The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions.
— Leaked Mueller letter to AG Barr from 3/27/19; a stunning rebuke of Barr’s biased summary to benefit Trump.
You use his language, praise his leadership, tout his commitment to values.
And then you are lost. He has eaten your soul.
— Former FBI Director James Comey column for New York Times (5/1/19)
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (5/2/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
Today is a Trump-Russia award day. What happened you ask? This is all about the last 24 hours, starting with a leaked letter from special counsel Mueller and going through the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings today with AG Bill Barr.
A reminder, using a tighter standard than Trump’s nonsense about ‘exoneration’, I will restate, Trump is guilty of obstruction and guilty of a non-legal term that Trump and Barr love, guilty of collusion. For fairness, I’ll also offer the full-throated and less legitimate GOP claims in defense of Trump.
- Play of the Day – Robert Mueller. A Mueller letter to AG Bill Barr was published last night with Mueller taking exception to Barr’s statements of conclusions around the report and what it means for findings about Trump. Keep in mind, Barr pitched the softball dismissal to Trump for self-claims of ‘exoneration’. Mueller says foul – not the intent, not accurate. Kudos to The Washington Post for breaking the story.
- Player of the Day – Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). Kamala Harris gets the nod for her line of questioning of Barr 1) Barr’s non-answer in response to ‘have you discussed with Trump or the White House opening investigations against Trump opponents’? 2) Harris going to the hoop over Barr by turning his own words on him, “but it was you who made the charging decision” in response to Barr waffling over sufficient proof to bring charges and trying to blame Mueller.
- GOP Player of the Day. Sen. Kennedy (R-LA) gets the nod for most forcefully and succinctly stating the GOP position – Mueller did not bring charges; charges were not brought for conspiracy so you can’t have charges for obstruction in the absence of an underlying crime. Which is false on three counts: 1) Mueller clearly stated he would not bring charges against a sitting president in accordance with DoJ rules AND that absence of charges cannot be construed as absence of crimes; 2) Barr has admitted he made the decision to not bring charges in the absence of charges by Mueller; 3) It is patently untrue that you cannot bring charges for obstruction without charges of an underlying crime – ask Richard Nixon.
Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.
- Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) get the nod for cornering Barr on lying to Congress when previously asked by Rep. Charlie Christ (D-FL) if Mueller supported his conclusion. Barr at the time answered, “I don’t know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion”. He testified to this after he had received Mueller’s letter.
- Best comment of the Day. Whitehouse in response to Barr’s tortuous explanation of how Christ’s question was not the question everyone imagined, so hence he did not lie… responded with, “I can’t even follow that down the road”.
Doing what he was hired to do
Barr did what he was supposed to do as Trump’s lawyer. Sadly, that’s not his job – he is the Attorney General for the United States, which means he is supposed to be there to benefit and protect us all.
Barr ignored Mueller’s summary and offered his own to benefit Trump – he cued up Trump to preemptively exclaim exoneration.
Barr’s summary was given three weeks ahead of the release of the Mueller report so the media and the public had only one thing to go on – Barr’s selective beneficial summary for Trump. Barr fed a feeding frenzy for some media to unload their “told you so” recriminations against some in government and some media. The GOP was given a three-week window to declare the end of the investigation: “See, nothing to see, folks, let’s move on, and let’s investigate those that brought about the investigation.”
And people like Kennedy defend the show with, ‘well you got the report didn’t you?’
Barr gave a press conference two hours ahead of the release of the Mueller report and repeated his lies feeding a story line of Trump exoneration.
Barr has shown great skill in equivocating and hiding behind legal process but Mueller’s letter called out his dark-side skills:
“There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”
Barr did the direct opposite of what he pledged to do during his confirmation hearings. He promised transparency and integrity but wound up delivering confusion and protected Trump.
It is so clear and so sad to see such partisanship, as The Washington Post Editorial Board called it: William Barr Torched His Reputation. His Testimony Compounded The Damage.
‘Mr. Barr defended himself Wednesday by insisting that his , publicized weeks before he released any additional material, was technically accurate, despite the fact that his spin deeply affected the reception of Mr. Mueller’s full report when the public finally got it. It was not supposed to be a full summary of the special counsel’s report, he insisted — just a brief explanation of the top-line conclusions. Mr. Barr’s long history in Washington belies his argument: He should have known how his pre-spinning of the Mueller report would distort the truth of the special counsel’s damning findings, to the president’s benefit. He did it anyway.”
The editorial ended with calling for accountability for both Trump and Barr. The rebuke was issued immediately on the conclusion of the hearings today (Wednesday May 1).
Former FBI Director James Comey was far more critical as demonstrated with the opening quote from his Tuesday (5/1) New York Times opinion piece, posing a number of questions, such as these:
“How could Mr. Barr, a bright and accomplished lawyer, start channeling the president in using words like “no collusion” and F.B.I. “spying”? And downplaying acts of obstruction of justice as products of the president’s being “frustrated and angry,” something he would never say to justify the thousands of crimes prosecuted every day that are the product of frustration and anger?
But Comey ends with the most damning question:
“What happened to these people?”
It is the perfect question. MSNBC paused their live broadcast of the hearing so host Nicole Wallace could opine on Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC):
“Reveals what I talked about before, that he is sitting not as the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, but a human shield for Donald Trump and, it would appear, William Barr.”
RawStory is damning of Barr, Graham et al, just slide over to the front page (5/1). Read about how Barr had no answer when asked about political campaign obligation to notify the FBI if offered advantage from a foreign adversary. Or go to this round-up and take a look at how Barr pedaled away from Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) cornering him on specific examples of obstruction: Here Are 6 Jaw-Dropping Moments From Today’s Grilling Of Bill Barr On Mueller Probe.
It would make for hours of entertainment if it wasn’t validation of former republican campaign strategist Rick Wilson’s, “everything Trump touches dies”. Sadly, what may die along with Trump is the integrity of government and any action to protect our elections. And Kudos again to Klobuchar for her insistence on that point.
What happened, indeed?
One final note – on Tuesday evening Barr notified the House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) that he will not show for his scheduled appearance tomorrow.
(Commoner Call cartoons by Mark L. Taylor, 2019. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )