Attorney General William Pelham Barr, live on TV, prior to releasing the Mueller Report:
“The Special Counsel found no collusion by any Americans in IRA’s illegal activities. In other words, there was no evidence of the Trump campaign collusion… There was in fact, no collusion.”
The 140 instances of coordination (or its synonym “collusion”) between Trump’s campaign and Putin found and cited by Mueller, without more, were insufficient to support a prosecution for Criminal Conspiracy, as Mueller concluded. This was in part because several Trump associates who spoke under penalty of perjury lied to Mueller’s investigators, the Russians Mueller subpoenaed were beyond the reach of American law and other evidence was destroyed.
Since Mueller issued his report more evidence has come out about direct ties and significant, direct collusion between Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and the Kremlin, via Konstantin Kilimnik (some of this is documented in the post-Mueller Marco Rubio chaired Senate Report, a report Rubio touted as further exonerating the former president).
It should be noted that a good deal of crucial evidence was withheld by non-rat Trump associates who dummied up, or simply lied, in return for a dangled pardon for perjury or related crimes. Unlike in many of Trump’s other business dealings, he actually kept his end of the bargain, pardoning Manafort, Flynn and Stone, along with a rogue’s gallery of others. Can you say quid pro quo?
quid pro quo
In the former president’s defense, he is often called “transactional” — a transaction is a negotiated exchange of promises, goods or services. I give you this, you give me that. You don’t incriminate me, for example, I give you a full unconditional presidential pardon, for example. In Latin the phrase is quid pro quo.
Which leads us back to obstruction of justice. Same deal, note how carefully Barr phrases his lying spin on Mueller’s findings in Volume II, which detailed Trump’s tireless (and ongoing) pattern of obstruction of justice. While Mueller was prevented by DOJ policy from charging the sitting president with this crime, he stated that he would have exonerated him if he could, but that the evidence of obstruction of justice he had gathered did not allow him to exonerate the president. Here’s Barr’s take:
“The evidence developed by the Special Counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense.”
Telling your White House counsel to fire the Special Counsel, and when he refuses, instructing him to write a memorandum falsely stating he was never asked to fire the Special Counsel? This single incident of arguable obstruction of justice (to create a false document to cover up a possibly incriminating act) is not sufficient, even read together with the other nine instances detailed by Mueller, to establish that the president attempted to obstruct justice, or cover up that obstruction. In Bill Barr’s estimation, anyway.
Which is, no doubt, why he had Trump assert a ridiculously all-inclusive privilege that allowed White House counsel Don McGahn (and everyone else Trump had ever spoken to) to defy a Congressional subpoena until long after the first impeachment was over (and the second impeachment too, for that matter).
And Barr has a falsely classified legal memo to prove that he was on the up and up the whole time. This secret memo sets out the legal advice he got and details the legal discussions he had before he made the decision, even if that advisory memo, it turns out, was finalized after he sent his letter to Congress saying Mueller hadn’t found jack shit on the Unitary Executive.
This “privileged” memo, you see, contains the exact legal reasoning on which he relied when dismissing Mueller’s investigation as a partisan witch hunt that basically exonerated Trump of all wrongdoing.
The memo purports to show that Barr made his considered, legally nuanced decision only after getting legal advice that confirmed every jot and tittle of his determination.
Even though, it emerges, the same team (with Barr’s input) simultaneously prepared the letter AND the secret post-letter “deliberative” memo that justified it and they exchanged emails with edits as they prioritized finalizing the lying letter to Congress and the American people over the advisory memo, which they agreed could always be finished after the letter was sent.
The hilarious stand up comic pictured above (mocking those alarmed about the autocratic Unitary Executive theory embraced by right-wing zealots like Barr and the Federalist Society audience he is performing for) needs to be prosecuted for his role in the obstruction of justice he claimed there was inadequate evidence to prosecute Trump for.
History suggests that Merrick Garland may not be prepared to go this far, though I hope very much that I’m wrong. A few years ago Barack Obama made history by candidly stating that “we, uh, tortured some folks”. It was wrong, he said, and against our values, international law and the treaties we may have signed, but some very good people did it, during a very scary time, truly believing they were doing the right thing, so you know, to clear the air once and for all … yes, we tortured some, uh, folks.
Many Democrats in power only seem to register that fire can seriously burn them after they are actually being burned to death. They don’t want to be accused of being vindictive, politically correct, “woke” culture warriors by doing something that can be spun as viciously partisan, like millions of tax dollars spent on a long-running, high-profile Benghazi investigation, ten of them, actually, against then Secretary of State/presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Modern Republicans are admired by the base (al Qaeda, in Arabic) for shooting before they can be asked a smart assed question.
What kind of knife are we bringing to the obstruction of justice gunfight, Nancy? Chuck? Merrick?