Tuesday, April 30, 2019

UPDATED: About Mueller's Letter To Barr--And The Phone Call

It's important to understand the timing here.

Apparently Mueller took exception to Barr's 4 page letter that provided the Mueller Dossier's principal conclusions. Barr initially issued that letter shortly after receiving the Dossier--he wanted Barr to also release the executive summaries from the Dossier. Barr's position was simple: he issued his four page letter to fulfill the reporting requirements in the regulations. He did not agree with Mueller's idea of a partial release of the Dossier, preferring to release the entire document as a whole, with necessary redactions. That was exactly what Barr did.

Here is a key passage from the WaPo article:

A day after Mueller sent his letter to Barr, the two men spoke by phone for about 15 minutes, according to law enforcement officials. 
In that call, Mueller said he was concerned that media coverage of the obstruction investigation was misguided and creating public misunderstandings about the office’s work, according to Justice Department officials. Mueller did not express similar concerns about the public discussion of the investigation of Russia’s election interference, the officials said. Barr has testified previously he did not know whether Mueller supported his conclusion on obstruction. 
When Barr pressed Mueller on whether he thought Barr’s memo to Congress was inaccurate, Mueller said he did not but felt that the media coverage of it was misinterpreting the investigation, officials said. 
In their call, Barr also took issue with Mueller calling his memo a “summary,” saying he had never intended to summarize the voluminous report, but instead provide an account of its top conclusions, officials said.
Justice Department officials said that, in some ways, the phone conversation was more cordial than the letter that preceded it, but that the two men did express some differences of opinion about how to proceed. 
Barr said he did not want to put out pieces of the report, but rather issue the document all at once with redactions, and that he didn’t want to change course, according to officials. Barr also gave Mueller his personal phone number and told him to call if he had future concerns, officials said. 
Throughout the conversation, Mueller’s main worry was that the public was not getting an accurate understanding of the obstruction investigation, officials said. 
“After the Attorney General received Special Counsel Mueller’s letter, he called him to discuss it,” a Justice Department spokeswoman said Tuesday evening. “In a cordial and professional conversation, the Special Counsel emphasized that nothing in the Attorney General’s March 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading. 
But, he expressed frustration over the lack of context and the resulting media coverage regarding the Special Counsel’s obstruction analysis. They then discussed whether additional context from the report would be helpful and could be quickly released. 
“However, the Attorney General ultimately determined that it would not be productive to release the report in piecemeal fashion,” the spokeswoman said. 
“The Attorney General and the Special Counsel agreed to get the full report out with necessary redactions as expeditiously as possible. The next day, the Attorney General sent a letter to Congress reiterating that his March 24 letter was not intended to be a summary of the report, but instead only stated the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions, and volunteered to testify before both Senate and House Judiciary Committees on May 1 and 2.” 
Some senior Justice Department officials were frustrated by Mueller’s complaints because they had expected that the report would reach them with proposed redactions, but it did not. Even when Mueller sent along his suggested redactions, those covered only a few areas of protected information, and the documents required further review, these people said. 
The Washington Post and the New York Times had previously reported some members of Mueller’s team were frustrated with Barr’s characterization of their work, though Mueller’s own attitude was unknown before now.

As Barr stated before, Mueller is not the AG. He was a prosecutor working for the AG and the AG makes the calls on how to handle the Dossier. As far as the obstruction portion of the Dossier was concerned, the top officials at DoJ judged Mueller's theory to be legally deficient and that it failed to lay out evidence of obstruction. Barr gets paid to make those decisions, and his decision was made on long established principles of law, rather than tendentious and frivilous theories designed only to harass the president.

In the end, Mueller was forced to admit that "nothing in the Attorney General’s March 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading." In the event, essentially the entire report was shortly released. End of story. I expect Barr to be unapologetic tomorrow.

UPDATE 1: The WSJ is reporting that Barr will defend his treatment of Mr. Mueller’s findings and his determination that Mr. Trump didn’t obstruct justice in prepared remarks that were made available.

“The Special Counsel regulations provide for the report to remain confidential. Given the extraordinary public interest in this investigation, however, I determined that it was necessary to make as much of it public as I could, it would have been inappropriate to release details of the special counsel’s obstruction case without making a judgment as to whether the president committed a crime.”
“Although we disagreed with some of the Special Counsel’s legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we accepted the Special Counsel’s legal framework for purposes of our analysis and evaluated the evidence as presented by the Special Counsel in reaching our conclusion.”

As far as Mueller's claim that "media coverage of the obstruction investigation was misguided and creating public misunderstandings about the office’s work", the truth is simply this: Mueller's Dossier itself created misunderstanding because it failed to reach any principled conclusion--but insinuated that there was a legitimate case that could be handled politically. That's not a call for a prosecutor to make. Barr therefore made the prosecutor's call: there was no obstruction case under established principles of law. In other words, Barr provided the necessary guidance to prevent the politically motivated misunderstandings that Mueller intended should arise from Mueller's Dossier misrepresentation of the well settled principles of the law on obstruction. Congress can do what Congress wants, but the law is clear.


  1. Democrat Media: always accuse Republicans of something, anything. Doesn't matter what, just play offense.

    I hope Democrats have enjoyed their Russian vacation - because next up on the calendar are Indictments, desperation, confessions, lies, more confessions, more lies, trials, more indictments of Obama White House flunkies, more confessions, more lies, more trials, ... Then Trump's second term will be ending and Pence the White-Haired Knight will stand for election and Trump's 3rd term.
    This movie is starting to remind me of the Reagan years....

    1. I've updated the post to reflect Barr's expected reaction. For the rest, I agree that this nonsense will come crashing down when indictments come.

      As for the Reagan years, that's when Barr came of age in government service. I remain confident that he has learned from those years and intends to apply those lessons to the current crisis.

  2. When Barr is asked about "news reports" of his conversation with Mueller, Barr should respond "I won't betray my private conversations with Mr Mueller to you, but there might be a leak to the media tomorrow".

  3. After reading his complaint, I'm still not exactly sure what Mueller meant by context. Of course, when AG Barr pressed him, Mueller admitted there was nothing wrong with Barr's brief summary. WaPo & NYT buried the lede.

    This is yet another instance of the appalling dishonesty of our media. Today's college students do not read newspapers, none, nada. I used to think this was a bad thing. Not anymore. It's a blessing in disguise.

    Tubby Jerry Nadler thinks it's a good idea to get on the bad side of AG Barr. What these fool Dems don't realize is that if Barr ever had doubts about the idiocy of their claims and pretenses, he doesn't any longer.

    Weren't they listening to Barr the last time around? He doesn't appear to suffer fools gladly. Nadler better have loaded up on Adderall this morning.

    1. "I'm still not exactly sure what Mueller meant by context."

      IMO, that's just doubletalk for: You didn't adopt our frivolous theory of obstruction and didn't pay lip service to our innuendo. Because Barr simply stated that the facts in the Dossier didn't make a case for obstruction.

  4. I am very interested in your take on today's hearings, especially those moments when AG Barr, to me at least, seemed to let Blumenthal, the nut from Hawaii, Booker and Harris thoroughly impugn his integrity. I know they tried not to let him get a word in edgewise. Do you think he should have come at them a bit more?

    Steam was coming out of my ears, especially when Harris and Booker and the blond behind them were purring like kittens at some angle Harris was pursuing.

    Also, Barr seemed to equivocate on some answers. Did you have that sense? When Harris asked him if he had been asked by someone in the white house to open an investigation, he seemed to be unsure.

    The way Harris and Booker were beaming you'd think they just caught a mouse.

    Also, watching these senators. I despise them. Barr seems like a normal human being. The senators, not so much, with few exceptions. I actually enjoyed Senator Cruz, and his beard.

    1. I think his handling of it was the way to go. As for the senators, I think that was just acting, playing to the cameras without real substance.

      As for equivocation, do you have an example to offer?

    2. I got the impression that Harris and Booker thought Barr was hiding something when he couldn't directly answer her question about whether anyone in the white house asked him, Barr, to investigate anyone. Their implication being that Barr was Trump's go to guy, and not his own man.

      That is only my impression. The two of them may always have that stupid look on their faces.

    3. OK. I think that was just a question for the cameras. I don't doubt that the WH--which is actually a very large organization--refers matters to DoJ frequently. I suppose Barr was simply unprepared for that particular question and was nonplussed for a moment, not wanting to say anything untruthful. A setup for a video-op.