Cool Mueller Letter From Guy Hired To Exonerate Trump, Now GIVE US THE F*CKING REPORT
It's time for another round of "Goofus and Gallant," starring the New York Times and the Washington Post! See if you can guess who is who.
One of those is more correcter than the other! So yes, of course, the New York Times is Goofus, because it always is. But wait, what is this, a twist in the plot?
OH MY GOD, THEY BOTH WENT FULL GOOFUS. YOU NEVER GO FULL GOOFUS.
It might seem like quibbling, but it isn't. Attorney General William Barr sent a brief letter to Congress Sunday explaining that he had read all the pages of Robert Mueller's long report, and that it determined beyond a shadow of a doubt -- as we knew, from Mueller's indictments -- that the Russian government engaged in a concerted campaign to hack the election to hurt Hillary Clinton. However Barr reports -- not Mueller, Barr -- NO COLLUSION by any members of the Trump campaign or by the president himself (at least not "knowingly"). The letter says Mueller recommended no more indictments, and that there are no more sealed indictments, but doesn't say Mueller didn't kick anything to other jurisdictions that we don't yet know about. Finally, Barr writes that Mueller presented evidence on both sides of the question of whether Trump committed obstruction of justice, but came to no conclusion, therefore he was not accusing the president of a crime, but he wasn't exonerating him either. But Barr -- we guess because of his professional expertise in covering up Iran-Contra -- was able to determine that also NO OBSTRUCTION, therefore story over, the end, do not pass go, Rachel Maddow must now go to jail!
OK, he didn't say the Maddow thing. That's mostly Glenn Greenwald, who has decided she is Judy Miller for even reporting on the Trump-Russia conspiracy, because Glenn believes Bill Barr 100 percent full stop, because if you know anything about Glenn, it's that Republican attorneys general are to be trusted at all times, no questions asked.
Greenwald is also sending online blowjobs to the great journalists at The Federalist, because yep sure you betcha why not.
May we remind y'all at this point that nobody besides Bill Barr has read Mueller's report, and that Mueller didn't have any part in drafting the conclusions in Barr's letter?
Should we also remind y'all that Donald Trump famously didn't sit for an interview with Robert Mueller, and we already know he lied about a few things in the take-home test answers he submitted to Mueller, and it's pretty hard to determine intent to obstruct justice when you haven't interviewed the target himself?
Would it be impertinent of us to note right now that Bill Barr was LITERALLY HIRED BECAUSE HE BELIEVES PRESIDENTS CANNOT OBSTRUCT JUSTICE -- AND SPECIFICALLY WROTE AN UNSOLICITED MEMO SHITTING ON THE OBSTRUCTION PORTION OF MUELLER'S INVESTIGATION -- THEREFORE IT IS VERY SHOCKING THAT HE DETERMINED AFTER TAKING A SHIT SUNDAY MORNING AND EATING ONE THOUSAND PANCAKES THAT TRUMP DID NOT COMMIT OBSTRUCTION?
Or as one of our greatest ethics experts put it:
Donald Trump committed obstruction in plain sight 50 times before breakfast every single day, as any fucking ass can see. But Barr just doesn't really believe in obstruction, even though he told Senator Amy Klobuchar to her face that he totally believes in obstruction, you betcha:
Sen. Amy Klobuchar questions attorney general nominee William Barr on obstructionwww.youtube.com
One more quick thing on obstruction, as Southpaw reminds us not only of Barr's memo, but of the fact that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was literally a character in one of Trump's most in your face acts of obstruction, his firing of James Comey in order to stop or weaken the Russia investigation.
As you might expect, Barr's little cover-up move will be earning him some nice visits with Congress.
In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Spe… https://t.co/4o7mJpsVu0— Rep. Nadler (@Rep. Nadler) 1553458889.0
All the characters in Trumpworld are crowing right now, and we should let them. The aforementioned Glenn Greenwald is taking a victory lap, and we should let him. His president has been exonerated (nope) and his favorite American institution, the Justice Department, has helped accomplish that (well, at least the Trump-appointed windsock at the top). They believe this is over and that they have won. We should allow them their moments in the sun and go about our business of continuing to tell the story of the most corrupt presidential administration in American human history. Their self-righteous yelping will settle down when it's time for it to settle down.
Of course, it's a wonder they're doing that, considering how they haven't read Mueller's report, just like we haven't.
Now, would it shock you to learn that even Barr's letter, while saying it determined that NO COLLUSION, did not actually quite determine that NO COLLUSION? Let's play a little game we like to call "Fun With Tricky Language"!
Barr's letter -- and maybe Mueller, maybe not, guess we should read his report for ourselves -- defined the Russian influence conspiracies on the 2016 election as only the Russian online social media influence operation on America, conducted by the Internet Research Agency (IRA) troll farm in St. Petersburg, and the Russian hacking operation to steal Hillary Clinton's emails. See if you can spot the funny words:
"The Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign."
Well, that's highly specific! And not as exonerating as it first appears, is it, if we're only talking about them doing conspiracies "with the Russian government"? Here's Marcy Wheeler on the contortions Bill Barr got his body into, in order not to incriminate the Crime Daddy who gave him his job. (For more, read her full post.)
2) Having defined the underlying crime as JUST the hack-and-leak and trolling, and not quid pro quo, but also havin… https://t.co/ooTILZsaOL— emptywheel (@emptywheel) 1553457662.0
So we're not talking about any of the weird quid pro quo questions like the Trump Tower meeting or the Trump Tower Moscow deal, all the dangles the Russians made to Trump people, who replied, "If it's what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer!" And we're not talking about any of the Russian pivots to sanctions relief, which Trump and his people seem to have been more than happy to provide when they've been able to get away with it. (For more on that, read David Corn.)
We may find that Mueller, like Barr, also took an extremely limited view of his mandate and the fundamental crimes of the 2016 election. (Guess we need to read his report.) We might also find Mueller explaining a much darker story, one that he has receipts for, but nonetheless -- for whatever reason, whether because it's just not in US legal code, or because he needed cooperating witnesses like Paul Manafort to NOT LIE TO HIM ABOUT THEIR MEETINGS WITH RUSSIAN SPIES -- was unable to fully prosecute. (A good place to find that information would be in Mueller's report.)
Because on the first point, there was never going to be some smoking gun secret tape of Trump saying, "I collude and conspire you!" Perhaps some of what Mueller found is absolutely vile, but hasn't quite been imagined by our laws -- but should be, in the age of online warfare. Perhaps a Democratic Congress needs to make the laws and the next Democratic president needs to sign them. (They'll need the full report to do that, Bill.)
As to the second point, for real, Paul Manafort lied and lied and lied and lied and protected his Russian bosses. He specifically lied about his transferring of Trump campaign voter information TO A MAN WITH KNOWN TIES TO RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE. And Mueller may not have been able to prosecute the conspiracy without Manafort's full cooperation. That might have been why, out of the cases he had, Mueller held Manafort closest to his investigation until the bitter end.
Oh, and a third point we haven't made yet, and which is not remotely addressed in Barr's letter. Remember how the FBI opened an investigation into whether or not Donald Trump is a literal actual intelligence asset of the Russian Federation? We still don't have an answer on that one! Guess we need to read the full report, and then keep investigating.
Glad Glenn Greenwald's dick is hard right now, though.
We have always believed that Robert Mueller was a man of integrity and capability who would prosecute his mandate fully. However, while it's sometimes been easy to fall into the trap of the idea that Mueller would save us, we've also always known that wasn't actually his job, and that he's not the kind of guy who would exceed his mandate, despite the cries of WITCH HUNT from Donald Trump's Twitter and the gullets of Fox News and the Glenn Greenwalds they bring on every night. However, a crucial part of trusting Mueller's work is to 1) ASSESS HIS FUCKING WORK, NOT BILL BARR'S CLIFFSNOTES VERSION OF IT and to 2) assess it as it is, rather than through the lens of what we think he should have been investigating or how we think he should have done his job. To view Barr's letter as a full exoneration of the president and his campaign -- well, that's just fucking lazy and dishonest, if you actually read the words in it.
At the end of the day, there's more to this story. A hell of a lot more.
We'll leave you with this tweet from Christopher Wylie -- remember him? The Cambridge Analytica whistleblower?
Whatever this report says, here’s what I know: when I was at Cambridge Analytica, the company hired known Russian a… https://t.co/8dWHfjsfSk— Christopher Wylie 🏳️🌈 (@Christopher Wylie 🏳️🌈) 1553475615.0
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