First things first. No matter what Donald Trump and his MAGA Martinets would have you believe, the final report by special counsel Robert Mueller has not been released and what has been released does not exonerate Trump. The summary written by Trump’s intensely partisan Attorney General William Barr was purposefully crafted to sweep the facts under the rug and consequently does not vindicate the president.
The simple fact that we know nothing more today than we knew yesterday is not going to stop Trump’s legions from spinning a baseless fairy tale of his virgin purity. However, we need to remember two critical facts: 1) Mueller secured dozens of indictments for hundreds of crimes with seven felony convictions so far; and 2) that Barr is the AG who Trump hand-picked due to his publicly expressed views opposing the special counsel and supporting an expansive interpretation of presidential powers.
With specific reference to the letter that Barr sent to Congress, he quoted very little from Mueller’s actual report. And what he cherry-picked was conspicuously aligned with his preconceptions. For instance, according to Barr, Mueller found that there was a campaign of disinformation by Russia to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, something Trump has vehemently denied. And yet, in Barr’s retelling he did not find that any “U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated” with Russia in those efforts.
But all this tells us is that Mueller didn’t establish such coordination, not that it didn’t happen, or even that there isn’t considerable evidence to suspect it. That’s why it’s so important to see the whole Mueller report so we know precisely what his investigation uncovered, as opposed to Barr’s interpretation. And with the qualification of “knowingly” conspiring, Barr leaves out the obvious encouragement by Trump of Russia’s activities through and his defense of the allegations against his pal Vladimir Putin.
Mueller also concluded that “Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails” from the Clinton campaign and the DNC, which were disseminated by WikiLeaks. Trump actually praised these flagrant violations of federal law. So these activities can still constitute crimes that may not have been committed in conjunction with the Russian government, but with outside players like Wikileaks and others with affiliations to Russia.
With regard to obstruction of justice, Mueller was clear that evidence existed that pointed to Trump’s guilt. But for some reason he backed off making a judgment. He wrote that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” That is in direct contradiction to Trump’s self-serving response following the release of Barr’s summary wherein he falsley claimed that Mueller’s report (which he hasn’t seen) proved “there was no collusion with Russia, there was no obstruction whatsoever,” and it was a “complete and total exoneration.” None of which is true based on anything in Barr’s letter. Trump further portrayed himself as a paranoid victim of an “illegal takedown” and called for totalitarian-style investigations of Mueller’s probe, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, James Comey, the FISA court and others in what he derisively called “the other side.” Trump still seeks to divide America with that rhetoric.
Both Barr and Trump have flagrantly spun what little was revealed of the Mueller report. But that only leaves us with more questions than answers. It is already known that Trump admitted on national television to obstructing justice by firing FBI director James Comey. Likewise it’s known that Trump’s son, son-in-law, and campaign chairman met with Russians in Trump Tower to acquire Hillary Clinton’s stolen emails. And the coordination with Wikileaks, who sourced their info from Russian operatives, is also on the public record. So even if Trump didn’t personally conspire with Russia (which cannot be dismissed), many of his surrogates did, and they lied about it until evidence forced them to come clean.
At the very least, Trump aided and abetted Russia’s documented efforts to interfere with the election in order to propel Trump to victory. He did so by openly encouraging Russia to continue their nefarious activities. He did so by denying that Russia’s criminal acts occurred even after his own intelligence agencies affirmed them. And he failed to shore up the nation’s defenses against further such interference that is still going on to this day. For these reasons it is imperative that Mueller’s full report be made public so that the American people can see all the evidence that he compiled and not have to rely on the prejudicial conclusions of Trump’s conflicted Attorney General.
The American people are not going to be satisfied by Barr’s biased appraisal of data he is plainly slanting while refusing to disclose it to the public. That is ironically spelled out in stark terms in a new poll by Fox News. The hostility directed at Mueller by the Trump contingent who disparaged him as a “Deep State” villain engaged in a “Witch Hunt” makes their newfound confidence in him surreal, and disingenuous and cult-like in the squishyness of their principles.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
Before this is over Trump should be shamed into apologizing to Mueller for maligning his character for the past two years. And if Republican politicians and pundits want to rest on Mueller’s report as evidence that the President is innocent of impeachable offences, they need to reverse course on smearing him and join the call for his report to be released in full. What’s more, they need to cooperate with congressional inquiries that have a different mandate and are more directly answerable to “We the People.”