Mueller Investigators Say Report More Damaging than Barr Summary Indicates

It now appears that the Attorney General is keeping publicly-releasable information hidden away longer than necessary.

For almost two years, Robert Mueller and his team were scrupulous in refusing to leak to information to the press. Nearly two weeks since the report was submitted to the Attorney General, they’re showing their frustration with his summary.

NYT (“Some on Mueller’s Team Say Report Was More Damaging Than Barr Revealed“):

Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.

At stake in the dispute — the first evidence of tension between Mr. Barr and the special counsel’s office — is who shapes the public’s initial understanding of one of the most consequential government investigations in American history. Some members of Mr. Mueller’s team are concerned that, because Mr. Barr created the first narrative of the special counsel’s findings, Americans’ views will have hardened before the investigation’s conclusions become public.

Mr. Barr has said he will move quickly to release the nearly 400-page report but needs time to scrub out confidential information. The special counsel’s investigators had already written multiple summaries of the report, and some team members believe that Mr. Barr should have included more of their material in the four-page letter he wrote on March 24 laying out their main conclusions, according to government officials familiar with the investigation. Mr. Barr only briefly cited the special counsel’s work in his letter.

However, the special counsel’s office never asked Mr. Barr to release the summaries soon after he received the report, a person familiar with the investigation said. And the Justice Department quickly determined that the summaries contain sensitive information, like classified material, secret grand-jury testimony and information related to current federal investigations that must remain confidential, according to two government officials.

Mr. Barr was also wary of departing from Justice Department practice not to disclose derogatory details in closing an investigation, according to two government officials familiar with Mr. Barr’s thinking. They pointed to the decision by James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, to harshly criticize Hillary Clinton in 2016 while announcing that he was recommending no charges in the inquiry into her email practices.

The officials and others interviewed declined to flesh out why some of the special counsel’s investigators viewed their findings as potentially more damaging for the president than Mr. Barr explained, although the report is believed to examine Mr. Trump’s efforts to thwart the investigation. It was unclear how much discussion Mr. Mueller and his investigators had with senior Justice Department officials about how their findings would be made public. It was also unclear how widespread the vexation is among the special counsel team, which included 19 lawyers, about 40 F.B.I. agents and other personnel.

At the same time, Mr. Barr and his advisers have expressed their own frustrations about Mr. Mueller and his team. Mr. Barr and other Justice Department officials believe the special counsel’s investigators fell short of their task by declining to decide whether Mr. Trump illegally obstructed the inquiry, according to the two government officials. After Mr. Mueller made no judgment on the obstruction matter, Mr. Barr stepped in to declare that he himself had cleared Mr. Trump of wrongdoing.

WaPo (“Limited information Barr has shared about Russia investigation frustrated some on Mueller’s team“) adds:

Members of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team have told associates they are frustrated with the limited information Attorney General William P. Barr has provided about their nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether President Trump sought to obstruct justice, according to people familiar with the matter.

The displeasure among some who worked on the closely held inquiry has quietly begun to surface in the days since Barr released a four-page letter to Congress on March 24 describing what he said were the principal conclusions of Mueller’s still-confidential, 400-page report.

[…]

But members of Mueller’s team have complained to close associates that the evidence they gathered on obstruction was alarming and significant.

“It was much more acute than Barr suggested,” said one person, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the subject’s sensitivity.

[…]

Some members of the office were particularly disappointed that Barr did not release summary information the special counsel team had prepared, according to two people familiar with their reactions.

“There was immediate displeasure from the team when they saw how the attorney general had characterized their work instead,” according one U.S. official briefed on the matter.

Summaries were prepared for different sections of the report, with a view that they could made public, the official said.

The report was prepared “so that the front matter from each section could have been released immediately — or very quickly,” the official said. “It was done in a way that minimum redactions, if any, would have been necessary, and the work would have spoken for itself.”

[…]

Mueller’s team assumed the information was going to be made available to the public, the official said, “and so they prepared their summaries to be shared in their own words — and not in the attorney general’s summary of their work, as turned out to be the case.”

Given that something approximating the full report will be not only shared with Congress but made public quite soon, I have operated under the assumption that Barr’s summary was accurate as to the legal findings but shaded in terms of the political implications. I still think this is correct.

Still, we have information that we didn’t when Barr’s summary was released:

  • The report is over 400 pages. That’s substantially longer than I had guessed. And it makes it reasonable that we still don’t have the fullish report, which I had expected to happen within a week or so.
  • There is indeed substantial amounts of foreign intelligence and grand jury information in the report, which simply must be scrubbed from the public report. Again, that justifies the delay.
  • But: We now know that Mueller’s team had what amounted to executive summaries for each of the relevant sections that were intended for immediate public release. Presuming their competence—and I do—those sections were free from classified and sensitive information. While I would have expected Barr and his team to exercise due diligence with those sections, there’s no obvious good reason why those have not been released by now.

I’m less frustrated than Mueller’s team that the Barr summary of the legal findings was to President Trump’s early political advantage. Mueller’s mission was to investigate whether the President and his people committed crimes. We knew before that report was finalized that many people close to Trump had been charged and pled guilty. But Mueller decided that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to move forward with criminal charges against Trump himself or his immediate family and Barr quite rightly highlighted that.

At the same time, I have taken it as a given since I first read the Barr summary that the full version of events would nonetheless be politically damaging to the President. My strong hunch is that he has done all manner of things that fall into the “definitely shady” and “damned, that sure looks like it oughta be illegal” categories. While he gets the early win of being able to proclaim “No Collusion!” and “Exonerated!” we’ll know the fuller truth in the next couple of weeks.

It’s a foregone conclusion at this point that Trump won’t be impeached. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made that abundantly clear even before Mueller’s work was done. So, we’re left to the court of public opinion and the November 2020 election. We’ll have nearly a year and a half for the fullish version of events to be hashed out.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Donald Trump, Russia Investigation
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Todd says:

    These stories seem to point towards something I’ve believed since Barr’s letter was released:

    Instead of “total exoneration!” as the President and many of my conservative friends have been exclaiming for the past week, what’s much more likely is …

    There’s going to be plenty of evidence of conspiracy with Russia. What will be lacking is the explicit “smoking gun” that would almost certainly be necessary to implicate a sitting President.

    The case for obstruction is likely to be significantly stronger than what AG Barr’s letter would lead a reasonable person to believe.

    I also don’t think it’s totally outrageous to wonder whether the reason we didn’t get the smoking gun on collusion was because the obstruction (especially as it relates to Manafort continuing to lie rather than actually cooperating) was in fact relatively effective.

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  2. James Joyner says:

    @Todd: That’s exactly where I am.

    To the extent that this is now a political, rather than a legal, issue, I think we’re going to see how much of a chasm there is between what’s legal and what’s outrageous. Alas, given how hard-baked people’s opinions of Trump are at this stage, I’m not sure there’s going to be a huge political impact. Anybody still on Team Trump has figured out how to rationalize his illicit conduct.

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  3. Todd says:

    @James Joyner:

    Anybody still on Team Trump has figured out how to rationalize his illicit conduct

    Yes, few minds will be changed. In fact, when the full Mueller report does eventually become public I am fully expecting right-wing social media to push something along the lines of “the reason it took so long for the report to come out is because they needed time to add in more information to make it look worse for Trump …” e.g. they’ll say that Barr’s letter was about the “real” report, while the one that congress and the public gets is “fake news”.

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  4. CSK says:

    @Todd: Yes. It will be dismissed as fake news.

  5. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I think that what we’ll see is a bumbling buffoon being played by Putin.
    No smoking gun…but plenty of coordination.
    Frankly, I think the picture of Dennison as easily manipulated and played is more damaging.
    Especially in light of Chinese spys lurking around Mar-a-Lago.
    But with a congress full of sycophants who are more concerned with their jobs than the country…nothing will happen because of it.
    Maybe it will provide more fodder for the election in 2020. Or maybe it will have blown over by then.
    Either way…Teflon Don escapes again.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I am shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover that William Barr is nothing more than a right wing pettifogging shyster doing the sole thing he was hired by trump to do. Who coodanode?

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  7. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: You know, if Trump actually were a don, we’d have to refer to him as Don Donald. Or…Don Don.

  8. mattbernius says:

    @James Joyner:

    Alas, given how hard-baked people’s opinions of Trump are at this stage, I’m not sure there’s going to be a huge political impact. Anybody still on Team Trump has figured out how to rationalize his illicit conduct.

    On the hardcore Team Trump side, yes. I’m sure most of our conservative commenters will find a way to rationalize anything he does for partisan reasons.

    However, depending on the timing of the release, I can’t help but wonder if it could ultimately have a Comey-memo effect and depress turnout among the Republicans with less “economic anxiety.”

  9. gVOR08 says:

    Impeachment gets us President Pence, a man who’s even more a tool of the Koch’s than Scott Walker. Looks like we’re going to get a steady dribble of leaks and releases damaging to Trump. This is probably the best outcome available.

  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    Duh.

    Obviously Barr’s letter was b.s. Clearly the Mueller team did not think they could prove collusion, but at least part of the reason they couldn’t prove it was that Trump obstructed justice. If Trump held any job other than POTUS he’d be in jail.

  11. Guarneri says:

    Yet more unnamed sources and pathetic speculation. Keep hope alive !!

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  12. Teve says:

    Steve Benen
    @stevebenen
    ·
    2h
    Team Mueller handed Bill Barr ready-to-be-released summaries of the special counsel’s report. The AG put them aside. That’s … curious.

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  13. gVOR08 says:

    What I’ve seen about kompromat says it’s pretty subtle. They pull the victim in slowly, maybe do a few small favors and get small, seemingly innocuous favors in return. Pull the victim into a situation that might be embarrasing, hint they’ve got more. Maybe a hint they know something from a Moscow visit and a hint there’d be opportunities if the Magnitski sanctions weren’t in the way. Never an overt quid pro quo. No cash changing hands directly, but maybe a hint they appreciate your friendship and maybe you could help their friend, who wants to pay way too much for a condo.

    As far as I’m aware, being blackmailed isn’t illegal.

  14. mattbernius says:

    @Guarneri:
    So do you want to go on record and say that you believe there is absolutely no potentially compromising evidence about obstruction?

    Also, I’m still wait to here if you think Steven Moore is a well-qualified Fed candidate that you support…

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  15. Kathy says:

    While I find none of this surprising, I would advise everyone to temper your expectations.

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  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Guarneri:

    Yet more unnamed sources and pathetic speculation.

    Says an unnamed and pathetic commentor on a blog.

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  17. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @mattbernius:
    @Guarneri:

    On the hardcore Team Trump side, yes. I’m sure most of our conservative commenters will find a way to rationalize anything he does for partisan reasons.

    Just sayin’

  18. Pylon says:

    @gVOR08: impeachment proceedings probably take up most of the rest of the term so the political fallout probably trumps whatever pence can do (especially with a democratic house).

  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    @mattbernius:
    I want to know whether @Guarneri believes windmills cause cancer. Cult Leader said so, must be true.

  20. Teve says:

    OzarkHillbilly says:
    Thursday, April 4, 2019 at 10:46
    @Guarneri:

    Yet more unnamed sources and pathetic speculation.

    Says an unnamed and pathetic commentor on a blog.

    hey if you humiliated yourself for Trump as much as he does you wouldn’t put your name on it either. 😛

  21. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Or if Fred Trump was born in Germany.

  22. James Pearce says:

    So, we’re left to the court of public opinion and the November 2020 election.

    I’m not optimistic. The “court of public opinion” will be manipulated by a dishonest media and the November election is already shaping up into a contest to avoid nominating a cisgender white man, which is just more of the outrageous bullshit that sent 65 million people fleeing into the arms of Trump in the first place.

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  23. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I wonder what the oranges of that claim are.

  24. mattbernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I want to know whether @Guarneri believes windmills cause cancer. Cult Leader said so, must be true.

    I can’t get upset about the windmills cancer thing… All the context says it was a bad joke in the middle of a series of laugh lines.

    @CSK:

    @Michael Reynolds: Or if Fred Trump was born in Germany.

    This on the other hand is one that I think is far more concerning (in terms of his mental health) because Trump clearly appears to believe what he was saying here.

  25. CSK says:

    @mattbernius: While visiting Florida after Hurricane Irma in 2017, he said that he wished Melania could be with him. She was standing right beside him.

  26. Mister Bluster says:

    Why am I seeing the edit tool on someone else’s post?

    Teve says:
    Thursday, April 4, 2019 at 11:05
    @Michael Reynolds: I wonder what the oranges of that claim are.

    ReplyReply

    Click to EditRequest Deletion

    (edit). now it’s gone

  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    @mattbernius:

    It’s not about what our Jackass in Chief believes – he has no beliefs – it’s about what his culties think. And remember: they believe Hillary runs a sex cult out of a pizza parlor.
    http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2019/4/4/9459/65254

    When I saw that the president of the United States said in a speech that the noise from wind turbines causes cancer, my first thought was that 2018 U.S. Wind Champion Award winner Chuck Grassley of Iowa was going to be perturbed. Not only is Iowa one of the national leaders in the production of wind energy, but Senator Grassley is largely responsible for creating the wind energy tax credit. When the senator’s response came, it did not surprise or disappoint:

    “I’m told that the White House respects my views on a lot of issues,” Grassley said. “(Trump’s) comments on wind energy — not only as a president but when he was a candidate — were, first of all, idiotic, and it didn’t show much respect for Chuck Grassley as the grandfather of the wind energy tax credit.”

    Grassley wasn’t done, either, because he followed up his “idiotic” quote by issuing a press release “co-signed by Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley along with several senators running for president as Democrats, including Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.” The press release called for more federal funding for wind energy.

    Trump once said “wind farms are a disaster for Scotland, like Pan Am 103,” a reference to the Lockerbie bombing he made while opposing an offshore wind farm project near his golf course. For some reason, wind and death are connected in his mind, perhaps due to what the wind does to his hair.

    For whatever reason, he’s been thinking a lot about wind power lately. At a recent rally in Michigan he told his MAGA supporters “If Hillary got in. . . you’d be doing wind. Windmills. Weee…”If it doesn’t blow, you can forget about television for that night. ‘Darling, I want to watch television.’ ‘I’m sorry! The wind isn’t blowing.’ I know a lot about wind.”

  28. CSK says:

    Grassley just said that Trump’s turbine comments were “idiotic.”

  29. Teve says:

    Trump once said “wind farms are a disaster for Scotland, like Pan Am 103,”

    “If Hillary got in. . . you’d be doing wind. Windmills. Weee…”If it doesn’t blow, you can forget about television for that night. ‘Darling, I want to watch television.’ ‘I’m sorry! The wind isn’t blowing.’ I know a lot about wind.”

    Oranges. His dad being born in Germany…

    If your elderly dad started talking like this you and your siblings would be Discussing Options.

  30. JKB says:

    Oh good. I was wondering where “anonymous source close to the Mueller investigation” had got off to since the public announcement about the report totally refuted those sources. They’re back. And just in time to pass on, is it 2nd or 3rd hand, gossip about the “real” report. And coincidinkly, just when Trump is meeting with foreign leaders. This time in the White House, but the “fake” news chatter always increased when Trump travelled abroad. Almost like it was coordinated to undermine and make foreign leaders question Trump’s continuation as President.

    Mueller’s team assumed the information was going to be made available to the public, the official said, “and so they prepared their summaries to be shared in their own words — and not in the attorney general’s summary of their work, as turned out to be the case.”

    This is the good part. Mueller’s team, filled with Democrat partisan, but still lawyers, with questionably-ethical pasts, but still lawyers made the assumption that the report would be handled in a manner outside the controlling statutes and DOJ policy. Wonder why they would think that? They must be really cross at Rosenstein for letting the two-time and Senate confirmed Attorney General follow the law and department rules.

    But on the upside, I actually believe when the report is released, it will show these “news” stories to be faked news and again the “anonymous sources close to the Mueller investigation” will scurry away into the bowels of the bureaucracy.

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  31. Teve says:

    @Mister Bluster: It’s a weird software glitch that pops up from time to time. I saw an edit button on one of Pearce’s comments on my phone one time. I declined to engage in any juvenile vandalism, because there’s no way to gild that lily. 😀

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  32. James Joyner says:

    @Mister Bluster: @Teve: Dunno. It happens to me occasionally at War on the Rocks. It allows me access to the backend but, thankfully, not the ability to do any real damage. I alerted Ryan Evans when I discovered it but never heard back as to whether they were able to fix the issue. (Presumably not, since it’s still happening sometimes.)

  33. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @mattbernius:
    @JKB:

    On the hardcore Team Trump side, yes. I’m sure most of our conservative commenters will find a way to rationalize anything he does for partisan reasons.

    Just sayin’

  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    That is either ill-informed or dishonest – the Mueller people have been astoundingly close-lipped. They don’t leak, unlike the Trump Circus which leaks like the post-iceberg Titanic.

    The leaks you think came from Mueller actually came from SDNY, from plaintiff’s lawyers, from Trump’s lawyers, Trump’s pals and ex-pals, and from Trump-appointed government folks who keep reminding us that Trump is – in their word – an idiot.

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  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    In fact, do what I just did. Google “anonymous sources close to the Mueller investigation.” Go on, try it. Come back and tell us all what you found.

  36. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    they believe Hillary runs a sex cult out of a pizza parlor.

    out of the basement of said pizza parlor…which has no basement.
    He cheats at golf.
    He has a fake tan.
    He has fake teeth.
    His combover is a lousy attempt to fake you out and not think he is completely bald.
    He paid out millions to settle for his fake university.
    He has lied a documented 9,000 times since he took office.
    He paid $130,000 to a porn star with fake ta-ta’s so she wouldn’t tell the truth about his tiny little mushroom shaped pee-pee.
    And Mexico ain’t paying for his dumb fuqing wall.
    Yet…still they believe him.

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  37. Guarneri says:

    Every page of the ‘confidential report’ provided to Attorney General Barr on March 22, 2019 was marked ‘May Contain Material Protected Under Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e)’ – a law that protects confidential grand jury information – and therefore could not be publicly released,” DOJ spokesperson Keri Kupec released in a statement. “Given the extraordinary public interest in the matter, the Attorney General decided to release the report’s bottom-line findings and his conclusions immediately — without attempting to summarize the report — with the understanding that the report itself would be released after the redaction process.”

    “As the Attorney General stated in his March 29th letter to Chairman Graham and Chairman Nadler, he does not believe the report should be released in ‘serial or piecemeal fashion.’ The Department continues to work with the Special Counsel on appropriate redactions to the report so that it can be released to Congress and the public,” the statement continues.

    I guess the Special Counsel is in on the deception.

    Let me revise my comment. Pathetic and mindless speculation.

    I wish I had the tin foil hat concession.

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  38. CSK says:

    @JKB:
    Given that you are, or appear to be, a Trump supporter, I’d be interested in your take on Trump’s extreme peculiarities of speech. (I’m putting that as civilly and neutrally as I can.) What do they indicate to you? When he says Melania wanted to be with him in Ft. Myers while she’s standing right beside him? When he maintains (three times) that his father was born in Germany? When he expresses fears that a speech he’s giving, attended by the press, will “leak” to the press? When he states that wind turbine noise causes cancer? When he maintains that he didn’t say something when there’re audio and video of him saying it?

    How do you explain or rationalize these utterances?

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  39. James Pearce says:

    @Teve:

    I saw an edit button on one of Pearce’s comments on my phone one time. I declined to engage in any juvenile vandalism

    I’m not shocked.

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  40. Teve says:

    I need to catch up on the medical literature, I don’t know anything about the oranges of Sound Cancer.

  41. gVOR08 says:

    @Guarneri: We’d be happy to be dealing with the content of the report itself. I trust you’ll support releasing it.

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  42. Modulo Myself says:

    Barr’s going to release the report and it’s going to be the equivalent of what the 9/11 Commission has told the public about the Saudis. The ‘total exoneration’ is collapsing and Barr is a hack, and that’s his only move left.

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  43. Teve says:

    Donald J. Trump
    @realDonaldTrump

    The New York Times had no legitimate sources, which would be totally illegal, concerning the Mueller Report. In fact, they probably had no sources at all! They are a Fake News paper who have already been forced to apologize for their incorrect and very bad reporting on me!
    11:04 AM · Apr 4, 2019 · Twitter for iPhone

    He sounds calm and reasonable and unworried.

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  44. gVOR08 says:

    From Atrios this morning:

    Without getting into the particulars – because to some degree they aren’t even what’s important – the power of the New York Times is on display here. When they publish something which basically says “Mueller Barr exonerates Trump!!!” “everyone” agrees this is true even though it was transparently false because even Barr, a known corrupt man with a history of covering up for presidents, couldn’t even manage to say that. It was total bullshit and you didn’t need the follow up “whoa, hold on, maybe not” to know that. The first article is a big deal and sets the narrative. The second article is a big deal and also sets the narrative. Because people are dumb or choose to be and authoritative news sources still determine “truth” based on obvious spin.

    This, I think, encapsulates the problem with NYT. Atrios is quite right to point out that it took very little discernment to see that Barr’s summary/not summary/whatever, was BS. (See my highlighting above.) But they went right ahead and printed it, as pointing out it was BS would have required exercising judgement on their part. Now that they’re reporting the follow up skepticism, they feel they’ve practiced balance and done all they could do.

    With their constant stories about Hillary’s email and foundation, they did more to elect Trump than even James Comey. And their defense to this day is that they just printed the news, what would you have them do differently?

    Credit where due, right now they’ve done a great job of investigative reporting and are running a great expose on the Murdoch Empire. They say straight up that old man Murdoch is driven by money, power, and politics, which he sees as one and the same. They make it clear he’s screwed up politics in three English speaking countries, bringing us the twin disasters of Trump and Brexit. But it’s thousands of words. It will, hopefully, feed other stories in other outlets, but almost nobody’s going to read the whole thing, certainly not Joe Sixpack. Maybe this will color ongoing NYT stories, but I suspect they’ll be back to printing ‘All the news that fits’ and letting the Republican infrastructure drive stories to them.

    All the follow up in the world won’t make up for the initial story allowing Trump to tell the FOX News (sic) audience that he was totally exonerated by Mueller. And you won’t see FOX broadcasting all the news, only what fits their agenda.

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  45. Neil J Hudelson says:

    NBC News is now reporting that Barr’s summary of the evidence for ‘collusion’–not just obstruction–is misleading as well.

    I am shocked. This is my shocked face. 😐

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  46. Raoul says:

    JJ: I think you are mistaken, it is my understanding that Mueller did not decide on the question of Trump’s criminality, instead he passed on the question.

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  47. gVOR08 says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    …it’s going to be the equivalent of what the 9/11 Commission has told the public about the Saudis.

    I don’t recall the Saudis being punished.

    As above, giving NYT credit where due, they recently hired Jamelle Bouie. He has, I think, the right take on where this is going. It’ll end like Iran/Contra, not with a bang but a whimper.

    Instead of ending in drama like Watergate, the Russia scandal is likely to fade away like Iran-contra. There is still a report to read — reportedly more than 300 pages long — but President Trump has already declared victory. He is now a little less damaged ahead of his re-election campaign, a testament to how belligerence, shamelessness and partisanship can undermine any attempt to hold a president or his allies accountable for wrongdoing.

    We even get Bill Barr reprising his old role in Iran/Contra.

  48. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: To the extent that this is now a political, rather than a legal, issue, I think we’re going to see how much of a chasm there is between what’s legal and what’s outrageous. “

    There’s a phrase in ‘The Wire’, about the leader of a drug gang: ‘you will never find him in the same room as the drugs’. My guess is that’s what’s with Trump.

  49. Barry says:

    @JKB: “This is the good part. Mueller’s team, filled with Democrat partisan, but still lawyers, with questionably-ethical pasts, but still lawyers made the assumption that the report would be handled in a manner outside the controlling statutes and DOJ policy. ”

    That’s a new record for most lies/word.

  50. James Pearce says:

    @Neil J Hudelson:

    NBC News is now reporting that Barr’s summary of the evidence for ‘collusion’–not just obstruction–is misleading as well.

    Consider: There’s no way for them to know that. Someone is using NBC to spread (what could be false) information and NBC is just passing it along, hoping they’re not getting out over their skis again…which they probably are.

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  51. James Joyner says:

    @Raoul:

    I think you are mistaken, it is my understanding that Mueller did not decide on the question of Trump’s criminality, instead he passed on the question.

    That’s my understanding, at least vis-a-vis the obstruction issue. But by punting the question to an AG who said POTUS can’t obstruct justice, I’d argue that he essentially decided.

  52. al Ameda says:

    @Todd:

    I also don’t think it’s totally outrageous to wonder whether the reason we didn’t get the smoking gun on collusion was because the obstruction (especially as it relates to Manafort continuing to lie rather than actually cooperating) was in fact relatively effective.

    I think you’re exactly right.
    Also, Trump has a lifetime of experience in getting others (like Manafort) to do his bidding, take the fall. Trump likes to skate to the edge.

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  53. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Mr. Barr was also wary of departing from Justice Department practice not to disclose derogatory details in closing an investigation, according to two government officials familiar with Mr. Barr’s thinking. They pointed to the decision by James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, to harshly criticize Hillary Clinton in 2016 while announcing that he was recommending no charges in the inquiry into her email practices.

    Oh the irony…Since that WAS Comey’s failure, the reason he SHOULD have been relieved of his duties, and even one of the reasons in the written document Rosenstein wrote when Trump got rid of him for the “Russian thing.” Think any of Trump’s fans will appreciate the “deep state” trashing Hillary and helping Trump?

    This is doing the impossible…I’m actually feeling sympathy for Hillary’s political career, which is a first (always been sympathetic to her poor choice in husbands, but never particularly thought she was a good or deserving politician). What a farce this is.

  54. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:

    I wish I had the tin foil hat concession.

    By the way, I’m still waiting on your answer to a simple question:

    Please give us a plausible answer for why Trump refuses to have any other American present during talks with Putin and refuses to have a record made? Just Putin. Only Putin.

    You answer?

    I’ll just go ahead and cue the crickets.

  55. Teve says:

    Chris Hayes
    @chrislhayes
    ·
    5m
    Anyone who takes anything by the Trump admin at face value will end up looking like a fool or a dupe or worse. Always.

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  56. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    But by punting the question to an AG who said POTUS can’t obstruct justice, I’d argue that he essentially decided.

    It might be “if he was anyone other than President, then he clearly would have obstructed justice, but my boss says the President cannot obstruct justice, so… here you go, boss, go defend not prosecuting this.”

    Given that Barr was surprised the Mueller didn’t make a determination, I’m thinking it’s pretty close to that.

  57. Tyrell says:

    @Barry: Now we see that Nadler is preparing to subpoena hundreds of individuals. No one will be safe. The people don’t care about this stuff. Congress needs to get to work: tax reform, rebuild highways and electrical grids, more medical research.
    Think about Senator Finestine and the “Case of the Ghostly Letter” last year. Perry Mason would have broken that phony case wide open in fifteen minutes.
    Some Democrat is demanding that the IRS release Trump’s tax returns. Is that even legal? Maybe I should release mine and someone can explain to me why I am paying so much tax (almost 20%).
    No more of these political, controlled investigations. Congress needs to get to work on such things as tax reform, government reform, medical research, rebuilding of the interstate highway system, and electrical grid, fusion reactors.

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  58. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Tyrell:

    Congress needs to get to work: tax reform, rebuild highways and electrical grids, more medical research.

    They did tax reform…the rich go richer, and now we can’t afford the rest of your list.
    You keep voting for people who don’t want to help you.
    Stop it.

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  59. Kathy says:

    Throughout the investigation I said I’d wait to see the report. Today we’re all still waiting to see it.

    Barr can say anything he wants. He can claim the Mueller report proves Pi=3 if he wants. But unless he shows the evidence for this claim, it’s not believable.

  60. Teve says:

    funding for fusion research comes from the DOE and the NSF. Trump and other GOP dipshits want to cut the DOE budget by 10% and more.

    NSF, the top government funder of nonmedical research, would moreover see its funding shrink by $1 billion under the proposed budget. That agency typically provides grants in a wide range of areas, including engineering and computer science. At NASA, the planetary science program would be slashed by 7 percent, with two unnamed Earth Science programs targeted for elimination.

    In a statement, the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s chief executive, Rush Holt, said that the cuts more broadly would “derail our nation’s science enterprise.”

    Renewables and energy technology are also in the budget’s crosshairs. In addition to ending ARPA-E, DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office’s budget would be gutted by around 70 percent.

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  61. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Tyrell:

    No one will be safe.

    Oh? I will be. You will be. Approximately 99.999% of Americans will be. So WTF are you talking about?

    The people don’t care about this stuff.

    Actually, the polls show they do. In any case, crime is not a matter we put to voters, we have these things called laws.

    Congress needs to get to work: tax reform, rebuild highways and electrical grids, more medical research.

    Yeah, I wonder why during the last two years when the GOP controlled Congress and the WH none of that happened? I wonder why Trump still doesn’t have an infrastructure bill? In any case, I pay my Congresspeople to be able to walk and chew gum. I’m sure if the Demented Tangelo in the WH ever manages to create an actual piece of legislation rather than another Tweet, we’ll have plenty of time to look it over.

    Now: get back into character.

  62. wr says:

    @Guarneri: “DOJ spokesperson Keri Kupec released in a statement”

    Here’s a little tell: you are quoting a press release put out by the spokesperson for the man who is being accused of hiding the report. Only the most gullible of fools would think that this somehow is going to convince anyone who wasn’t convinced by Barr’s couple dozen words from the report.

  63. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Pearce: What? Yo mama, you say?!

  64. An Interested Party says:

    I know a lot about wind.

    He got that one right…

    Almost like it was coordinated to undermine and make foreign leaders question Trump’s continuation as President.

    That’s funny, as Trump undermines himself and America with very visit he makes to see foreign leaders…