[Speaking Truth To Power]
Thursday afternoon, House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) called Attorney General William Barr’s press conference comments “disingenuous and misleading” and an attempt to “clear” President Donald Trump “of wrongdoing,” in Special Counsel Robert Muller’s Russia investigation.
Rep. Nadler was responding to Barr’s bizarre head-scratching statements made before the releasing of a redacted copy of the Muller Report. In the Thursday morning press conference, Barr repeatedly parroted Trump’s talking point that the report shows no “collusion” between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Barr obviously knows Mr. Muller was investigating criminal conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The fixation with “no collusion” comes from the manipulative mind of Trump. Muller’s investigation had nothing to do with collusion, since collusion isn’t a crime.
Why did Barr find it necessary to repeat the irrelevant claim that no collusion was found—especially, when the Muller Report seems to show evidence of criminal obstruction by Trump?
Thursday morning, Attorney General Bob Barr once again gave the American people his partisan perspective on the findings of the Muller Report at an early morning press conference. In his statements, Mr. Barr twisted the truth and made mendacious excuses for the criminal behavior of Trump.
There are several telling portions of Barr’s statements where he clearly tries to justify Trump’s apparent attempts to obstruct justice in the ongoing Russia investigation.
“In assessing the President’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context,” said Barr. “President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as President, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the President’s personal culpability.”
Here we see the attorney general giving us a specious explanation of Trump’s objectionable behavior that the Muller Report details. What exactly are those “actions discussed in the report,” that Barr is referencing?
In the Muller Report it states “President Trump reacted negatively to the Special Counsel’s appointment. He told advisers that it was the end of his presidency, sought to have Attorney General Jefferson (Jeff) Sessions unrecuse from the Russia investigation and to have the Special Counsel removed, and engaged in efforts to curtail the Special Counsel’s investigation and prevent the disclosure of evidence to it, including through public and private contacts with potential witnesses.”
Let’s keep this in mind: this is happening after Trump had already fired former FBI Director James Comey, on May 9, 2017. Remember when Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt “when I decided to just do it [fire Comey]I said to myself, I said ‘you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won?”
When Trump said this to Lester Holt, wasn’t he was basically admitting he had committed obstruction by firing Comey? Now, Muller’s Report gives us more damning evidence regarding obstruction.
If Trump is so innocent, as he protests, why did he say the appointment of Muller was the “end of his presidency?” Why was he so upset at Sessions’ recusal? Are these the actions of an innocent person who is always crying “no collusion?”
After firing Comey, and trying to fire Muller, we’re told—in Muller’s Report—that Trump “engaged in efforts to curtail the Special Counsel’s investigation and prevent the disclosure of evidence to it, including through public and private contacts with potential witnesses.”
Why aren’t these “efforts” acts of obstruction? Why isn’t this evidence and witness tampering? House Democrats must indeed get more answers from Mr. Muller himself.
Mr. Barr’s conduct is a sad commentary on the increasing partisanship in American politics.
Barr made even more dubious claims, during the press conference, like saying “the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks. Nonetheless, the White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House.”
How does Barr know anything about the “sincere belief” of Trump? Does a “sincere belief” give one the right to abuse their power as president? And how can he say the “White House fully cooperated?” Why didn’t Trump present himself to testify to Muller?
Rep. Nadler correctly stated that “Attorney General Barr appears to have shown an unsettling willingness to undermine his own department in order to protect President Trump. Barr’s words and actions suggest he has been disingenuous and misleading in saying the president is clear of wrongdoing.”
Now, many maybe wondering—given the damning evidence in the Muller Report—why there was no criminal referral against Trump?
The Muller Report seems to answer that this way “The standard set forth in the Justice Manual is whether the conduct constitutes a crime; if so, whether admissible evidence would be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction; and whether prosecution would serve a substantial federal interest that could not be adequately served by prosecution elsewhere or through non-criminal alternatives.”
A particularly key section here is “whether admissible evidence would be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction.” In other words, while there maybe evidence to prosecute Trump, the Justice Department is worried whether they would be able to “sustain a conviction.”
If Trump’s conduct was so clean, would we see wording such as this?
In the final analysis, Muller’s Report seems to tell us President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice. And, Attorney General Barr seems to be also obstructing justice, in his transparent attempts to exonerate Trump.
Barr’s partisan assertions for Trump are not borne out—even by a quick reading of Muller’s Report.