Dana Milbank writes in WashPost:
There has never been a better time to be a Hooker for Jesus.
Under Attorney General Bill Barr’s management, it appears no corner of the Justice Department can escape perversion — even the annual grants the Justice Department gives to nonprofits and local governments to help victims of human trafficking.
In a new grant award, senior Justice officials rejected the recommendations of career officials and decided to deny grants to highly rated Catholic Charities in Palm Beach, Fla., and Chicanos Por La Causa in Phoenix. Instead, Reuters reported, they gave more than $1 million combined to lower-rated groups called the Lincoln Tubman Foundation and Hookers for Jesus.
Why? Well, it turns out the head of the Catholic Charities affiliate had been active with Democrats and the Phoenix group had opposed President Trump’s immigration policies. By contrast, Hookers for Jesus is run by a Christian conservative and the Lincoln Tubman group was launched by a relative of a Trump delegate to the 2016 convention.
That Catholic Charities has been replaced by Hookers for Jesus says much about Barr’s Justice Department. Friends of Trump are rewarded. Opponents of Trump are punished. And the nation’s law enforcement apparatus becomes Trump’s personal plaything.
Federal prosecutors Monday recommended that Trump associate Roger Stone serve seven to nine years in prison for obstruction of justice, lying to Congress, witness tampering and other crimes.
Then Trump tweeted that the proposed sentence was “horrible and very unfair” and “the real crimes were on the other side.” And by midday Tuesday, Barr’s Justice Department announced that it would reduce Stone’s sentence recommendation. All four prosecutors, protesting the politicization, asked to withdraw from the case.
But politicization is now the norm. Last week, Barr assigned himself the sole authority to decide which presidential candidates — Democrats and Republicans — should be investigated by the FBI.
Also last week, the Department of Homeland Security, working with the Justice Department, announced that New York state residents can no longer enroll in certain Trusted Traveler programs such as Global Entry — apparent punishment for the strongly Democratic state’s policies on illegal immigrants.
On Monday, Barr declared that the Justice Department had created an “intake process” to receive Rudy Giuliani’s dirt from Ukraine on Joe Biden and Hunter Biden — dirt dug in a boondoggle that left two Giuliani associates under indictment and Trump impeached.
The same day, Barr’s agency announced lawsuits against California, New Jersey and King County (Seattle), Washington — politically “blue” jurisdictions all — as part of what he called a “significant escalation” against sanctuary cities.
On Tuesday, to get a better sense of the man who has turned the Justice Department into Trump’s toy, I watched Barr speak to the Major County Sheriffs of America, a friendly audience, at the Willard Hotel in Washington.
Even by Trumpian standards, the jowly Barr, in his large round glasses, pinstripe suit and Trump-red tie, was strikingly sycophantic. “In his State of the Union, President Trump delivered a message of genuine optimism filled with an unapologetic faith in God and in American greatness and in the common virtues of the American people: altruism, industriousness, self-reliance and generosity,” he read, deadpan.
Trump, he went on, “loves this country,” and “he especially loves you.” The boot-licking performance continued, about Trump’s wise leadership, his unbroken promises and even the just-impeached president’s passionate belief in the “rule of law.”
Then Barr turned to the enemy. He attacked “rogue DA’s” and “so-called social-justice reformers,” who are responsible for “historic levels of homicide and other violent crime” in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago and Baltimore. Politicians in sanctuary jurisdictions, he said, prefer “to help criminal aliens evade the law.” Barr vowed to fight these foes with “all lawful means” — federal subpoenas to force them to turn over “information about criminal aliens,” dozens of lawsuits to invalidate statutes and attempts to deny them both competitive and automatic grants.
In response to a question, Barr railed against tech companies’ use of encryption: “They’re designing these devices so you can be impervious to any government scrutiny,” he protested.
Maybe people wouldn’t be so sensitive about government scrutiny if the top law enforcement official weren’t using his position to punish political opponents and reward political allies.
Instead, with Barr’s acquiescence, we live in a moment in which: Trump’s Treasury Department immediately releases sensitive financial information about Hunter Biden, while refusing to release similar information about Trump; Trump ousts officials who testified in the impeachment inquiry and even ousts the blameless twin brother of one of the witnesses; and Trump’s FBI decides to monitor violent “people on either side” of the abortion debate — although the FBI couldn’t point to a single instance of violence by abortion-rights supporters.
This week, the Pentagon released a new color scheme for Air Force One, replacing the 60-year-old design with one that looks suspiciously like the old Trump Shuttle.Surprised? Don’t be. Soon the entire administration will be able to apply for a Justice Department grant as a newly formed nonprofit: Hookers for Trump.
Barr’s inspirational lesson for new lawyers: Once you achieve fame, fortune, and protection from corrupt politicos and complicit judges, it’s virtually impossible to get your law license revoked for unethical performance. As long as you thumb your nose at the law and ethical rules right in public, right in front of judges, you’re essentially immune. The “rules” only apply to those poor suckers at the bottom of the “legal totem pole.”
This is actually a fairly new development under the Trump regime. In the past, even high-profile lawyers who violated their ethical obligations got zapped: John Mitchell, Dick Kleindienst, Bill Clinton(technically, he might have “surrendered his law license” in lieu of disbarment), Webb Hubbell, etc.
But, during the Trump regime, Federal Judges seem content to just “roll their eyes” at lies, false narratives, thinly veiled racist or religiously bigoted rationales for policy, and simply astounding conflicts of interest (how about running a biased and unconstitutional Immigration “Court” right in plain view?) streaming out of an ethics-free zone at the “Department of Hookers for Trump.”
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson was actually a “target” of Roger Stone’s contemptuous and openly threatening behavior. It will be interesting to see how she deals with the sudden reversal and baseless plea for mercy from Barr for this unrepentant and totally unapologetic criminal.
As if to resolve any doubts as to his contempt for America and democratic institutions, the cowardly “Bully-in-Chief” unleashed an unprovoked twitter tirade against Judge Jackson and the career prosecutors in the case. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/02/12/trump-stone-judge/
Perhaps predictability, this was followed by an impotent call by Senate Democrats for the uber corrupt Billy Barr to resign and for the equally corrupt and spineless Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to stop slithering around the Capitol and schedule an “investigative hearing” into improper political influence at the “Department of Hookers for Trump.” https://apple.news/Az2hAo6yqT8uKJSuAX26F1Q Don’t hold your breath, folks!
At the same time, former DOJ Inspector General Michael R. Bromwich was telling WashPost’s Greg Sargent that the conduct of Trump and Billy the Toady was an “existential threat to the institutions that most of us value, prize and have served.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/12/trump-openly-corrupts-doj-former-insider-sounds-alarm/. Right on with that!
This is not “normal.” This is not “right.” It’s time for those of us who still believe in American democracy to take a stand in November to remove Trump and the sociopathic element that he represents in our society from power. Otherwise, the “race to the bottom” will continue, unabated. And more innocent people will be hurt by or die because of this unprincipled, totally immoral lunatic.