Making the World Safe from Mueller

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“Mid-April and possibly sooner”

That’s when the public should get to see a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. So said Attorney General William Barr in a letter to the heads of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees.

We’re one week removed from word that Mueller had delivered his report to Barr, which was soon followed by Barr’s own four-page report to Congress.

And in the meantime, we’ve witnessed the largest inoculation effort since the eradication of polio.

The President has aggressively attempted to conflate both the findings of Mueller’s report and the origin of the underlying Russian investigation.

According to Barr, Mueller found no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government. A clear and legitimate win for the President.

But Mueller reached no conclusion on obstruction of justice, and it was Barr along with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who then said they found:

…the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.

That’s not an exoneration, but the President has been treating it as such.

At his rally Thursday night in Grand Rapids, Trump said:

After three years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead. The collusion delusion is over.

On the same day that the President spoke in Michigan, the New York Times broke the story that the Mueller report itself exceeds 300 pages. The length of the report is something Attorney General Barr had not told Congress in his four-page letter. 

As the Times pointed out, that length suggests that Mueller went well beyond the bare-bones summary required of him.

Barr’s letter told us that Mueller “sets out evidence” on both sides of the question of obstruction. And Barr told us:

The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’

That all suggests that if and when the public ever gets a look at the full Mueller report, it won’t be pleasant for the President.

But by then, he’s hoping to have protected himself with his declaration that this is all about partisanship, not facts.

At his first rally since the Mueller conclusion, the President said this: 

The Democrats need to decide whether they will continue to defraud the public with ridiculous bullshit.

It’s not just the outcome of the Mueller probe which the President seeks to poison, it’s also the origin of the Russian investigation itself.

On Wednesday night, the President granted a 45-minute interview to Sean Hannity on Fox News. Said Trump:

 How did this start? How did it start? You had dirty cops…[A]t the top, they were not clean, to put it mildly. And what they did to our country was a terrible, terrible thing.

Who is they? He later pointed to former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.

I mean, McCabe: His wife got hundreds of thousands of dollars. He was running the FBI and running all sorts of cases, and his wife got hundreds of thousands of dollars from essentially Clintons, from Clinton’s closest friend. Then he ruled so favorably.

The President and Hannity sought to spin the beginnings of the Russian investigation as the stuff of Deep State conspiracy. But as Philip Bump pointed out in the Washington Post:

We’ve been through this before — frequently. McCabe’s wife ran for the Virginia Senate in 2015 and lost. She received money from a political action committee controlled by former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, as did a number of other candidates. That election was over well before McCabe had any oversight of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, much less the investigation into Trump and Russia.

Then there was Hannity, who said:

This is what we know. That in August of 2016, we know Bruce Ohr warned everybody at the DOJ and the FBI that Christopher Steele hated you, that Hillary Clinton paid for the dossier, that it was not verified. But still in October, and then three renewal application warrants approved, they were told by the Grassley-Graham memo, the bulk of information came from that phony dossier. Andrew McCabe said, no dossier, no FISA warrant.”

But Bump points out:

Hannity is referring to a FISA warrant obtained against Carter Page, who in March 2016 was identified as an adviser to Trump’s campaign. In July, Page traveled to Moscow, where he spoke with a Russian deputy prime minister. His trip was mentioned in a dossier of reports compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.

But that October 2016 warrant also had nothing to do with the launch of the investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. That investigation is believed to have begun on July 31, 2016, after the FBI was tipped off by a foreign diplomat that another Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, had discussed incriminating emails in Russia’s possession.

Look, this is complicated stuff.

It requires a much higher level of attentiveness than most Americans are willing to give.

And that is exactly what the President hopes.

The Barr summary over the weekend was the vaccine. Trump’s response is the building of the immunity in the body, and therefore the public – particularly the base – will not be infected by the bad news to come. It makes the bad stuff in the report seem like spin. Rather genius.

But that’s a bet with no margin for error. The President tried it out in Grand Rapids – remember, he won Michigan by fewer than 11,000 votes (2/10 of 1%).