BARR: On Monday, [interim U.S. attorney Timothy Shea] came by to briefly chat with me and say that the team very much wanted to recommend the seven-to-nine year to the judge. And — but he thought that there was a way of satisfying everybody and providing more flexibility.And there was a brief discussion of that. I was under the impression that what was going to happen was very much what I had suggested, which is deferring to the judge and then pointing out the various factors and circumstances.
Barr added: “I was very surprised. And once I confirmed that that’s actually what we filed, I said that night to my staff that we had to get ready ’cause we had to do something in the morning to amend that and clarify what our position was.”
ABC News’s Pierre Thomas pressed Barr on a question we’ve often asked here, which is how that could even happen? How could the attorney general be caught so off-guard by a recommendation he had been involved in?
“I’m afraid it’s one of those situations,” Barr said. “I’m confused, too. And I think it really was a situation of miscommunication.”
Okay, fair enough. Let’s take that at face value for now.
So what happened after that supposed miscommunication and after Barr overruled the prosecutors? All four of them withdrew from the case, one resigned from a temporary position in Shea’s office, and another resigned from the government entirely. It is obvious these withdrawals and resignations were in protest.
Given the resignations and the supposed miscommunication, it would seem like a situation that the attorney general would want to get to the bottom of. How did the miscommunication happen, after all, and why did the prosecutors see fit to lodge such a protest?
But Barr apparently isn’t terribly curious about it. He said not only that he hadn’t spoken to the prosecutors, but that he also hadn’t learned why they resigned:
THOMAS: And you know, people have pride, though, and you could see how they would see as a public rebuke. You think that’s part of why they resigned in protest from the case?BARR: I don't know why they resigned.THOMAS: So you've not had a chance to talk to them?BARR: No.
To be clear, three of these prosecutors remain in Barr’s employ, which would make it rather easy for him to demand answers of them. At the time of his interview, it had also been two days since they had withdrawn and resigned. Barr is puzzled by how all of this went down, but he hasn’t sought information from them about how this all might have gone haywire and why they quit?
At best, that seems like a real lack of curiosity from the man in charge of the Justice Department. Even from strictly a management perspective, figuring out what happened would seem to be Job No. 1 for Barr right now.
And that’s if you accept that this was indeed just a miscommunication. The fact that they lodged such protests suggests there might be something more to it. Barr either couldn’t or wouldn’t shed any light on that Thursday. Someone probably should.