The Russian Connection: Barr’s Cover Up

Since Attorney General Bob Barr issued a four page summary letter that was released less that 48 hours after he received Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, many on the left are freaking out and on the right declaring victory. The actual report from the investigation into the Crimes of Trump, however, is still under wraps. The four page Barr letter is nothing but PR stunt, propaganda. The truth is we know nothing more about the investigation than we knew on Friday. It’s unknown what the report from Robert Mueller says, what it uncovered, what he recommended to Congress or even how many pages it is.

The only ones to have seen the report are AG “No Such Thing As Obstruction” Barr, Deputy AG Rod “The Puppet” Rosenstein, SP Mueller and, possibly members of his team. I strongly suspect that it has already been leaked to key congressional Republicans (McCarthy, Meadows, McConnell, Graham) and, no doubt, Trump and his lawyers, despite DOJ denials. The White House backed by congressional Republicans will fight to keep this report from the Democrats all the way to the Supreme Court, even though Trump has said he doesn’t care if the report is made public. We all know how he lies. So why? If there was no damning evidence in the report then why would the Republicans, now, so stubbornly try to block its release? Do they know something we don’t know?

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow listed fifteen questions she has that weren’t raised in Barr’s letter.

Maddow’s full list of questions:

1. Why did Mueller not decide on obstruction of justice?
2. Did Mueller expect Barr to decide on obstruction?
3. Should Barr have decided on obstruction?
4. Did Mueller want to protect a future grand jury?
5. Why did Barr consult the DOJ office of legal counsel before deciding about obstruction?
6. What will be briefed to the Intelligence Committees and Gang of 8?
7. Was there a full investigation of Trump’s intent regarding obstruction?
8. Were Trump’s finances part of the investigation?
9. Will we see the Mueller investigation scope memo?
10. Will we see Trump’s written responses to Mueller?
11. Will the Mueller report be released?
12. Will Mueller testify before Congress?
13. Will Congress see Mueller’s underlying evidence?
14. Will ongoing investigations be affected?
15. Will Trump recognize Russia attacked our election?

Sarah K. Burris in her article at Raw Story thinks that #4 and #7 should scare Trump for the same reasons that Rachel points out:

“One of the reasons it might not be proper for a prosecutor — for any prosecutor or for the Department of Justice, more broadly — to jump in and make a pronouncement that a president appears to have committed crimes is because of the possibility that that president could actually be indicted and prosecuted and put on trial for those crimes after he or she has left office,” Maddow said. [..]

“So, say they plan to do that,” Maddow continued. “They plan to try to secure that indictment against the president starting the day he leaves office. That kind of scenario might be a reason why a prosecutor, and why the Department of Justice, more broadly, would not want to go on the record publicly declaring whether or not behavior by the president amounts to a crime. Because that sort of pronouncement from a Justice Department prosecutor or the Justice Department would taint the deliberations of any grand jury asked to consider whether an ex-president committed a crime and should be indicted as such.” [..]

“And if that’s why Mueller believed he was not supposed to say one way or the other whether this was a crime, if that’s why he believes this is just the facts, other people should come to their conclusion whether or not this is a crime, if that’s why Mueller was on that point to give any recommendation and pronounce any conclusion and make any prosecution announcement, if that’s why Mueller was holding back on that, did William Barr blow that up?” she asked. [..]

“Barr says the determination he came to, that Trump couldn’t be charged with obstruction of justice, was based in part on the special counsel’s conclusion that, ‘the evidence does not establish that the president was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.’ Barr says, ‘while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the president’s intent with obstruction.’ Well, was there a full investigation of the president’s intent when it came to obstruction of justice?”

Obstruction of justice as not part of the scope of Mueller’s investigation which is why which is why as he uncovered additional crimes, they were referred to the various districts responsible as he continued the Russian investigation.

Rachel notes that past precedent for dealing with the question of obstruction by a sitting president is to refer the matter to Congress, but Trump A.G. William Barr took it upon himself to decide no crime had been committed.

Trump and his associates are definitely not out of the woods. As Charlie Pierce at Esquire Politics put it, Barr did what he was hired to do, cover up Trump’s possible conspiracy with Russia and the subsequent cover up of that conspiracy.

William Barr on Sunday did what he was hired to do. He summarized Robert Mueller’s report in the most favorable light possible to the administration* and, where he couldn’t do that—specifically, on the crime of obstruction of justice—he just decided to turn Mueller’s own conclusion completely upside down. But, in any case, if Barr’s summary is taken whole, Paul Manafort et. al. got caught up in a criminal conspiracy in which the only crimes were their own. [..]

The wild card, of course, is the president* himself. He’s got another wankfest scheduled this week and he’s liable to say anything. And Paul Manafort still will be in jail simply because he got tied up with a guy who opened the floodgates on Manafort’s crimes. He’ll sit there forever, hoping for a pardon that will never come because he’s not the guy who got to appoint his own attorney general to bail him out.