We do have recently-appointed Attorney General William Barr’s four-page version of what the “Special” (note, not Independent) Council submitted last weekend to Barr. How good is that?
Keep in mind: Barr was nominated just last December by the present inhabitant of the White House. After a contentious hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination was sent forward by a vote of 12 to 10. Barr was approved by the Senate as the new AG on Feb. 14, again by a split vote, 54 to 45. Quick. And partisan.
If you watched any of the hearings, you shouldn’t need reminding what much of the contention was about. Months before, Barr had written a memo to Acting AG Rod Rovenstein saying that sitting presidents should not be forced to testify before a special council, and claiming that “Mueller’s obstruction theory is fatally misconceived.” Nor, Barr held, was it legal for a sitting President to be indicted.
(Incidentally, you do remember that Trump once said he’d be delighted to sit and answer Mueller’s questions in person? That’s the same Trump who said he’d release his tax returns.)
It shouldn’t be hard to understand why Donald Trump liked what he was hearing about Barr and quickly put forward Barr’s name to replace another loyalist, Matthrew Whitaker — who had been called in to replace the stubbornly independent Rod Rovenstein.
Now, with AG William Barr as part of the executive branch, and since Donald Trump controls the executive branch, it’s not hard to see why Trump is more comfortable with any outcome. So far, that is.
What remains in the dark is the actual Mueller Report. Whether or not we see the unredacted, unedited version is. at the moment, uncertain. And as near as I can learn, there’s a separate FBI report waiting, concerning any connection with Russian intelligence by a Trump associate. That could get interesting.
There’s general agreement from our intelligence community that the Russian government — and not Trump’s “some 300-pounder sitting on a bed somewhere” — worked hard to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
There was the hacking of DNC emails. There was the Russian orchestrated social-media barrage in the “Hate Hillary” campaign. Add to that the “Lock Her Up, Lock Her Up” Trump campaign rally song. Then there was the Trump Tower meeting offering “Dirt on Hillary” attended by people attached to the Trump campaign. The key focus was not on “Love Trump” but on “Hate Hillary.” Was it successful? My verdict? Quite.
Many people I know told me at the time, “Well, I wouldn’t vote for Trump, I don’t like him. But I sure as hell won’t vote for Crooked Hillary Clinton.” Too often, raw emotion over ruled.facts.
Add also the countless lies told by people associated with the Trump campaign denying any meeting or exchange with the Russians. Add to that the offering of political polling data to the Russians. There’s way too much to be waved away by William Barr. And however much Donald Trump may wish to celebrate everything as a very, very, greatly incredible and fantastic ointment for his always very, very needy tremendous ego, Americans have to hear the rest of the story.
Did the Russians influence the outcome of the 2016 election? Trump lost the popular vote by a historic three million. Trump claims to have won by a landslide. We may never know all the facts, but it’s fair to say: the Russian intelligence community are certainly not amateurs.
Bottom line: I’m troubled by how quickly Robert Mueller’s work ended after the appointment of Attorney General Barr. I’ll be waiting to hear more from Mueller .. and the FBI. If there’s anybody I don’t trust, it’s the self-inflating Donald Trump.
Ditto for Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Bob Hooper is a fourth generation Western Kansan who writes from his home in Bogue.