April 18, 2019

No Mr. Barr, Trump Did Not “Fully Cooperate” with Mueller

No Mr. Barr, Trump Did Not "Fully Cooperate" with Mueller

Attorney General William Barr’s press conference this morning in advance of his release of the redacted Mueller report was more like the warmup act at a Trump campaign rally.

Playing to his audience of one, Barr repeatedly invoked Trump’s “no collusion” branding.

And on the issue of obstruction, Barr’s conclusion was utterly false.

Barr indicated that Trump’s various actions were motivated not by corrupt intent but by legitimate upset feelings: “there is substantial evidence to show that the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks.”

But Barr found that Trump rose above his frustration to be the bigger man: “Nonetheless, the White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. And at the same time, the President took no act that in fact deprived the Special Counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation.”

Barr concluded, “Apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the President had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.”

Trump “fully cooperated” with the Russia probe? Let’s review, just off the top of my head:

  1. Most importantly, Trump refused to testify to Robert Mueller’s team, depriving the special counsel of insights into whether, as Barr put it, “the President had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.”
  2. Trump fired FBI director James Comey, after Comey ignored Trump’s plea to drop the investigation of fired Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and ignored Trump’s pleas to say publicly that the president wasn’t being investigated. Trump then told NBC’s Lester Holt that the Russia probe was on his mind when he fired Comey, and he told Russia’s foreign minister in the Oval Office, “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job…. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
  3. Trump reportedly tried to fire Mueller.
  4. Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, after relentlessly attacking Sessions for recusing himself from the Mueller probe, and replaced Sessions with Trump sycophant Matthew Whitaker, and ultimately Barr.
  5. Trump reportedly helped prepare a false public statement about the Trump Tower meeting.
  6. Trump repeatedly posted tweets and made public statements praising individuals, like Paul Manafort, who refused to “rat” on him, and attacking Michael Cohen after he decided to give authorities information about Trump’s actions.

Trump did not fully cooperate with the Russia probe.

I’d guess Bill Barr tells himself he is saving the Justice Dept and justice system from an erratic, autocratic president — and allowing continued conservative overhauling of government and  appointment of conservative judges — by sucking up to Trump just enough to stay in office. In reality, Barr is harming America by normalizing and enabling the corrupt occupant of the White House. A true patriot would act like a real Attorney General. Barr is a disgrace.

UPDATE 04-18-19 11:15 am:

The Mueller report is out, and it presents a strong case that Trump obstructed justice. It includes, for example, a passage that begins, “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.” As described by Mueller, these included Trump’s requests: that Comey go easy on Flynn, that White House counsel Don McGahn tell Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller, and that Sessions confine the Mueller investigation to future Russia meddling. The failure of these officials to carry out Trump’s directions, Mueller concludes, is precisely what protects them from “potential obstruction charges.” The implication is clear: Trump was directing them, in effect, to obstruct justice.