If William P. Barr did not audition to be the attorney general of President Trump, he might as well have been.
In recent weeks, there has been some confusion about exactly what Barr shared his memo with, and he rejected Robert S. Mueller III's special counsel on the obstruction of the legal system. The Wall Street Journal initially reported that he had sent it to Trump's lawyers, but then the reference disappeared from the story. In his opening statement for Tuesday's confirmation hearing, released Monday morning, Barr revealed that he "broadly divided it so that other lawyers would have the benefit of my opinion" – without saying which lawyers.
But now we have a firm answer and the answer is: many lawyers around Trump. In fact, the vast majority of leading lawyers around Trump.
"In addition to sharing my opinions with the [Justice] Department, I thought they could be of interest to other lawyers working on this issue, "Barr wrote in a letter to Senator Judiciary Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.) on Monday night." So I sent a copy of the memorandum and discussed these positions with Special Counsel Emmet Flood of the White House. I also sent a copy to Pat Cipollone, who had worked for me at the Department of Justice, and discussed the issues mentioned in the memo with him and a few other lawyers for the president, namely Marty and Jane Raskin and Jay Sekulow. "
Later in the letter, Barr mentions a number of other people with whom he has shared it or with whom he has discussed it. On that list is Abbe Lowell, who is currently a lawyer for Trump's son-in-law and adviser to the White House, Jared Kushner.
These are six people who are very close to Trump (although it is worth noting that Cipollone was not yet in the White House). Even with the other five, Barr really treated his bases, made known their contents to the White House Counsel's Office, Trump's personal lawyers, and even a lawyer for Kushner, who played a part in the investigation into Russia. Of the 17 people that Barr says he shares his ideas, about a third is close to Trump's job.
The memo is central in an attempt by some Democrats to withdraw its nomination or, at the very least, to recall Mueller's research. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) Called for the withdrawal. Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) Have asked for a disapproval. And Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), Who is on the Judiciary Committee, said that he will press Barr during his recidivism and that he believes that Barr basically "tried" for the job with the memo.
Barr seemed to cope with that argument in his opening speech and said, "I did not follow this position, and when my name was first mentioned, I was reluctant to qualify, I am 68 years old, partly retired. and almost at the end of a long legal career, my wife and I were looking forward to a peaceful and precious time with our daughters and grandchildren, and I have had this job before. & # 39;
The legal circles in Washington are small – and they are especially small when you talk about high-level employees of the Ministry of Justice. But Barr seemed to make a concerted effort to ensure that his memo was on the radar of the Trump team. Exactly what his motivation was, Tuesday will surely be a focus.