In some ways, it was always going to happen – the cable news networks had worked themselves into a frothy lather by the time Robert Mueller sent his final report to Attorney General William Barr on Friday. Then they worked themselves up to near hysteria throughout Friday evening, all day Saturday and into Sunday. They set the bar so high that people believed that Mueller’s Report was going to be the smoking gun and anything less than that was “good news for Trump.” Well, the report has still not been released. Instead, AG Barr released a “summary” of Mueller’s findings and Barr’s version of events is that Mueller found Trump innocent of conspiring or coordinating with Russians. Yeah.
The Mueller investigation is done — and according to a summary of the special counsel’s conclusions written by Attorney General Bill Barr and submitted to Congress on Sunday, Mueller did not affirmatively find either collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, or obstruction of justice on the part of President Donald Trump. We don’t yet have Robert Mueller’s report to read it for ourselves. But Barr does quote the special counsel’s exact words on a few key points.
On the topic of collusion, Mueller writes, “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
That means Mueller did not find — or at least could not prove — that Russian government officials worked with the Trump campaign in their effort to help elect Trump president.
Second, on the topic of obstruction of justice, Mueller declined to issue a recommendation either for or against prosecution. “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Mueller wrote.
However, Barr and Rosenstein then add that they examined the obstruction evidence themselves, and decided that Trump’s conduct was not criminal. Mueller’s reluctance to make a judgment call on this issue, however, will likely spur demands from House Democrats to see the underlying evidence themselves.
Barr and Rod Rosenstein were in their DOJ offices all day Saturday and Sunday working on Barr’s statement and summary of what the report says. I think that if the report was really all good news for Trump and his Deplorables, then A) the summary wouldn’t be so carefully worded and it would have quoted Mueller at length, rather than just using partial sentences from Mueller and B) Barr should have no issues with releasing the full report. I mean, if it’s all good news for Trump, let’s see it. But of course not – House committees are going to have to drag this out of Barr’s DOJ. It will probably take months.
"Complete and Total Exoneration." – Donald Trump
"While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." – Robert Mueller
— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) March 25, 2019
Context as you read: am told Special Counsel Robert Mueller was not consulted on this letter. This was the product of the Attorney General Bill Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, per DOJ official.
— Laura Jarrett (@LauraAJarrett) March 24, 2019
I feel like it’s “COMPLETE AND TOTAL EXONERATION” in the sense that you sometimes see a review quoted as “…THE BEST MOVIE EVER MADE” when the full sentence reads “it would be a mistake to call this ‘the best movie ever made’”
— Alexandra Petri (@petridishes) March 24, 2019
AG Barr’s letter raises as many questions as it answers. The fact that Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report & documentation be made public without any further delay.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) March 24, 2019
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.