The Many Problems With the Barr Letter
By unilaterally concluding that Mr. Trump did not obstruct justice, the attorney general has made it imperative that the public see the Mueller report.
spoonman wrote:From looking at the AG's summary, it has the feeling of the report being a no score draw. Nothing that is inherently a score to kill the game, but nothing for the opposition to cheer about, other than to crow about how they held the other team scoreless.
Nevertheless there are still other investigations ongoing with Tr*mp and extended associates particularly in the SDNY and also the state of New York.
It may be very dark & morbid to paraphrase from P O'Neill here, but Tr*mp has to get lucky every time while those hoping to topple the despot only need to be lucky once. Everyone knew that Al Capone was up to his neck in criminal activity for years, but it was only when he was got for the rather unsexy and not very sensational crime of tax evasion was he finally brought down.
By Neal K. Katyal
Mr. Katyal is a law professor at Georgetown. He drafted the special counsel regulations under which Robert Mueller was appointed.
March 24, 2019
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/24/opin ... eport.html
No Collusion, No ‘Exoneration’
A Trump-friendly attorney general’s letter doesn’t do justice to the special counsel’s investigation. Release his whole report.
On Sunday afternoon, soon after Attorney General Bill Barr released a letter outlining the Mueller investigation report, President Trump tweeted “Total EXONERATION!” But there are any number of reasons the president should not be taking a victory lap.
First, obviously, he still faces the New York investigations into campaign finance violations by the Trump team and the various investigations into the Trump organization. And Mr. Barr, in his letter, acknowledges that the Mueller report “does not exonerate” Mr. Trump on the issue of obstruction, even if it does not recommend an indictment.
But the critical part of the letter is that it now creates a whole new mess. After laying out the scope of the investigation and noting that Mr. Mueller’s report does not offer any legal recommendations, Mr. Barr declares that it therefore “leaves it to the attorney general to decide whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime.” He then concludes the president did not obstruct justice when he fired the F.B.I. director, James Comey.
Such a conclusion would be momentous in any event. But to do so within 48 hours of receiving the report (which pointedly did not reach that conclusion) should be deeply concerning to every American.
The special counsel regulations were written to provide the public with confidence that justice was done. It is impossible for the public to reach that determination without knowing two things. First, what did the Mueller report conclude, and what was the evidence on obstruction of justice? And second, how could Mr. Barr have reached his conclusion so quickly?
Mr. Barr’s letter raises far more questions than it answers, both on the facts and the law.
By The Editorial Board
March 24, 2019
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/24/opin ... pe=Article
Recall that Mr. Barr got his current job only after Mr. Trump shoved out his predecessor, Jeff Sessions, for not showing him enough personal loyalty and shutting down the Russia investigation at the start. Among the reasons Mr. Barr may have appealed to the president was an unsolicited memo he sent last year to the Justice Department, taking the position that Mr. Mueller should not be allowed to question Mr. Trump about obstructing justice, and that the president could not be guilty of obstruction unless there were an underlying crime to obstruct.
In other words, Mr. Barr did exactly as Mr. Trump hoped he would. But there’s a reason obstructing justice is a crime on its own. The justice system doesn’t work when people lie to authorities, no matter why they do so.
Mr. Barr’s curious views on obstruction are just one reason that Mr. Mueller’s full report must be made available, immediately, to both Congress and the American people.
Also, while Mr. Mueller may not have found sufficient evidence of a criminal conspiracy, let’s not lose sight of what we already know, both from his investigation and from news reports over the past two years.
We know that the Russian government interfered repeatedly in the 2016 presidential election, by hacking into computer servers of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. We know that it did this with the goals of dividing Americans and helping Donald Trump win the presidency. We know that when top members of the Trump campaign learned about this interference, they didn’t just fail to report it to the F.B.I. They welcomed it. They encouraged it. They made jokes about it. On the same day that Mr. Trump publicly urged the Russians to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails, they began to do just that. And we know that when questioned by federal authorities, many of Mr. Trump’s top associates lied, sometimes repeatedly, about their communications with Russians. None of this is in dispute.
That Mr. Mueller couldn’t find sufficient evidence that Mr. Trump or anyone involved in his campaign had coordinated directly with the Russians may be explained by the fact that they didn’t need to. They were already getting that help.
We also know that what began as a counterintelligence investigation quickly turned into a criminal investigation, in large part because Mr. Trump surrounded himself with criminals. To date, his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; his deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates; his national security adviser, Michael Flynn; his campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos; and his personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, have all pleaded guilty or been convicted of federal crimes. In January, Mr. Mueller charged Roger Stone, Mr. Trump’s longtime aide, with multiple counts of witness tampering, obstructing justice, and making false statements.
Imagine if we’d learned all of this just Sunday, in one fell swoop, rather than in a trickle of indictments and prosecutions over the last 18 months.
Americans are, of course, continuing to learn more unsettling truths from the dozen or so other investigations that are continuing, such as the one in New York that has already landed Mr. Cohen a three-year prison sentence for campaign-finance violations that prosecutors said Mr. Trump was also involved in, from the White House.
One might expect Mr. Trump to feel happiness at Sunday’s news, but for him, that emotion seems to transform into a desire for vengeance. It’s no surprise that he and his allies are once again floating the idea of prosecuting Mrs. Clinton. Remember her? She was the candidate who, during a presidential debate all the way back in 2016, said: “It’s pretty clear you won’t admit that the Russians have engaged in cyberattacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people, that you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do and that you continue to get help from him because he has a very clear favorite in this race.”
Mr. Putin did have a clear favorite. He interfered on his behalf, and his favorite was elected president. Trump campaign officials knew about this and were more than happy for the help. Then they lied about receiving that help. This isn’t so complicated. And while Mr. Mueller may not be able to do anything about it, Congress, and the American people, certainly can.