The Significance of that Word, “Summary”

In a big story that nevertheless treats Bill Barr’s excuses credulously, the NYT reveals that associates of people on the Mueller team say team members are pissed off by Bill Barr’s obvious misrepresentation of their findings.

Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.

The article itself is typically credulous, accepting at face value that Barr didn’t realize that by weighing in on Trump’s guilt, he was not only wading into political territory, but usurping the proper role of Congress.

Mr. Barr has come under criticism for sharing so little. But according to officials familiar with the attorney general’s thinking, he and his aides limited the details they revealed because they were worried about wading into political territory. Mr. Barr and his advisers expressed concern that if they included derogatory information about Mr. Trump while clearing him, they would face a storm of criticism like what Mr. Comey endured in the Clinton investigation.

But I want to look at the actual news detail in the story: that Mueller’s team wrote multiple summaries. The article uses the word four times (plus a caption) including these three references:

Mr. Barr has said he will move quickly to release the nearly 400-page report but needs time to scrub out confidential information. The special counsel’s investigators had already written multiple summaries of the report, and some team members believe that Mr. Barr should have included more of their material in the four-page letter he wrote on March 24 laying out their main conclusions, according to government officials familiar with the investigation. Mr. Barr only briefly cited the special counsel’s work in his letter.

However, the special counsel’s office never asked Mr. Barr to release the summaries soon after he received the report, a person familiar with the investigation said. And the Justice Department quickly determined that the summaries contain sensitive information, like classified material, secret grand-jury testimony and information related to current federal investigations that must remain confidential, according to two government officials.

The detail is useful because it tells Jerry Nadler and FOIA terrorist Jason Leopold precisely what they’re looking for: Mueller’s own summaries of their findings (which in fact may be parallel summaries, addressing multiple questions).

But it’s also significant that NYT’s sources used that term — summary. As I’ve noted, Barr’s original memo claimed he was “summarize[ing] the principal conclusions reached by the Special Counsel and the results of his investigation.”  Two things: The principal conclusions and the results.

Then after Jerry Nadler scoffed that Barr had released a four page summary (note, one of the journalists on this story, Nicholas Fandos, spent his morning covering the House Judiciary Committee voting to subpoena the report), Barr pretended he hadn’t claimed to be summarizing the investigation and claimed he wouldn’t dream of summarizing the report.

I am aware of some media reports and other public statements mischaracterizing my March 24, 2019 supplemental notification as a “summary” of the Special Counsel’s investigation and report. For example, Chairman Nadler’s March 25 letter refers to my supplemental notification as a “four-page summary of the Special Counsel’s review.” My March 24 letter was not, and did not purport to be, an exhaustive recounting of the Special Counsel’s investigation or report. As my letter made clear, my notification to Congress and the public provided, pending release of the report, a summary of its “principal conclusions” [sic] — that is, its bottom line.

[snip]

I do not believe it would be in the public’s interest for me to attempt to summarize the report or release it in serial fashion.

We now learn, only after Barr pretended he hadn’t claimed to write a summary, that Mueller’s team wrote not just one but multiple summaries (possibly customized to each of several audiences for the report).

And now Barr is offering dubious excuses about why the summaries that tax payers have already paid for couldn’t be released.

My guess is Barr’s claim, which he backtracked off of, to have summarized even “the principal conclusions” of the Mueller report — much less the “results of his investigation” — is going to really come back to embarrass him, if he’s still capable of embarrassment.

Update: And here’s the WaPo, also emphasizing the summaries Mueller’s own team did.

Some members of the office were particularly disappointed that Barr did not release summary information the special counsel team had prepared, according to two people familiar with their reactions.

“There was immediate displeasure from the team when they saw how the attorney general had characterized their work instead,” according one U.S. official briefed on the matter.

Summaries were prepared for different sections of the report, with a view that they could made public, the official said.

The report was prepared “so that the front matter from each section could have been released immediately — or very quickly,” the official said. “It was done in a way that minimum redactions, if any, would have been necessary, and the work would have spoken for itself.”

Mueller’s team assumed the information was going to be made available to the public, the official said, “and so they prepared their summaries to be shared in their own words — and not in the attorney general’s summary of their work, as turned out to be the case.”

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. 

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192 replies
  1. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Thank you Marcy!
    Someone please inform the GOP, again, that the coverup is always worse than the crime…

  2. General Sternwood says:

    Embarrassment, perhaps a little. The problem is that once you start a coverup, you have to also cover up the fact that you started one. By the end of his term, he will have given John Mitchell a run for his money.

    • Donald Shaffer says:

      That would be hard because John Mitchell was a major Nixon bagman who collected cash bribes for Tricky Dick, even when he was AG. But you might be right before this episode is over.

  3. RR says:

    NB the vowel in the seventh word of ¶6 (Burr, Barr, Bork, who can tell the difference any more?).

  4. Eureka says:

    I was also hung up on the modifier, “soon:”

    However, the special counsel’s office never asked Mr. Barr to release the summaries soon after he received the report, a person familiar with the investigation said.

    So SCO asked Barr to release the summaries _period_, just not “soon,” or with a timeframe given?

      • Eureka says:

        I’d nearly added ~ or this is a way of phrasing that SCO ‘now-asked’ for summaries to be released ~ or some such similar gloss. So there are a few low-hanging fruits of Schmidt’s (IMO) contortions.

        Avattoir’s back, and he is _reading_ the comments.

      • P J Evans says:

        I thought the timing they were looking at was slower than “soon after”, but that’s how i parsed it.

    • Herringbone says:

      “never asked Barr to release the summaries soon”

      That is a frighteningly awkward phrase. It’s like a big neon sign that someone at the Times is working mightily to give Barr positive spin.

        • Eureka says:

          Right? That was my response as a functioning human– I’d take their presence as implicit direction to release. But selective norms-destroyers like Barr love the implicit which they can ignore. So I guess in this case, for now, the summaries serve as insurance policies against the SCO getting swept into politicization claims.

          earlofhuntingdon wrote a nice comment below that hits on a variety of institutional notes.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The framing is so credulous it’s either a lie or comes from someone who has never worked for an institution as large and formal as the DoJ. The latter could not apply to someone working for the NYT (or the WaPo).

      Government officials submitting reports to more senior officials might, as here, frame their work for public release, producing multiple versions of it to make it easy to release all or a portion of it. But they would be unlikely to explicitly request its release.

      For one thing, that impinges on a superior’s prerogative. For another, it leaves a paper trail: in a highly-charged case of national significance, that could prove embarrassing to the superior who fumbles or obstructs any release of the materials.

      In this case, that the work or portions of it was intended for public release is obvious. The when and how would be left to someone in a higher pay grade. A formal request would be superfluous. It would not be needed for someone intent on releasing the material, it would not positively influence a contrary minded superior.

      Something else is wrong with the NYT’s framing. Such a request would not come from “the Special Counsel’s office.” If it were explicit, it would come from Mueller to Barr or from Mueller’s aide to Barr’s aide.

      The NYT framing looks like a partial excuse for Barr in that it deflects attention from him to Mueller’s staff. It’s a subliminal message in background noise, but the detail, without additional context, does not enhance the NYT’s credibility.

      • General Sternwood says:

        earlofhuntingdon, that’s exactly my reaction to the Times article — who on earth would think that Mueller would include summaries with a timeline of when the AG should release them? The entire article looks like it was dictated by Barr’s lawyers to provide a non-political cover story for what is clearly a politics-related suppression of the report.

      • P J Evans says:

        I rebuilt a manual for work – it didn’t go out until it had been approved by management, and it wasn’t leaving the department even then. (It was for some of the in-house specialized software. They got about 10 years use from it before the software was retired.)

    • Fran of the North says:

      This specific sentence jumped out at me when I read the article as well. My take is that the source is an apologist for the administration, trying to spin.

      Kind of like the kid when the assignment was due on Friday who explains the following Monday “But you never asked me to turn it in…”

      • Eureka says:

        Reminds me of one of my favorite linguistic examples of (intentional, if very-short-term deniable) ‘misunderstanding:’
        It’s raining. Kid heads to go outside. Mother asks: Where are your boots?
        Kid: In the closet.
        (Oof, and we all know what happens next.)

        Compare the commoner refrain, “Where is your coat?”

        i.e., Barr’s inner child knows to release the effin summaries. And every reader’s inner child knows that the WH water-carriers are all FOS.

  5. pseudonymous in nc says:

    I Know What You Did With That Last Summary, etc.

    There is a curious vibe to that piece. It’s the kind of leak you’d authorise if you’d been told: “nice cover-up you have there, Bill: shame if anything were to happen to it.”

  6. Charles says:

    I think the timing of the NYT report is significant. The Barr letter summarizing Mueller’s findings was dated March 24th. They’ve had over a week when they knew that Barr was going to cover up. He has made it increasingly clear exactly how he’s going to do that, but this can’t be a surprise. I guess his inclusion of personal privacy and reputational interests as critical things to protect might have incited some anger.

    By the way, I deeply regret Aaron Mate’s Izzy Award, reported today on Democracy Now. I can think of people who less deserve it, but they’re mostly on Fox News. I imagine the Park Center for Independent Media will regret this sooner rather than later.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Aaron Maté exposed the hollowness and hyperbole of the so-called Russiagate scandal.

      [https://www.ithaca.edu/news/izzy-award-be-shared-earth-island-journal-and-journalists-laura-flanders-dave-lindorff-and-aaron-mate]

      No regrets coming from anyone who framed Mate’s award like that. Staff at the Parker Center for Independent Media have imbibed the Tracey-Aide with the abandon of Falstaff, presumably sent in a gift basket by Glenn Greenwald and Craig Murray.

      • Charles says:

        I’m guessing that Jeff Cohen, who was one of the judges, is the major offender here. FAIR, for all the good work it has done in exposing media bias, lost its compass around 2000, when they decided that Al Gore and George W. were equally bad. Since then, it has been in decline.

        I noticed that Amy Goodman, in announcing Aaron Mate’s award did not congratulate him, though she did acknowledge him as “formerly a Democracy Now! producer.” Maybe she’ll be more effusive later, but it certainly looked like a handshake rather than a kiss.

    • dwfreeman says:

      Timing has always been a pertinent issue in this case. Timing was significant when Rosenstein released Mueller’s Russian indictments on the IRA and hack and leak operation, one on the eve of a Trump planned trip to see Putin– and then meet with him alone, which in itself could be viewed as obstruction of justice, at least from the manner in which the SCO released the indictment to see the top political reaction to it.

      In reading the NYT account of Barr’s changing view on his letter to Congress, you get the feeling as though Barr is grasping for ways to reinvent the term summary to correspond with his original intent. His plan seemed to be to characterize the principle conclusions and see how far it could take him politically,, knowing it would immediatey and without question benefit his primary benefactor in the White House and his GOP supporters.

      Barr, to me, during his confirmation as now, seems like someone who can massage the message to fit the tone and time of utterance and meet the letter of the law so far as it goes in doing so. And by that, I mean using the law to shield his intentions as he goes about re-writing his his own choices in releasing whatever his four-page letter was originally intended to summarize.

      I mean given what we know from Marcy’s analysis here, wouldn’t it have been easier from a strictly bureaucratic standpoint to use the summary material Mueller’s team included in the report as a backstop in documenting the conclusions Barr maintains were reached, if you insist this isn’t a political interpretation?

      It’s like Barr was hoping this would go over well, nobody would talk internally about it, and he could proceed to part two of his plan in gaming the report by delaying its release during the redaction debate even while the original message continued to its work magic in the meantime. Because if Mueller summarized his work in the report extensively as noted, how long would it have taken to know the actual findings and how they related to the principal conclusions? And how long would it have taken to release a sufficiently scrubbed report for congressional review? A lot less time than its taken. Barr is just playing the system to fulfill his own agenda just like he did in Iran-Contra, when he worked against the interests of the special prosecutor in that case. I mean how much evidence of this guy’s behavior do you need to see, before you acknowledge what he’s doing? C’mon man.

  7. J Barker says:

    This sentence is odd:

    “The officials and others interviewed declined to flesh out why some of the special counsel’s investigators viewed their findings as potentially more damaging for the president than Mr. Barr explained, although the report is believed to examine Mr. Trump’s efforts to thwart the investigation.”

    Why note that these sources would not provide details about which of the findings are damaging, but in the very same sentence suggest that the damaging details relate to obstruction?

    I continue to think the report will allege that Mueller “did not establish” collusion in large part because of Trump’s obstruction, ex. pardon dangling, witness tampering, and other ways he may have pressured potential cooperators we haven’t yet learned about. That’s the kind of damaging detail about obstruction that, if omitted from Barr’s summary, might motivate otherwise completely silent members of Mueller’s team to begin leaking to the press.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      If there were leaks from someone associated with Mueller’s team – a description broad enough to include anyone from Bob Mueller to the contract cleaner in their offices – they would be unlikely to use the word, “collusion.”

      They would be even less likely to release, confirm or deny specific factual information or analyses. Saying you’re pissed off at how a report is being handled by superiors is just this side of a red line. Disclosing specific information contained in a confidential report to the AG would be on the wrong side of it.

  8. foggycoast says:

    Shot across the bow by the Mueller team warning Barr he’d better give Nadler the fucking report or the leaking will begin.

      • elk_l says:

        Back in the 90s I ran into a local politician campaigning in Manhattan on 91st and Lexington right by the 92 St. Y.
        It was raining and he was holding a NY Times umbrella. I thought I was going to catch him a bit nonplussed when I accurately observed and said: “My God, you have a NY Times umbrella and it leaks.” but he immediately said: “And if it didn’t leak, it wouldn’t work.”

        That got him my vote.

  9. milton wiltmellow says:

    I have wondered why Barr dangled his services in the first place. Did he need cash. Did he think he could save the Republicans by saving Trump. Did someone hold blackmail material (going back to the Iran Contra pardons?)

    He was not acting independently as indicated by his Senate testimony which became an entirely partisan affair. The BS about him reeked — he’s an institutionalist, he’s full of integrity, he’s an excellent attorney … blah, blah blah. The comment about him not wanting to wade into politics was laughable (“risible” as Michael Palin would say.).

    So what was Barr’s game — goal, intent — to board the foundering SS Trump? Did he really think he could save Trump? Did he have a choice? When everyone else abandons this disaster, he eagerly volunteers for it.

    Why?

    • highside says:

      Could it be something as simple as ego? Barr may look back on Iran Contra as the highlight of his career. Imagine him in his easy chair, 4 fingers of scotch in his fist, Fox on the telly…

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I’m pretty sure Bill Barr is still very much present-orientated and an active player. He’s not in his cups or an addicted fantasist like Donald Trump.

    • J Barker says:

      Having read some of his early legal writings and interviews about the Bush Sr days, I get the sense that Barr genuinely believes the unitary executive theory is true, has therefore spent the last few decades growing increasingly bitter about a DOJ filled with Independent and Special Counsels, norms of prosecutorial independence, and leaders like James Comey.

      His whole “I have nothing to lose, I can be the one to right the ship even if people hate me fore it” line may have reflected a genuine desire on his part to restore good and proper top-down order to the DOJ.

      • somecallmetim says:

        Given Barr’s service to GHWB, the ship he’s seeking to keep upright is his party, not the DOJ. Partisan hack is another term like liar — not to be used in polite-ical company.

      • GusGus says:

        ” His whole “I have nothing to lose, I can be the one to right the ship even if people hate me fore it” line may have reflected a genuine desire on his part to restore good and proper top-down order to the DOJ. ”

        So you are thinking that he is on one last (suicide) mission to set the DoJ aright before retiring. He is probably going to have to take a bullet for the team, do you think he would do so just to fix the DoJ?

        I kind of think that he was drafted by the Republican party. By the end of 2017 the Republican party knew that Jeff Sessions was not going to last and that Mueller was eventually going to produce a damaging report. Surely they must have started planning ahead and thinking about who they might be able to bring in as DoJ. Barr with his service during Bush I was perfect for their needs. I would not be surprised if someone (McConnell, Grassley, maybe even Graham) reached out to Barr and asked him to “volunteer” for the job by writing that memo which he wrote.

        I think it is more likely that his last job is to save the party rather than the DoJ. Mind you, it helps that he seems to believe in his cause of saving the DoJ as well.

    • Eskimo says:

      Company man Bill Barr puts his thumb in the dyke 🕺🏻 Also too, he is a manifest head-to-toe thumb in the dyke which speaks to and filters WH porn for the Company 🏌🏻‍♂️ Because Mogilevichistan 🎪

    • Hika says:

      My $0.02 is that Barr really couldn’t care less if Trump could be sunk without sinking almost all the GOP leadership with him. I’m thinking of Russian money funneled through the NRA to good-gracious-how-many GOP candidates; and I’m thinking of McConnell’s hissy fit to scare Obama away from publicly outing the Russian’s Trump project mid-election. If there’s a full accounting for the foreign-linked malfeasance involved in the 2016 election, what is left of the Republican Party?
      Bottom line is Bill Barr was voted into his job by Republican Senators with one thing one their minds – Barr’s job as AG is to try to save the GOP. [Saving Trump is an incidental side-effect as far as Barr and his friends in the Senate are concerned.]

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Yes, you express the perfect chant, nice & concise:
        “Barr’s job as AG is to try to save the GOP.”

      • stacey says:

        I’ve thought since early on in this horror show that the Republicans were not just protecting Trump–all of that BS about being afraid of his base, not withstanding–they have been protecting their own asses! The GOP/RNC whoever specifically, was in receipt of stolen opposition research from the DNC hack and I suspect have other sins they’d rather not come out. But recall that the RNC was also hacked by the Russians and the RNC paid bunch-a-bucks to hire a high powered PR firm to clean up the mess that never came after that. You have to know with the dirty tricks that have come out in various races since and their, oh, I don’t know, whole history of behavior, that there was a shit ton of indictable stuff in that RNC hack. Two things came next: 1) the RP clean up firm they hired but then haven’t had to use because, wait for it…2) someone’s holding all of that stuff over them to keep them in line. Now there are two guesses as to who is doing that. The Russians got the info and therefore could be holding it over them to keep them in line, but since Cohen has testified to Trump’s blackmailing behaviors as well as part of his MO and other reporting going back decades in NY tells us that he’s bribed and blackmailed (why do you think having AMI in his back pocket has always been so useful) authorities and politicians before. What if the Russians gave stolen dirt on the RNC to Trump as well knowing it would be maybe more useful to him, the autocrat in waiting, to hold over the only people standing between him and political death?

        So yeah, I think it’s a very good bet that the GOP went looking for someone to get them all out of this shit storm alive and none of them believe for a minute that Trump is capable or willing to save anyone but himself. Barr’s history speaks for itself in terms of his fitness for that duty!

        • P J Evans says:

          It would be fairly easy for the GOP-T in Congress to get out of the mess they’re in – by voting to impeach and convict. At which point, he won’t have the power to do anything to them, and it won’t be in anyone’s interests to have him pardoned and still trying to hold any power – they’d be better off with him behind bars, or at least living in his gold-painted condo and being ignored by the media.

  10. Report Counselor says:

    Mueller has to take some of the blame as well for not explicitly stating that he intended for congress to weigh in on obstruction. Also what’s up with the part in the article that the SCO didn’t request for their summary to be made public. It sounds like they handed the report over to Barr and left everything to his discretion. This may be by the book but why wouldn’t you at least apply pressure to Barr that summaries were created that were intended for public consumption. Will be interesting to see which SCO investigator goes public first about their frustrations.

    • Rick says:

      Without seeing his own summaries, or hearing from the man himself, we don’t know that Mueller didn’t say that Congress should weigh in on obstruction.

      Let’s not blame Mueller for anything quite yet.

      • Jockobadger says:

        Agree entirely with Rick. Mueller appears to have done exactly as required by the law with his report. We don’t know what he may have said to Barr wrt to his (Mueller’s summary(s)) when the MR was handed over. Here you go, Bill. Btw, we prepared some helpful summaries for you to use right out of the chute! Save you some time redacting and all that. You’re welcome. Anyway, I’m of the belief based on what I’ve read and seen here and elsewhere that Mueller DID want to leave the question of obstruction up to Congress – maybe simply bc he didn’t believe trump could be indicted bc DOJ policy.

  11. J Barker says:

    “And the Justice Department quickly determined that the summaries contain sensitive information, like classified material, secret grand-jury testimony and information related to current federal investigations that must remain confidential, according to two government officials.”

    If it’s true that Mueller’s *summaries* of his own report include information about ongoing investigations, can we safely assume that some of the core matters Mueller was investigating are continuing to be investigated by other? Presumably only the most important findings and conclusions would be mentioned in these summaries. So one would expect discussion of ongoing investigations only if those investigations pertain to at least one of main topics Mueller was charged with looking into.

    It’s going to cause quite a stir if we discover the notorious sentence fragment was a part of a sentence like this one: “Although this investigation did not establish that the President or his campaign criminally conspired with the Russian government in its election interference activities, in part because the President’s interference made it difficult for us to find cooperative and trustworthy witnesses, we have referred many of the core lines of inquiry to other federal prosecutors for continued investigation.”

    • Bill Smith says:

      It has been said that Barr will be removing information about on going investigations. Given that statement my opinion is that there are on going investigations.

      But they may not involve things that close to Trump.

  12. phazed says:

    I doubt the sources here were surprised at what Barr did. Just before Barr released the first letter, Virginia Heffernan sent out three screenshots of texts from a “Good source”.

    Thread: https://twitter.com/page88/status/1109881090339155968

    1. It’s really damaging to the president. I can’t answer any questions about it. But it’s bad.
    2 (just before release). We’ll have the conclusions in 30-45 minutes. Word of caution: this is NOT Mueller’s report.
    3 (just after release). The report is much worse than this.

  13. Reader 21 says:

    Gullible Mikey keeps falling for it, when biased sources tell him “Mueller refused to come to a conclusion”—hey Gullible Mikey, is that Mueller’s MO, to refuse part of his responsibility? Or, more likely, if a president can’t be accountable to DOJ (under their misguided policy), did he instead intend to hand off making that decision to the one body that can (hold him to account for his actions)—and why on earth has Gullible Mikey not once even deigned to pose that question? Mind-boggling gullibility.

    • JKSF says:

      Gullible Mickey serves up the spin that Barr is ever so upset, frustrated and shocked that Mueller would have been so derelict in his responsibility that he would leave the entire burden of deciding the obstruction matters to, wait for it, William Barr. And he reported it all with a straight face. Now that’s some really precious squirrelly shit.

      • Bill Smith says:

        Didn’t Barr say that decision not to charge Trump for obstruction was made without consideration to the DOJ rules about indicting presidents. Unless he was lying? Which we will find out in a week or two?

        • chicago_bunny says:

          Barr said that he and Rosenstein reached their conclusion without taking that policy into account. Says nothing of Mueller, which seems an omission that tells us the answer.

        • SteveR says:

          I expect everything Barr said is technically accurate, as long as we let Barr add connotations to his own words even when he knows they will be interpreted differently. I can’t imagine anyone will ever show that Barr lied–intentionally misrepresentation, sure, but not that he lied.

          With that premise, one must assume Barr won’t ever need to cite DOJ policy regarding indicting a President to defend his conclusion not to pursue an obstruction charge. But there is another tautological escape hatch that Barr said nothing about–Barr’s own reasoning regarding the merits of an obstruction charge as laid out in his 19-page job application. Barr wrote:

          “While the distinct crime of obstruction can frequently be committed even if the underlying crime under investigation is never established, that is true only where the obstruction is an act that is wrongful in itself — such as threatening a witness, or destroying evidence. But here, the only basis for ascribing ‘wrongfulness’ (i.e., an improper motive) to the President’s actions is the claim that he was attempting to block the uncovering of wrongdoing by himself or his campaign. Until Mueller can show that there was unlawful collusion, he cannot show that the President had an improper ‘cover up’ motive.”

          In other words, once Mueller said he couldn’t prove that Trump conspired with the Russian government, Barr had already told the world he would not ever charge Trump with obstruction. I know that this doesn’t address the witness tampering elements of a possible obstruction charge, but with a guy like Trump who never puts anything in writing, that’s nearly impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

        • John Forde says:

          Barr did say that decision not to charge Trump for obstruction was made without consideration to the DOJ rules about indicting presidents. Barr also wrote that Mueller’s decision not to charge Trump with ConFraudUSA was made WITH consideration to the DOJ rules about indicting presidents. Barr protected Trump from obstruction charges by the argument that he could not have obstructive intent because he did not commit the underlying crime. So Barr is conflating Trump “did not commit” with Mueller’s insufficient chargeable evidence to establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt. We will prove it in a week or two.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Barr presumably framed it that way to imply that the decision not to charge obstruction was owing to clearly insufficient evidence rather than to DoJ policy or a judgment call concerning matters unrelated to the strength of the evidence.

            That only works, however, if Barr can prevent publication or redact relevant portions of the recitation of facts, analysis and recommendations. That would leave a gaping hole so big even some Republicans would want to drive through it to find out what was missing, which would give the game away.

            Bill Barr has, however, more experience playing this sort of high-stakes poker than any other GOP lawyer. That must be why Republican fathers proposed him and Barr accepted. (Trump would not have known who he was, much less how he helped GHW Bush and the GOP sidestep liability for the Iran-Contra scandal.)

  14. Pat Neomi says:

    Per NYTimes article:
    “At the same time, Mr. Barr and his advisers have expressed their own frustrations about Mr. Mueller and his team. Mr. Barr and other Justice Department officials believe the special counsel’s investigators fell short of their task by declining to decide whether Mr. Trump illegally obstructed the inquiry, according to the two government officials. After Mr. Mueller made no judgment on the obstruction matter, Mr. Barr stepped in to declare that he himself had cleared Mr. Trump of wrongdoing.”

    Perhaps they didn’t make that decision because they knew it wasn’t theirs to make? Indeed, perhaps there wasn’t ANYONE in the executive branch who could make said decision? Not the least of whom being someone who may have participated in said obstruction (cough cough Rosenstein cough)? Perhaps the report mentions Mueller’s thoughts re executive and/or legislative branch determinations of above?

    And then for Barr et al. to claim they were wary of “wading into political territory” while having blatantly done so on the question of obstruction is laughable (political as well as constitutional territory). It will be eminently interesting to see if this ploy of Barr’s plays out or if it comes back to bite him.

    The media really shit the bed by allowing Trump and Barr to dictate the news cycle around the submission of Mueller’s report. I’m not surprised, just saying…

    • horses says:

      Point of fact: Trump debases people. One earns a philosophy degree by asking onesself what a person does, and what their nature is.

      Everything he touches suffers and dies.

      Proceed accordingly, given that he’s wrapped his short-fingered hands round the neck of our republic.

    • FB1848 says:

      Given major media outlets’ acknowledgement (or at least important employees thereof) that their 2016 campaign coverage unwittingly helped Trump get elected, their credulity in blasting Barr’s whitewash summary is really beyond comprehension.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Blame shifting. Barr would have been more frustrated if he had had to deny a recommendation to indict and explain his reasons for doing so to Congress. That Mueller’s team chose not to indict and not to exonerate means their results are damning for Trump. That’s more likely to be what frustrates Barr.

      One response from Barr was to characterize the report in the best light possible for Trump, while withholding it from Congress, to let the news cycles and boredom work their magic. That’s the act of a defense counsel, not an Attorney General.

      • Pat Neomi says:

        That’s a good read, Earl. Barr surely would have been more frustrated with the other potential.

        And your characterization of Barr as defense counsel is pretty spot on.

  15. Sandwichman says:

    “Alarming and significant…”

    Wa Po: “Members of Mueller’s team have complained to close associates that the evidence they gathered on obstruction was alarming and significant.”

    • Ruthie says:

      WaPo:

      “Limited information Barr has shared about Russia investigation frustrated some on Mueller’s team”
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/limited-information-barr-has-shared-about-russia-investigation-frustrated-some-on-muellers-team/2019/04/03/c98e8a02-567a-11e9-814f-e2f46684196e_story.html

      The tone of the WaPo story is quite different from that of the NYT, suggesting significantly more dismay on the part of its sources. Not to mention the absence of whitewash the NYT liberally applied to the motivations of Barr since the end of the investigation was announced.

      • harpie says:

        I tend to agree with Harry Sandick, retweeted by nycsouthpaw:
        *
        https://twitter.com/HarrySandick/status/1113657221227978752
        9:19 PM – 3 Apr 2019
        *
        [quote] It seems as if DOJ heard about the WaPo story and went to the Times first.
        The Times piece suggests that the Mueller summaries were not releasable to the public but WaPo says that they were.
        How to resolve this? Release the report. [end quote]
        *

        • BobCon says:

          This isn’t the first time the Post has followed on the tail of NY Times reporting with a much less Trump friendly story with more detailed reporting.

          In this case the fact that two other reporters besides Schmidt were bylined makes me wonder, though, if they had the story on their own and the White House caught wind of it and started working the phones to insert their point of view.

          Fandos is outside of the White House beat and writes much less obsequiously than Schmidt and Haberman. It’s his lead on the story. My guess is that he was set to file a story simply talking about the SCO staff objections and the Schmidt side was grafted on to it after the editorial side injected themselves.

          I don’t know whether this happened out of pure Stockholm syndrome, or whether the White House sniffed out the story and began working the refs and called the editors to insist that they modify the story to their liking. But regardless the story reads as though someone in editorial put the story through the wringer.

          It’s a very bad sign for 2020.

  16. pseudonymous in nc says:

    And there’s the WaPo piece that mirrors what the NYT says with additional detail on the summaries, and which sources-close-to-Barr clearly wanted to preempt.

  17. Bill Smith says:

    Members of Mueller’s team spoke up when they didn’t like what Barr said. Stunning.

  18. Pragmatic Progressive says:

    Bill Barr is a lifelong partisan who-lest we forget methodically sought out the job of Trump’s crisis obfuscator/legal savior. Don’t be fooled by his polished mastery of lawyer-double talk…he ALWAYS hedges with everything he says. There is a world of difference between someone saying “I intend to be as transparent as possible” like Barr does versus someone saying “I will be as transparent as possible” something only a noble guardian of justice would say.

    Barr is no guardian of justice. Barr is not noble. Barr was inoculated against shame and embarrassment a long, long time ago. Barr deserves nothing but cynicism until he proves himself to be an individual with integrity.

  19. greengiant says:

    The source based journalism of the NYTimes uses the word “investigators” not “associates”. The NYTimes source are “government officials” and others “familiar with their simmering frustrations”
    This really reads like controlled leakage from Barr and Trump. I don’t have the magic decoder ring for whether “government officials” includes those outside the executive branch. But I don’t expect any executive branch employee expecting full retirement pay to be leaking anything unless thinking they are directed to by Trump.

  20. Tom says:

    The only way Barr’s strategy makes sense is if he’s calculating that people will imagine the contents of the Mueller report to be more damning of the President than they actually are the longer he delays releasing it. It’s the same method that a skilled writer or film director will use when producing a horror story or movie: the ghost or monster we are never shown but are left to imagine is always worse than the one the author describes on the printed page or the director leaves to his special effects department to create. By delaying release of the report and letting the public and the media ramp up their expectations as to the “bombshell” nature of Mueller’s findings, Barr may hope that the report comes across as more of a damp squib when people are finally able to read it; that is, as critical of Trump as the report may be, it won’t be as bad as we were expecting. The result will be that the President’s critics will suffer the same sense of deflation as they did a couple weeks ago when Barr released his four-page unsummary. But I’m probably over-analyzing the situation. Otherwise, It makes no sense for Barr not to release Mueller’s report as he’s got to know that it will surface eventually, and the sooner it’s out the sooner the President can start his damage control campaign. “If it were done … then t’were well it were done quickly.”

    • J Barker says:

      A simpler option: Barr genuinely believes he can use “DOJ policy” about not releasing info on un-indicted individuals + executive privilege to hide most of the report for years to come.

      I think there’s a decent chance this will work, given the current makeup of SCOTUS and the likelihood of Trump being re-elected in 2020.

      • OldTulsaDude says:

        The Republican party has turned into a party of zealots, and zealots are capable of any horror in support of their cause.

  21. Jenny says:

    Thank you Marcy.

    “It’s always the cover-up rather than the event that causes trouble.” Howard Baker

  22. John Forde says:

    The DOJ policy argument seems weak to me against the claim of a congressional committee.
    BMAZ?
    EOH?

  23. SirLurksAlot says:

    Barr has a proven track record as a scandal closer – he’s the best they’ve got. Hopefully not good enough, this time around.

      • Ruthie says:

        This morning I heard that 5 DSA members were elected to the Chicago City Council. Hopefully the Democratic Party will read that as the signal it is, and toughen their stance with respect to Republican malfeasance. On the other hand, I also heard that several (if not a majority) of Democratic Senators were expressing regret at voting for rules changes in 2013, which they are now arguing gave Mitch McConnell the opening to make additional changes in order to ram through federal judges. As if he would have hesitated! Merrick Garland – remember him?

        • P J Evans says:

          As of last night, the only senator I heard regretting that rules change was Michael Bennett. (Though voting for it then doesn’t mean that they approve of how it’s being used or misused now.)

          • Ruthie says:

            Can’t remember where I heard/read it, but wherever it was, it included speculation/insinuation to the effect that Schumer (and potentially the majority of the Senate) agreed. It’s entirely possible I overstated the numbers.

  24. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Bill Barr saying he wanted to avoid wading into political territory is Br’er Rabbit asking not to be thrown into the briar patch.

  25. SteveR says:

    If the motivation for the noteworthy omissions in Barr’s “summary” was an effort to honor DOJ policy that one should not speak ill of the unindicted, Barr could have limited his letter to three sentences:

    “Mueller concluded that no further indictments would be issued regarding the Russian efforts to interfere in the election. Mueller reached no conclusion regarding whether to pursue obstruction charges. Rod Rosenstein and I concluded that there would be no indictment on obstruction charges.”

    Barr’s letter adds nothing of substance beyond those three sentences. And everything else that Barr added to his letter reveals nothing more than his effort to mislead the public.

  26. Pete says:

    So, the Special Counsel, at minimum, is supposed to submit a – as in one – confidential report. Would these other four (or so) agent reports be considered confidential as well? Probably.

    But, if not, why don’t the agents release/leak them in full.

    With total tongue in cheek, I’d suggest these use Wikileaks as confidential conduit :-O

  27. Willis Warren says:

    [Because Trump used cutouts, dangled pardons and threatened witnesses] the investigation was unable to establish that the Trump campaign coordinated with members of the Russian gov’t.

  28. harpie says:

    From a “US official”, via WaPo:
    *
    [quote] 1] “There was immediate displeasure from the team when they saw how the attorney general had characterized their work instead,” according one U.S. official briefed on the matter.
    2] Summaries were prepared for different sections of the report, with a view that they could made public, the official said.
    3] The report was prepared “so that the front matter from each section could have been released immediately — or very quickly,” the official said. “It was done in a way that minimum redactions, if any, would have been necessary, and the work would have spoken for itself.”
    4] Mueller’s team assumed the information was going to be made available to the public, the official said, “and so they prepared their summaries to be shared in their own words — and not in the attorney general’s summary of their work, as turned out to be the case.” [end quote]
    *
    Yesterday, Matthew Miller tweeted:
    https://twitter.com/matthewamiller/status/1113586800268840960
    4:39 PM – 3 Apr 2019
    *
    [quote] Just noting: a number of Mueller’s team members are leaving or have left the Justice Department. There’s nothing DOJ can do to stop them from talking to Congress. [end quote]

    • BobCon says:

      I would caution that there are steps DOJ political types can take to hamper congressional testimony if they want to play hardball.

      I would assume there are already signals being sent that every expense report will be gone over with a fine toothed comb, every security clearance application will be triple checked, and so on. I think they will be making clear that even if nothing is found, expensive lawyers will need to be hired if anyone steps out of line.

      I don’t think that will block someone from testifying, but I do think it will throw sand in the gears and add to the general effort by the White House to fight and delay everything.

  29. Rita says:

    Two things:

    First – The reports in both the NYT and Washington Post of what “DOJ sources” are saying about the Barr handling of the Mueller Report, suggest that they are grasping for thin fig leaf excuses to cover their botched cover up. As in, not wanting to make the same mistake that Comey did when he made damaging remarks about Clinton, treating the Mueller Report as if it were just some routine DOJ prosecution. And whining about Mueller not making a “judgment” about obstruction, when actually Mueller did make a judgment (that Mueller could not exonerative) so that poor Bill Barr had to make the call. It’s hard to assess blame if we can’t see Mueller’s actual reasoning.

    Second: Anyone notice that Trump and many Republicans in Congress have gone from enthusiastic supporters of the full release of the Mueller Report to almost the opposite within a very short period of time? Perhaps they know somethings that we don’t?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump has a long history of saying he wants or strongly favors something when he knows it can’t or won’t happen. But as that something approaches, he abruptly changes his mind and imagines reasons why what he was once in favor of would be the worst thing that could ever happen. It is garden variety opportunism, paired with effortless, unrestrained lying.

      It is a variation on his lifelong career of over-promising and disastrously under-performing: the size of his, um, developments, their build quality, his wealth, the greatness of his brain, golf game, health care and tariff reform, or the wall. You name it, Trump has lied and changed his lies about it.

        • Eureka says:

          Emily Nussbaum of the NYer had a funny thread about this yesterday. Apparently, Fred was _first also_ Swedish*:

          “A footnote to Trump lying/confusedly-claiming that his Dad was born in Germany is that for years, Fred Trump used to pretend he was SWEDISH, in order to market to Jews in Brooklyn and Queens. (link to a NY Times article)”
          https://twitter.com/emilynussbaum/status/1113499425748471808

          EN quoting from that article:

          “”Even Mr. Trump, not known to be shy about embellishing facts, questioned the need. According to Mr. Walter, when Mr. Trump was working on his best seller ‘The Art of the Deal’ in the mid-1980s, he asked his father, ‘Do I have to do this Swedish thing?’…”

          “In the book, published in 1987 he wrote that his father’s story was ‘classic Horatio Alger,’ and that his grandfather ‘came here from Sweden as a child.'””

          *I’m old enough to remember both this press, and later being confused to learn of the family’s German origins.

      • Rick says:

        Just yesterday (!), he claimed he would love to release his tax returns, but he’s still under that pesky routine audit.

        Assuming that he is telling the truth, all of his tax returns within the past decade are still undergoing audits.

        Considering that unless there is massive fraud and underreporting, the statute of limitations is 3 years…

        You do the math.

        • P J Evans says:

          Congress can get those returns regardless of any audits.
          (And I’d think that any audits would be well-deserved.)

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        A taxpayer can release his tax returns at any time, under audit or no. Trump is bullshitting. Surprise.

        But as Congress has noted, Trump’s personal returns would provide only a partial picture. It needs the returns from his foundation and principal business vehicles, especially as he treats the legal entities he owns not as separate businesses but as fungible parts of a whole.

        As with his foundation – indeed as with any part of the mythical beast known as Donald Trump – a thorough analysis is likely to disclose longstanding failures to complete the administrative requirements legally necessary to keep a legal entity separate from its owners, and massive accounting, financial, tax, and banking irregularities. It could spell the end of the Trump “empire.”

          • P J Evans says:

            All the reports are: as little as possible, and mostly from other people’s money (donations to his foundations, not from his own pockets).

        • Tech Support says:

          Driving today, listened to a story about the press to release the tax returns, and it included a comment about people looking for business relationships with Russia. I had to start yelling at my radio.

          “IT’S NOT THAT HARD PEOPLE. HOW ABOUT TAX FRAUD? WHILE. IN. OFFICE.”

          I mean… c’mon! This is not rocket surgery.

          • Rayne says:

            I don’t know why there hasn’t yet been enough to trigger an investigation into memberships at Trump’s courses. Bet there are a lot of international members, human and corporate, who never set foot inside any Trump club’s halls.

        • P J Evans says:

          From what I’ve read in the past, he has controlling interests in a lot of shell companies that own [small] amounts of this-that-and-the-other, where there may be a lot of shells with 2 to 5% of something, that add up to a majority share.

          • Bruce Olsen says:

            Yes, hiding a 20% ownership saves money on compliance.
            Most likely he’s also making up bullshit expenses, sucking profits out of one LLC to pay another, until there’s little or nothing–or even losses–left by the time it all hits Trump’s 1040.
            Typical real estate practice.

  30. Belacqua says:

    I’m not suggesting that this was in any way Barr’s intention—I’m sure, in fact, of the opposite—but we shouldn’t ignore the way in which the staggered rollout of the report might plausibly *help* secure the credibility of whatever ultimately emerges from Mueller’s report. Yes, the initial headlines were a boon for Trump, but for that very reason, they also got him to momentarily drop all the witch hunt talk and accept the veracity of the unseen report. Of course it didn’t take a genius to see that Barr was spinning out the very best possible gloss on what he’d read, but evidently it did take someone smarter than Trump. Surely we can expect all the complaints to return when the president figures out what Barr was hiding, just as we can expect some portion of the public to guzzle whatever swill he feeds them on any given day. But for others—and, let’s hope, crucially for the press—Trump’s interim acceptance of the report will hopefully count for something significant.

    Again, I don’t mean to suggest Barr was trying to trick Trump to lock in his praise of the report before he’d seen it. Quite clearly he’s doing what he was hired to do, i.e., help his boss out of a very bad pickle. But if you were trying to jam the president into ratifying the Mueller report, I can think of few better ways to accomplish it than what Barr actually did.

    • BobCon says:

      I think it is extremely hard to know what Barr’s game is.

      However, I think it is also helpful to assume that Barr was never going to risk Trump’s anger by summarizing the report as anything but an exoneration. Not if he could help it.

      Whether this is a part of a strategy, or surrender to the reality of Trump’s ego, or pure weaselly partisanship, I don’t know. But I think it’s as unlikely to expect Barr to have stood up to Trump and let Mueller’s words go out unfiltered as it would be to expect Barr to kiss a crocodile.

  31. earlofhuntingdon says:

    OT, but fitting well with Trump and Barr. Shifting regulatory authority from government to industry itself worked so well for the FAA, airlines and Boeing, that Trump is doing it with the pork industry. [https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-pork-industry-hogs-plants-trump-regulations-20190403-story.html]

    It’s the justification for cutting the number of already too few meat inspectors by 40%. That cuts government employee union membership and saves money – about enough to pay for the first recall of contaminated meat. It is damning for the pigs, for workers in the pork industry, who will be made to work in crueler and less safe working conditions, and just as damning for anyone eating frankenpork. E. coli with your hot dog, anyone?

  32. harpie says:

    1] Laura Rozen Retweeted
    https://twitter.com/KenDilanianNBC/status/1113806696097505281
    7:13 AM – 4 Apr 2019
    [quote] NBC News is also reporting that some on the Mueller team say his findings paint a picture of a campaign whose members were was manipulated by a sophisticated Russian intelligence operation. Some of that information may be classified. [end quote]
    *
    2] bmaz Retweeted
    https://twitter.com/rgoodlaw/status/1113810204465016834
    7:27 AM – 4 Apr 2019
    *
    [quote] This [#1 above] is a big deal. It also goes to questions that @marty_lederman @AshaRangappa_ @john_sipher @AmericanMystic @alexzfinley @jgeltzer and I’ve been long raising:
    counterintel concern includes witting/unwitting American agents of Russian influence operations in 2016 (and -2019) [end quote]
    *

    • Belacqua says:

      That Dilanian tweet lends credence to my strong suspicion that we’re going to look back from the not-very-distant future and recognize that the Russia scandal, the security-clearance scandal, the Mar-a-Lago scandal, and likely even the Khashoggi scandal are all tentacles of the same unthinkably massive umbrella scandal: namely, that the nepotism, greed, and rank idiocy of the president and his family have conspired to make them possibly the most significant national security threat the United States has ever seen.

      • Bill Smith says:

        Do we know for sure there were any?

        Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement Thursday that every page of Mueller’s confidential report was marked with a notation that it may contain confidential grand jury material, adding that it “therefore could not be publicly released.”

    • harpie says:

      Nadler responds:
      *
      https://twitter.com/kyledcheney/status/1113820466987319298
      8:07 AM – 4 Apr 2019
      *
      [quote] JUST IN: NADLER tells us the DOJ response is “irrelevant” to Barr’s decision to withhold the Mueller report from the House.
      He says House subpoena for the report will be issued quickly.
      NADLER says he intends to issue a subpoena in “short order.”
      NADLER: It’s “very likely to be necessary” to call Mueller to testify, given developments. [!!] [end quote]
      *

      • Bill Smith says:

        Barr will ignore subpoena. House will go to court. Barr will release redacted version before court decides anything. House will complain. Barr will claim grand jury material. Who goes to the judge to get that released?

        • bmaz says:

          Well, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, via attorney Ted Boutrous (who is absolutely superb) has already made that application. House and Senate members should join in immediately.

    • harpie says:

      OMG!
      Trump tweets AND NYT responds!
      *
      1] https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1113819627212169219
      8:04 AM – 4 Apr 2019
      *
      [quote] The New York Times had no legitimate sources, which would be totally illegal, concerning the Mueller Report. In fact, they probably had no sources at all! They are a Fake News paper who have already been forced to apologize for their incorrect and very bad reporting on me! [end quote]

      2] https://twitter.com/NYTimesPR/status/1113827718930497537
      8:36 AM – 4 Apr 2019
      *
      [quote] Replying to @realDonaldTrump
      False.
      Our reporters interviewed multiple government officials and others to gather the facts for the story; read it here: [link] [end quote]
      *

      • P J Evans says:

        I assume that NYT’s “read it here” means “get Jared and Ivanka to read it and summarize it for you with small words and fat crayon”.

  33. Keith Croes says:

    I’m new here, so please forgive me if this is commonly understood by your readers: Is your use of bold font in quoted material always “emphasis added”? Thank you.

    • Fran of the North says:

      If your question is to whether bolded = emphasis added is in respect to Marcy’s original post, the answer is yes. Generally she will call that out in the text.

  34. TheraP says:

    Ok, so Barr did not write a “summary.” It was a “summarize.”

    Makes it almost sound Japanese – like if you took a Samurai sword to several summaries. And what’s left would be your “samurize” – the Japanese form of whatever Barr is/was hoping to hawk.

    Propinquity to trump —> Pretzel Logic

  35. Jeremy says:

    The media reports so credulous of William Barr. That’s weird. He is a trump appointee. This source gives some of the best analysis of this whole Russia probe saga. My question is: why do I not hear the term “obstruction” floating around in connection with William Barr? It was recommended by many that he recuse himself from the investigation and we know that’s why Trump got rid of AG sessions. In any case I’m glad Democrats won the house and they can subpoena what they need.

  36. Jockobadger says:

    Reading the NYT and WaPo pieces today got me to wondering about the legitimacy of Barr’s take on unitary executive authority if the evidence re: conspiracy suggests that the election may actually be illegitimate? If trump was not fairly/duly elected because of Russian/GRU/Olig. interference, then can an argument be made that obstruction on the part of trump must pertain? Because then he’s no longer protected by Barr’s vision of unitary executive authority if the legitimacy of the election is completely undermined? I wonder if Barr’s worried about that? Just a thought – a long reach. JHFC.

    • Bill Smith says:

      “election may actually be illegitimate” No legal remedy short of making Pence president?

      • timbo says:

        There are several legal remedies, some of which are spelled out clearly in the Constitution and subsequent ratified Amendments.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          Yes, I think so too! And I’m getting optimistic about them. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. To me, things are looking hopeful.

        • bmaz says:

          I wouldn’t. With McConnell in charge of the Senate, there are no real remedies in the Congress. Oversight, maybe, remedy, no.

          • Savage Librarian says:

            There is that. But, in my life, some things happened in the most unexpected and spectacular ways that I could never have foreseen. So, I am not ruling out changes in the calculus that might be more favorable than first anticipated. And, barring (all puns intended) that, we still have 2020.

      • Jockobadger says:

        What an awful thought! I’m just a very interested observer here and a person who’s deeply concerned about our political situation. Would that really be the only legal remedy? Pence was his running mate, so he’d also be “illegitimate” right? Anyway, I bet Mueller et al uncovered evidence that the russkies really were neck-deep in election interference (of various kinds) and trump/his campaign knew it.

  37. Rayne says:

    I could only think of one good reason why Barr wrote and issued that POS four-page letter — so he could buy himself some time to figure out the next moves since he had only assumed his role ~40 days earlier.

    But now that we know the Special Counsel’s team wrote multiple summaries including those safe for immediate public consumption? Nah. If Barr is buying time for anything it’s not for him to get his head around this. It may be he’s buying time for the GOP to do something before the House Dems’ investigations throws Trump feces at the oscillator.

    It had better not be buying time for McConnell to conduct a smash-and-grab with appointments.

    p.s. Today is 7 weeks since Barr assumed office as AG.

    • Tom says:

      Still can’t see why Barr would be trying to buy time to figure out his next move. Surely as soon as he became AG–if not before–he would have been running scenarios through his mind as to how best to release the Mueller report so that when the time came he would have his moves planned out. I’m not saying I necessarily disagree with you, Rayne, but Barr’s apparent ad hoc approach seems very hard to understand. Unless he was so divorced from the mood of Congress and the country that he sincerely believed they would accept anything other than the full and immediate release of the SC’s findings. Anything less would look like a cover-up; why didn’t he foresee that?

      • Rayne says:

        I did say that the only good reason I could think of — buying time — was shot by failing to use the SCO’s summaries-for-public-consumption. I don’t know if he thought the summaries were still so highly charged they could cause chaos. He could have released them one at a time and told the public he was still sorting through the 300-1000 pages which folks would understand takes some time especially while trying to do the other work of AG’s office at the same time.

        But no. He didn’t do that. Either he is obstructing (his appointment without agreeing to recuse himself is obstructive as well) or he is in way, WAY over his head.

        I do want to point out we’ve never been faced with something this big, posing a threat this large to our democracy. There’s no book on how to handle defacto occupation of the White House by a transnational crime syndicate masquerading as political party, aided and abetted by another transnational crime syndicate masquerading as semi-hostile foreign nations (yes, plural). How does one minimize harm to the nation when announcing there was an attempt (likely succesful) to take over the White House via the country’s electoral process? Does one just plunge into it and hope for the the best? Or…?

        This isn’t Nixon’s little spying-on-Dems operation. This isn’t Reagan’s weapons-for-covert-ops-and-hostages-funding. This is for all the spoils.

        (And after writing all that I just want to ask, How Would a Patriot Act? Really, what should a patriot do?)

        • Jockobadger says:

          Brilliant writing Rayne. I’ve been corresponding with a friend in England recently – we both prefer writing to babbling over the phone. He bitches about Brexit, I bitch about trump. You’ve just described how I feel perfectly and I hope you don’t mind if I forward your comment to him as fine distillation of wtf is going on here (with proper attribution, of course.) We both believe that the same dare I say sinister forces are at work here AND in the UK. We are under siege. “What would a patriot do?” I need to think on that awhile, but it’s absolutely the right question to ask. Thank you.

        • Tom says:

          I agree that the most frightening aspect of the whole situation is that Trump has exposed how much of the political order and functioning of a representative democracy is based upon a foundation of unwritten rules and expectations for those who are supposed to be making the system work for the benefit of the people. And Trump has just demonstrated in the last several years how flimsy those unwritten rules can be, especially when his own political party has aided and abetted him in his vandalizing of the government. And how does the rest of the body politic fight back and restore order? If you follow the rules, you’re likely to be sucker-punched politically by those who don’t; but if you decide to adopt your opponents’ methods and play dirty, you run the risk of demonstrating that the system of government you’re trying to save doesn’t really work after all. It’s a real mess, for sure, but it can’t last forever because nothing does, and I still believe that somehow it will all work out in the end. For example, Donald Trump may wake up one morning and realize that, all this time he’s been imagining that he was President of the United States he was only dreaming, and that he was really just a butterfly resting on a cherry blossom in a Japanese zen garden.

          • orionATL says:

            an excellent, preceptive comment.

            a suggestion about how to proceed:

            – focus on accurate, truthful criticism of those policies that political scoundrels are supporting.

            – pick the most consequential and easy to comprehend of these

            – repeat the condemnation of these ad nauseam in clear language with simple explanation, and appropriate but never excessive use of ridicule

            – never be afraid to criticize where criticism is warranted. dems need badly to get over their aversion to conflict. conflict avoidance is a losing game in contemporary American politics.

  38. Mark Ospeck says:

    > horses says at 12:55 am: Trump debases people.. Everything he touches suffers and dies.
    Reminds of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space,” which if you’ve never read is one creepy great story.
    Working on my poster. Get thyself to the protests at 5 pm.

  39. J R in WV says:

    It appears to me that this investigation shows the very successful obstruction of justice by the White House, Trump and his minions.

    Also at least some of the conspiracy occurred in public, “Russia, if you’re listening, please release the Clinton Emails as soon as possible!” — how exactly is that not conspiring with Russia? Because it was public? But shooting someone in public is still a crime, how it asking for assistance from a foreign government not still a crime?

    IANAL, but the stench of corruption at the White House can be smelled here, across the Appalachian mountains from the District of Columbia. Makes me glad I’m an old, and probably won’t live to see the flaming end of the American Dream at the hands of racists and fascists from the Old Confederacy.

    Those are who last night burned the Highlander Center’s main office in East Tennessee, and left Nazi symbols spray painted on the ruins! The Highlander folks taught MLK about non-violent resistance ion the long ago! A personal friend helped in the founding of that, so sad to see them attacked, and not for the first time. Fortunately the archives are far away.

  40. harpie says:

    New from @nycsouthpaw, Luppe Luppen, April 4, 2019:
    *
    What Has Bill Barr Done to Earn the Benefit of the Doubt? https://www.justsecurity.org/63510/what-has-bill-barr-done-to-earn-the-benefit-of-the-doubt/
    *
    [quote] Any Attorney General overseeing an investigation of the President who appointed him faces a complicated task in maintaining public confidence that he is upholding the rule of law. When the chips are down, ordinarily fuzzy distinctions between the interests of the elected President and the interests of the American people may become stark dividing lines, and the people need a basis to trust that the Attorney General will serve their interests over those of his political party or his patron in the White House.
    Bill Barr’s long record, unfortunately, affords little basis for trust. […] [end quote]
    *

    • JamesJoyce says:

      Yes it is complicated extraditing people from criminal conduct.

      Boland was usurped and Barr assisted via pardons. It was all legal….

      Magnitsky usurped hence?
      Barr assists… Deja Vu?

      Motive.
      Means.
      Opportunity.
      Obstruction.

      “Damaging information?”

  41. Jockobadger says:

    The Luppe Luppen – justsecurity.org piece is a great read. Thanks harpie! I had forgotten that Barr interviewed with trump re: a cozy position as his personal attorney for the Mueller investigation! Then afterwards he wrote the notorious 19-pager. How can this guy have NOT recused himself? I can’t figure out how he thinks this is going to work out well? I know there’s suspicion that he’s falling on his sword for the GOP and not trump but JHC why? I’ll probably be blindsided by some a tricky lawyer’s bamboozlement or perhaps just stonewalled to death. I can’t believe I’ve lived to see this crap.

  42. Theresa says:

    I blame Neal Katyal. He wrote the Special Counsel law which put the politically appointed AG in charge of the report. Now, Katal is all over the media to complain about it. What the hell is the point of a Special Counsel if their workproduct is withheld from Congress and the public????????
    Also, where is Mueller? Why can’t he just come out to the public or discretely indicate to Congress that he wants to publicly testify? I’m tired of his silence.

  43. orionATL says:

    “… Mr. Barr has come under criticism for sharing so little. But according to officials familiar with the attorney general’s thinking, he and his aides limited the details they revealed because they were worried about wading into political territory. Mr. Barr and his advisers expressed concern that if they included derogatory information about Mr. Trump while clearing him, they would face a storm of criticism like what Mr. Comey endured in the Clinton investigation…”

    this is just pure, embarassingly simple-minded excuse making. all the more embarrassing when bart puts his head in the sand and his butt in the air hoping no one recalls his political history as a king-loving, king-preserving Tory loyalist par excellence.

    barr had had lots of previous attorney general experience as deputy attorney general then attorney general for George h.w. bush from may 1990 to January 1993. duringvthis time he presided over president Bush’s pardon of 6 Iran- contra schemers. barr could not have been all that unsure of how to respond no matter what his aides were whispering in his ear.

    all the more so since how barr intended to respond was surely grounded not in concern for public reaction, but rather in his clear prior statement deeming the Mueller investigation as improper.

    as for fear of his being harshly criticized as “mr. comey” had been, barr was engaging in a bit of lawyerly historical trickery. Comey was not criticized for merely describing summaries from a formal DOJ report he had been given by subordinates. he was criticized for his harsh extemporaneous public criticism of clinton, which was contrary to long-established DOJ precedent, when his task at hand was in fact merely to briefly summarize that DOJ report on the Clinton e-mail referral.

    • orionATL says:

      actually, when you think about it you realize that, despite his insincere protestations to the contrary, attorney general barr did exactly what “mr. comey” did, to whit, he added his own comment on top of a report presented to him by his subordinates whose conclusion(s) he had simply to report to keep out of trouble. his added comments were clearly intended to avoid having to reveal the osc report’s conclusions to the public. now with public comments from Muller’s team we know why Mueller overload osc summaries.

      calculated insincere protestations; slippery attorney general.

      • orionATL says:

        correction:

        “we know why Mueller overload osc summaries.”

        should read

        “we know why barr overroad osc summaries.”

        with 3 seconds left on the clock the quarterback took the snap and…. fumbled.

      • orionATL says:

        to add reportorial substance to my mere opinion, I want to re-cite an excellent “history” article in lawfare focusing on Barr’s political history which harpie brought to our attention above @harpie 4/[email protected]:50pm

        https://www.justsecurity.org/63510/what-has-bill-barr-done-to-earn-the-benefit-of-the-doubt/

        the title says it all and says what I was trying to say above about a..g. barr and his history. but that well-earned scepticism of a.g. wm. barr should be extended to the president and many of his camp-following staff and secretaries of … those important Gov departments and agencies.

        what have any of these miscreants done to earn the benefit of the doubt?.

  44. Vicks says:

    I’ve been wondering if Barr’s is walking the line of obstruction and is worried? He wrote what he thought was a very carefully crafted letter and when folks started poking holes in it, his response(s) were pissy and oddly specific in ways that could be seen as covering his own ass rather then clearing up the questions people are asking. I’m also not sure what to make about how he set the stage for his redaction strategy. Perhaps to float it and get feedback before he got in too deep?
    It’s like he’s the goalie and he was called up to make the final save for the dirtiest team in history. I think we have to keep in mind what this team has been willing to say and do to stop this investigation from the Nunez show to Trump on the stage in Helsinki.
    I think politically it makes sense to say they are giving Barr the benefit of the doubt but I hope for this country’s sake that we have moved way past this “trust but verify” bullshit.

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