Walter Shaub @waltshaub former Director of @OfficeGovEthics now with @CREWcrew personal account - views are my own May. 26, 2019 4 min read

(Thread) This marks a particularly dangerous turning point in an already dangerous norm-breaking presidency. Barr, the partisan beneficiary of a slow-motion Saturday Night Massacre, has already shown us what he’ll do with his newly delegated declassification authority. /1

His deceptive summary of the Mueller report was highly effective propaganda because he knew most Americans would not read that devastating but lengthy report. This time, Barr’s propaganda will be even more effective. He’ll selectively release classified information to paint a /2

distorted picture in support of wild conspiracy theories, and no one will be able to read what he chooses not to declassify. It’s hard to tell whether the timing of Barr’s prosecution of Julian Assange is a coincidence. Many (including me) perceive Assange as an enemy of /3

America, but the charges against him are drafted in a way that have made legitimate journalists afraid they could be next. Whether or not those fears are borne out in the end, the government selectively releasing information to fit a partisan narrative and aggressively /4

prosecuting those who share the rest of the story is undeniably dangerous. The damage to national security could be catastrophic if it exposes existing sources or makes others unwilling to work with us. The damage to the political system will certainly be catastrophic /5

because it will transform national security into a partisan affair. And, with Barr’s help, Trump is not limiting himself to misusing national security resources. The administration is also weaponizing the law enforcement apparatus of the state to retaliate against the career /6

officials who investigated the president and, more importantly, to intimidate others who might be assigned to do so in the future. If Barr were seeking the truth, he’d rely on the Inspector General. But Barr is not seeking truth; he is seeking ammunition. /7

For that, Barr needs an investigator he can control, which is why he assigned the investigation to someone in his direct chain of command. In the past, Barr has also called for the criminal investigation of Trump’s former political rival, even though she has been out of /8

government for 6 years and the statute of limitations for most federal crimes is 5 years. Mirroring Barr’s effort, Rudy Giuliani has encouraged a foreign government to investigate one of Trump’s current political rivals. Although Giuliani serves as Trump's personal attorney, /9

foreign governments are acutely aware that he articulates his requests on behalf of a notoriously vindictive president. At the same time, the administration is engaging in a blanket refusal to cooperate with legitimate congressional oversight. They are banking on the court /10

that Mitch McConnell packed to render partisan decisions in their favor, which may explain why they’re so ready to assume that judges appointed by the prior administration are biased. There is yet room to hope that their assumption about the Supreme Court's bias will prove /11

incorrect, but then the question will become whether the administration would refuse to comply with a court’s order – just as it is now refusing to comply with the legislature’s decision not to continue funding the atrocities being committed by a regime that recently murdered /12

a Washington Post writer. In this context, the abrupt and nonsensical push for war with Iran or Venezuela by Trump and his allies seems like no coincidence. They may perceive (perhaps correctly) that a president’s political capital and effective power are highest when the /13

country is at war. Time will tell whether they are really willing to send American troops to die for their political ratings, but what we’ve seen so far is not encouraging. Meanwhile, the administration is cutting resources for programs that would strengthen our voting /14

systems to prevent foreign interference in the next election. All the while, Trump, who said “fine people” marched with white supremacists in Charlottesville, is fanning the flames of racism and cutting the government’s resources for investigating alt-right terrorists whose /15

activity is on the rise. In the background, the unethical corruption of this administration chugs along, as it has from the start, with Americans having to wonder how many of the government’s domestic and foreign policies are formulated in service to the fortunes of the Trump /16

and Kushner families. Balanced against this litany of abuses, we had good news this week from the two lower courts that rejected Trump’s efforts to defy the first constitutional branch of government. It remains to be seen what higher courts will say. Such is the state of the /17

union on May 26, 2019. The stakes are only going to get higher from this point on. Prepare for rapidly escalating abuses of power. The danger is real. Those of us fighting for the principles of democracy will continue our work. /18

I urge you to be thinking about what sacrifices you will be willing to make to meet this attack on democracy head on, whether in terms of money, time, or effort. As Ben Franklin warned: you have a republic, if you can keep it. /19

(The "have" in #4 should be "has" -- and there are probably other errors. It's hard to write on Twitter, and I don't usually do long threads. Sorry.)

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