the past 7 days.

Perhaps Barr will just roll over and produce the Report on April 2nd as Congress has demanded, and this whole thing will be over. I will be dead wrong, but I’ll be glad. But I fear and expect a long, nasty, and bare-knuckle fight to keep the Report away from Congress and public who paid for it. I’m somewhat comforted that Chairman Schiff has indicated that this is an issue that is worth “going to the mat on.” For now, the crisis continues, and I will continue to count down and update you until the full Report is revealed.

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