William P. Barr is out. Joe Biden is in. And Donald Trump has a few more weeks left to bemoan his fate and lash out at his subordinates now that the Electoral College vote has taken place.
Poor Trump! He wanted a no-holds-Barred assault on the election. But Barr, who was supposed to be Trump’s faithful janissary, has proved less than reliable in recent weeks, earning him the ultimate opprobrium of the President today, who declared that at least Robert Mueller, in contrast to Barr, would have set the record straight about Hunter Biden. Yup. Mueller. He would have ‘set the record straight’, Trump claimed. So the author of the putative Russia witch-hunt is now being used to highlight the shortcomings of Barr? This is one of those head-scratchers that starts to make you wonder about just what is going on in the mind of El Jefe.
Barr, like not a few other administration officials, probably saw the handwriting on the wall. Trump didn’t want him to tweak or bend the election results. He wanted a wholesale revision, dumping millions of votes by the wayside to ensure that he could reign triumphant for another four years rather than reside in exile in Mar-a-Lago. Giuliani would have tried had he been attorney general. Barr beat a retreat, announcing that he couldn’t find any grounds to declare widespread election fraud. Ever since, Trump has thrown a temper tantrum. But the more he denounces Barr, the faster his rehabilitation will occur.
As for Biden, Trump is playing into his hands. Liberal handwringing about Trump’s serial maneuvers to pilfer the election are misplaced. Trump isn’t undermining Biden. He’s strengthening his position. If Trump refuses to attend the inauguration and to welcome Biden to the White House — the first president since Andrew Johnson to refuse to show up — then he will merely cement his image as a crybaby.
Trump is in trouble and he knows it. This is why the real question in coming weeks for Trump won’t be the election. He knows it’s lost. He won’t call himself a loser and he will mourn the loss in the form of claiming he never did. But the conundrum he faces is how many pardons he can dole out — and whether he will attempt a self-pardon. Barr may himself have balked at conniving at a self-pardon for Trump’s serial defalcations. If so, Trump needs to identify and elevate a patsy who won’t. Trump isn’t beginning to fight. Quite the contrary. He’s figuring out how to flee with impunity.