Rod Rosenstein Didn’t Even Clear Trump on All the Topics He Hired Mueller to Investigate

As I have noted, the William Barr memo everyone is reading to clear Trump and his flunkies of a conspiracy with Russia actually only clears the Trump campaign and those associated with it of conspiring or coordinating with the Russian government in its efforts to hack into computers and disseminate emails for purposes of influencing the election. The exoneration doesn’t even extend to coordinating with WikiLeaks, as Roger Stone is alleged to have done (though that, by itself, is not a crime).

More significantly, it is silent about whether Trump and his flunkies conspired with Russia in a quid pro quo trading election assistance and a real estate deal for policy considerations, the very same kind of election year shenanigans Barr has covered up once before with Iran-Contra.

And that’s important, because it means Barr and Rod Rosenstein haven’t even cleared Trump of what Rosenstein hired Mueller to investigate.

Jim Comey first described the investigation to include:

  1. The Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election
  2. The nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government
  3. Whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts

When Rosenstein appointed Mueller, he referenced Comey’s statement, but specifically mentioned just bullets 2 and 3 in his mandate, combining those two bullets into one that (unlike Comey’s original statement) was limited to just the Russian government, not Russia’s efforts generally.

  • any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and

In May 2017 when Rosenstein hired Mueller (and, according to public reports, through November 2017), the investigation into the hack-and-leak remained elsewhere at DOJ (significantly, but not entirely, in Pittsburgh and San Francisco).

When the FBI raided Paul Manafort on July 27, 2017 — a raid Rosenstein almost certainly approved personally —  they were looking for evidence (among other things) on the June 9, 2016 meeting in support of an investigation into accepting campaign contributions from a foreigners or a conspiracy to do so; there was no mention whatsoever of probable cause that Manafort had helped Russia hack Hillary Clinton. Six months after that raid, Mueller would learn that two months after the June 9 meeting, on August 2, 2016, Manafort shared Trump’s polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik at a meeting where he also discussed a Ukrainian peace deal that would amount to sanctions relief. Manafort lied about what happened at that meeting. In Andrew Weissmann’s opinion, he lied in hopes of getting a Trump pardon.

When the Mueller Report states, “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” it does so after Manafort refused to explain why he shared that polling data, or whether he knew whom Konstantin Kilimnik was sharing it with, and significantly, whether he had reason to believe that either Kilimnik himself or Oleg Deripaska — neither themselves part of the Russian government but Deripaska unquestioningly with close ties to it — would share the data with the GRU hackers who were still hacking Hillary Clinton.

And yet the only “links and/or coordination” that Barr and Rosenstein addressed involved  an, “agreement–tacit or express–between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference.”

Because of Trump’s obstruction, we don’t know whether Manafort entered into an agreement with Kilimnik to trade sanctions relief for election assistance, but even if he did, it would not qualify as “coordination with the Russian government.” It would qualify as coordination with a cut-out for the Russian government.

Likewise, we know if Don Jr agreed to revisit sanctions relief after Natalia Veselnitskaya and the Agalarov family offered dirt on Hillary. But Don Jr wasn’t even officially part of the campaign, and while Veselnitskaya and Agalarov both have almost inseparable from the Russian government, they are not the Russian government and therefore would not qualify under this standard.

The nature of Manafort’s links to the Russian government via Kilimnik and Don Jr’s links to the Russian government via Veselnitskaya and Agalarov are squarely within Mueller’s mandate as laid out by Rosenstein. And those links are pretty fucking sketchy and possibly criminal, but quite possibly for reasons distant from the hack-and-leak. But by limiting the evaluation of the memo to whether the campaign coordinated directly with Russia on the hack-and-leak and not whether the links to Russia that Mueller discovered were criminally suspect, Rosenstein, with Barr, is not addressing one part of the job he hired Mueller to do.

That’s all the more true given the way that Barr, in consultation with Rosenstein, determined that Trump did not obstruct justice. An explicit part of Mueller’s mandate was to investigate the links between his campaign and Russia, including the link through Kilimnik to Deripaska and through him the Russian government. According to Weissmann, Trump’s actions led Manafort to refuse to explain those links.

In “conspiring” with Barr to give Trump the all-clear, Rosenstein didn’t address a significant part of the job he gave Mueller.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

220 replies
      • Mooser says:

        What happened to the vaunted friendship between Barr/Mueller? Barr just hung Mueller out to dry, for Trump. I don’t understand it.

        • Willis Warren says:

          Barr is a partisan hack. We gave him the benefit of the doubt, we were wrong. But there’s really not a lot we can do except win the next election and throw everyone in jail

        • Mooser says:

          So Barr disposed of Mueller in four pages. Anotherwords, Mueller is just an incompetent old hack, time-serving at his appointment and wasting the taxpayers money and running a witch hunt which collapsed? And Mueller is just going to take it in the gut, and become a laughingstock, a by-word and a hissing in the streets?

          • Mooser says:

            The Repubs will be calling for an investigation into Mueller, if they are not already. Thanks to his old friend Bob Barr.

  1. James Berkland says:

    It seems it was punted like it doesn’t matter to force everyone to move on. Where do those answers come from

    • Pat says:

      Well, I hope we get to have lots of hearings on illegal payments to porn stars to keep them quiet before the election.

      Democrats could also do more on the “babies in cages” thing. Those Administration folks need to go to prison.

      • rip says:

        Great idea. “Democrats could also do more on the “babies in cages” thing. Those Administration folks need to go to prison.”

        Let’s just swap the children in the cages with all of the current “administration”. The new detainees may be much bigger/fatter and there may be 10-20 per cage. But they could just treat it as a summer camp.

      • Vinnie Gambone says:

        Muller sides with the ratfuckers ?

        Surely he knows Donald Trump is the Pedophile President . Trump is still a john. He still inhabits the most joyless world a spirit can inhabit. He must pay a woman to pretend she finds him smart, attractive, and pleasing. No one will mourn his departure.

        Maybe Disraeli was wong. Maybe Justice isn’t truth in action. Or maybe the full truth is to arrive later. If in fact the FBI boys have sold out on conspiracy and obstruction, then they sure as hell would bury any evidence they uncovered on Cohen paying off Katie Johnson. God I hope not, but the sad truth now is I just don’t trust any of them. If they are doing that, they are worse than the ratfuckers they’re investigating. If these group of “heroes” have been gotten to then we are so terribly totally fucked.

        As for Mueller, Comey, et al, I have to hope Muller is thinking like he would have thought in Nam. Let’s not lose a battalion to kill a platoon. Perhaps he couldn’t justify the effort needed to indict now when he knows the dished off investigations are going to bring justice later. In that light maybe this dodge now makes sense. ( This is not the first time I have lied to myself.)

        “Love hopes where reason would despair.” George, Lord Lyttleton.

  2. Pat Neomi says:

    My question is whether Barr and Rosenstein are going to try to completely bury Mueller’s report and hope that their interpretation of it will carry into posterity or if they are just trying to control the narrative short-term? It could be a little of both I suppose, but the Barr statement is so heavily and carefully crafted that to assume his reading of it is either comprehensive or unbiased would be naive. It sucks that the media is taking his very prejudiced reading as the “final word” on the Mueller report.

    Also FWIW, I do have to thank Mueller for doing this right before spring break so I can actually have some time to dig into this!

    • P J Evans says:

      Barr is certainly trying to hide the evidence and the conclusions Mueller reached – and it makes me wonder what he owes to Russia and its hired help.

      • gusgus says:

        I almost entirely agree with you. But why did Barr include the money quote from Mueller:

        “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

        “[I]t also does not exonerate him” screams that Mueller found evidence that has made him seriously consider that Trump should be indicted/impeached. Everyone saw that line immediately, and on the basis of that line alone Democrats will insist the entire report be released.

        If Barr was trying to hide the evidence, why did he put that line into the letter?

        • Mainmata says:

          But then he immediately said. However, I the AG officially determined there was no obstruction. He put the line in because he knew it would come out anyway and he thought he would sound “even-handed” and judicious. Also, one of the reasons this summary and its conclusions came out so quickly is because a lot of the argumentation mirrors his “job application” in that 19 page memo he wrote to Trump last year.

          • GusGus says:

            So you’re thinking that Barr knew the line was going to come out eventually, so he bring it out at the start and tried to minimize it right away. Yes maybe. Better to be upfront than to have it come out later.

            Better to bury the line if possible though.

        • P J Evans says:

          That’s only part of what Mueller wrote in that sentence – which ew pointed out in an earlier post. It’s what Barr’s hiding, with his incomplete quotes and his bogus conclusions, that worries me.

    • GusGus says:

      About Barr’s and Rosenstein’s intentions, in the letter why did they include the line:

      “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

      “[I]t also does not exonerate him” tells every reader, and every Democrat in Congress, that there is incriminating evidence in Mueller’s report that has Mueller seriously considering that Trump should be indicted/impeached. Whomever put that line into Barr’s letter pretty well guaranteed that the Democrats were going to insist on the report being released. So why does that line appear in the letter?

      Did Rosenstein insist Barr include the line to guard the integrity of the investigation? Or did Barr put the line into the report knowing that it would force the Democrats to demand the report’s release?

      I am not so sure if Barr came to the DoJ to praise Trump, or to bury him.

      • Pat Neomi says:

        That crossed my mind as well. It is curious that he would leave something like that in this letter. Leaving it in as “breadcrumbs” for congress doesn’t comport with my read that Barr is essentially a party flunky that will do whatever is best for the GOP, though.

        • GusGus says:

          “Leaving it in as “breadcrumbs” for congress doesn’t comport with my read that Barr is essentially a party flunky that will do whatever is best for the GOP, though.”

          Exactly. Rosenstein might have forced its inclusion. Comey’s description of Rosenstein of a survivor seems pretty apt, but he has shown integrity at times. Maybe he managed to slip that line in over Barr’s objections.

          That might make the most sense. There is no need for Barr to leave breadcrumbs, Barr could just announce/release the derogatory information himself.

      • horses says:

        When I was young and learning to drive on the highway, my mother taught me to drive in the middle lane whenever possible.

        Why? Because that allows you to veer left or right as circumstances demand.

        I saw the wisdom of her advice much later while I was working in the bureaucracy.

    • Thomas Paine says:

      I found it interesting that neither Rosenstein or Mueller signed the letter. That is telling. I am not convinced Rosenstein had much say in Barr’s pronouncement. Nadler & Co. need to subpoena Barr and force him to describe both his conversations with Mueller and with the WH over this entire matter. If he refuses to comply, the House needs to Impeach Barr for Obstruction of Justice, Abuse of Power, and Perjury. In my mind the only thing that has really happened here is that Trump just out-sourced the Obstruction to his new hand-picked AG Barr, which was why he was so angry with Sessions in the first place. Barr’s track record (Iran-Contra pardons) is less than sterling. This crap has to stop.

      • P J Evans says:

        Nadler has already sent a letter to Barr inviting him to come explain this to his committee.

    • Stacey Lyn says:

      I know, right? Isn’t pardoning past presidential sins for the good of the country exactly how we keep getting presidents who think they are above the law…wait for it…because apparently THEY ARE, for the good of the country, I mean. Sheesh!

    • Zinsky says:

      Barr’s letter is like the bikini in the old joke – what it conceals is far more important than what it reveals. But this is par for the course for these Republican “self-investigations “. Lawrence Walsh was a Republican and investigated Iran-Contra. Although he indicted 14, Bush I pardoned everyone. Tom Kean led the 9-11 Commission whitewash and produced diddley-squat. We didn’t even get to read Bush Jr.’s testimony even though it wasn’t under oath anyway. Now we have the Barr/Mueller farce that absolves an obviously guilty career criminal and sexual predator. Big surprise!

  3. anaphoristand says:

    When Bill Clinton claimed under oath he had, “not ha[d] sexual relations with that woman,” it was a crime, whereas his having had sexual relations with the woman was not. The idea that you cannot obstruct justice without an underlying crime having been committed is idiotic, but the idea that the underlying crime must both be identified, and evidentiarily proven out in a court of law beforehand, is plain offensive.

    • RWood says:

      Clinton got impeached for that one stupid sentence. Why Mueller never felt the need to subpoena Drump is something I still can’t wrap my head around. Knowing Drump’s inability to tell the truth I would have thought to be a no-brainer.

      • anaphoristand says:

        That’s one of the biggest questions I still have concerning Mueller’s wrapping when and how he did. Why — especially given Marcy’s prior suggestion that the lack of a Trump interview may well have thwarted aspects of the probe — Mueller wouldn’t have taken everything else to its end, and then sought a subpoena to compel one? In addition to Mueller’s overall case for obstruction being quite solid, I imagine there’s more than likely some level of criminal exposure in Trump’s written responses. That said, I’m not a fan of the precedent that a President can be allowed to avoid cooperation with a legitimate probe for anything less than invocation of his 5th Amendment rights.

        • RWood says:

          I’ve heard the arguments against doing so, many of them here, and I understand the thought process behind the opinion.

          BUT, even if Drump was “never going to submit to questioning”, sometimes having the issue is better than winning the fight. I don’t see the downside as being so great as to not subpoena him. If he fights it, fine, you have him on the front page dodging the investigation for months, and if by some miracle he caves to public pressure as Clinton did, you then have him cold as the man cannot tell the truth even when doing so is in his best interest. I think he would toss his plan to take the 5th aside within a few minutes and bury himself with one of his mindless rants. I can’t help but think of the footage of him testifying in the Jeffry Zakarian case. He sank his own ship within minutes.

          I think it was an opportunity lost.

  4. Mister Sterling says:

    It’s time for a massive uprising. Unfortunately, Americans don’t care. And Trump is back to winning after a depressing Christmas shutdown/meltdown that appeared to be his rock bottom.

    • Wajim says:

      That will happen in 2020, even if it’s a 0.5% uprising in the right states, it will do. And Americans do care, plenty of ’em (note long history of serious polls). Winning? His position is “I escaped indictment [from one narrow CI investigation].” There’s much more to drop between now and 2020. Trump’s message will not ever convince the 60% of us who are not MAGA bots. Take heart, keep hope, fight hard, and fucking vote. And get your like minded kin and neighbors to vote. The only thing we can do.

      • Chuck Palmer says:

        I do believe Trump will continue to commit crimes as he has always done, especially after a swollen head. Perhaps the lid that Barr has put on the dumpster fire will just keep smoldering until it explodes. 2020 is not that far away and all i can do is get as many people I know convinced to read EW and vote.

    • BobCon says:

      I would be careful about jumping to conclusions. Reports from grassroots campaigning say that what drew big crowds for Democrats in 2018 was things like health care and education, and that remains the case for presidential candidates.

      I don’t think there is any evidence yet that the voters who flipped the House had big expectations for Mueller in the first place, and I don’t think there is strong evidence that they see everything through a Trump-only focus either.

      • Ed Walker says:

        Absolutely. This mess cannot be the election focus, and the Dems have to show they can govern by dealing seriously with actual legislation that will get activists excited.

      • Pat says:

        Agreed. Wealth inequality and monopolistic practices by corporations are literally killing people. Health care, education, the minimum wage… these are the things that will drive people to the polls in 2020.

        Democrats running for president are emphasizing these issues. The press has little or no interest in them.

  5. Nick says:

    My opinion is that now more than ever Mueller needs to tell American people if Barr’s 4 page summary trully represents what he wrote in his report.Mueller and his team worked their asses off for 22 months and this Barr guy comes along and pisses all over their work and writes a summary that covers up for Trump, and Mueller and his team stay silent?Stop playing with fire. You know how much leverage Barr just gave to Putin and Trump? They can do the 2016 fuckery all over again but now will be even harder to investigate let alone stop them.

  6. Taxidermist says:

    Great post, as always!

    Q- will you ever be able to reveal the information you provided to the FBI and how it fits into the puzzle?

  7. Geoff says:

    What would really bother me now is if Trump continues with this, “sure, let the public see the whole report” blathering…and then the Republicans, and specifically, the DOJ Republicans, obstruct the release. Then we have to endure this “no collusion, nothing in the report, I’m not obstructing because I said the people can see, it but legally, it’s too sensitive” kind of defense, falling back on things related to counterintelligance, and have that as the way Trump glides through campaign 2020, while the Democrats try to figure out whether investigating hurts or helps their cause in this environment. That report really must be released or this country is in a heap of trouble, as I suspect that if it is NOT released, and the Dems try to do their own investigation, the stonewalling will be epic, and the subpoenas will take forever to be produced, and even longer to get through the courts, and not enough damage can be inflicted to matter to the election. I really need some good news to not feel so dejected. I mean, I really do get what Marcy has been explaining, and its all made a whole lot of sense to me over the past couple of years, but the logic seems continually lost on the people that matter. I feel like I’m repeating the same cycle as the financial crisis, when all the bad actors got off, and the whole history was rewritten to point a finger at the wrong causes, and nothing came of it.

    What I don’t get is, if all of what Marcy says is accurate, and it seems so, how is it that this was the time to wrap up the investigation? It just seems premature. I’m not going as far as saying that Barr forced an early wrap, as I know bmaz will beat that down, but I’d like to understand how it seems that so much is undone (miller, mystery appelant, Prince meetings, etc.) and yet, it’s time for a wrap. Is this simply because all the other important stuff is now shipped out to State investigations?

    • Pat Neomi says:

      My only thought on the timing of the wrap up is that perhaps Mueller realized he had done everything he reasonably could to investigate, and he similarly realized that he was never going to be able to indict Trump, and so he wrapped things up so that he could pass his findings on to Congress in order that the (only) body that could hold Trump accountable, Constitutionally speaking, could have the means with which to do so. Congressional Democrats spoke ad nauseam about how they weren’t going to consider such and such until Mueller finished his investigation.

      That assumes that Mueller had a means of transferring his findings/report to Congress though…

      • Pat says:

        House Democrats can call him to testify.

        There may also be information in prosecution documents that have not yet been made public.

      • GusGus says:

        I think that you are right Pat Neomi

        “My only thought on the timing of the wrap up is that perhaps Mueller realized he had done everything he reasonably could to investigate,”

        When Manafort refused to cough up Kilimnik I think Mueller accepted that he could not prove a connection all the way back to the Russian government.

        “and so he wrapped things up so that he could pass his findings on to Congress in order that the (only) body that could hold Trump accountable”

        During Manafort’s breach hearings Andrew Weismann voiced the opinion that Manafort was refusing to cooperate in hopes of a pardon. Mueller’s report, as Barr describes, appears to want to refer the obstruction question to Congress. Which nicely links the obstruction to why Mueller was unable to establish “collusion”.

        Looks like going to Congress is the only game in town.

        • timbo says:

          That’s been the case since the beginning of this investigation. The Congress is the only place where there is significant teeth to check a despot/criminal/foreign shill who holds the Oval Office.

          • Savage Librarian says:

            Yes! I am so looking forward to 2021 being a far better place in the time/space continuum. Right now it’s all about Congress and The People and Hope, Will, and Faith.

  8. Ruthie says:

    My head nearly exploded when I saw the headline of this NYT story:

    “A Cloud Over Trump’s Presidency Is Lifted”

    I find it hard to believe that obtuseness isn’t willful. The proverbial rush to publish in no way excuses, and probably doesn’t explain, the inadequacy of such analysis. The MSM (I feel queasy every time I use that term) is DESPERATE to relax back into their comfort zone of “both siderism”. They’re screwing this story up in a very dangerous way. Let’s hope the House remains resolute.

      • Pat Neomi says:

        It’s amazing, if not surprising, how the narrative just completely shifted on a dime to “Trump is in the clear” based on an incomprehensive, biased interpretation of Mueller’s report. The craven desire for a new narrative just overwhelms the journalistic impulses of vast swaths of the media.

        Perhaps bmaz could answer this–what capacity does the White House and/or DOJ have in being able to control Mueller’s ability to accede to or participate fully in congressional testimony?

        • General Sternwood says:

          I think it is more than a desire for a new narrative, it is also the fruit of the White House’s constant criticism of the press. CNN is scared, the New York Times is scared, they have never been so much “the enemy of the people” and it is irritating and confusing for them. That is also, in part, why they are bending over backwards to harmonize with Barr’s melody.

          • flatulus says:

            I think the “media” are merely clearing the decks in order to feast once again on the 2020 Election.

            • Jockobadger says:

              Let’s not forget that for the MSM, it’s all about the scandal, the latest kerfuffle, mouse clicks, and seats in those Laz-e-Boys, clicker in hand. In the end, for those MSM “journalists” it’s primarily about the $. They need to keep stirring the pot. Russiagate was great while it lasted, but it’s yesterday’s news now (for them at least.)

              That’s the beauty of EW, Intercept (with occasional exceptions), dcreporter, etc. They’re actually seeking truth, not mo money – though some money helps of course.

              We need to ride our Reps/Sens hard to keep digging. I wrote to mine today. Schiff needs to tell the repubs to gth. The report will leak – The Russia Papers.

          • Greenhouse says:

            a play on “Barclords” (as inspired by Urge Overkill and the indelible punaise)

            Scaly Barr chords, his manner standing
            Over on Beethoven’s dresser
            Some try to run when Barr chords come in
            I wouldn’t put it past ya
            Seated long side a mahogany table
            The media all let down their hair
            First they feast, then they’re havin’ some fun
            Broke the news and everybody gettin’ played
            Cause the Barr chords never give it away, no no

  9. BobCon says:

    Going along with the suggestion that there was an effort to constrict what counted as Russian cooperation, I’m very curious whether there was an effort to constrict what counted as Russian interference.

    I’m very curious if there was more interference — trolling, advertising, campaign donations, etc. — by Russians not explicitly part of the government, and this was somehow left out of Mueller’s final responsibilities. Concord and Guccifer 2.0 is significant, but is that all?

    If this happened it’s possible it’s on the up and up — a referral to another unit might make sense. And there may be issues with evidence to prevent more indictments. Regardless, I can see why Trump would be extremely upset if there is any serious evidence amplifying Russian influence and delegitimizing his win.

    Shifting the job to another unit isn’t necessarily bad, but what would be unacceptable is burying that info. Any attempt to hide influence by operators in the Russian sphere who are not in the government would be a huge disservice to this country.

  10. harpie says:

    NBC News:

    FBI expected to brief House and Senate ‘Gang of 8’ on Mueller’s counterintel findings
    Attorney General Barr’s summary of the Mueller probe is silent about whether investigators found Trump or any associate was influenced by Russia. March 25, 2019, 2:59 PM EDT
    [quote] […] The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into President Donald Trump, and the letter sent to Congress on Sunday by Attorney General William Barr about the Mueller probe is silent on the question of whether investigators found that Trump or anyone around him might be compromised or influenced by Russia.
    The officials said they expect the FBI to brief the so-called Gang of 8 […] could happen within the next 30 to 60 days. […] [end quote]

    • Geoff says:

      So now we are left hoping that Schiff and co can counter the utter BS that Nunes, McConnell, Burr and McCarthy will ladle out? And we have to wait two months for this? The time just keeps disappearing… This is what I mean when I say the next step is Republican obstruction. But how is it decided in this group what happens with the briefing info if part of the group deems it relevant and others say, nope, cant release that? They are sworn to secrecy apparently, so whatever happens here is sure to die with McConnell’s boney grip on the info.

    • CitizenCrone says:

      Hasn’t Pelosi already said she’d refuse a briefing restricted to Gang of 8? Because they couldn’t discuss it with rest of Congress?

      Release original report with redactions as necessary. That means: no names of anyone who wasn’t indicted, no counterintelligence info that would ID sources or methods, AND nothing (?) from the Grand Jury testimony. (I forgot about the GJ stuff.)

      But, don’t the indictments come out of the GJ? You can’t make public what led to indictments?

      I’m getting more confused. Putin bad, Trump is a disgrace, Dems are sad.

      Oh–and nothing WH says is privileged!!! Shoot.

    • cat herder says:

      So what’s in the CI investigation portion that’s so sensitive that it can’t be briefed to the relevant intel committees in private? ‘Gang of 8 eyes-only’ is usually reserved for only the most upper tippy-top of the very tall heap of ultra sensitive stuff, right?

      It better not turn out to be more of that “The truth would be Too Divisive…” bullshit.

      • cat herder says:

        And another thing while I’m here, not directly related.

        If everybody knew going in that a sitting Prez can’t be indicted, only impeached, and GJ material is secret and can’t be disclosed, and is only usable for producing indictments, why the F did the SC use GJ testimony to build the case?

      • Zinsky says:

        Yes, only the most private things can be discussed there – like Lindsay Graham’s sexual orientation!!

        • Rayne says:

          We all know Graham is a “confirmed bachelor” as they used to say back in the day with a wink-nod-nudge-nudge. His constituents surely have known after this long. I hope by now given the abruptness of his reversal from NeverTrump that there are discussions about something far more serious than the banality of what conventional wisdom suggests is rather vanilla human sexuality.

  11. Minnedame says:

    Does Robert Khuzami’s sudden departure from the SDNY – and hence, removal from any potential probe of Trump and his business dealings arising from the investigation of Michael Cohen – raise anyone’s eyebrows? Should it not raise eyebrows – particularly in light ofnot only the timing of his departure (i.e., not long after Barr’s return to the office of Attorney General and mere days before the release of the Mueller report), but also the (to quote Marcy Wheeler) “old-man backflips” Barr appears to have done in order to avoid arresting the Orange Menace? Didn’t Trump reportedly try to coax Big Dick Toilet Bowl Salesman into giving Geoffrey Berman some reason to un-recuse himself from the Cohen-related investigations? Robert Khuzami is the prosecutor Trump was trying to get off his scent by getting Berman to rescind his recusal! What’s more, the official reason for Khuzami’s departure from the SDNY – namely, that he wants to spend more time with his family – rings hollow, at least to my ears. (FYI:

    • bmaz says:

      Eh, I don’t see an issue about Khuzami leaving yet. The replacement is very old school institutionalist who is well thought of.

      • Minnedame says:

        I read that as well, but isn’t Barr also an old-school institutionalist who is well thought of? The timing makes it smell funny to me – but my nose could be off.

            • bmaz says:

              You really think that all actions by AUSA’s run through the AG? Especially in SDNY?? Have you ever dealt with any of these offices? Come on man.

              • RWood says:

                Normally I would say no, but after these last two days, Bmaz…I’m not sure of anything anymore.

                • bmaz says:

                  I understand the consternation. But even during the W Bush years, and even after Alfredo Gonzales and Bush fired my local Republican (and absurdly great US Attorney) Paul Charlton. You don’t ever know. We ended up fine here. The race is long. Play it out.

                  • sneakynordic says:

                    But during the Bush years, when Mercer was axing folks, you knew it was ideological, i.e., you had to pledge loyalty to the unitary executive. “It’s much more tenuous in the DOJ now” = understatement of the century.

              • Hika says:

                If SDNY is doing a deep dive into Trump’s financial misdeeds, is it possible Khuzami may have a conflict of interest due to his previous work as Gen-Counsel at Deutsche Bank? Just a “thought bubble” that this may have been a factor in his move away from SDNY.

                • Minnedame says:

                  It seems like it could be an important “thought bubble,” Hika. The connection did not occur to me, although it perhaps should have. Even though we do not know for sure the extent of any purported investigation at the SDNY and whether Deutsche Bank falls within its scope, it is somehow comforting to think that there might be a legitimate reason for Khuzami’s departure from any investigation into Trump. Still, it troubles me that the prosecutor whom Trump not long ago wanted off the case – whose investigation Trump reportedly wanted to thwart so badly he attempted to obstruct justice – is now suddenly off the case and no one seems to be asking questions.

  12. Steve says:

    All of these things still true: https: //kikoshouse .blogspot .com/2018/09/ a-comprehensive-timeline-of-russia.html?

    Regardless if Barrs interpretation of Muellers interpretation of the facts.

    [URL ‘broken’ with blank spaces to prevent accidental click through by community members. Citations from widely known sources are preferred. If this is a link to your own site, provide summary here of the content to which you wish to point our readers. Please do not pimp your site for our traffic; we do not share user IDs or other identifying information. Thank you. /~Rayne]

    • Shaun Mullen says:

      Easy, Rayne, easy.

      The timeline is from my teeny weenie blog. I wouldn’t know “Steve” if I fell over him, but appreciate the citation if not your gratuitous slap.

      • Rayne says:

        Look, I don’t know you from the figurative Adam. I don’t have time to do a security check on your site. I’m not going to ask you to forgive me for protecting this site’s mission and its community, especially when this particular week requires even more sensivity to content shared in comments. You might think back on this someday when your blog is more than decade old and have to worry about crap like this.

        • Shaun Mullen says:

          As the proprietor of a 14-year-old blog that gets in a week what emptywheel gets before breakfast on a slow day, I understand, but the edgy histrionics don’t cut it. Cordiality does.

          Google me someday wen you’re not pulling wings off of houseflies, and better still spend 30 seconds at my blog. We’re soulmates, not adversaries.

          A final (hopefully not too gratuitously smarmy) note: Marcy, bmaz and yourself have broken through the cacophony of the blogosphere by dint of hard work built on a deep skepticism of what or so-called leaders tell us, a willingness to dig as deep as is necessary and a commitment to the truth. I was very serious when I noted the other day that Marcy is deserving of a Pulitzer in Explanatory Journalism. Nominations for 2019 are long over, but let’s try to make 2020 emptywheel’s year.

          • Eureka says:

            Now I get it: this is the trope where boys throw rocks at girls because they really, really like them:

            …I understand, but the edgy histrionics don’t cut it. Cordiality does.

            Google me someday wen you’re not pulling wings off of houseflies, and better still spend 30 seconds at my blog. We’re soulmates, not adversaries.

            ETA: take your own advice.

          • bmaz says:

            Hi Shaun. I have actually seen your blog before and appreciate your effort. That is good and commendable work. Let’s all dial this back, okay?

  13. Stephen says:

    I think that a couple of important points have gone unmentioned, or almost unmentioned, even here.

    1. We are looking only at AG Barr’s summary of his reading of the report. I don’t think he’s deeply corrupt or treasonous or anything, but of course he is going to present the case in the most favorable light possible for the president who just appointed him to high office. The hope of the Trumpistas (quite possibly warranted) is that this will set the tone of the narrative, and anything brought up later will get less attention and be easily dismissed as nit-picking or desperate attempts at spinning.

    2. Even this summary does not actually say that Trump or his minions have been cleared. Look at the quote: “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Marcy points out that this focuses solely on official government representatives (and people officially associated with the campaign – which would exclude Stone!). But it doesn’t come close to saying “we found no evidence of conspiracy or coordination,” let alone “we concluded that no conspiracy or coordination took place.” It looks to me (and okay, I’m not an expert here) like a prosecutor’s way of saying “there is insufficient evidence on which to build a case that would hold up in court.”

    One last thing. Marcy pointed out on several occasions that the Mueller investigation did not seem to be that close to its end, given that a number of open threads remained (the “mystery appellant,” the Miller subpoena battle, the Stone indictment, continued cooperation by Gates, etc.). One cannot help suspecting that a certain amount of discrete pressure may have been brought to bear. Not actively suppressing the investigation, more like his old pal Barr saying “we need to move toward closure on this thing,” and a sense that the Rosenstein shield was not going to hold up much longer. Better a report that has a chance of seeing the light of day, and contains evidence & hints on which others may build (hello Congress) than an investigation quashed.

    • X says:

      Speaking to your second sentence in point #1, have you done any research on Barr’s past record? Ever hear of Nixon? How about Iran/contra?

    • Bill Smith says:

      Isn’t the presumption innocent unless proven guilty? It appears Mueller didn’t have enough to even bring charges for conspiracy or whatever the charge would be legally.

      Stone was associated at with the campaign at one point. So was Manafort. Why would the two be different? Papadopoulos? There for a while and then gone. So I don’t see why Stone would be any different.

      Any guesses on what Gates can bring them? After all what does it look like Flynn got them?

      • P J Evans says:

        We don’t know everything Mueller had, and he put a bunch of people behind bars during this investigation, as well as getting more people indicted.
        But thanks for playing.

      • Eureka says:

        So how long does your assignment here last, Bill Smith?

        Spring has sprung, and you are carefully busy here the last several days, bending branches towards your sun.

        It’s basically arbitrary as to which reply I stick this comment, but since PJ and I recently discussed influence operations, I shall line up here.

  14. AMG says:

    i might be overthinking/missing something, but the mueller appointment letter (order no. 3915-2017), does have bullet 1 specifically mentioned – as the overall descriptor of the investigation:

    By virtue of the authority vested in me as Acting Attorney General, including 28 U.S.C. §§ 509, 510, and 515, in order to discharge my responsibility to provide supervision and management of the Department of Justice, and to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, I hereby order as follows:

  15. Rita says:

    I thought Barr’s summary showed that Mueller (or RR) had interpreted his remit fairly narrowly. Presumably Mueller’s Report will define terms like “Russian government” so we will know whether he opined on the use of agents and cut outs. And define other terms like “tacit agreement” and “Trump Campaign”.

    I wonder if Mueller started his investigation and realized that he could spend years pulling on the various strings even with significant assistance and decided to farm stuff out and concentrate on the narrow collusion case, especially after challenges to his authority to prosecute Manafort.

    Barr looks like he is deliberately trying to limit the obstruction issue by connecting it to the obstruction of justice in connection with the narrowly defined collusion (“criminal conspiracy” investigation. But arguably Trump seems to have been obstructing the larger counterintelligence investigation into Russian election interference (e.g. telling Comey to lay Flynn). And that wou;d be the more scary obstruction scenario. We need to see the full Report.

    • Bill Smith says:

      That list of three things at the top wasn’t the what Mueller was operating under.

      On August 2, 2017, Rosenstein issued a new document. Parts of it became public during the Manafort trial under Ellis when the two sides where arguing if Mueller had the authority to go after Manafort. The government said the redone document was secret. Ellis said ‘so what, turn it over for me to read’.

      It was much more specific than those three items. It is embedded in this April 3, 2018 story:

  16. DaBrownOne says:

    It is entirely possible that Barr, Rosenstein, and yes, even Mueller, saw their primary task as protecting the president. What would that mean? A full scale investigation, that charges whoever needs to be charged to complete the investigation, but stop short when it came time to prosecute. This gives it the patina of respectability and thoroughness, while never really contemplating indicting the POTUS. Additionally, the line they chose to not cross may have even been at naming Individual 1 an unindicted co-conspirator, as SDNY did. If Mueller couldn’t do that, from an abundance of caution or the impossibility of a real jury trial (and so deferred to Congress) then Trump was never going to be indicted. What this means is that the full report must be made public, or at least sent to Congress. But it needs to be unclassified. The conspiracy theories will literally never end. What a disaster

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I don’t think that jacket fits Bob Mueller, and probably not Rosenstein. It fits Bill Barr’s resume to a T, but his focus would be on protecting the institutions of the presidency, the GOP and its and their patrons on the right. That it might benefit Trump is almost incidental.

    • bmaz says:

      I will not stake real money on it, but I think this kind of exaggerated bullshit is counterproductive. Let’s not engage in such frothy junk. See how the process plays out before engaging in such, um, excited hyperbole.

  17. dwfreeman says:

    It takes a woman of substance and remarkable insight to continually assure us of how politically fucked we are because of those unwilling to speak truth to power who would rather trade connection for deceit.

    What does anyone owe Donald Trump who even in victory lost a majority vote? I now live in North Carolina where political honesty is always a political compromise with electoral authority.

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As the Japanese say about business, it’s war pursued by other means. The GOP need to survive Trump and prosper long after he is escorted to the padded room. It followed him to a man off the cliff and is only now looking around for parachutes. There are few to be found, which highlights the stakes in having people like Bill Barr succeed in accomplishing their portion of the protect the party job.

    Bill Barr is no flunky, he’s a senior courtier. (The guy he replaced, BDTS, is a disposable flunky.) His CV suggests that he has a long history helping the GOP find those parachutes.

  19. viget says:

    Here is the only thing that I hold out hope on… per Barr’s report, Mueller is going to advise what to redact and what not. If Mueller truly wants us to know what exactly was going on, he will leave his conclusions as is for all of us to read, because they’re not Rule 6(e) material (which is what Barr said he would redact). Note that only 3 parts of sentences were actually quoted from the report. There is more there than Barr is letting on.

    In my naive heart, I am hoping that this is all on the up and up, that it’s being done to shut up Trump for a while, as the REAL investigation into the quid pro quo continues.

    As Marcy said, Kilimnik and Deripaska aren’t the Russian Government. Trump Jr wasn’t officially part of the Trump campaign. Neither was Stone for that matter, nor was Wikileaks the Russian Government.

    Jared/Ivanka was part of the campaign, but had nothing to do with election interference, but rather coordination of the quid pro quo, and therefore “outside” of the Mueller mandate.

    My point is that how do we know that there isn’t another DDC investigation that subsumes all of this stuff, and is still active? Maybe THAT investigation is where the Stone stuff lives, where the Mystery appellant info goes, etc…

    A similar thing may have happened in the Clinton email investigation, there were definitely multiple investigations going on there too.

    As Asha Rangappa points out (and she would know these things), where are the results of the McCabe Counterintelligence investigation into Trump? Is *that* investigation closed?

  20. Savage Librarian says:

    Marcy, thank you so much for your precision and illumination. It means so much to so many and is a great gift to all of us.

    This whole ordeal has been agonizing and doesn’t look like it will resolve soon. Still, we will be highly motivated to vote in 2020.

    Crappy is how we feel now, though. Looking back to June of 2017, I see I felt that way then, too. And I wrote a crappy poem to get my feelings out then. I updated it just a little. Not worth much, but here it is:

    Trumped Up and Stormy

    It doesn’t feel like love
    and it never will.
    You hold your grudge,
    A fort on Archie Bunker’s hill.

    Disgusting & repulsive
    are words you like to use.
    Your weapons of destruction
    to pulverize our views.

    You recklessly forget
    Ugly vices of your own.
    You’re always so dead set
    On throwing one more stone.

    “I am not a crook,” said Nixon.
    Thou doth protest too much.
    You think you’ve got the fix in
    With “she’s a such-and-such.”

    Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde,
    You love to seek revenge.
    You’ll screw the other side
    And claim it’s self-defense.

    In the ancient art of hubris
    You’re as skilled as one can be.
    You pride yourself on shrewdness.
    You repudiate plan B.

    You crossed a line
    somewhere long ago.
    It’s hard to define
    But it’s something that we know.

    You touched a light that glistened.
    You found a faith that glowed.
    If only you had listened
    to a higher moral code.

    The means you take is cruel contempt,
    Your path is zero sum.
    But others know you are exempt
    When the heroes come.

    Deny, deny, deny
    Is the strategy you take.
    You’ll never eat a humble pie.
    You lead the world astray.

    You fell off your pedestal
    and then you fell some more.
    You’re regrettable, not credible.
    You cut us to the core.

    You don’t see humanity,
    You see your beliefs,
    Slithering with vanity,
    Fantasized motifs.

    There is a forest
    not just trees.
    It’s not just you and yours.
    It’s all of us, all of us
    Thundering in the breeze.

  21. Molly Pitcher says:

    NPR just reported on The News Hour that Barr was told three weeks ago that there would be no obstruction charges filed and that he has had all this time to tailor his response.

    • P J Evans says:

      Told by whom? That’s critical information. Was it because Mueller’s authorization was written so tightly that he didn’t think he could? Was it because Barr had Orders From Above to not do it?

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        The reporter said she was told “by the Justice Dept”. I am trying to find a written transcript of the report. I had just turned on the radio when this was said. More info to come, I hope.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        In the The News Hour, Judy Woodruff interviews Terry Johnson, Justice correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor White House correspondent and Lisa Des Jardins Congressional correspondent.

        At 32:44 in, Yamiche Alcindor states that the White House says, and that she “and DeJardins confirmed” that Barr was told three weeks before the end of the report that there would be no obstruction charges and that Barr has had all of this time to ‘craft his opinion’. They [the White House] say that it was not a ‘rush to judgement’ as claimed by the Democrats.

        Here is the link to the broadcast, I haven’t yet found a transcript:

        This smells funny to me.

        • Rayne says:

          There’s only three sources who could offer the true story about obstruction charges: Mueller, Barr, and Mueller’s spokesperson. I seriously doubt these three offered that information. It’s more likely what you wrote, exactly: the White House says.

          Barr needs to be asked under oath if he discussed obstruction charge(s) with the White House.

          • Molly Pitcher says:

            I agree Rayne, I would just like to know where else Yamiche Alcindor and Lisa DeJardins went to corroborate this, which they claim that they did.

            • harpie says:

              Here’s Yamiche Alcindor’s tweet about that, with video:
              …and then, according to her following tweets, they interviewed Rudy…and then:
              [quote] Before the summary of the Mueller report was released, the president said he thought the report should be made public. “Now, the White House is somewhat walking that back,” @Yamiche tells @JudyWoodruff. #MuellerReportPBS [end quote]

          • CitizenCrone says:

            Well, doesn’t Barr have a nephew or something that recently got a job in the WH counsel’s office? Keeping them up to date, apparently.

            [So I guess the answer to Rayne’s question would be No, Barr didn’t discuss obstruction with WH.]

            • harpie says:

              That’s his son in law, Tyler McGaughey. Here’s @dcpoll:
     11:41 AM – 14 Feb 2019
              [quote] Tyler McGaughey, son-in-law of new Trump AG William Barr, has just landed a job in the Trump White House counsel’s office and will be advising Trump on “legal issues.” McGaughey’s work WILL intersect with the Russia investigation. This is such BS. [end quote]

      • InfiniteLoop says:

        The passive voice is critical. Three weeks ago, Mueller likely knew *he* wouldn’t be filing obstruction charges,

        That’s especially remarkable because, if Barr’s summary can be believed on this point, *Mueller* didn’t know whether obstruction charges would be filed.

      • InfiniteLoop says:

        That’s especially remarkable because even Mueller didn’t know whether obstruction charges would be filed until Sunday. He knew he wouldn’t *personally* be filing them, but he left the question open.

        Sorry for the accidental draft post above.

  22. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Trumpy trolls are swarming. Mike Tracey and Glenn Greenwald are piling on, contending that Marcy is obligated to disclose the source she reported to the FBI (GG), and that Marcy is guilty of “perpetrating one of the worst journalistic frauds in US history.” (MT) SAD.

    With such limited analytical skills and so shallow a sense of proportion and history, Mr. Tracey should not give up his day job. [I refuse to cite Tracey, you can read the quotes on Marcy’s twtr feed.] If he’s auditioning for a job at Faux Noise, he has a long way to go before he’ll stand out.

    Speaking of which, why is Cornell-trained lawyer Ari Melber giving Trump’s defense lawyer, Jay Sekulow, air time? Trump can afford to pay for it himself. Sekulow cannot give honest or forthright answers to any of the obvious questions. His best shot after, “No collusion, no collusion,” is, “Process crimes, process crimes!”

    Sekulow should chat with Scooter Libby about what he thinks of “process crimes”.

    • Eureka says:

      It’s all ridiculous, perhaps beyond what one might have predicted. I saw EW had rt’d them; of course I have also seen the affiliated trolls a’swarming.

      ca. 630p, I had the choice of checking the news vs. the possible dumpster fire Sixers (pre-)game. Switched over, spotted Sekulow, and groaned ‘nope, dumpster fire it is,’ CLICK.

    • klynn says:

      GG gloating and demanding an apology just confirms who he is and what his words are intended to create.

  23. Edward says:

    Are we sure that the Barr memo is using “Russian government” univocally?

    The reference to the lack of chargeable offenses related to coordination with the “Russian government” is a direct quote from Mueller’s report, but in Barr’s summary, he sometimes varies his terminology, like here: “the Russian effort to influence the election and documents crimes committed by persons associated with the Russian government,” or “conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”

    Meaning, you seem to be suggesting that Barr is narrowly tailoring the exoneration just to the matter of coordination b/w Trump campaign and the Russian government proper, in order to avoid having to report (at least until more details of the report come out) the evidence of broader coordination, whether that included people more tangentially associated with the campaign (Roger Stone) or with foreign actors who we think were (or are proven to have been) a part of the Russian effort (Wikileaks, Deripaska); or matters pertaining to a quid pro quo. But we don’t actually know Barr is doing this intentionally one way or the other, and won’t until we see more of the report.

    For Barr to do this deliberately would seem to depend on little else of the report coming out, otherwise his obfuscation would become evident pretty quickly. Maybe he is that craven (see Iran/Contra), or maybe he thinks you just need a week to allow Trump and his enablers to declare victory and create the reality distortion field that most of the media will be unable to penetrate, but that seems like a pretty big gamble, especially since Mueller is still around to correct the record.

    BTW, when do we get to hear who the rat was who is the source of the disclaimer you still print on all the articles?

    • Stephen says:

      The crucial thing for Barr, then, is to get his message across quickly & clearly. Once people have encoded the narrative as he frames it, it will be much more difficult for “new” facts to change their views. It’s basically a blend of the negative transfer effect with the confirmation bias.

  24. pdaly says:

    I heard a Republican on NPR today spin the ‘great cost’ of this Mueller probe and ‘that we need to move on, because we’ve already wasted enough money on it,’ but then no mention of how Mueller (h/t emptywheel) has already PAID for the entire cost of this investigation to date with the forfeited property of those he indicted.

    Hoping for more state level court revelations.

    Looking for a silver lining, does this Barr/Rosenstein memo effectively mean that Putin has lost his control over Trump? (assuming Trump was held over a barrel only because of Russia’s receipts on him and not because he prefers to lounge on that barrel)

  25. Pam in CT says:

    I was also struck by the fact that Rosenstein didn’t sign last night’s memo, particularly since Barr really seemed to frame the obstruction decision as a joint one, repeatedly employing the pronouns “we” and “our” throughout p. 3 (though he used “I” throughout pp 1-2). Given how much longer Rosenstein oversaw the investigation, and how many folks came to see him as seeking to safeguard it; and also given Barr’s audition memo and how many folks saw that as impeding Barr’s impartiality… adding Rosenstein as co-signatory would seem to be an easy way to add a bit more credibility. But he didn’t sign.

    • CitizenCrone says:

      The letterhead is specifically The Atty Gen. He indicated conferring with R., but the letter is from Barr himself, who had the responsibility of receiving and dispensing with Mueller’s report. Doubt there’s more behind it.

  26. Drew says:

    I’m pretty confident that within a week or two, most of all of the Mueller report will be in the hands of the relevant Congressional committees & probably released publicly not much later. This is not because I think Barr et al. are such good guys, but he/they are in a position with no real choice.

    Rosenstein has never been any kind of hero–each thing he’s done can most easily be interpreted as maneuvering for the most people to like/approve of him and/or keep his job. Barr, of course, is a partisan hack, though a more establishment Republican partisan hack than we are used to in these days of Mark Meadows and Jungle Gym Jordan. Mueller is also not a hero, or at least not the hero that progressives fantasize about. As a platoon leader wounded in Vietnam, he learned the value of keeping your head down and limiting your exposure. It appears that he’s competent and primarily takes his refuge in the law, as a straight up G-man should. I doubt that the report of his office is cooked, particularly. There’s no chance that it would take a partisan Democratic approach (as Starr took a partisan Republican approach), but the evidence is probably laid out pretty fairly, if conservatively, in the report.

    So I’m willing to wait a bit–in a couple of weeks the facts will start to countervail the spin–the multiple offices where referrals have been made will start to be apparent. I’ve always been thinking that the worst consequences for Team Trump will come out of related investigations (THE RICO-as silly as it would be as a literal proposal-is attractive to us non-lawyers because there are many interlocking crimes, up to and including Trump Tower Moscow that comprise the Trump Organization).

    So Barr and Rosenstein will look silly. Mueller will be shown to be more cautious than bold in his investigations & prosecutions, and ultimately none of this will work to the advantage of Trump & his minions. Even the Mystery Appellant appears to have been passed off to a non-SCO jurisdiction.

    • Nick says:

      I highly doubt Congress will ever get this report. This is going to be a massive legal fight.

      They know they can bury it forever. If they do finally turn something over, it’s going to be 90% redacted

    • Kai-Lee says:

      Agree with your characterizations of Rosenstein and Barr, and to a large extent, Mueller as well.

      But current info dribs and drabs, and understanding of the players involved, leads me to think that it will be some time, if ever, that the public or even members of Congressional committees get to the see the whole enchilada.

      Word has it that in these intervening few weeks before releasing “a version” of the report that Barr is going to permit Trump to excise the unfavorable bits and craft a sanitized version (likely almost entirely fictional version) of Mueller’s findings.

      I suspect (and hope to be wrong in this) that Barr will not permit Mueller free exchange in any kind of public hearings. They may fight his appearances altogether, or at minimum, severely restrict what he can say. Any active counterintelligence operations may enhance that likelihood.

      It may also come to pass that subpoenas to provide full copies of the original report will be challenged at the Supreme Court, and by then, it will be an election year – oh, no! Can’t release any potentially prejudicial information then! And we know that Kavanaugh, long-time friend of Barr and fellow believer, also subscribes to a very expansive view of presidential power. And I’m sure Gorsuch could be persuaded rather easily in this regard.

      Lastly, it may ultimately come to pass that no form of the original report will be found anywhere. I yield to others with knowledge of protocol in such matters, but it comes down to who owns the data. Mueller, for example, while author, may be prevented from keeping any information at all, let alone releasing it. The only “original” version could come from his oral recitation of what was in the report, and hey, if that’s circumscribed or outright prohibited, none’s the wiser!

      Anyone who underestimates how far Bill Barr is willing to go in this effort doesn’t understand the pull of the curious admixture of religion and political ideology these people purport to live by, and how completely it motivates and justifies their actions. Really, it’s power at all costs, but they call it something else!

  27. omphaloscepsis says:

    This just in:
    The Onion

    “William Barr Declares Mueller Investigation Fully Exonerates Members Of Reagan Administration From Iran-Contra Involvement”

  28. foggycoast says:

    wtf is wrong the the MSM. every report i’ve heard today claim there was NO evidence of “collusion”. that is not what barr’s summary says. wtf.

    • Areader2019 says:

      And I randomly turned it on and saw her talking! Good segment.

      Why is it always a surprise? You guys have got to up your marketing game. At least give her fans a heads up, and put a banner on the top of the page. Heck…you have my email, send me an email. Everyone else does. Why be shy?

      • Eureka says:

        Sometimes she announces it ahead on twitter, but lots of times with these shows and busy or breaking news segments, they have to ‘reschedule’ guests– so even the benefit of advance notice can be thwarted by the vagaries of the news cycle.

        Adding: also the All In with Chris Hayes twitter account has announcements, e.g. tonight:

        All In w/Chris Hayes: “Joining @chrislhayes tonight: @JuliaEAinsley, @davidcicilline, @nickakerman, @emptywheel, @neal_katyal, Michael Isikoff, @DavidCornDC, @K_JeanPierre, @cornellbelcher #inners”

      • Rayne says:

        I’m glad you’re excited. I’m also concerned you and other community members might not have thought about potential security risks created by sharing location in advance. Think about it. Thanks.

        • Areader2019 says:


          Wow. No, I did not think about security concerns. Especially since many guests are not in the NY studio, and are remote.

          But…uh…I guess that is where we are now. I believe you, I’m just gobsmacked that this is where are culture is now.

          • Rayne says:

            Granted, I’m the resident paranoid here at emptywheel. But think carefully about the events that led to the caveat Marcy has put at the bottom of her Trump-Russia related posts, in light of personal security. Think about women who’ve been targeted for harassment by trolls on and offline.

            And here we are.

  29. Rick says:

    I guess I just don’t know enough about the situation here to understand at all.

    If members of Trump’s campaign team (even in a single instance) responded directly to an email from a non-government Russian, about getting election assistance from the Russian government, and they agreed to take that meeting, and then talked about sanctions with some Russians, and lied about it. And then the Russians did help in the election, and then the Trump administration did later help with sanctions…

    Then Mueller would have to say in his report the there was not enough evidence of conspiracy?

  30. Eureka says:

    On the topic of Barr having advance impressions of the Mueller Report pre-completion/ -submission:

    Trump apparently stopped tweeting “witch hunt” on 3-18-19. (, last result of “witch” search)

    His last use of “hoax” in tweets was 3-17-19 (same source). This all followed the major Mueller housekeeping week (March 11th to 15th).

    It caught my ear prospectively on March 8th when Trump called it the “collusion witch _hoax_”* post- (Ellis) Manafort sentencing. I’m unsure of the number and timing of recent verbal instances of use of these terms, but all of this was part of the suite of ‘signs of interest’ (besides Barr being Barr) as far as I was thinking, before the report landed.

    *Trump: ‘It’s a collusion witch hoax’ – The Washington Post

    • P J Evans says:

      That’s interesting, along with his uncharacteristic silence the last few days, and now his attack on the Democrats who support releasing the report.

    • Eureka says:

      Prior to today’s Mueller tweets, Trump’s last “Mueller” tweet = same tweet as last “witch” tweet (March 18, 2019):

      Donald J. Trump: “Wow! A Suffolk/USA Today Poll, just out, states, “50% of Americans AGREE that Robert Mueller’s investigation is a Witch Hunt.” @MSNBC Very few think it is legit! We will soon find out?”

      And lol, no, he did not link his source in that tweet.

    • Eureka says:

      This Feb 19th NYT piece (stacked byline) also aroused my suspicions (which I’ll excerpt below the links):

      Intimidation, Pressure and Humiliation: Inside Trump’s Two-Year War on the Investigations Encircling Him
      subhead: President Trump’s efforts have exposed him to accusations of obstruction of justice as Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, finishes his work.

      For context, see EW on Feb 20th:

      Questions to Ask before Reporting a BREAKING Mueller Report
      The Significance of the Rod Rosenstein / William Barr Window

      Feb 19th was the day NBC’s Pete Williams was reporting “report as early as next week.” Feb 20th, CNN published their reporting, and 20th pm WaPo joined CNN.

      I feel I owe the NYT piece a re-reading, but what struck me at the time (beyond the implications of the general insider/access/PR angles) was this:

      In other words, the president’s brazen public behavior might be his best defense.

      Also, re Flynn firing (tripped my bells re sourcing):

      As Mr. Trump was lunching with Mr. Christie, lawyers in the White House Counsel’s Office met with Mr. Spicer about what he should say from the White House podium about what was a sensitive national security investigation. But when Mr. Spicer’s briefing began, the lawyers started hearing numerous misstatements — some bigger than others — and ended up compiling them all in a memo.

      The lawyers’ main concern was that Mr. Spicer overstated how exhaustively the White House had investigated Mr. Flynn and that he said, wrongly, that administration lawyers had concluded there were no legal issues surrounding Mr. Flynn’s conduct.

      Mr. Spicer later told people he stuck to talking points that he was given by the counsel’s office, and that White House lawyers expressed concern only about how he had described the thoroughness of the internal inquiry into Mr. Flynn. The memo written by the lawyers said that Mr. Spicer was presented with a longer list of his misstatements. The White House never publicly corrected the record.

      And then back to the introduction, which seems to describe a different article at times vs the remainder of the text:

      An examination by The New York Times reveals the extent of an even more sustained, more secretive assault by Mr. Trump on the machinery of federal law enforcement. Interviews with dozens of current and former government officials and others close to Mr. Trump, as well as a review of confidential White House documents, reveal numerous unreported episodes in a two-year drama.

  31. Theresa says:

    The combined experience, expertise and leadership of Mueller, his esteemed attorneys, SA’s and related staff was incomparable, world class even. The Mueller team lived and breathed this for 2 years. The evidence was memorized. They likely deliberated every day about legal theory and charging decisions and yet, they do not have an opinion or recommendation. It is simply not believable that they couldn’t come to a consensus or make a determination on obstruction. When Mueller handed the decision off to Barr, he guaranteed that there would be a no obstruction determination. Why did he do that? I doubt we will ever see the report. I now wonder if Congress will ever see it. If it goes to SCOTUS, that will be laughable as Barto O’Kavanaugh is perched and waiting to rubber stamp anything favorable to #Individual1 as a payback for his seat on SCOTUS. I hope I’m wrong.

  32. sand says:

    Thanks for all the great work over the past few years. Keep it up!

    I’m going to just chill and try to be patient enough to hear more of the words that Mueller and his team wrote.

    That said, if I were a less-than-honest candidate in the already ongoing 2020 race, didn’t DOJ just throw a number of (already complex) federal election laws into a total cloud of mystery? If a bunch of Argentinians walk into my office tomorrow and say, “Look, we love you, and we want to do everything we can to help you win. But if you win this thing, we just gotta have the Falklands.”

    I can say, “Look guys, I’m real busy, but my brother is just finishing his workout. Meet with him, and we’ll see what happens. By the way, my campaign manager left our latest polling data on the table here. Now, it’s lunchtime, and I’m gonna go get 15 empanadas and a Coke Light. Do you call it that? Anyway, please show yourselves out, and check out my rally tomorrow, because I’m gonna bring up this Falklands thing, which is totally unfair to you guys. If there’s anything you can do to help me, that would be fantastic. Call me either way right after the election, because I am totally ready to help undermine the current administration in any way I can.”

    Based on Barr’s summary, DOJ wouldn’t see anything they could prosecute there, right? I mean, if you’re not taking foreign help, aren’t you working with one hand tied behind your back at this point?

    Most of this was tongue-in-cheek, but I’m serious on the overall question. If the ref never calls holding, don’t most teams start to hold? Feel free to bash me or ignore me as warranted.

    And to all those that have felt despair, we’ll be holding the sestercentennial of this nation in Philly in 2026, one way or another. Hang in there. There’s still a little bit of something in this country that no criminal, oligarch, or fool can fathom. Publish the facts. Reach across the aisle. Vote.

  33. earlofhuntingdon says:

    There’s a reason that people around Trump, who do know what they’re doing, wanted Bill Barr as Attorney General. It’s the same reason that the smarter George H.W. Bush wanted him as his Attorney General.

    When he first became AG in early 1991, Barr walked into a shit storm, poured oil on troubled waters, and allowed Poppa Bush to retire in peace to Kennebunkport. Trump’s handlers want a similar outcome for Trump and the GOP that is now wholly dependent on him.

    In 1991, Lawrence Walsh’s independent counsel Iran-Contra investigation had been going on for five years. It would go on for the rest of Bush’s presidency. Bush, starting as Reagan’s VP and as a former CIA director, was vulnerable. Those more directly implicated were WH aide Oliver North and SecDef Caspar Weinberger.

    With Barr as AG, the CIA continued its complete stonewalling of Walsh’s investigation. He blessed the six pardons Bush issued shortly before leaving office, which included Weinberger’s. Those helped insulate Bush himself from further investigation and potential prosecution.

    That didn’t just happen. Bush, never as smart as Jefferson or Madison, was an expert networker and a detailed planner (and a deeply arrogant sod, which he hid under his aw shucks, thousand points of light bullshit). Bush had vetted Barr before winning the presidency.

    Almost immediately on entering the Oval Office, he appointed Barr to head the OLC, whose interpretations of federal law bind the DoJ and the entire executive branch. Bush then moved Barr to Deputy AG, where he took over day-to-day control of Main Justice. He then made him Attorney General for his final two years as president.

    Those around Trump who want the same outcome that Barr delivered for Poppa Bush chose well. But Trump has always throttled the good things that have come his way.

    • Michael says:

      Bush couldn’t have been prosecuted if he finished his term- the Statute of Limitations ran out before his term expired.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        That ignores continuing conspiracies and obstruction, whose statutes of limitation might not have run.

        A collateral issue is political, not legal fallout. Had Bush been more directly and publicly implicated in crimes, Florida might never have enjoyed a Bush governor and Molly Ivins might have had one more reason to nickname his eldest son, Shrub.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The MSM continues to keen about why Bill Barr “took it upon himself” to declare no obstruction. Bill Barr did it because that’s why he’s there.

      If Barr weren’t reliably going to take one for the Gipper, he would not have been nominated. Nothing mattered more to Trump at the time, nothing matters more to him now. BDTS was a useful disposable idiot, but lacked, among other things, the stature to be convincing in the role Barr just performed.

      • MattyG says:

        It will be interesting to see how long it takes the House to get Mueller in for testimony. Barr hedged a bit by partially quoting Muellers two-edged sword comment, but boy will it make history if Mueller take issue with Barr’s (mostly implied) characterization of the report’s findings etc. . It will also make history if he blandly goes along…

  34. Michael says:

    What’s interesting is this throwaway line in a description of how Mueller told Barr that he wasn’t going to reach a decision on obstruction:
    “The meeting between Justice officials and the special counsel’s office wasn’t about obstruction alone, the source added, and the special counsel’s team asked for more time to finish their work for administrative reasons, which was granted.”
    Mueller asked for more time to finish? Wass Barr pressuring him to end the probe?

    • Boy C says:

      Related to this is my question – are there such things as speaking referrals? We know he liked speaking indictments. So, what exactly goes into a referral? Facts and the referring office’s assessment to date or does it depend? Wild ass speculation/hope no doubt, but what if Bobby 3 sticks put a little more work into leaving a paper trail in case Barr buried his report? Could he have laid out his case for quid pro quo conspiracy to SDNY but wrap it up by saying in the end this was outside my purview as SC as dictated by Rod R, but you got this? Maybe that explains Barr’s inexplicable “does not exonerate” sentence. He can’t fully contain it as he had hoped if the trump tower meeting is sitting in SDNYs hands? Wouldn’t the FBI counterintelligence investigative stuff then have to go with it? And the obstruction via editing Cohen testimony to SDNY or DC? Does this explain the whole Buzzfeed story and SC non denial denial statement from a few months ago? Silly I know but it gives me hope and yesterday was dark AF.

  35. klynn says:

    I have been thinking that a timeline of when each 199+ criminal counts happened, just might make a great timeline.

      • dwfreeman says:

        There are plenty of timelines already published by some great sites. I do think that they offer great perspective as it relates to context in viewing how things happened and broke, but timeline information only provides a snapshot of a certain detail, not documentation of its true understanding.

        For example, there came a point in time when both 2016 presidential campaigns were advised of Russian cyber interference by federal authorities, and yet we don’t even need an actual calendar of events to now recognize that whenever Trump’s campaign was advised of this fact, it had already had dozens of contacts with Russians offering campaign assistance, and the campaign never acknowledged any of that. Not once did that occur. Why? Isn’t consorting with a foreign advesary to assist a domestic political campaign a crime on its own, and the failure to acknowledge it, a crime in itself?

        A timeline certifies this knowledge, it doesn’t explain the motivation behind the campaign not coming forward to document why that happened.

        Nor does a legal summary that fails to illumine any rationale for not pursuing leads and conflicts in the public record that a timeline showed occurred, but are not even resonated in the framework of declination to charge any crimes. And one man hand-picked by the president, not only helped frame the non-case for prosecution on obstruction grounds, but suggested his guilt was so limited we shouldn’t even consider the weight of evidence behind that determination.

        And this point of view doesn’t even address what the Trump campaign was mostly seeking to do with the Russians based on available timeline evidence of known and reported public comment, events, activities and historical relationships, which were at the center of all Trump’s campaign for president. We know all that without ever having to read the Mueller Report. But it would be nice to know what the investigators found instead of relying on the word of a political appointee, to summarize their findings for us.

        After all, when we talk about partisanship, everyone connected with the Mueller Report belonged to the same party. It’s creation was entirely brought about by Republicans, something the Trump White House and the GOP also fail to acknowledge. They did this to themselves.

        • Rayne says:

          Dude. I don’t need the mansplaining on timelines. Why do you think timelines became so popular over the last decade with corporate media outlets?

          klynn has been a community member for as long as this blog existed, even in its earliest iterations. If she’s asking for a timeline it’s because she’s looking for something particular to be revealed in a certain way by the tick-tock of events. That’s she’s asking also suggests the timeline she wants doesn’t exist elsewhere.

          • klynn says:

            A cross pollination of both – when the criminal act(s) occurred along with timeline notes on when charges were filed and with Twitter feed from T in relation to both. I’m looking for holes that need to be filled to get the evidence close to the 85% threshold. It would probably set up best as an excel timeline.

            • Rayne says:

              I have a Ukraine timeline I’ve been picking at and sitting on for more than two years. Somewhere in that timeline I should ensure Manafort’s Ukraine projects have been inserted.

              Do you have a Twitter account? Can you ping mine if you do?

  36. Michael Keenan says:

    The wives are bible study students. Mueller and Barr are friends. Obama said that Russian ELECTION interference was inconclusive, so did Senator Harry Reid in his retirement speech and so to did the so-called Intelligence assessment. And now comes Mueller admitting no evidence exists. Corporate media is not news. After the full report comes out it will most likely bare all this out and so we should hold our horses as Bmaz consuls. Impeachment may then be a credible move in regards to any quid quo pros and corruption. Trump is not off the hook. Plus the Grand Jury should disclose were exceptions allow it.

    • pjb says:

      Just to be clear. There is no evidence that Mueller’s Report says “no evidence exists.” We haven’t seen what Mueller actually says. More to the point, Barr’s letter doesn’t say that Mueller concluded “no evidence exists” nor could he even attempt such an assertion as we all have seen public evidence of such. Rather. his lawyerly formulation is “the evidence does not establish. . . .” This means there is evidence (how much or how damning we do not know yet) but it does not meet the legal standard sufficient to charge with a crime.

      While talking about the standard of proof, what does anyone think the standard applied in this instance? Normally, as I understand (I don’t practice federal criminal law) the determination as to whether to charge a crime (either by indictment or information) is a probable cause standard. Yet, the DOJ knows that to prevail, it must prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt. Do we think that because it involves the President and is a vital national interest, the DOJ applied a far more rigorous standard than probable cause to believe a crime occurred – something more akin to a BRD standard?

      • P J Evans says:

        That commenter tends to be a nay-sayer, if not a backer of the GOP-T line on this whole thing.

        • Rayne says:

          Yup. That one is walking a very fine line. bmaz has already barked at him at least once. The grammar and spelling alone give pause.

          • pjb says:

            Appreciate the heads-up. Any thoughts on the standard of proof DOJ may have used to determine whether to charge a crime here?

            • Rayne says:

              Nope. I think we need to see all the cards to know how to play them. I can’t say without knowing what counterintelligence bits and pieces are out there still in play that I would absolutely and conclusively have brought charges, but I certainly would have been stronger in my wording if I were in Barr’s shoes about the pattern of Trump’s behavior both in lead up to his campaign, the operation of his campaign, and his behavior and persistent denials during transition/post-inauguration combined with his status as an unindicted co-conspirator strongly suggesting a guilty mindset and a strong possibility of obstruction.

              • pjb says:

                Only if you were playing it straight. While Barr is obviously much smarter than Whitaker and couldn’t stray too awfully far from the tenor of Mueller’s report since it will eventually see the light of day (indeed, had to throw in Mueller’s “no exoneration” as a bone), it seems to me that Barr has figured out a fairly shrewd way to help Trump by setting a narrative that will take hold for a few weeks. When the Mueller report or at least the obstruction part (likely no 6(e) or classified stuff there) comes out, the MSM will treat it as old news, and the public will have had Mueller fatigue.

  37. Eureka says:

    I was pleased that we made it through Sunday without a slew of pardons, but giving it more thought he probably has to wait out Mystery Appellant implications (besides wanting to savor this news cycle to its wrung-out end). In any case, McConnell is helping to widen the Barr window for same, as expected. I figure he’d (have to) do the pardons before the House extracts significant Mueller details. Others might have better insights/guesses as to possible constraints.

    With the Christian Holy Week next month, the evangelicals-and-Q-crowd(s) might find pardons to be auspicious on certain dates. And this GOP never misses an opportunity to pander to “the base.”

      • P J Evans says:

        He’s “just the covfefe boy” – if he gets one, it’s a sign that he was a lot more important than Tr*mp wanted people to believe last year and the year before.

        • Eureka says:

          Papa is actually more valuable to him in the unpardoned state, (indirectly) begging for one on the teevee, continuing the schtick. As things stand now, he loses all value once pardoned.

          Congrats, young George, I guess you got that job working for Trump after all.

          If he gets one, it’s surely by accident of Trump’s (advisors’) larger goals– say, pardons-of-all to mask which ones are more important (like Stone, Manafort) to his ego and other vulnerabilities. Or if the campaign storyline goes towards purity (‘whole witch hunt hoax victim posse exonerated by beneficent king’) instead of bad apples left to rot (like coffee boy who feared he’d tangoed with “treason”)… Then there are the vagaries of being Trump, like sudden impulses to pardon ‘everyone’ as reflections of himself and his power. Etc…

          TL;DR Whatever Fox and the money says.

  38. Pete says:

    In Barr’s letter under the Obstruction of Justice section he writes
    “The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion – one way or the other – as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as “difficult issues” of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction.”

    What would it mean to set out evidence on the side of the (obstruction) question that suggests that there was not instruction? Isn’t evidence reserved to support a crime and lack of evidence not supportive of a crime?

    To me the wording seems odd.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It suggests Mueller compromised between the never indict OLC opinion and those arguing for indictment based on persuasive, but not overwhelming evidence. He left the decision to a cage-match between two groups: the AG, who could override existing policy and Congress, which could use the information to make a politico-legal determination that the conduct justified impeachment, sanction, or some other remedy beyond Mueller’s authority.

      Having great faith in the chain of command, which he has followed his whole life, Mueller might have simply left such a weighty decision to the AG. Eschewing debate – and especially disclosure – Barr grabbed the question with both hands and ran for the protect-the-status-quo goal line.

      That has been his career-long role, which is why he’s Attorney General. Trump surely did not resurrect a Reagan-Bush courtier on his own: all he would remember from those years is his favorite television show.

      • Pete says:

        Thanks…so perhaps the question referred to (…sets out evidence on both sides of the QUESTION…) is really about the OLC opinion whether you can indict a sitting POTUS. While I may still be in a fog, that makes more sense to me.

  39. Jenny says:

    Thank you Marcy for this excellent post.

    What clicked for me was your first paragraph about … “conspiring or coordinating with the Russian government.” This is my understanding.

    Trump campaign and associates cleared with “conspiring or coordination with the Russian government.” Not with the “Russian oligarchs” who are the Russian government. However, cannot be proven the Russian oligarchs are part of the Russian government even through Trump, family and associates were indeed collaborating with the Russian oligarchs.

    Had the investigation included: Russian government, Russian oligarchs and anyone connected with Russia for communicating, coordinating and conspiring with Trump campaign, then Mueller could have been successful in the quid pro quo assistance, real estate deal and so much more.

    Narrow frame to investigate with just “Russian government” considering the Russian oligarchs plus all the other Russian players were left out.

    Exhausting. This is just the beginning. So much more to be revealed …

      • Rayne says:

        The point of the mafia is two-fold: the government is a kleptocracy, and the mafia as a differentiated though amorphous entity provides plausible deniability.

        It’s a pity Rosenstein didn’t do a better job defining SCO scope to encompass this apart from allowing any criminal matters uncovered along the way to be investigated.

        • Jenny says:

          Rayne, yes a pity and disappointing considering the FBI is very aware of how the Russian government functions. UGH!

      • Jenny says:

        AMG thank you for the link. I read the article earlier in the year; however did not resonate until now. Excellent piece.

        Hungarian sociologist Bálint Magyar quotes speak volumes:
        Trump is “like a Mafia boss without a Mafia.”
        Putin “is a Mafia boss with a real Mafia, which has turned the whole state into a criminal state.”

        • AMG says:

          yeah, i thought that was a solid piece. i thought this was also a choice quote:
          The Mafia state is efficient in its own way. It does not take over all state institutions, but absorbs only the ones necessary for extracting profit. Some structures therefore continue to work as though they were part of a normal state.

          i think there’s an analogy to be made w/ how the trump admin is operating – both by bringing in former execs and lobbyists to run parts of the government (see the current heads of defense, hhs, epa, the interior – also see mnuchin, tillerson, etc.) AND/OR industry execs like john legere/t-mobile camping out at trump’s hotel to the tune of $195k.

          another magyar quote:
          A Mafia state, on the other hand, acts only in the personal profit-seeking interests of the clan. “That’s not a deviation,” Magyar said. “It’s a substantive, structural characteristic of the state. The state itself, at the top, works as a criminal organization.”

    • AMG says:

      i’m listening to this recent episode of trumpcast:

      virginia heffernan is talking to jed shugerman and he just brought up an interesting distinction – instead of focusing on how to parse “the russian government” side of things, shugerman and heffernan focus on how to parse barr’s statement that “The investigation did not establish that ***members of the Trump campaign*** conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” shugerman points out that might not cover roger stone or erik prince.

      we can even go back to the text of order no. 3915-2017 and parse the language there, which is “individuals associated with the campaign of president donald trump.”

      how about trump for america, inc. also known as the presidential transition team – is there a distinction between the campaign and the transition?

      welp, that’s enough wankery from me for the time being…

  40. TheraP says:

    I am so sick of the GOP “war on logic” – it goes back a long way. It crops up over and over. And for some reason, except for Marcy and many here (and elsewhere), the illogic is left to dangle by too much of our press. To dangerously dangle.

    It reminds me of a line, repeated over and over, in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia: “What do they teach in these schools?”

    I’m not talking about “formal logic” like Aristotle. I just mean the ability to think and reason, to differentiate propaganda or mere assertion from facts or reason. And muster good arguments.

    To me, this is the bottom line here. Underlying the “ability” of a chief executive to appoint (and get confirmed) a “yes man” – who “gets” that his job is, like Cohen’s, to Protect the Boss. And then the appointee to subvert a Report, pen a propaganda piece, and pull the wool over too many in the press as well as too many of the public.

    This little rant of mine adds nothing to the discussion, which I have not had the pleasure of reading yet. But I feel better having repeated my longtime beef/mantra. Yet again.

    A couple more things. Trump, in my view, has over-reached to a dangerous degree, promising even worse than a war on logic: instead an enemies list, as I understand it – a war on logicians, so to speak, on people of sense, on his critics. This is scary! And if Barr does his bidding, that would be even more scary. (I hope BMAZ shows up to disabuse me of this notion. Otherwise, the scare meter goes up, I warn you.)

    • TheraP says:

      P.S, I should add an important element of “good logic” which is evident in this post by Marcy: spotting what isn’t there, what’s missing. As such, Marcy could have titled this post: “The Dog that Didn’t Bark.” (As in the Sherlock Holmes story.)

    • Tom says:

      The worst part is that the GOP insults our intelligence by expecting us to accept their nonsensical statements on climate change (“It’s a hoax!”), economic policy (“You’ve never had it so good!”), or the meaning of simple statements in English: e.g., not being charged with a crime due to insufficient evidence to lay a charge with a reasonable chance of conviction is NOT the same as being completely exonerated and vindicated. Really GOP, do you think we’re that stupid?! But then I’m talking about a party which boasts members who think quoting Adolf Hitler is a winning debate tactic.

      • TheraP says:

        All lying is an insult to intelligence, an assumption that “you are too stupid to see this is a lie.”

        I used to tell my teenage son a version of that: “Do you think I’m so stupid to buy that?”

    • TheraP says:

      I’m envisioning multiple memos, stashed for. Posterity. Or Congressional subpoena?

      P.S. And WHEN, HOW is this Report going to leak?

  41. viget says:

    Sort of OT–

    I just *love* the fact that Barr is going “all in” on the ACA. This is a losing battle for them. Is this Trump’s desire, or is it the GOP establishment that thinks this is a good idea? In any case, it provides an immediate foil for the democrats.

    Or maybe this is Barr’s idea of damage control — basically ensure that Trump will not be reelected, but also appealing to the GOP powers-that-be too.

  42. Jockobadger says:

    Last night I listened to the podcast Pod Save America dated March 25th. The hosts, Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, Jon Lovett, and Dan Pfeiffer weren’t all there and I’m not sure who was running it, but the guest for the first hour was Preet Bharara, Former USA, SDNY. Other bona fides include being fired by Trump, but he said nothing about that. Anyway, I thought it was great. Preet’s explanation/speculation about what Mueller was attempting to do with the report, and what Barr subsequently did with it, was illuminating, at least for me.

    The discussion re: what may have happened re: obstruction and how oftentimes obstruction is charged without having an underlying crime extant made a lot of sense to me and according to Preet, Rudy did it a lot back in the day. I won’t try to explain further, but it’s certainly worth a listen. His ideas about what happened between Barr and Mueller wrt to the Report were really eye-opening I thought. He believes that Mueller absolutely intended for the Report to go to Congress for final dispensation, but Barr intervened with the somewhat tortured summary and hijacked it. Preet’s analogy was that Mueller punted downfield for Congress, but Barr came off the sideline, fielded the ball, and returned it to the Trump end zone. He believes that the Report contains/reveals a lot of unsavory stuff, but that Mueller came to the conclusion that the only way to force a final reckoning for trump was through Congress bc he believed that trump would never be indicted under Barr et al. The ball was intercepted. Great stuff for someone who inal like me. It’s easy to find so I won’t include a link (hope that’s ok, Rayne?)

    Preet seemed like a very deliberate, thoughtful and knowledgeable person to me. I recall the firing, but didn’t know a lot else about him. Bmaz?

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, I’ve known of Preet for a long time. He is a very smart guy. Was longtime chief counsel to Chuck Schumer and was very active on judiciary committee matters. Then was an AUSA in SDNY and subsequently made the US Attorney for SDNY. He has a reputation for being tough on organized crime and Wall Street, although I think some of that is overblown myth, especially the Wall Street part.

      He is very measured when he speaks, so when he said what you describe, I think it means something. And I agree with that analysis.

    • General Sternwood says:

      So Mueller did not anticipate this possibility? Did he overestimate Barr’s integrity, or is he so much of a rule-follower that he could not imagine trying to corruption-proof the process surrounding his own report?

      I am a pessimist by nature, so I do imagine a scenario where the report stays closely held past 2020. In fact, the current massive PR campaign to paint it as exonerating Trump seems almost designed to diffuse pressure to release it by moving the window so that any suggestion of wrongdoing becomes “collusion” to harass the president.

  43. Willis Warren says:

    Now that Rosenstein has shown his true colors, and verified my two years of anxiety about him, I’m curious about all the leak questions that I’ve posted here… I’d bet MOST of those were Rod

  44. harpie says:

    1] 11:38 AM ET Reuters
    U.S. House [Judiciary] panel OKs move to give Congress records of FBI probes against Trump
    [quote] The U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution directing the Justice Department to give Congress all records on FBI obstruction of justice or counterintelligence probes against President Donald Trump. [end quote]
    2] 11:39 AM ET Bloomberg:
    House Panel Seeks Documents on Rosenstein’s Trump Comments
    [quote] The House Judiciary Committee backed a Republican effort to look into claims that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein considered secretly recording President Donald Trump and raised the possibility of ousting him. […] [end quote]

  45. General Sternwood says:

    I am just hoping that when Barr’s underlings send the Mueller report to the White House, they ask Daniel Ellsberg to bring it over for them.

  46. Mooser says:

    And now Mueller and his team, having been discarded as incompetent, if not corrupt, goes gently into their good-night?

  47. North Jersey John says:

    Maybe OT – the dangers of premature celebration? H/t to Jockobadger and others asking the question: Did Barr intercept Mueller’s downfield punt to Congress? I’m struck by the coordinated messaging around Barr’s summary and the ready press amplification. After spending months myself working to help a local 2018 Congressional challenger and personally knocking +1500 General election doors, their premature celebration on No Collusion seems ill-advised.
    per today’s WaPo snip
    “This is not something to put behind us and move on,” said David Bossie, Trump’s 2016 deputy campaign manager. He said the White House and the Trump reelection campaign need to make sure “we are beating the drum”

    The Independent and D-leaning voters I met cared MOST about Health Care, full NJ SALT Tax deductibility, corruption, the overall direction of the Country, and having a Democratic Congress be a check on Trump. The Barr Summary doesn’t change any of those household issues. In some ways, it may be that avid defenders of Trump may wind up being a blessing in disguise – by focusing on a sketchy/incomplete claim of exoneration, they stay obsessed on an issue that does not concern the vast majority of voters in the middle.

    How long before the actual Mueller report leaks, and how will that undermine the current Barr Memo spin? Premature celebration rarely ends well. We repeatedly seen Trump’s defenders try to cherry pick read-outs, which are subsequently undermined by a fuller release.

    I hope the 2020 election is won the same way we won the 2018 House, by relentlessly canvassing and working every district. Time to suit up, start registering new voters, and do the door knocking to persuade voters on our kitchen table issues.

    • Tom says:

      Yes, the Republicans seem to be carefully drawing a bead on their feet by choosing this moment to renew their attack on Obamacare. Must be using dumb-dumb bullets.

  48. Tom says:

    It strikes me that it was Trump’s skills as a con man that led him to carry out so many of his obstruction of justice actions “in public view”, as AG Barr noted in his letter. At least he succeeded in conning Barr into giving him the benefit of the doubt as to whether he, Trump, had any ulterior motives for firing Comey, etc.. But then Barr seems to have been willing to be conned.

  49. pjb says:

    I apologize if this was discussed further up the thread (it is so long!) but what has anyone heard about the FBI briefing to the Gang of 8 on the counterintelligence aspect of the investigation. Do we know when that is scheduled? Is the fact that the FBI is doing the briefing (and not Mueller lawyers/investigators) indicative that the SCO did not maintain this work as part of its remit? If it is the FBI, how do we read Director Wray?
    Given he was a Trump appointment like Barr, do we see him as a true public servant (a la Mueller) or partisan hack (a la Barr). How fulsome do we expect such investigation to be and how much of the information, which must include classified information, that is conveyed will be able to be released publicly and when?

    I am really most interested in this than the purely legal aspects of whether Mueller’s team could make a case BRD of a criminal “hack and leak” conspiracy or even why they punted to Congress on the obstruction question. (BTW, Bharara and former NJAG Anne Milgram discussed this at length on their Cafe Insider podcast). The question of whether Trump committed these federal crimes is interesting but almost the side issue to me. What the national security implications are is to me the acute issue.

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