Turning Power of State Against Rivals, Trump Seeks Power of Authoritarians

Mr. Pompeo clearly understands the problem: Even if he makes all of them public, they are unlikely to satisfy the president. Last year, the State Department’s own inspector general found that while Mrs. Clinton had risked compromising classified information, she did not systematically or deliberately mishandle her emails.

William P. Barr may face an even greater challenge in satisfying the president. No attorney general since John N. Mitchell, who served Mr. Nixon and brought conspiracy charges against critics of the Vietnam War, bent the Justice Department more in a president’s direction. And Mr. Nixon himself, while urging the I.R.S. to audit political opponents, stopped short of publicly calling for individual prosecutions. Yet in February, Mr. Barr told ABC News that Mr. Trump “has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.” At the same time, he complained that the president’s tweets about the Justice Department “make it impossible for me to do my job.”

Now, clearly, the president has asked Mr. Barr to act in a criminal case — and not in a quiet phone call. Instead, he did it on Twitter and Fox News, expressing his deep disappointment with his second attorney general, for essentially the same reason he fired his first one, Jeff Sessions: insufficient blind loyalty.

His complaint appears to have been driven by Mr. Barr’s warning to the White House and other officials that there are likely to be no indictments before the election from the investigation being run by John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut. Mr. Durham is searching for evidence that the inquiry into Russia was a politically motivated effort to undercut his presidency.

Mr. Trump says the case is clear-cut. He told Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio host to whom he gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom during the last State of the Union address, that Mr. Durham has had “plenty of time to do it.”

“Unless Bill Barr indicts these people for crimes — the greatest political crime in the history of our country — then we’ll get little satisfaction, unless I win,” Mr. Trump said on Fox Business.

“If we don’t win,” he said, “that whole thing is going to be dismissed.”


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