Politics

It's Mueller Time

AG William Barr's press conference on Robert Mueller's report told us what we already knew.

Nate Jackson · Apr. 18, 2019

Attorney General William Barr held a press conference this morning to delivered prepared remarks regarding the release of a slightly redacted version of Robert Mueller’s 400-page report on his two-year investigation into “Russian collusion.” In a Friday afternoon news dump on March 22, Mueller sent his report to the Justice Department. Two days later, Barr issued his four-page executive summary of it, showing that Mueller concluded two things: First, Donald Trump did not collude with Russia as Democrats have alleged for more than two years, and, second, it was inconclusive whether Trump had obstructed justice in the process of the investigation. The latter provided Democrats all the opening they needed to move into Phase Two — obstructing the MAGA agenda.

Naturally, Democrats and their Leftmedia outlets also spent the intervening time insisting that Barr is hiding something and that Mueller’s report is actually incriminating against the president. Heads they win, tails Trump loses. Their goal is painfully obvious: Keep Trump on the political ropes with churned fake news through the 2020 election. After all, this collusion narrative propelled Democrats to victory in the 2018 election — ensuring that Vladimir Putin did interfere with American elections.

Even before Barr’s press conference, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it “pre-damage control” from Barr, who “is acting more like a Trump campaign spokesman than an independent agent of the law.” In a joint statement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Chuck and Nancy complained about Barr’s “regrettably partisan handling of the Mueller report.” And they’re just objective bystanders.

With that setup, Barr faced America today and said, “As the Special Counsel’s report makes clear, the Russian government sought to interfere in [the 2016] election. But thanks to the special counsel’s thorough investigation, we now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign — or the knowing assistance of any other Americans for that matter.”

Moreover, in the matter of the hacked DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign emails, Barr noted, “The special counsel’s report did not find any evidence that members of the Trump campaign or anyone associated with the campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its hacking operations. In other words, there was no evidence of Trump campaign ‘collusion’ with the Russian government’s hacking.”

The bottom line, says Barr: “After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, and hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the special counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those schemes.”

On the question of obstruction, Barr noted that Mueller “recounts 10 episodes involving the president” to consider a possible obstruction offense. Mueller was inconclusive, but Barr said, “After carefully reviewing the facts and legal theories outlined in the report, and in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other Department lawyers, the Deputy Attorney General and I concluded that the evidence developed by the Special Counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

Barr explained that decision:

In assessing the president’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context. President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president’s personal culpability. Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion. And as the special counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks. Nonetheless, the White House fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. And at the same time, the president took no act that in fact deprived the special counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation. Apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the president had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.

Let’s emphasize one line: “The White House fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims.” That utterly undercuts the Left’s obstruction claims.

Finally, addressing the question of what was redacted and by whom, Barr asserted that only DOJ attorneys working with the Special Counsel’s Office determined all redactions under four categories — grand-jury information, classified information, information related to ongoing investigations, and information that would violate privacy of individuals. President Trump and his lawyers did not request redactions or claim executive privilege in seeking to block the release of any part of the report. That release, by the way, is not the norm. These reports are not created for release.

Barr emphasized, “We will make available to a bipartisan group of leaders from several Congressional committees a version of the report with all redactions removed except those relating to grand-jury information.” The more redacted version has been released to the public.

Now, stay tuned for the foreseeable future as pundits and armchair lawyers comb through Mueller’s report looking for something — anything — to support their presuppositions. Indeed, the questions Barr fielded were largely demanding that he answer for Democrat talking points designed to cast doubt upon Barr or Trump. What else would anyone expect from the real collusion partners — Democrats and their propagandists in the Leftmedia?

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