Talk about a Friday news dump. As I was packing up my desk at the end of last week, I, like many Americans, saw the headlines scream across my screens: Special Counselor Robert Mueller had submitted the findings of his nearly two-year investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, and any related coordination between the Donald Trump campaign.
The answer to the question of what was in the report itself seemed to be forthcoming at a rather rapid clip. On Sunday, a mere 48 hours after the report had been delivered to him, Barr announced he would be sharing his summary with Congress.
The resulting four-page document is strange for many reasons. It only quotes from Mueller directly four times, and none of them are complete sentences. On the first count, Barr says Mueller “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia.” (That sure leaves a lot of wiggle room for unofficial campaign advisers like the now-indicted Roger Stone.)
On the obstruction count, Barr says Mueller made no determination, but in his and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's determinations, “the evidence … is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
Excuse me if I don't just take Barr's word for any of this. Barr had his mind made up on the obstruction investigation long before he even had his current job, for which he was handpicked by Trump. On June 8, 2018, he wrote an unprompted memo on “Mueller's 'Obstruction' Theory” in which called this aspect of the investigation “fatally misconceived.”
Notably, one of the only times Barr quotes directly from Mueller in the summary sent to Congress is when he says, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
At the end of his summary, Barr concludes by noting that the Special Counsel Regulations say only that Mueller must submit a “confidential report” to the Attorney General.
“However, I am mindful of the public interest in this matter,” Barr wrote. “For that reason, my goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel's report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulation, and Departmental policies.”
This is not good enough by half. We need to see the whole report. Not part of it with pages and pages of black ink redactions. Supporters of the president have been very quick to dance in the end zone and turn the finger of blame on the other side, and critics of president seem far too credulous of Barr's interpretation.
This isn't partisan to me. This is about transparency. If the report says what Trump and his supporters say, then so be it. I'm not afraid of the truth. The American people have paid millions of dollars for this investigation. We deserve to read the full report directly from Mueller himself. Anything less will be viewed as a whitewash.