So, here we go.
The Justice Department plans to release a lightly redacted version of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s 400-page report Thursday, offering a granular look at the ways in which President Trump was suspected of having obstructed justice, people familiar with the matter said.
The report — the general outlines of which the Justice Department has briefed the White House on — will reveal that Mueller decided he could not come to a conclusion on the question of obstruction because it was difficult to determine Trump’s intent and because some of his actions could be interpreted innocently, these people said. But it will offer a detailed blow-by-blow of the president’s alleged conduct — analyzing tweets, private threats and other episodes at the center of Mueller’s inquiry, they added.
Attorney General William P. Barr plans to hold a 9:30 a.m. news conference to address “process questions” and provide an “overview of the report,” a senior Justice Department official said. The report will be delivered on discs to Capitol Hill between 11 a.m. and noon and posted on the special counsel’s website thereafter, the official said.
Thus beginneth the spinning.
Thursday’s rollout plan — and news of the White House’s advance briefing, which was first reported by ABC News and the New York Times — sparked a political firestorm Wednesday, with Democrats suggesting the attorney general was trying to improperly color Mueller’s findings before the public could read them.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said at a news conference that Barr “appears to be waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump” and had “taken unprecedented steps to spin Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation.” He said after his committee had time to review the redacted report, he would ask Mueller and other members of his team to testify before Congress.
And the Republicans, who impeached Bill Clinton for lying about a blowjob from an intern, will suddenly have found that their moral compass now includes giving latitude to working with a foreign hostile power to win an election. But hey, at least there’s room to think he didn’t mean to. Which means the excuses you’re going to hear from Fox News and the Trumpistas is that he was too stupid to figure out that he was being played by the Russians and certain members of the campaign staff, none of whom he says he ever laid eyes on.
But you know there has to be some news in the report that casts doubt on the Trump’s motives and his actions. Otherwise, why would the White House and their cronies be gearing up such an elaborate response effort?
Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of Trump’s lawyers, has said he is preparing a counter-report to Mueller’s findings and in a recent interview said his document would explain from the president’s viewpoint every episode that could be considered obstructive. Giuliani and others have long feared Mueller’s findings on obstruction, viewing them as potentially more damaging than anything found on the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians.
Mueller did not find a conspiracy between Russians and Trump or his campaign, Barr said in a brief letter describing the special counsel’s conclusions shared with Congress late last month.
Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s attorneys, told The Post, “We do not discuss conversations that we may or may not have had with the president.” A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to address questions about its briefings to the White House, the report’s redactions or Mueller’s findings on obstruction.
Oh, and speaking of collusion…
Trump had also apparently been briefed in advance of the planned news conference, which he revealed Wednesday during a radio appearance only to have it confirmed later by a Justice Department spokeswoman. Barr will appear alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, the spokeswoman said, and he planned to take questions.
Barr has faced intense scrutiny from the public and lawmakers on Capitol Hill for his handling of Mueller’s report so far. The Thursday news conference could give him an opportunity to address his critics — and perhaps provide them fresh ammunition. It is sure to be watched closely by Trump, an avid TV viewer whose relationship with his attorney general will almost certainly be colored by Mueller’s findings and what Barr says about them.
Since when in the course of jurisprudence and legal ethics has the prosecution worked with the defendant to provide a cover and alibi for the accused? Maybe that works in a regime where the fix is already a forgone conclusion. Like in Russia.
The goal here is to max out every avenue to protect the President from the contents of the Report. Bill Barr and his friends at the White House clearly do not care what anyone outside of Trump world thinks at this point. They are not even bothering to keep up appearances at the margins. A good and increasingly relevant question for Bill Barr at this point would be at what point the statutory powers of the Attorney General can amount to obstruction of justice if exercised with corrupt intent.
Every detail of this has been planned to spin the Report or maximally conceal it in the interests of protecting the President.
None of this is on the level.
Not that it was ever going to be on the level in the first place.
So, brace yourself, kids; it’s going to be a wild ride.