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Opinion New revelations about Barr and Giuliani strengthen case against Trump

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One of the strongest arguments made by experts testifying against President Trump is that he poses a present and continuing threat to our democracy. By adopting the stance that extorting a foreign leader into helping him rig the election was perfectly fine, Trump has confirmed he’ll keep using the levers of government to continue to corrupt it on his behalf.

“If left unchecked, the president will likely continue his pattern of soliciting foreign interference in the next election,” one constitutional scholar called by Democrats testified on Wednesday. “No misconduct is more antithetical to our democracy.”

The latest nefarious doings of none other than William P. Barr and Rudolph W. Giuliani have now forcefully underscored this very point. In so doing, Trump’s attorney general and his personal lawyer — whose roles Trump views as one and the same — have helpfully strengthened the case against Trump.

Two new investigative reports demonstrate that Barr and Giuliani are, in effect, continuing to carry out elements of the very same corrupt scheme for which Trump is currently getting impeached. Their activities have been described as “brazen,” but the truth is worse: They demonstrate with great clarity that Trump’s efforts to corrupt our political system will continue — a reminder of why he’s being impeached in the first place.

Barr hits a snag

The Post reports that Barr has hit a major snag in his efforts to validate Trump’s claim that the investigation into Russian sabotage of the 2016 election was a hoax. Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general, privately asked Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, who’s executing Barr’s review of the origins of that investigation, to validate a key element of Trumpworld’s “theory” of those origins — and he did not.

The impeachment inquiry into President Trump has exposed troubling cracks in the political system. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Danielle Kunitz/The Washington Post)

This is terribly inconvenient for Barr — and Trump and his propagandists. They hope such a review will allow them to cast the whole Russia investigation — and its findings of Russian sabotage and extensive efforts by Trump to coordinate with and benefit from it — as illegitimate.

Central to this is the idea that the Maltese professor who first told a Trump adviser about dirt gathered by Russia on Hillary Clinton — which launched the original FBI probe — was a U.S. agent setting up the Trump campaign. Horowitz, who is also examining the probe’s origins, has reportedly determined that he was not, and asked Durham — and intelligence agencies — to produce evidence to the contrary. They couldn’t.

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It’s true that Horowitz will also reportedly announce serious irregularities with the FBI’s original handling of the investigation, and Trump’s propagandists will hype this to the skies. But the bottom line is Horowitz is expected to conclude that the investigation’s basis was legitimate, and while we don’t know what Durham will conclude, it seems clear he’s finding little to validate Trumpworld’s wild theories.

The key point here is that Barr, who is gearing up to cast doubt on Horowitz’s conclusions, is continuing to use the levers of government to carry out Trump’s overall corrupt project — which Trump is actively cheering on. Barr is trying to undercut the legitimacy of the Russia investigation’s conclusions — which would help make Russia’s criminal attack on our political system and Trump’s nefarious reaping of its gains disappear.

That’s exactly what Trump tried to extort Ukraine into helping him do, by announcing an “investigation” into the lie that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered, thus validating that lie — part of the corrupt plot for which he’s being impeached.

Giuliani’s latest moves

Giuliani is doing the same as we speak. The New York Times reports that Giuliani has traveled to Budapest and Kyiv, where he’s meeting with shadowy Ukrainian figures to keep building the case that Joe Biden and his son Hunter acted corruptly in Ukraine.

This line of nonsense has been thoroughly debunked, but Giuliani met with one of its key proponents, and is participating in the filming of a fake “documentary” that’s designed to make that narrative seem true.

In other words, Giuliani — who was the ringleader of the scheme to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations that would also make that narrative seem true — has continued to try to achieve the same goals that drove the corrupt plot for which Trump is being impeached.

This, in and of itself, does not necessarily add to the case for impeachment. But, tellingly, when the Times pressed Giuliani to say whether he kept Trump informed of these latest moves, he refused to answer, even though he had previously kept Trump regularly apprised. That means it’s possible Trump has blessed Giuliani’s continued efforts to smear Biden with lies, though without the direct extortion element.

President Trump's personal attorney was once a popular mayor of New York. Here's how he wound up in the middle of the Ukraine scandal. (Video: The Washington Post)

Trump’s intent is corrupt

All of this reinforces the corrupt intent that Trump has exhibited throughout. Republicans still laughably claim Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky only because he cared about “corruption” in Ukraine. But this shows again that Trump’s primary concern has been to achieve announcements of investigations into only the things that would help him politically.

In his July 25 phone call with Zelensky, Trump directed him to talk to Barr and Giuliani, who would, Trump hoped, act as his henchmen in helping Zelensky carry out those investigations. The two have simply continued to carry out this very same effort on Trump’s behalf.

Even as Trump is getting impeached for using the power of his office to falsify the story of his corruption of our last election and to corrupt the next one, he’s still trying to accomplish both goals. And in Barr’s case, he’s cheerfully continuing to rely on the manipulation of the levers of government to do so.

Read more:

Jennifer Rubin: Barr and the GOP cannot handle the truth

Paul Waldman: This scandal keeps getting worse for Rudy Giuliani

E.J. Dionne Jr.: The moral imperative of impeachment

Elizabeth Holtzman: Here’s how broad the House should go in framing articles of impeachment

Jennifer Rubin: Republican squawking can’t distract from Democrats’ key points in hearing

The Post’s View: Democrats should not give up the fight to hear from more witnesses