You Were Right To Question The Barr Summary
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is famously tight-lipped. Not anymore. Now, we are gleaning some of the first insights into how they perceived their 22-month long probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Today, The New York Times reported:
Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.
The report goes on to detail how Mueller’s team created multiple summaries of their nearly 400-page report and were surprised that none of that material was included in Barr’s 4-page letter to Congress. Mueller’s team also reportedly expressed concerns that Barr’s initial summary of their report could solidify a narrative before the full report was released.
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Barr’s summary alleged that Mueller did not find enough evidence to charge a criminal conspiracy between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. It also goes on to allege that Mueller did not come to a prosecutorial conclusion on obstruction of justice. It’s a possibility Mueller was trying to leave the obstruction decision to Congress, but Barr (who wrote a memo before he was appointed AG claiming a President can’t obstruct justice) then took it upon himself to clear President Trump of obstruction within 48 hours of reviewing the evidence.
The New York Times report left it unclear what specific components of Barr’s summary Mueller’s team is frustrated with, but reporting from The Washington Post filled in the blanks: “…members of Mueller’s team have complained to close associates that the evidence they gathered on obstruction was alarming and significant.” NBC News’ Ken Dilanian expanded on that reporting, covering the collusion aspect:
“We’re hearing from a separate U.S. official that some members of the Mueller team say that the evidence on collusion, while not establishing a criminal conspiracy, is actually very compelling. Some of it may be classified, but to the extent we get to see it, Mueller’s report talks about those contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, and raises the issue as to whether the Trump campaign was manipulated by a sophisticated Russian intelligence operation,” Dilanian added. “We need to see the report. The Barr summary, by many accounts, did not quite do it justice.”
These reports are very significant. This means that some on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team were so frustrated with William Barr’s handling of their report, they told their associates about it. While House Democrats gear up their efforts to obtain the Mueller report through a potential subpoena, they’ve also signaled they may request testimony from Mueller. This won’t be the last we’ve heard from Mueller’s team.
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