Wednesday, July 07, 2021

How's That Durham Investigation Coming?

theatlantic |  After the lunch with Balsamo, Barr and Levi went to the White House for a previously scheduled meeting with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. After talking briefly with Meadows, they went upstairs to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s office. As they were conferring, one of the counsel’s aides knocked on the door and told Cipollone that the president wanted to see him and then, pointing to Barr, the aide said, “And he is looking for you.”

Barr, Levi, and Cipollone walked to the president’s personal dining room near the Oval Office. Trump was sitting at the table. Meadows was sitting next to him with his arms crossed; the White House adviser Eric Herschmann stood off to the side. The details of this meeting were described to me by several people present. One told me that Trump had “the eyes and mannerism of a madman.”

He went off on Barr.

“I think you’ve noticed I haven’t been talking to you much,” Trump said to him. “I’ve been leaving you alone.”

Barr later told others that the comment was reminiscent of a line in the movie Dr. Strangelove, in which the main character, Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, says, “I do not avoid women, Mandrake, but I do deny them my essence.” Trump, Barr thought, was saying that he had been denying him his essence.

Trump brought up Barr’s AP interview.

“Did you say that?”

“Yes,” Barr responded.

“How the fuck could you do this to me? Why did you say it?”

“Because it’s true.”

The president, livid, responded by referring to himself in the third person: “You must hate Trump. You must hate Trump.”

Barr thought that the president was trying to control himself, but he seemed angrier than he had ever seen him. His face was red. Barr’s AP interview was dominating every cable news channel except the one Trump was watching. The television in the room was tuned to the right-wing, pro-Trump network One America News, which was broadcasting a committee hearing of the Michigan legislature. The hearing featured disproven allegations of massive election fraud, including the testimony of a woman named Melissa Carone, who had worked at the counting location in Detroit and told the committee, “Everything that happened at the TCF Center was fraud. Every single thing.” The next day, Carone would testify again, next to Rudy Giuliani, during which time she slurred her words and appeared to be drunk. (Carone later denied that she had been drunk.)

“They saw the boxes going in!” Trump yelled, referring to the stories about boxes of illegal ballots being counted.

“You know, Mr. President, there are 662 precincts in Wayne County,” Barr said. Trump seemed taken aback that he knew the exact number. “It’s the only county with all the boxes going to a central place, and you actually did better there this time around than you did last time. You keep on saying that the Department of Justice is not looking at this stuff, and we are looking at it in a responsible way. But your people keep on shoveling this shit out.”

 

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