Here’s Why The Mueller Report Is Not A ‘Total And Complete Exoneration’

Special Council Robert Mueller’s report into possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has been submitted to the Attorney General William Barr.

The full report has not been publicized.

It is ultimately up to the attorney general to decide whether or not it will be.

While Mueller’s report unambiguously states there was no evidence of collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, we learn through William Barr’s four-page summary the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency indeed conducted “disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election.”

It also confirms:

“Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks.”

The summary also makes it clear that “While this report does not conclude the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

So according to the attorney general himself, the White House’s declaration Mueller’s findings are a “total and complete exoneration” is a total and complete lie.

It is up to Barr “to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime.”

And according to Barr’s summary:

“[The evidence for obstruction is] not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.” 

Just because the Trump campaign did not willingly collude with Russia does not mean Trump campaign officials were unaware of Russia’s activities.

Some of the Russian players, like lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who famously promised Trump campaign officials dirt on Hillary Clinton at Trump Tower the summer before the election, were not government agents.

Let’s not neglect the fact Mueller’s investigation led to charges against 34 individuals, several of whom were Trump campaign advisers, and three companies.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is going to prison for seven and a half years.

Trump political adviser Roger Stone‘s indictment states he lied to lawmakers about communication with Wikileaks and Russian hackers responsible for stealing documents from the Democratic National Committee, for which 12 Russian military officials were also indicted.

Trump’s former attorney and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, is reporting for a three-year prison sentence on May 6.

Trump’s national security adviser for less than a month, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about Russian contacts during the presidential transition.

Former Trump campaign deputy chairman, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty last February to conspiracy against the United States and lying to investigators.

A few months before, former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pled guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with Russian officials.

The list goes on.

Attorney General Barr stated during his confirmation hearings he agrees with the Justice Department’s longstanding precedent of not indicting a sitting president because the U.S. Constitution provides a process for impeachment.

It is up to the Democratically controlled House of Representatives to initiate that process should the full Mueller report indicate Trump committed impeachable offenses, including obstruction of justice from which he has not been exonerated.

Again, that all depends on Barr.

Some cite Barr’s statement he would allow “as much transparency as I can, consistent with the law” during his confirmation hearing as an indication he is sincere about allowing the special council’s work to continue and conclude.

But Barr also admitted:

“I don’t know, at the end of the day, what will be release-able.”

In other words, no one will stand in Robert Mueller’s way, but his efforts might be for naught if Barr determines some information invalid for public disclosure.

Barr knew the Mueller report’s outcome three weeks ago.

He had plenty of time to consider whether he would proceed with obstruction charges.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), issued a joint statement explaining why Barr’s assessment not to charge the president needs further consideration.

It reads:

“Far from the ‘total exoneration’ claimed by the President, the Mueller report expressly does not exonerate the President.  Instead, it ‘sets out evidence on both sides of the question’ of obstruction—including the evidence that President Trump attempted to obstruct justice.  

“It is unacceptable that, after Special Counsel Mueller spent 22 months meticulously uncovering this evidence, Attorney General Barr made a decision not to charge the President in under 48 hours.  The Attorney General did so without even interviewing the President.  His unsolicited, open memorandum to the Department of Justice, suggesting that the obstruction investigation was ‘fatally misconceived,’ calls into question his objectivity on this point in particular.

“The only information the Congress and the American people have received regarding this investigation is the Attorney General’s own work product.  The Special Counsel’s Report should be allowed to speak for itself, and Congress must have the opportunity to evaluate the underlying evidence. 

“These shortcomings in today’s letter are the very reason our nation has a system of separation of powers.  We cannot simply rely on what may be a partisan interpretation of facts uncovered during the course of a 22-month review of possible wrongdoing by the President. 

“The American people deserve to see the facts and judge the President’s actions for themselves.”

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) added:

“The American people deserve to see it, especially when Attorney General Barr quotes Mueller saying that the office cannot exonerate president when it comes to obstruction of justice. We’re focused on the question of how do we prevent what happened in 2016 from ever happening again? Our mission is far broader than what Mueller was looking at. We have to look at counterintelligence issues. That’s part of why we are bringing [Felix] Sater in next week.”

Rep. Nadler (D-NY) stated:

“We’re going to move forward with our investigation into obstruction of justice, abuses of power, corruption, to defend the rule of law, which is our job. It’s a broader mandate than the special prosecutor has. His [Mueller’] mandate is only for crimes.”

This is an important point.

Robert Mueller did not have carte blanche in his investigation.

His report to Barr only outlines the results of his legally permitted authority.

There are still mounting charges against Trump and family in the Southern District of New York federal courts that Mueller’s team did not have the approval to investigate at the federal level.

If DOJ policy of not indicting Trump while he sits in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue emboldens the president, he should feel concerned about the day his tenure ends.

That’s the day feds can slap cuffs on him.

There’s a reason Trump chose to nominate William Barr.

As attorney general, Barr will be perfectly poised to shut down the Muller investigation as he did the Walsh investigation for George H.W. Bush.

Someone to keep Trump out of prison and fix it so he fades off into history’s rose-colored sunset is just what Trump wants.

Remember how the media lionized George H.W. Bush when he died late last year?

Was there any mention of the crimes from which William Barr excused him?


Image credit: Flickr

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