Getting the Barr Report
Apparently, handpicked-by-President-Trump Attorney General William Barr believes all the American people need to see about the work of Special Council Robert Mueller is what he, Barr, allows them to see.
And so far, that is the four-page “Barr Report,” a summary that concludes all is well and there is nothing to see here.
And why not? Why would anyone care to what extent the Russian government worked to elect Donald Trump president?
Why would anyone care if the Trump campaign knew about the Russian effort and still met with Russian government agents and failed to report the meeting to the FBI, as requested by the FBI?
And why would Americans care that Mueller found significant evidence of obstruction of justice in the actions of Trump, the very crime that ended the presidency of Richard Nixon and brought Impeachment charges against Bill Clinton?
After two years of collecting evidence, Mueller could not conclude that Trump was not guilty of obstruction, but Barr easily concluded that Trump was innocent in 48 hours.
But you do not need to see the evidence of either argument, but simply accept that Barr saw it and found the possibility of guilt insufficient.
Barr has promised to release a highly-redacted Mueller Report to Congress whenever he feels like it, or maybe by mid-April, whichever comes last, in order to allow the president time to sell the “complete exoneration” claim in the meantime.
But Barr never intends congress to see the entirety of Mueller’s work because the report contains classified information, grand jury testimony, and possible sources and methods for the collection of that information, and because it may contain embarrassing information about third parties.
Of course, that ignores that Congress regularly sees classified information and always protects sources and methods (see 2018 Republican demands for Russian investigation material from DOJ). And it ignores that in both the Nixon and Clinton investigations grand jury testimony was released by federal judges upon request. As for the embarrassment claim by Barr, that is an entirely new and laughable standard of withholding information, one unlikely to be taken seriously by anyone.
The Mueller report states, “while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
The president says the report has given him “complete exoneration.” 61 percent of Americans believe Mueller, 32 percent believe Trump, from a recent Washington Post-Schar School Poll. As is often true, the president has lied about the facts.
Posturing by Barr aside, the Mueller Report is about tampering in an American presidential election to elect Donald Trump and, while Republicans seem uncaring about that now, should the Russians seek to elect a Democrat next time, Republicans will find their outrage instantly.
It is time for our Republican friends to stand up for the integrity of our elections, welcome the Mueller Report, demand its full release and all it contains and work to protect the country from future Russian interference.
The American people demand the facts. In a new poll by PBS/NPR/Marist 75 percent of Americans believe the full report should be made public.
Surely Attorney General Barr, a man we know little about, and a man personally chosen by the investigated president, cannot believe that the nation will settle for him alone deciding what America should know about the Mueller Investigation.
We did not wait two years for the Barr Report.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here in the Tri-State.