Cryptonium 103

5 min readDec 18, 2020

On Monday, Trump announced the resignation of his Attorney General, Bill Barr, via a tweet that included an image of Barr’s resignation letter.

In most administrations, this would be no big deal. It’s a very big deal in the Trump administration because most of the officials that have left have been fired by tweet rather than allowed to resign. Most only found out about their firing when they saw Trump’s tweet.

So what is different about Bill Barr? Why was he allowed the dignity of gracefully resigning?

He knows where all the bodies are buried.

Trump, who has no understanding of nor desire to learn about, how our government functions, has always expected Barr to act like his personal attorney with the entire Department of Justice as his personal law firm.

Trump is accustomed to confiding in his legal advisors expecting attorney-client privilege to protect those conversations. He doesn’t realize that no such privilege exists between a president and an attorney general.

Barr is very much aware of this lack of privilege and rather than advising Trump to cease his confidences because they are not protected, he has probably encouraged it. Barr now has a wealth of knowledge of Trump’s political, personal and business secrets.

Bill Barr is a very smart man. He joined the Trump administration in 2018, replacing the ill-fated Jeff Sessions, knowing full well how Trump treated the people who work for him. Barr knew that at some point he would be fired so he set about to make sure that he could leave on his own terms rather than be dishonored by a raging despot.

Barr knew which way the wind was blowing after the election. He knew that Trump had lost and any efforts that Trump made to overturn Biden’s victory would be futile, so Barr started to lay the groundwork for his own graceful exit.

Trump expected Barr to spearhead his efforts to overturn the election. Instead Barr issued a bland statement that

“to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

Note the careful wording. He did not deny that there was any fraud, just that there was not enough fraud to change the outcome of the election. This is one of those legal phrases that can be true and not true at the same time. While it is true that there were no fraudulent votes found, that doesn’t mean that none exist, just that they haven’t been found.

This is how lawyers cover their asses.

And how Barr tried to placate Trump. Claiming no fraud meant instant firing. Claiming fraud exists meant he could stay a little longer while he continued working on his exit.

The next step Barr took in distancing himself from Trump was announcing the ongoing investigation into Hunter Biden after the election. This is also normal in most administrations. The Justice Department, which is supposed to be apolitical, would normally not discuss any ongoing investigations that might influence the outcome of the election.

Of course Trump expected Barr to support his candidacy by releasing the information before the election to help him win against Biden.

At this point, Trump began to openly talk about firing Barr which probably prompted a few meetings in which Barr laid out for Trump what would happen if Trump fired him by tweet instead of allowing him to resign.

All of those secrets that Trump has confided in Barr would be released publicly, not just shaming him but also providing evidence that could be used against him in criminal cases after he steps down as president.

Shame has no meaning for Trump. He is shameless. But he lives in fear of being perceived as a loser which is probably what Barr told him would happen if he were to spill Trump’s secrets.

So they arrived at an agreement. Barr would write a fawning resignation letter and Trump would not fire him via tweet. The fawning resignation letter would provide Trump cover for allowing Barr to resign. With this “proof” in hand of Barr’s support for his presidency, Trump could allow the resignation to go forward without losing face.

Everybody wins.

No matter how you feel about Barr as a person, you have to admire him. He played the long game against a wily and unpredictable opponent and won