The Mueller Report (and the Barr Summary)

Let’s pretend, only for a moment, that you are taking a political science class in college, and your professor has asked you to write a four-page summary of the Mueller Report. Would your report look anything like the summary published by Attorney General William Barr?

I hope not.

Having now had a chance to review the almost complete, somewhat redacted version of the report, we Spirited Reasoners are left scratching their heads.

Let’s look at the facts.

  1. Regarding collusion with Russia:  William Barr’s summary claimed that the Mueller report “did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded” with Russia. But the Mueller report cataloged multiple instances of contact between Trump campaign officials and Russian nationals, all with the single obsession of gaining access to damaging information about Hillary Clinton. The fact that they apparently failed, and were ultimately disappointed, does nothing to absolve the man at the top, who has demonstrated repeatedly that his business style involves the personal direction of minions to do his dirty work for him. There is simply too much smoke documented by the Mueller team for anyone to conclude there was never any fire. (And who can forget nominee Trump’s famous challenge issued during the 2016 Presidential campaign: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’ll be able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you’ll probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”)
  2. Regarding obstruction of justice: The Barr summary claimed that Mueller’s team found insufficient evidence to establish that offense. But the Mueller report seems to come down on the opposite side of the fence, explaining that since he, as Special Counsel, was an employee of the Department of Justice, he felt constrained by a legal opinion that had been issued by the Office of Legal Counsel back during the Nixon Administration, which concluded that a sitting President of the United States could not be indicted. In other words, his decision not to seek an indictment was more a function of Presidential immunity than any lack of evidence. Otherwise, he might have moved forward with his prosecution on this charge. At no place in his report does he exonerate President Trump. On the contrary, his reports state that thought the American public deserved to know whether their President was innocent, but that “The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”  
  3. Regarding the role of Congress: Attorney General Barr stated in his press conference that, “Special Counsel Mueller did not indicate that his purpose was to leave the decision to Congress.” However, the Mueller Report contains the following quote: “The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”

Attorney General Barr’s summary is what historians refer to as a whitewash, because it ignores and covers up the dirty truth. It also bends the truth in ways all honest Americans should find disturbing.