News Release

As Bush AG, Trump Nominee Barr Approved Cover-up Pardons

Trump’s Attorney General nominee William Barr is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is scheduled to continue through Wednesday.

DENNIS BERNSTEIN, dennisjbernstein at gmail.com, @flashpointsnews
Host of the award-winning “Flashpoints News Magazine” on Pacifica Radio, Bernstein covered the Iran-Contra scandal extensively. At the time, he was co-host of the program “Undercurrents” and his writings on the subject were published in NewsdaySpin and other outlets.He said today: “Many have speculated about Trump using the power of the pardon to help cover up his own criminal activity. That is exactly what Barr advised and supported regarding the pardoning of the key Iran-Contra criminals, who threw the Constitution in the garbage and conspired with drug traffickers and terrorists to overthrow the Sandinista government throughout the 1980’s.”Indeed, there’s been far too little attention paid to Barr’s actual record while attorney general in 1992, when he approved of then-President George H. W. Bush’s pardons of Iran-Contra criminals Caspar Weinberger, Elliott Abrams and Robert C. McFarlane. Barr also worked at a time for the CIA, including while Bush was CIA director.

“The Iran side of the Iran-Contra affair also involved, among other things, the Reagan-Bush administration trading missile sales to Iran for U.S. hostages, and using the proceeds of those arms sales to fund anti-Sandinista Contras in Central America — in violation of U.S. law. It was also tied into the narco drug trade and even plans by Oliver North to suspend altogether the U.S. Constitution — what they called ‘Continuity of Government.’

“It’s remarkable that Barr is up for attorney general again after helping facilitate the massive criminality of the Iran-Contra scandal.

“Sen. Leahy raised the issue briefly Tuesday morning with Barr, correctly noting that the independent investigator, Lawrence Walsh, called the pardons a ‘cover-up’ but, but Leahy didn’t actually ask about those pardons. In response to a question from Leahy, ‘Do you believe a President could lawfully issue a pardon in exchange for the recipient’s promise to not incriminate him?’ Barr responded: ‘No. That would be a crime.’ But does that have to be an explicit promise? How would he characterize what happened with Iran-Contra?”

Background: Consortium News founder Robert Parry, who broke much of the Iran-Contra story would later write in “Firewall: Inside the Iran-Contra Cover-up“: “The Republican independent counsel [Lawrence Walsh] infuriated the GOP when he submitted a second indictment of Weinberger on the Friday before the 1992 elections. The indictment contained documents revealing that President Bush had been lying for years with his claim that he was ‘out of the loop’ on the Iran-Contra decisions. The ensuing furor dominated the last several days of the campaign and sealed Bush’s defeat at the hands of Bill Clinton.

“Walsh had discovered, too, that Bush had withheld his own notes about the Iran-Contra Affair, a discovery that elevated the President to a possible criminal subject of the investigation. But Bush had one more weapon in his arsenal. On Christmas Eve 1992, Bush destroyed the Iran-Contra probe once and for all by pardoning Weinberger and five other convicted or indicted defendants.

“’George Bush’s misuse of the pardon power made the cover-up complete,’ Walsh wrote.”

See Walsh’s book Firewall: The Iran-Contra Conspiracy and Cover-Up.