March 25, 2019

Mueller Concludes His Investigation

On Sunday, Attorney General William Barr informed Congress that “Special counsel Robert Mueller did not find evidence that President Donald Trump’s campaign ‘conspired or coordinated’ with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election but reached no conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice… The attorney general [also] said he and [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein had determined that Mueller’s evidence was insufficient to prove in court that Trump had committed obstruction of justice.” AP News

Read Barr’s letter to Congress here. House Judiciary Committee

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From the Left

The left views this as good news for Trump overall, but has many unanswered questions that they hope will be resolved when the report is made public.

“Taken as a whole… the Mueller report, which has hung over Trump's administration like a dark cloud promising rain for 22 months, did the opposite of what many people expected: It provides Trump with a neutral -- and credible -- source that, largely validates the mantra of his presidency: No collusion.”
Chris Cillizza, CNN

“My guess is that where this will help Trump the most is not with traditional swing voters but with Trump-skeptical Republicans. Even Republicans who don’t love Trump tend to be critical of the news media, and they’d already thought that the media was devoting too much attention to Russia-related matters. If the investigation now looks to them like a wild goose chase — or a ‘WITCH HUNT,’ to use Trump’s preferred term — it will create greater solidarity between them and the rest of the Republican Party. While this isn’t a huge group of voters, every little bit helps in an election that could shape up as another 50-50 affair.”
Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight

Many point out that “when prosecutors say that an investigation ‘did not establish’ something, that doesn’t mean that they concluded it didn’t happen, or even that they don’t believe it happened. It means that the investigation didn’t produce enough information to prove that it happened. Without seeing Mueller’s full report, we don’t know whether this is a firm conclusion about lack of coordination or a frank admission of insufficient evidence. The difference is meaningful, both as a matter of history and because it might determine how much further Democrats in Congress are willing to push committee investigations of the matter.”
Ken White, The Atlantic

“As Americans have waited for Mueller to complete his work, there’s been a consistent question that some have argued implied some level of guilt: Why did so many people lie about what happened? A campaign adviser, Trump’s personal attorney, his national security adviser, his former campaign manager, his former deputy campaign manager — all admitted to misleading investigators. Why? Different reasons for each? A common interest (as at least two suggested) in buffering Trump?”
Philip Bump, Washington Post

Regarding the conclusion reached by Attorney General Barr that Trump did not obstruct justice, the fact that he did so “within 48 hours of receiving the report (which pointedly did not reach that conclusion) should be deeply concerning to every American… Mr. Barr says that the government would need to prove that Mr. Trump acted with ‘corrupt intent’ and there were no such actions. But how would Mr. Barr know? Did he even attempt to interview Mr. Trump about his intentions? What kind of prosecutor would make a decision about someone’s intent without even trying to talk to him?”
Neal K. Katyal, New York Times

Moreover, “Barr’s poor reasoning in the four-page summary will reinforce the conclusion that he prejudged the matter. For example, he claimed that because Mueller was unable to establish that Trump was ‘involved in an underlying crime,’ that suggested that he lacked the intent to obstruct justice. That will come as a surprise to Martha Stewart and many other defendants who were convicted of obstruction of justice but not of any underlying crime. Simply put, that is a fragile reed upon which to support a finding that there was no obstruction.”
Renato Mariotti, Politico

“You could say that the weekend largely ended as it started. No one except Barr and a small handful of his aides has read the Mueller report. Trump has overreached in his victory statement. Democrats are demanding the release of the report before accepting its conclusions. Serious allegations about the President’s alleged obstruction of justice remain. An epic fight over what Congress can see of Mueller’s work is all but inevitable. The country is divided. And we still have no idea why Donald Trump seems to like Vladimir Putin so much.”
Susan B. Glasser, New York Magazine

From the Right

The right sees this as a full exoneration of Trump, and criticizes those who pushed a collusion narrative which has now been shown to be false.

The right sees this as a full exoneration of Trump, and criticizes those who pushed a collusion narrative which has now been shown to be false.

Americans should feel even greater confidence in the legitimacy of the 2016 election. They should reject — once and for all — the lurid conspiracy theories that have dominated parts of the Internet and gained entirely too much purchase in the broader media. And critically, they should trust Mueller’s conclusion. Remember how Trump’s defenders repeatedly and loudly noted that Mueller staffed his team with Democratic lawyers? Well, this is their report.”
David French, National Review

“We spent the whole of Trump's first term in office obsessing over a conspiracy theory alleging the president of the United States is a Manchurian Candidate. It has just been debunked… after thousands of hours of minute-by-minute reporting on Trump and Russian ‘collusion,’ the entire Russiagate story just went up in smoke. More than two years of obsessive news coverage and nothing to show for it.”
Becket Adams, Washington Examiner

This is more than an exoneration. It’s a searing indictment of the Federal Bureau of Investigation… The FBI unleashed its powers on a candidate for the office of the U.S. presidency, an astonishing first. It did so on the incredible grounds that the campaign had conspired to aid a foreign government. And it used the most aggressive tools in its arsenal—surveillance of U.S. citizens, secret subpoenas of phone records and documents, even human informants.”
Kimberley Strassel, Wall Street Journal

“If we’re going to have disclosure, fine. But let’s have full disclosure: Mueller’s report in addition to the FISA applications; the memoranda pertinent to the opening and continuation of the investigation; the testimony in secret hearings; the scope memorandum Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein issued on August 2, 2017, after failing to cite a crime when he appointed Mueller — let’s have all of it.”
Andrew McCarthy, National Review

Regarding obstruction of justice, “one of the factors Barr and Rosenstein considered was the collusion finding. If there was no underlying crime, they reasoned, then there was less motive for the president to cover up. While that was ‘not determinative,’ Barr and Rosenstein concluded, the absence of evidence of an underlying crime ‘bears upon the President's intent with respect to obstruction.’ In other words, whatever Trump did, he wasn't trying to cover up evidence of collusion…

“In the political debate, Mueller's clear conclusion on the underlying issue of collusion, that there wasn't any, will give the president a very powerful argument: You're saying I obstructed an investigation into something that didn't happen? I defend myself against false charges, and that's obstruction? It's not a legal point. It's a commonsense point, the kind that voters consider when they make their decisions. And that is the case Trump will make in the coming months.”
Byron York, Washington Examiner

Many lament that “there will be no public mea culpa from the media for two years of feverishly biased hyping of unfounded allegations that the president of the United States is engaged in treason and actively operating as an agent of the Russian Federation. Nor will we hear any indications of regret from the current and former Democratic politicians and intelligence community officials who initiated, distributed, and sustained those allegations through leaks, on-air commentary, or both.”
Jason Beale, The Federalist

“If the Democrats and our major media are capable of shame, they will be chastened by this experience… Ever since May 2017, if you found FOX News to be too pro-Trump, you could always turn to CNN or MSNBC and be told with great certainty, on almost any evening and for almost any reason, that ‘the walls are closing in’ and that Trump's days were numbered. Night after night, this was the story. Now, that show is over. It was all fake news.”
Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

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