Few legal activists have given the Michigan Democratic Party more grief, and more defeats, over the past four decades than Bob LaBrant.
For most of this time, LaBrant was Senior Vice President for Political Affairs and General Counsel for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.
In his brilliant 2016 book, Ratf**ked: The True Story behind the Secret Plan to Steal American Democracy,” author David Daley described LaBrant as the “Unsung Genius of the SuperPac Age.” Nobody, said Daley, has had more impact over the past 45 years on political campaign finance, redistricting, and judicial election battles than LaBrant, whose legal strategizing led to the famous Citizens United decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010.
So, it may shock some that LaBrant believes President Donald Trump is “an existential threat to the Constitution, limited government and the rule of law.” LaBrant says he may very well join the Lincoln Project, which is a cabal of conservative “NeverTrumpers” organized last year to openly criticize Trump and seek his ouster from office. “But I’m not going to join a group called End Citizens United,” says LaBrant.
LaBrant is also no fan of Trump’s current Attorney General, William Barr. Barr was President George H.W. Bush’s second Attorney General, from 1991-93, after Richard Thornburgh. Barr was confirmed by a Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate with little controversy, even though, as LaBrant observes, “there were some warning signs that Barr was an apostle of what is called the ‘unitary executive theory’ holding that the president has unfettered control over the executive branch of the U.S. government.” Still, Americans had little impression of Barr, who was not a controversial figure during the second half of Bush 41’s single term of office.
However, says LaBrant, it should be pointed out that Barr advised Bush 41 he didn’t need Congressional approval to go to war with Iraq in the Gulf War. LaBrant also finds troubling that, when Barr was head of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in the DOJ under Bush 41, he wrote a memorandum on arresting fugitives overseas even if doing so violated international law. This memorandum was used to justify the arrest of Panama strongman Manuel Noriega. Congress wanted to see the memorandum, Barr refused to provide it, but he wrote them a synopsis much as he would later do with the Mueller Report as Trump’s A.G. When the OLC Noriega-related memorandum was finally made public it became clear that Barr’s synopsis omitted some of the most consequential findings.
Last week, following the Friday night firing of Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, LaBrant wrote on LinkedIn that “William Barr is the most corrupt Attorney General in American history. His corrupt conduct began soon after his Senate confirmation. Barr mischaracterized the findings of the Mueller Report in a synopsis he released on the document. He concluded that despite 10 instances of obstruction cited in the Report, Trump had not obstructed justice and the investigation found no connection between the Trump campaign and Russia. The two-volume report was withheld from Congress and the American people for three weeks before a redacted version was released which seemingly contradicted Barr’s finding that there was insufficient evidence of obstruction.”
Continued LaBrant: “Barr buried the whistleblower complaint on the Ukraine scandal and tried to keep the Intelligence Agency Inspector General from forwarding the complaint to Congress. DOJ in its review had found no evidence of wrongdoing by Trump who withheld military aid appropriated by Congress to Ukraine demanding that before that military aid was released and a White House visit arranged, Ukraine must announce the launch of an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden.”
LaBrant also observed that “Barr intervened in the sentencing of Roger Stone and DOJ recommended a lighter sentence, which led four career prosecutors to withdraw from the case and one to resign. This pattern was repeated in the case of Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Barr said the lie was not material to the case and ordered that DOJ dismiss the case before the judge sentenced Flynn.”
LaBrant castigates Barr for attempting to discredit DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report that there was no evidence that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign in 2016-2017. Barr had earlier testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign. Barr has hand-selected U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate the actions of top Obama officials in the 2016 Russia investigation. He and Durham flew to Europe on several occasions and had kept a back channel to Rudy Giuliani Ukraine inquiries.”
Finally, says LaBrant, Barr’s role early this month in clearing Lafayette Park across from the White House and the surrounding area of protesters so Trump could have a photo op at the church with his upside down Bible “will be the lead paragraph on his historical record on civil liberties.”
LaBrant concludes that, in his two years in office, Barr has compiled a record of infamy with Donald Trump that surpasses even Harry Daugherty, the disgraced Attorney General in President Warren Harding’s Teapot Dome scandal, and John Mitchell, Richard Nixon’s Attorney General during the Watergate saga.
Whew! Could David Daley, when he wrote Ratf**ked, have expected this kind of reaction to a Republican president and attorney general from none other than Bob LaBrant? No wonder the president has problems in Michigan.
Ed Haynor says
Many will suspect by publishing this commentary, that you too Bill Ballenger, have joined the Lincoln Project, a “cabal of conservative NeverTrumpers.” If so, congratulations in the name of common decency, if nothing else.
Thomas Neviaser says
The most corrupt AG ever? Where was this guy during the Obama years? Really. on Mars?
S. Wiegman says
Eric Holder May have some censures under his belt but what Holder did cannot be compared to the subjugation, perversion and blatant disregard of laws. Holder certainly was not a pimp for President Obama.
Nancy McConnell says
Wow! What a hatchet job! Disappointed that you would print such a diatribe that contains every Democrat talking point as if it were true, and included none of the contradictory or exculpatory evidence that has been circulated widely.
Roger Martin says
I’ve known, interviewed and worked with/and against Bob many times during my career as a journalist and later in strategic political and policy communications. We’ve been friends (my wife worked for Bob for a couple years at the Michigan Chamber), we’ve been allies, and we’ve been adversaries. My firm and one of our clients went to war in 2018 to unravel some of Bob’s “work” in creating Michigan’s gerrymandered political districts (our client was right, and Bob was wrong, in my very strong opinion. And with the overwhelming support of Michigan voters, we won.). But what you get with Bob is an unwavering, unapologetic fiscally conservative Republican, a limited-government, rule-of-law, pro-business, pro-free market, principled Republican. Some people don’t like that, which is fine. But Bob has never, ever been afraid to call ‘em as he sees ‘em, and on this he correctly and obviously sees a wannabe-king with no clothes. Thanks for the content, Bill.
Nick Ciaramitaro says
Proving once again that people who differ on policy can be ethical.
Sovereign Mary says
I’ve never heard of Robert La Brant, and probably not many have except and unless if one is a big insider with the Establishment Machine manipulators within the GOP.
Truly, in regards to my having been a grassroots activist in years long-ago past, I don’t find that La Brant hanging a shingle on having been the Senior Vice President for Political Affairs and General Counsel for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce anything to be that very much to be impressed with. Especially in knowing how both the National and too many State Chamber of Commerce bodies have pushed for and supported the protection of the deleterious huge flow of illegal immigrants into this sovereign nation.
That being said, neither have I been impressed with Bob Barr’s dubious favoritism of Big Brother government Un-Constitutional side-stepping manipulations.
Sovereign Mary says
When it comes to choice — I will take President Trump and his restoration of jobs in the U.S. and for the people in comparison to too many years of former Pres. Obama’s belittling and destruction of the U.S., the American people and jobs.
William S. Bishop says
Assuming this is accurate, the article mirrors the fears and opinions of all my super elitist liberal friends….
Jerome Dallas Winegarden Jr. says
Bill forget the Top GOP Attorney ! He is just a Top Attorney .You don’t have to be a GOP attorney
To recognize the Total Disregard to the Rule of Law and Total Outrageous Disgusting behavior of the AG.Youre Article is Right On ! Anyone who can’t see that knows very little about American Jurisprudence.His actions speak loud and clear for his impeachment’!
Daniel D. Downing says
Bill, I found this very interesting. I have know Bob La Brandt since my Law School days in the 1970’s when my then wife worked for him at the Michigan Chamber. I don’t know if i go as far as he does with AG Bill Barr, but he has voiced some real concerns. Knowing him, It sounds like Bob has an ax to grind, and it is difficult to know how, or where the bad blood originated. Clearly, he has never been favored with the urber conservative and pro-Trump factions in Michigan. Even more concerning is the deep end that the Democrats have gone over, in trying to usurp Mr. Trump and Mr. Barr and in trying to seize power by innuendo, falsehood, lies and impeachment–clearly politics has returned to close in knife fighting. After Citizen’s United, there are no longer any rules, formal or informa: It is raw unlimited money politics . I kind of miss the days of Jesse Jackson and George Wallace when polarity was somehow cleaner and more well defined.
This dude was a never Trumper in 2016 so no one is SHOCKED that he still thinks “draining his swamp” is a good idea. Back to deep state waters for him
Cheryl Krapf-Haddock says
I feel you were fair and accurate in this article Bill! Thank you