Mueller Finally Speaks, Albeit not for Long

I watched Special Counsel Mueller’s 10 minute statement in a press conference this morning in which he told us nothing new.  But that doesn’t make it unimportant.

Many would point out everything he said today is in his 400 page report, but that totally misses the point.  For the many, many, many millions who didn’t read the report, including me, it was a needed, simple way to contrast with Trump’s narrative of innocence – “no collusion, no obstruction.”  Which I believe has been the takeaway for many.

Our politics has diminished to a battle of bumper stickers.  So the challenge is to shorten what Mueller emphasized today to licence plate size.  That there was “insufficient evidence” to charge conspiracy (hardly the same as “innocent”) and there was quite a bit of evidence to charge for obstruction (which he lays out in the report), but Mueller felt constrained by justice department policy preventing charging a sitting president with a crime (see bottom for more on that).

As you can see, the truth is a bit complicated, so turning the truth into a bumper sticker is hard to do, unless like Trump you distort the truth to fit your simple messages.  A powerful technique I have to admit.

How about Not innocent, just not guilty yet.


P. S. – A curious aspect to this report is Mueller’s insisting his actions were circumscribed by D. O. J.  policy disallowing indictments of sitting presidents.  That would suggest that he wouldn’t have indicted for conspiracy even if he had sufficient evidence.

This point has been brought up by both Michael Smerconish and Brit Hume, the former a  moderate CNN talk show host and the latter a conservative senior commentator on Fox.  If Mueller was restricted from indicting on evidence of obstruction, then wouldn’t he also have been restricted from indicting on conspiracy had they found sufficient evidence?

I’d like some congressman to ask Mueller about that, even if it is in a closed door session.

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A Preface to the Upcoming Mueller Report

Amidst the usual Trump provoked Loonie Tune “news”,  the Mueller report will finally be made public some time next week according to Bill Barr, Trump’s recently appointed Attorney General.   Barr was Attorney General for the first Bush administration, and has had a sterling legal reputation, so he’s not simply a Trump lackey.  However,  he has voiced and written opinions that favor Trump’s view of presidential power and he has done enough as AG for Trump to make Democrats suspicious of his intentions.

First he put out four pages of what he calls a “bottom line” result of the investigation.  It high lights the fact the report does not announce any new indictments.  Music to Trump’s ears no doubt, fitting well with his long time mantra “no collusion” and “no obstruction”.

However, the “obstruction” issue isn’t as clear cut as that of “collusion”, as Barr indicates by quoting Mueller:  “The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’ ”  There was evidence on both sides.

Since Mueller did not take a stand on the obstruction issue, Barr stepped in and concluded no charges were warranted.  Whether Barr had a right to do that is an open question.

Bottom line Trump can claim to be innocent, by legal standards.  But that does not mean he did not do many bad things, just not bad enough to meet our high standards for a crime.   Even in terms of collusion, it may be that the Trump team is revealed to be a collection of clowns, made unwitting tools by the Russians.

Not guilty of conspiracy but of being arrogant fools who endangered our national safety and weakened our position as a nation of laws not individual whims. These possibilities are what prompt the Democrats to press for a full release to Congress.

The report will be redacted for at least four legitimate reasons, like national security. The big question is how big that redacted portion will be.  The Democrats think it will be too much, information held back because it will be embarrassing to the president rather than for one of the stated reasons.

In addition to that four page report and a couple of letters added for clarification, Barr has made statements at two congressional hearings that indicate he also intends to take a look at the origins of the Mueller report, because he believes some “spying” had taken place.  Barr also used the term “unauthorized surveillance,” but he held on to the term “spying” when pressed  by a committee member.

It is possible that Barr’s “look” at the origins of the investigation will exonerate the FBI, but at the moment he seems to be offering more support for Trump’s witch hunt accusations.

So, now we wait until the report is released next week.  I hope the above helps you better understand the fireworks likely to erupt.


P. S.  –– If you want to become an expert for yourself on Barr’s four page summary you can find it here.