If the White House was a restaurant, “lies du jour” and “gaffes extraordinaire” would be the two dishes it would be known for. That being said, the performances by Mick Mulvaney and Kellyanne Conway on Sunday, were two for the books. Mulvaney was on ABC and Conway on Fox and they both stumbled over exactly the same material, to wit, they could not keep the words of Robert Mueller and William Barr straight, as they desperately tried to gaslight everybody that Trump had indeed been fully exonerated from any claim of obstruction of justice by the Mueller report. Take a look at the transcripts, courtesy of PoliticusUSA. First Mulvaney:
These types of investigations are not designed to exonerate people. So what you’ve saw here is simply Mueller saying you know what? I’m going to let Barr call this one. He had plenty of evidence to say on collusion absolutely not and he [Mueller?]actually punted over to Barr.
Again, that’s the way the system can and does work. Barr, if you go elsewhere in the letter, lower down again I don’t have a copy sitting in front of me, it says that he and Rod Rosenstein, who up until last week was a darling of the left, found not a single – not a single piece of conduct, not a single act that constituted obstruction.
So that’s why we are absolutely comfortable saying that the president has been fully exonerated. Yes, Barr – excuse me – Mueller does use those words, but again, those are words you would typically find in this type of investigation.
Then we have Kellyanne Conway over at Fox News, getting pushed into a corner by Chris Wallace, who, admirably, was relentless and made her stick to the point. It’s always amazing when a Fox host commits a random act of journalism and gets the facts. Kind of like a full blood moon, it doesn’t occur all that often, you want to catch it when you can.
WALLACE: …so when the president says that its total exoneration on obstruction, Kellyanne, that’s just not true.
CONWAY: Well, the president is probably comparing that report and the ultimate conclusions of no conspiracy, no collusion, no contact with any Russian at a campaign that I managed into its final successful phases and have always been offended than anybody would think that we would cheat, lie, steal or talk to any Russians. That’s ridiculous and always was. We wasted a lot of money and a lot of time in people’s anxiety over it.
WALLACE: Look — take yes for an answer, I’m agreeing with you on collusion. I’m asking you
CONWAY: I’m always going to take yes for an answer on the Barr report.
WALLACE: I’m asking about obstruction, though.
CONWAY: We will see with the full report says but there’s nowhere in the Barr report that says the president obstructed justice. There’s nowhere in the Barr memo that says you or I (ph) obstructed justice. And remember, we —
WALLACE: Well, there was no Barr report. Barr is simply summarizing —
CONWAY: The Barr memo summarizing, but I think —
WALLACE: Mueller. And Mueller says it did not exonerate him.
Now, what is ludicrous, is that this is plain English being discussed. These are not abstract legal concepts, which might be subject to varying degrees of interpretation at issue here. All that is being discussed is 1. What the Mueller report said, and 2. What Donald Trump said and guess what? Those two things don’t match at all, and all of Trump’s horses and all of Trump’s (con)men can’t figure out a way to make black look like white or up appear down. This is Trump’s fault. He went bonkers over Barr’s self-serving four page summary (which Barr began walking back Saturday, saying that it was not a summary, so expect this point to be debated in future Sunday shows to come) and said in screaming caps on Twitter “FULL EXONERATION!” Then he went out and had the tweet printed up on tee shirts, which the Trump/Pence campaign is selling for $30 a pop.
We can only assume that Conway and Mulvaney hung their heads when they read those tweets, knowing what was in store. Poor Kellyanne, she got nailed on Fox News. It’s bad enough to get publicly humiliated at all, but in safe-zone Fox? Warm, cozy, nest of fellow Trumpites, Fox? Now, that must have felt sharper than a serpent’s tooth.
Here are the two clips if you want to watch them squirm, as they give Pinocchio a run for the money.
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) March 31, 2019
.@jonkarl: "Why do you and why does the president say that Mueller found no obstruction?…he makes no such statement…the president's out there saying full exoneration"
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) March 31, 2019
The cover story isn’t holding together. Trump wanted to hear “full exoneration” no obstruction, no issue, he’s home free, and that’s what he ran with. And now his fixers are in the position of skewing whatever Barr said Mueller said, with Trump’s fantasy land narrative, and trying to make it fit. And bear in mind, this is week one, post Mueller report, and it hasn’t even been released yet. Wait until it is. The coffee pots and television sets, long the target of Trump’s temper tantrums, are already starting to quake in anticipation.
Meanwhile, Trump is busy cursing out the press, per usual and looking for retribution. His simplistic purpose is obvious. He’s looking to demonize the media, so as to invalidate anything that they say from here on out — which is not going to happen. What Trump can’t grasp is that facts are facts, they have empirical reality, he can’t bullshit them away. But in a life bereft of depth and substance and predicated on bullshit, who can expect Trump to change stride now?
Like a bad strain of flu, this is all going to get a lot worse before it gets better. April is going to be a very interesting month in Washington.