Before You Freak, Bear In Mind We Haven’t Seen Mueller Report, Only Barr Letter

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MSNBC / YouTube Lawyers Involved In Probe Robert Mueller...
MSNBC / YouTube

It’s time to get a grip. Yes, the Mueller report came out in a fashion which is at the very least, anti-climatic if not downright depressing, one big fizzle so far. However, take a look at what has really gone on: All that has happened is that Attorney General William Barr has issued a four page summary, and the summary is being picked apart for it’s inadequacies and inaccuracies, chiefly the fact that it concludes there has been no crime committed on Trump’s part, when Mueller in fact, said the opposite. David Leonardt of the New York Times kicked in his two cents this morning, with a column, “Three Takeaways From The Barr Letter.”

Takeaway One is that Barr Should Release More Information:

William Barr, the attorney general, works for the president. By releasing just a short summary on a matter of such importance, he comes off as a cross between a law enforcement officer and a spin doctor.

It’s certainly conceivable that parts of Robert Mueller’s full report — the one that remains secret — would need to be redacted for national security or other reasons. But Barr’s four-page summary is unacceptable. So is his vague explanation that he will release as much of the report as he can.

Until we get more information, the most reasonable assumption is that Barr is trying to protect Trump by hiding the full report.

Our leaders, Schumer and Pelosi, are working on getting the full report. So for the nonce, let us not despair.

The Third Takeaway is Trump is Unfit For Office (We’ll get to the second takeaway for reasons which will become obvious, last)

He directed a criminal conspiracy to break campaign finance laws. He has used the presidency for personal enrichment. He has undermined democracy. He has damaged America’s global standing. He has lied repeatedly to the American people. He has obstructed justice. (Barr’s statement to the contrary is brief and unpersuasive.)

Everybody seems to be massively disappointed with the fact that Mueller didn’t recommend any new indictments. But take a closer look at what really took place, albeit it in not the spectacular way people wanted. The Atlantic:

Barr’s letter thoroughly quelled some of the fondest hopes of the anti-Trump “resistance.” The letter revealed that Mueller closed his investigation without recommending more criminal charges, and that no further indictments are under seal, as some had speculated. That’s a great relief for Trump and his family and associates, but it’s not the end of their federal criminal jeopardy. Barr also pointed out that Mueller “referred several matters to other offices for further action.” For instance, the special counsel sent the investigation of Michael Cohen’s hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which secured Cohen’s guilty plea for federal campaign-finance violations. That office is still actively investigating the matter—we know this because it carefully redacted the details of the investigation when it released the Cohen search warrants last week. But the special counsel’s investigation was the most prominent legal threat to the president and his family, and its closure without further indictments is a major victory for him.

Now, Leonardt’s Third Takeaway Is That “Trump Critics Should Keep An Open Mind About Russia.” Leonardt basically says that critics of Trump should not go down the Fox News garden path and advocate collusion in the face of no evidence of same. And here is where we get down to where the rubber meets the road. What, exactly did Mueller say about collusion? More from the Atlantic:

Trump’s triumphant supporters notwithstanding, we don’t yet know what that means. When prosecutors say that an investigation “did not establish” something, that doesn’t mean that they concluded it didn’t happen, or even that they don’t believe it happened. It means that the investigation didn’t produce enough information to prove that it happened. Without seeing Mueller’s full report, we don’t know whether this is a firm conclusion about lack of coordination or a frank admission of insufficient evidence. The difference is meaningful, both as a matter of history and because it might determine how much further Democrats in Congress are willing to push committee investigations of the matter.

The other big reveal in Barr’s letter is that Mueller “determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment” about whether the president obstructed justice over the course of the two-year investigation of Russian interference in the election. Instead, Mueller laid out the relevant evidence “on both sides” of the issue, but did not resolve what the special counsel saw as the “difficult issues” of fact and law concerning “whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction.” Mueller’s report “does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it does not exonerate him.” Mueller punted.

I hope ping pong is a game you enjoy, because you’re going to be playing the journalistic equivalent of it from now on, watching how a fact is interpreted here, then twisted and spun there. This is the immediate future that we’re looking at.

But be of good cheer. Just because Mueller, who is noted for conservative legal views, didn’t hand Trump his ass, doesn’t mean that it won’t be handed to him in months and years to come. Trump and his family are still under investigation by federal authorities. That isn’t going to go away and it should not be forgotten or minimized.

We all wanted to see the television *resident go down in flames with a dramatic flourish. Instead, he may melt away more slowly, under sustained heat — but who cares, as long as we get rid of him.

Keep resisting and vote the fucker out in 2020.

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