Thursday Reads: Barr’s Cover-Up Springs A LeakPosted: April 4, 2019
Ooops! Bill Barr’s well-laid plan to rescue Trump may be in trouble. Last night The New York Times published a story containing leaks from members of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation: Some on Mueller’s Team Say Report Was More Damaging Than Barr Revealed.
Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.
At stake in the dispute — the first evidence of tension between Mr. Barr and the special counsel’s office — is who shapes the public’s initial understanding of one of the most consequential government investigations in American history. Some members of Mr. Mueller’s team are concerned that, because Mr. Barr created the first narrative of the special counsel’s findings, Americans’ views will have hardened before the investigation’s conclusions become public.
Most of the NYT piece appears to have been sourced from DOJ sources, but a little later, The Washington Post released a story that emphasized the concerns of special counsel investigators.
Members of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team have told associates they are frustrated with the limited information Attorney General William P. Barr has provided about their nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether President Trump sought to obstruct justice, according to people familiar with the matter.
The displeasure among some who worked on the closely held inquiry has quietly begun to surface in the days since Barr released a four-page letter to Congress on March 24 describing what he said were the principal conclusions of Mueller’s still-confidential, 400-page report….
Barr told lawmakers that he concluded the evidence was not sufficient to prove that the president obstructed justice.
But members of Mueller’s team have complained to close associates that the evidence they gathered on obstruction was alarming and significant.
“It was much more acute than Barr suggested,” said one person, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the subject’s sensitivity.
Some members of the office were particularly disappointed that Barr did not release summary information the special counsel team had prepared, according to two people familiar with their reactions.
“There was immediate displeasure from the team when they saw how the attorney general had characterized their work instead,” according to one U.S. official briefed on the matter.
Summaries were prepared for different sections of the report, with a view that they could made public, the official said.
The report was prepared “so that the front matter from each section could have been released immediately — or very quickly,” the official said. “It was done in a way that minimum redactions, if any, would have been necessary, and the work would have spoken for itself.”
Mueller’s team assumed the information was going to be made available to the public, the official said, “and so they prepared their summaries to be shared in their own words — and not in the attorney general’s summary of their work, as turned out to be the case.”
Mueller’s team carefully prepared summaries of their findings that could quickly be released to the public, but Barr chose not to do so. What is he hiding?
Josh Marshall at TPM: Obvious All Along – Cover Up in Plain Sight.
We now have a three or four part chain of events that tells us what was frankly obvious ten days ago but most major media organizations were too cowardly to admit: the so-called “Barr Letter” was an effort to downplay and cover up the findings of the Mueller Special Counsel’s Office.
Barr laid out a series of four categories for redactions which, if interpreted broadly, could lead to most of the report not only never being seen by the public but never being seen even by Congress.The President went from using the report as a cudgel to threaten retribution against his enemies and professing to eagerly await its release to calling demands for its release a “disgrace.” Then members of his party voted unanimously against subpoenaing the report on the House Judiciary Committee. Then last night we had the first two reports that some subset of the members of Mueller’s team (which can actually refer to quite a few different people) believe Barr has mis-characterized the evidence contained in the report.
None of this is remotely surprising.
Barr was essentially hired by the President on the basis of a memo in which Barr argued that it was barely possible for a President to obstruct justice at all.
This morning, FBI Director Chris Wray admitted in a Congressional hearing that he has not had access to Mueller’s report. Why has the person charged with protecting the country from foreign influences not been allowed to see what Mueller found about Russia’s interference in U.S. elections?
I wonder who in the Justice Department and the White House have seen or been briefed on the report?
This morning the Barr cover-up crew is pushing back on the Mueller team leaks by getting MSNBC to carry water for them.
Here’s a response to this bullshit from a Elizabeth de la Vega, who worked with Robert Mueller. She says the MSNBC report is spin coming from the Barr camp.
From Politico this morning: Dems alarmed at fears that Barr misrepresented the Mueller report.
Democrats on Capitol Hill are frustrated by the news that some members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team are privately displeased with Attorney General William Barr’s characterization of their investigatory work, and are ratcheting up their demands for a full public release of the Russia probe’s findings….
The news has already put Democrats into a furor over not seeing even a redacted version of Mueller’s report.
“We are two weeks into this, all we have is Bill Barr’s word for this,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on CNN’s “New Day” Thursday morning. “And of course that comes from someone who was picked for his hostility to the obstruction case, which appears to be what some of the Mueller team is taking issue with.” [….]
Schiff noted that the reports suggesting Mueller’s team crafted summaries meant to be made public undercuts Barr’s decision to deliver his own analysis of the report.
“Those summaries may be among the most carefully drafted worded parts of the entire report by the Mueller team,” Schiff said. “They know that most Americans aren’t going to read all 400 pages, they are going to look to those top lines, and so they were probably wordsmithed very carefully, which means any deviation by Barr to give perhaps an overly optimistic picture of the president’s behavior particularly as to obstruction would have concerned the members of that team.”
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) said there’s increased urgency to be concerned Mueller’s report may be destroyed, adding, “The best indicator of future activity is past activity.” He said Barr’s “biased” summary was such an indicator.
The news that Barr’s cover-up boat is leaking badly was just one bad news story that hit Trump yesterday. Check these links if you haven’t already:
Timothy O’Brien at Bloomberg: I’ve Seen Trump’s Tax Returns and You Still Haven’t.
So . . . what else is happening? What stories are you following today?