Friday, March 31, 2023

Five ways Trumps attorney-general misled the public about the Mueller Report

The way in which Attorney General William Barr – a Trump appointee who has previously criticised Spe..

By Sunday Herald Team , in World Update , at April 20, 2019

The way in which Attorney General William Barr – a Trump appointee who has previously criticised Special Counsel Robert Muellers investigation into Russian election interference – publicly characterised the reports findings differs markedly from the actual content of the report, released to Congress and the American public on Thursday morning.

Here we outline the five key ways in which Barrs spin on the report diverges from the actual contents of the document – with potentially huge political consequences.

1) What Attorney General William Barr said:

In his press conference hours ahead of the reports release, Barr mentioned the word “collusion” four times, saying Muellers inquiry found no evidence that Trump campaign officials colluded with Russia.

What Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrote:

In his report, Mueller is emphatic that the focus of his investigation is not on “collusion”, a nebulous and non-legal term term, and instead is more narrowly focused on whether the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia.

The bar Mueller sets is high: coordination requires, “more than two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the others actions or interests,” he writes.

In particular, Mueller focused on whether there was sufficient evidence for three criminal charges: whether anyone on the Trump campaign was guilty of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, whether the links between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks (details of which are heavily redacted in the report) constituted a violation of campaign finance rules, or whether anyone could be charged with conspiracy.

He concludes that “the evidence was not sufficient for this”. Thats very different from “no collusion.”

2) What Barr said:

Despite documenting extensive efforts by the Russians to influence the 2016 elections, including by hacking Democratic targets and conducting “information warfare” online, Barr said in his press conference the Special Counsel “found no underlying collusion with Russia”.

What Mueller wrote:

Mueller emphasises that: “A statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts”. Mueller did not prove that there was no underlying collusion with Russia. He only failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that there was. Thats something very different.

Mueller also points out that he was not able to gather all the information he wanted to: the investigation did not always yield admissible information, some key witnesses were overseas and unreachable, others lied to him or invoked the fifth amendment to avoid incriminating themselves, a number of key documents were deleted.

Again, Mueller emphatically did not establish that there was “no collusion”, instead he found insufficient evidence to charge anyone on the Trump campaign with conspiring or coordinating with Russia.

“The office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events described in the report,” Mueller writes.

That could be interpreted as a cautious prosecutor simply being transparent about the limitations of his investigation. Or it could be read as a warning that this report should not be read as a complete exoneration of the president, as Donald Trump insists it is.

It certainly does not align with Barrs public portrayal of Muellers conclusions.

3) What Barr said:

Barr portrayed Trumps White House as cooperating fully with the Special Counsel, even though the president had a legitimate grievance, Barr suggested, against an investigation that was “propelled by his opponents and fuelled by illegal leaks”.

“The White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsels investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. And at the same time, the President took no act that in fact deprived the Special Counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation,” he said during the press conference.

What Mueller wrote:

“President Trump reacted negatively to the Special Counsels appointment. He told advisers that this 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 Counsels investigation and prevent the disclosure of evidence to it, including through public and private contacts with potential witnesses.”

No matter how generously you interpret Barrs comments, its hard to square this with his claim that the White House offered full cooperation.

4) What Barr said:

While Mueller declined to reach a conclusion on the obstruction of justice issue, Barr did, concluding that there was not enough evidence to establish that the president committed obstruction of justice.

He claimed that although he disagrees with Muellers legal theories regarding obstruction of justice, this is not why he reached this conclusion – arguing that he did so on the basis of the evidence provided in the report.

“Although the Deputy Attorney General and I disagreed with some of the Special Counsels legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we did not rely solely on that in making our decision. Instead, we accepted the Special Counsels legal framework for purposes of our analysis and evaluated the evidence as presented by the Special Counsel in reaching our conclusion,” he said.

What Mueller wrote:

Mueller makes clear that the evidence certainly does not suggest that the president should be cleared of obstruction-of-justice charges. “If we had confidence after aRead More – Source


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