Barr Report II does not mark end of questions
Did the president of the United States commit a crime?
According to the Mueller report, yes, maybe. After 22 months of investigation, the investigation could not conclude that the president could be exonerated of a criminal act of obstructing justice.
The Mueller investigation noted that, in order to qualify as a federal crime, obstruction of justice would require criminal intent on the part of the president. And since the president refused for over a year to an interview by the Mueller team, his state of mind, his intent, could not be determined.
On the issue of “collusion,” described more aptly as conspiracy by the Mueller investigation, the report determined that agents of the Donald Trump campaign did act with WikiLeaks to coordinate the release of damaging information about the Clinton campaign, but that such cooperation did not rise to criminal activity only because Trump’s agents’ actions did not link directly to the theft of the Clinton data.
Further, regarding collusion, (conspiracy) the June 9, 2016 reported meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and individuals representing the Russian government to share “dirt” on Hillary Clinton avoided criminal charges against Trump Jr. only because the quality of the information offered did not provide adequate evidence of value to rise to a campaign finance violation.
None of this would you know from Attorney General William Barr, who grossly misrepresented the facts of the Mueller report to the American public in his statements of April 18, prior to the release of the redacted version of the Mueller Report.
Barr, in his prepared statements exonerated entirely all Trump campaign officials of collusion with the Russians, while the Mueller report cites collusion between campaign manager Paul Manafort and Russian contact Konstantin Kislyak regarding an exchange of Trump campaign polling, including close polling states.
Barr further failed to note that the Mueller Report cites numerous lies to the FBI and Congress by Trump campaign officials about contacts with agents or contacts of the Russian government, and that such lies impeded the investigation in material ways.
And the Barr Report II ignored entirely that the investigation resulted in charges against 37 individuals, and 199 individual charges of criminal acts.
In the coming weeks, we will learn a great deal more about what the Mueller investigation found and concluded. What we know now is that Barr did not represent the Mueller Report accurately or honestly.
Americans want to know the truth and, in various current polling results, a majority of Americans are not convinced we know all we should know about Trump/Russian activities. We must now count on the press and Congress to determine if the actions taken justify Impeachment, or if they simply demonstrate a president free of values and ethics in his conduct both in his campaign and since his election.
Unfortunately, this entire process has undermined our institutions. The president and some of his supporters have undermined trust in the FBI, the U.S. intelligence agencies, and virtually anyone who saw potential criminal acts in the actions of Trump and associates. And this week the new attorney general undermined his office by his inaccurate statements intended to color the results of the Mueller investigation.
We had hoped the Mueller Report would conclude the investigation and answer the important questions raised in 2016. Unfortunately, due to the Barr Report II, and his blatant misrepresentations, all that has been accomplished is more confusion about what really happened in the 2016 election.
Ultimately, the entire Mueller Report will be examined by Congress, unredacted, and congressional investigations will continue until the facts are found wherever that takes the nation.
This is the beginning, not the end of finding the truth.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here in the Tri-State.