As expected, Barr delivered a summary report to Congress. Four pages. He summarized the Team Mueller effort as it bears on Trump and the Trump campaign under two headings: "Collusion" and "Obstruction".
There wasn't any. Not by the Trump campaign and not by anyone associated with it. This confirms, by its wording, what I said yesterday: Mueller's mandate was to continue the investigation of the four Americans who were the subject of Crossfire Hurricane. Trump was never a subject. There is no reference to Donald J. Trump in the collusion section. That's it.
Just to make this totally clear. The Crossfire Hurricane investigation was about "four Americans," none of whom were Trump. Rosenstein told Mueller: Complete the investigation. That means that to reach Trump on "collusion" Mueller needed to go throught the "four Americans": Page, Papadopoulos, Manafort, and Flynn. Four dry holes. Mueller never laid a glove on Trump.
This section is all about Donald J. Trump, and has nothing whatsoever to do with James Comey and his firing. Mueller thinks that there are "difficult issues" of law and fact concerning whether Trump obstructed his (Team Mueller's) investigation. Mueller doesn't "conclude that the president committed a crime," but "doesn't exonerate him." Because of the "difficult issues" Mueller decided against ... any decision at all, leaving it to Barr to decide.
In making his decision Barr says two things. The first aspect requires a bit of reading between the lines. Barr states that many of the president's actions that bothered Mueller were conducted "in public view." I take it from that that, basically, Mueller didn't like being criticized by Trump. That in his (Mueller's) view, subjects of a witchhunt are supposed to shut up, to grin and bear it. Barr--and Rosenstein--after consulting with top DoJ officials had a very different view and simply state: the evidence is insufficient to support such a charge and, specifically, that decision has nothing to do with the constitutional status of the president. However, beyond that, Barr (and Rosenstein, presumably) then go on to state that they reviewed the actions that Mueller objected to and conclude that "the report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct." In other words, they basically reject Mueller's theory of obstruction out of hand.
Here are two key sections re obstruction (all emphases mine):
After reviewing the Special Counsel's final report on these issues; consulting with Department officials, including the Office of Legal Counsel; and applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, DAG Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.
In making this determination, we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that "the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference," and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President's intent with respect to obstruction. Generally speaking, to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct with a sufficient nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding. In cataloguing the President's actions, many of which took place in public view, the report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent, each of which, under the Department's principles of federal prosecution guiding charging decisions, would need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to establish an obstruction-of-justice offense.
In general, I think Barr and Rosenstein did a smart thing with regard to obstruction--they allowed Mueller his say, they acknowledge he had a concern, but if anyone objects you can count on it that Barr will be ready to go into the details and explain how ridiculous Mueller's theory of obstruction is.
For the rest, going forward, Barr states that he's "mindful of the public interest in this matter" and that his intent is to release as much as is possible, "consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies." From what he goes on to write, it appears that Barr's major concern with releasing more has to do with Grand Jury 6(e) material.
That is all.
UPDATES: "That is all"? Just kidding.
Something I remarked upon but didn't include, GP states it well. It's important because it illustrates the bankruptcy of the Team Mueller operation:
STUNNING: Without Examining DNC Server or Offering ANY PROOF – Mueller Still Claims DNC Was Hacked by Russia and Sent Emails to WikiLeaks!
Gateway Pundit by Jim Hoft
After tens of millions of dollars wasted on a witch hunt Robert Mueller releases letter still claiming that the DNC was hacked by Russians and sent emails to the DNC. Yet to date there is no evidence of DNC server being obtained and reviewed by the FBI or Mueller team and no evidence that Mueller ever spoke with WikiLeaks who released Hillary Campaign Manager John Podesta’s emails!
MORE: President Trump: "It began illegally. And hopefully somebody is going to look at the other side. This was an illegal takedown that failed. And hopefully somebody’s going to be looking at the other side."
UPDATE 2: Nadler: "Special Counsel Mueller clearly and explicitly is not exonerating the President, and we must hear from AG Barr about his decision making ..."
Of course Barr knew this was coming. Nadler should hope that it's true that "God takes care of fools and babies", because based on his confirmation testimony it's pretty clear that Barr doesn't suffer fools gladly. What a buffoon Nadler is.
The Russia investigation was based on false pretenses, false intel, and false media reports. House Intel found a yr ago there was no evidence of collusion, and Democrats who falsely claim to have such evidence have needlessly provoked a terrible, more than two-year-long crisis.
1:55 PM - 24 Mar 2019
But Weissmann and Mueller kept at it.
“Revenge is sweet and not fattening.” - Alfred Hitchcock
UPDATE 5: Mark Penn, former Clinton pollster and adviser:
It’s time for true bipartisan investigation of how and why this was allowed to smear and destroy so many people when there was nothing there. Those who launched this disruption of the presidency on the basis of questionable evidence and procedures should be held accountable for their actions. Those who were investigated but not charged should have their legal fees reimbursed.
Could not agree more.
See you soon.
So many questions.
And as for the growing "isn't-it-time-to-move-on-dot-org" sentiment: no way. This wasn't some 2-week story. This was the single biggest story the US media fixated on for *3 years* & got the crux of it totally & completely wrong in a very damaging way. It's accountability time.
4:15 AM - 25 Mar 2019
Kim Strassel, WSJ:
This is more than an exoneration. It’s a searing indictment of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as a reminder of the need to know the story behind the bureau’s corrosive investigation.
Consider the alternate universe where Sessions wasn't fired because, for example, the Democrats took the Senate in the mid-term elections:ReplyDelete
I think we can reasonably guess that Mueller and Rosenstein would agreed to the ridiculous reasoning that Trump was obstructing with his public statements about being framed. Firing Sessions was necessary.
"Consider the alternate universe where Sessions wasn't fired because, for example, the Democrats took the Senate in the mid-term elections:"Delete
There is an alternate universe that exists. If you watch ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, read the NYT, WP, etc., you will see it. Trump is guilty and Mueller helped cover up. There is a lot of cognitive dissonance right now.ReplyDelete
Yeah, but the Dems better wake up fast, because IMO they're dealing from a real position of weakness. Wait till the declass begins in earnest. You think you're hearing squealing now? Just wait.Delete
Yes. I agree. I don't think that the American people will accept that the Dems get two or more attempts to keep going after the president. The proper manner is to decide this by the 2020 election. This is not going to go well for the Dems. I agree with you that the Dems are in a real position of weakness.Delete
You are mentioned in a Lee Smith story found on Real Clear Investigations today (Monday). You probably are aware, but I wanted to give you a heads up.
Also, can you comment about Mueller's wording that this report does not exonerate the President? Pundits more knowledgeable than I have stated that prosecutors don't exonerate; juries do. If this is true, he was derelict in his duties, showing bias. Perhaps his feelings were hurt because the President characterized the investigation as a witch hunt. Should Bill Barr have told Mueller that he needs to own his report?
What say you?
Thanks Joe. No, I wasn't aware. I've been working on a blog that I hope finish momentarily. It will deal with the question you raise. Short answer, which I think smart observers will agree with. Barr knows this isn't over--he'll be challenged by Dems. He's given his basic answer already. He looked at Mueller's report and states that all the highest levels at DoJ agree that Mueller has no case. In the meantime, he avoids contentiousness with Mueller--there's plenty of time for that later. When he's challenged he'll be able to get specific and point out the threat that Mueller's nutso theory represents to 1st Amendment rights. IOW, he's keeping his power dry and retaining the high ground of the Constitution for later.Delete
That article is from last Summer, but was a good one.Delete
Ah, yes. A repost. Timely, too, because Nunes and others are pointing at that Trump Tower meeting again. The Paul Sperry article that's still up at Real Clear Investigations also mentions me--at the end of a very long article. Is it OK for me to say that I wish some of these guys would link this blog?Delete
Thank you. Very helpful.ReplyDelete
Sorry, I didn't note the date. I clicked on the link from Paul Sperry's Twitter feed.ReplyDelete
Yes, I wish that others would share your link.
I have mentioned your good work in an email to Jeff Carlson when I told him whom I read to stay up-to-date on the Russian Hoaz. I know that Tom Lifson has mentioned your work. In fact, AT is where I first came upon your name. And I'm glad that I did.
I have wondered why your work is not posted to AT on a more regular basis.
The problem for me at AT is that I tend to write long stuff, and they favor a word limit. Plus, they only want to do a certain number of articles per day. That means there's often a bit of a wait and, on this Russia Hoax thing, I prefer to get things out right away simply because there's often a lot happening. So I've pretty much stopped submitting and I'm just posting here. If I were more ambitious I'd get a twitter account and try to self promote, but I don't.ReplyDelete