Donald Trump and William Barr.
Donald Trump›s carefully chosen new attorney general, William Barr, has gifted his boss with the one thing his rich and powerful president desperately needed but couldn›t buy for himself: The gift of time.
In this case, legally crafted, politically vital spin-time. And Barr›s gift seems to be working as the attorney general intended. It is allowing Trump to move at warp speed to manipulate public opinion and maybe even finally warp the polls his way.
The beauty of Barr›s gift was its brevity and non-transparency. It was just four pages of willfully uninformative information, a summary Barr gave to Congress last Sunday of the conclusions of special counsel Robert Mueller›s final report that is almost 400 pages long. And mainly: As intended, Barr›s memo carefully made it impossible for Americans to see even one single factoid of evidence that Mueller and his team found in their two years.
Barr reported that Mueller made one conclusion and one non-conclusion. Mueller found no evidence that Trump or his campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia›s interference with America›s 2016 election. Mueller made no conclusion about whether Trump obstructed justice, but Barr knew he had to include Mueller›s essential line that not concluding Trump committed a crime «does not exonerate him.»
Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein then made the decision Mueller didn›t make – they cleared their boss of obstruction of justice. No surprise: As Trump knew when he selected his new attorney general, back in June 2017 Barr told The Hill newspaper he considered Mueller›s obstruction of justice probe «asinine,» adding Mueller risked «taking on the look of an entirely political operation to overthrow the president.»
In a second letter sent on Friday to the Senate and House Judiciary committee chairs, Barr said that by mid-April, if not sooner, he expects to send Congress Mueller›s full report, minus portions that will be redacted for reasons of legality, national security, or protection of «peripheral third parties.»
Barr added an optimistic note of future transparency, writing: «Everyone will soon be able to read it on their own.»
Meanwhile, Barr has gifted Trump with several weeks in which he can say he›s been cleared of wrongdoing – but the American people will not yet see what actions and conduct Mueller perhaps considered improper.
In contrast, when FBI Director James Comey announced during the 2016 campaign that Hillary Clinton would face no prosecution for her use of a private email server, Comey simultaneously announced his finding that she had been «extremely careless» in handling our nation›s secrets. She never had a moment to take political advantage of her finding in the manner Trump did this week, and will likely continue doing for a couple of weeks more.
On Thursday, Trump told a Grand Rapids, Mich., rally: «...the Russia hoax is finally dead. The special counsel completed its report and found no collusion and no obstruction. ...Total exoneration. Complete vindication.» Complete Braunschweiger.
Also, this mind-blowing fact: When Donald Jr. was emailed that a Russian wanted to meet and give him «dirt» on Hillary Clinton, he replied: «I love it.» Top Trumpers Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner attended; but apparently no dirt was dished.
Once Mueller›s full report goes public, Congress may want to consider some disapproving action short of impeachment – perhaps a strong resolution censuring or rebuking the president for his unprecedented and unpresidential pro-Russia actions and comments.
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