William Barr went overboard minimizing the results of the Mueller report, so that Trump could take a victory lap and Drudge could proclaim “Trump Wins!” in a banner headline. Unfortunately, he went too far and now there’s a backlash. Both the Washington Post and New York Times ran pieces Wednesday on how inadequate the Barr summary was, and that prompted a response from the Department of Justice itself, just a few hours ago.
NEW: DOJ responds to NYT/WaPo reporting on Barr’s handling of the Mueller report. pic.twitter.com/XXLjNpqjwr
— Andrew Desiderio (@desiderioDC) April 4, 2019
The Mueller investigation was commendably leak-proof, but that’s all changed in the past 24 hours.
The New York Times broke, then The Washington Post matched, the news that investigators on Mueller’s team were grousing about how Attorney General William P. Barr has handled summarizing their report.
Even if the leaks weren’t deliberate — the Times initially reported this secondhand as the Mueller team complaining to associates, not them — the fact that the investigators are complaining enough that this would leak is significant. It suggests a serious level of dissatisfaction and concern, if not a concerted effort to send a message before Barr’s big reveal of the Mueller report this month. These investigators may feel liberated to vent now that the probe is over (and some of them have even left the Justice Department), but you have to think this represents a very serious level of concern about Barr’s conduct, rather than just a few offhand comments.
These are snippets from Washington Post article, containing interviews with members of Mueller’s team, who were dissatisfied with Barr’s so-called summary of the Mueller report.
“Some members of Mr. Mueller’s team are concerned that, because Mr. Barr created the first narrative of the special counsel’s findings, Americans’ views will have hardened before the investigation’s conclusions become public.”
“It was much more acute than Barr suggested,” said one person, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the subject’s sensitivity.
The New York Times first reported that some special counsel investigators feel that Barr did not adequately portray their findings.
Some members of the office were particularly disappointed that Barr did not release summary information the special counsel team had prepared, according to two people familiar with their reactions.
“There was immediate displeasure from the team when they saw how the attorney general had characterized their work instead,” according to one U.S. official briefed on the matter.
The last sentence of today’s Washington Post article on the subject, says it all.
The message from Mueller’s team, whether deliberate, seems to be: Stay tuned, and be wary of William Barr.
So much for Barr’s credibility. Does he remember what happened to Nixon’s AG, John Mitchell? He was convicted of conspiracy, perjury, and obstruction of justice. Just another echo from Watergate.