Maddow Hits AG Barr’s Defense of Trump: President Could Be ‘Freest Criminal on Earth’


MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow tore into Attorney General William Barr and the White House counsel for President Donald Trump, explaining how their new, sweeping interpretation of the presidency’s executive powers puts its above any criminal investigation, criminal indictment, and even Congressional oversight: “I mean you really could stand in the middle of 5th avenue and shoot someone,” and get away with it.

“If you have ever, ever personally had truly epic, truly wicked criminal ambitions for yourself, now you know what the job is for you,” Maddow added. “I mean, if you were so lucky as to get elected president, you could not only by definition not commit any crimes, you could not be charged. You could not be investigated. You’d be the freest criminal on Earth if you were lucky enough to be elected president of the United States and if you had Attorney General William Barr working for you.”

Maddow’s was reacting, in part, to a 12-page letter from the White House counsel’s office released Wednesday that demanded Congress end any further investigations into to what it called a “do-over” of the Special Counsel prove. The letter also warned of blanket refusals to comply with Congressional requests for documents and subpoenas to testify, a move that Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) called “preposterous” and the equivalent of treating Trump like he is “king.”

Combined with AG Barr’s similarly broad defense of a president’s right to question and even fire those investigating him if he or she simply believes there’s no basis for the investigation, this White House, Maddow claimed, is radically reshaping the power of the executive branch. “The Trump White House position is that they really are planning just to defy all subpoenas. One year of Watergate is enough. You must stop investigating. No witnesses will be made available. No testimony will be provided. No documents will be handed over, nothing.”

Maddow’s invocation of Watergate was no accident, and the Trump White House’s latest legal justifications are strikingly similar to those of former President Richard Nixon, who was impeached — and ultimately resigned — after a long, multi-prong investigation into the Watergate break-in. In an infamous 1977 interview with British journalist David Frost, Nixon offered his own legal interpretation of the White House’s power, saying, “when the president does it, that means it is not illegal,” which would, effectively, put the presidency above the law.

But, in Maddow’s estimation, AG Barr and the White House Counsel were all but saying the same thing. “Clearly that’s not the way America is set up, right? Clearly that’s untenable,” Maddow said. “But it just means that we are in an untenable situation right now, which means there will be we’ve got these assertions from the White House. We’ve got these subpoenas from Congress. We’ve got the judiciary now getting involved in the first time, trying to handle these remarkable claims from the White House about how they are immune from all scrutiny. But that’s where we are. Mark this moment in history. That’s where we are.”

Watch the video above, via MSNBC.

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