This week a bombshell that anyone with a couple of brain cells to rub together knew was coming dropped. The New York Times reported that the team behind the Mueller investigation were not in total agreement with President Trump’s hand-picked attorney general’s summation of their two-plus years of work. Anyone with a couple of their own independently-firing brain cells would have been expecting word like this, because it seems ridiculous that Barr, a man who auditioned for the job by writing an effusive op-ed explaining why presidents can’t obstruct justice, as if Watergate never happened, would get away with not releasing more of the report, especially when even in Barr’s own letter it says the report doesn’t fully exonerate Trump.
It was, effectively, Barr who made a judgement call to clear Trump on obstruction. But the Times reports that some on Mueller’s team smell something very fishy about how Barr summarized their report.
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. (NYT)
It took him a day, but President Executive Time finally got around to tweeting his outrage at the story.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 4, 2019
Someday, someone will teach that fat fuck how journalists work, and that sources aren’t illegitimate just because they’re not named or they make you look like an idiot of titanic proportions. But that’s not today. Of course, the bigger problem for Trump is that now it’s not just The Times that’s reporting on the discrepancies. More outlets are joining the chorus. Until Trump rescinds the First Amendment and declares there to be no freedom of the press, this story isn’t going away.
Of course, he could always just order Barr to release the full report to Congress, so they can eventually get the public as clean a copy as they can. But for some odd reason, the president doesn’t want us to see the thing he says completely clears his name. Now, you or I might want the entire world to see the piece of evidence that exonerated us, but not ol’ 3,913th dimensional checkers Trump! He’s gotta keep it a tightly-guarded secret, his acquittal.
The Washington Post also spoke to sources within the Mueller investigation who echoed much of the sentiments The Times piece contained. Basically, what we all knew to be true, that Mueller had a load of evidence that Trump committed obstruction of justice, is the crux of the investigators’ gripes about Barr’s summary. AG Barr attempted to spin the report in a way that downplayed the obstruction evidence, I’m guessing, because of the central lesson learned in Watergate — the cover-up can be worse than the crime.
We knew all along, those of us who weren’t obsessed with sealed indictments, rumors, or every burp or fart from Team Mueller, that there was a good chance proving a criminal conspiracy with Russia would be problematic. Which of course makes Trump trying to obstruct the investigation so odd, but there is enough publicly available evidence in his tweets and in the bullshit email the president directed to explain the Trump Tower meeting with his dopey son and some Russian lawyers. Obviously, using critical thinking skills — sorry conservatives, we do that around here — we can deduce that Mueller’s report leaves a breadcrumb trail that leads right to Congress’ door steps, where they’re supposed to make the judgment, not Barr.
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. (WaPo)
Trump’s not just fighting a two front war on this issue, either. Politico ran a story entitled “The Barr-Shaped Cloud Over the Justice Department” today that also confirmed details in the stories in The Times and WaPo. But the Politico article takes it one step further and insinuates that within the DOJ itself, people are frustrated about Barr’s behavior.
The attorney general’s actions raise suspicions about whether he is acting primarily to benefit the president because they don’t make sense when viewed through any other lens. Barr is neither inexperienced nor naive, yet when deciding among the several options available to him when he received Mueller’s report, he chose the one course of action that would raise questions about his own integrity and plunge the Justice Department into political controversy. (Politico)
NBC also had similar reporting. Again, anyone who is shocked to find out that Barr probably suppressed the severity of Mueller’s findings on obstruction is probably just now waking up from a coma, or is named Donald Trump.
The official who has spoken to members of Mueller’s team says they described the evidence on obstruction as compelling and said it includes more information than has been made public. (NBC)
WSJ can now confirm NYT and WaPo reporting that some investigators on Mueller's team have told associates in recent days they are frustrated by how Barr has summarized their conclusions, according to people informed of those conversations https://t.co/BmUq6IaAig
— Dustin Volz (@dnvolz) April 4, 2019
Oh. Huh. I guess maybe this whole Mueller Report thing isn’t going away anytime soon after all. Sad!
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook and Instagram, but not Twitter because he has a potty mouth.