Weeks before former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger’s criminal trial over his role in the 1980’s Iran-Contra scandal, then-Attorney General William Barr dropped a bomb on the prosecution.
“People in the Iran-Contra affair have been treated very unfairly,” Barr told USA Today in December 1992, blasting the charges as illegitimate. “People in this Iran-Contra matter have been prosecuted for the kind of conduct that would not have been considered criminal or prosecutable by the Justice Department.”
Weinberger faced charges of lying to Congress, brought by a special prosecutor, then known as an “independent counsel,” who accused him of withholding 1,700 pages of notes about high-level meetings that allegedly held “evidence of a conspiracy.”
Barr’s broadside alarmed the lead prosecutor handling the case against Weinberger, James J. Brosnahan, who warned the judge that Barr may have just unduly biased his jury pool. Later that month, when the White House pardoned six top Iran-Contra defendants on Christmas Eve 1992 at Barr’s urging, Brosnahan believed he’d just witnessed the completion of a successful cover-up.
Three decades on, Brosnahan fears Barr has returned to his old job to run the same scheme again.
“If you want a presidential cover-up, Barr is your guy,” Brosnahan, now 85, told VICE News. “And I think we’ve already seen that.”
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