Still drinking the Kool-Aid?

This time out I’m talking about the release of Attorney General Bob Barr’s summary of the Mueller Report, what it says, and who lost the most with its release.

Winners:

  • On collusion: Trump.
  • On obstruction of justice: Toss-up

Losers:

  • On assurances that Trump was about to be impeached Real Soon Now: The left-leaning media, pundits, and politicos.

Listen in for my analysis of Barr’s summary.

And speaking of the media:

Mentioned links:

The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults [Wikipedia]

Read Attorney General William Barr’s summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings

Russia Offered to Help Donald Trump. Donald Trump, Jr. and His Dad Refused. Democrats Are Upset Now.

Getting some shopping done? If you're going to shop at Amazon, please consider clicking on my affiliate link. Thanks!

On Apple devices, you can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.

If you're on Android, listen with Google Podcasts.

Stitcher Radio is another possibility for both Apple and Android devices. If you do download Stitcher to your phone, please use the promo code “ConsiderThis” to let them know where you heard about it.

Browser-based options are the Blubrry Network and Player.fm.

And if you have some other podcatcher or RSS reader, click here to get the direct feed and paste it wherever you need it.

I would love it if you would spread the word about the podcast! Click the Facebook, Twitter, and other icons (or all of them!) at the bottom of this post to recommend "Consider This!" to your social media audience.

Show transcript

Well, the Mueller Report dropped last week, and instead of it being a bombshell, it was more like a shell of a bomb. Or, as a Trump advisor told CNN’s Jim Acosta, “This is Geraldo and Al Capone’s vault all over again.” For those not old enough to remember, Geraldo Rivera did a 2 hour show about gangster Al Capone before opening up, on live TV, a recently-discovered vault in a hotel Capone had owned. The Wikipedia article about this particularly infamous event is in the show notes. After all the hype and build-up, when they opened it up, it was empty.

That’s the Mueller Report release in a nutshell, except that instead of a 2-hour wait, it was a 2-year wait, but the result was pretty much the same, to the consternation of just about the entire Leftward side of the punditry, news media, and politicos. Many of these same people had assured us (and some still are) that there was absolute evidence that Trump colluded with Russia. Any day now we were going to see impeachment over this.

Instead, after 40 FBI agents, 2800 subpoenas, 500 witnesses, 500 search warrants, 230 communications records, 50 phone taps, and 13 foreign government intelligence requests, all we got was this lousy NothingBurger.

Let me state at the outset that Mueller was coming at this from the point of view of a prosecutor. A prosecutor gathers evidence, and then, if he or she believes they have enough evidence to take a case to court, then they do. If they don’t find enough evidence, then they don’t prosecute, but neither do they then release the findings to the public. They are not legally allowed to do that, especially with grand jury testimony, because that would basically be slander; insinuating that a crime was committed but which they couldn’t prove. Keep that in mind going forward.

Also keep in mind that there will be no more criminal charges coming out of this investigation. This is game over.

So let’s start with the central theme; collusion with Russia. Attorney General Bill Barr’s summary quoted the report on this topic, “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Further, it found that this collusion didn’t happen “despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.” So after 2 years of work, Mueller could not find enough evidence to prosecute even though it acknowledged that the Russians provided opportunities to do so. This could mean there’s no evidence, and it could mean there’s not enough beyond a reasonable doubt. The term “exonerate” has been used to describe how Trump has prevailed in this. I think that’s a good word because the definition of “exonerate” is “to clear from accusation or blame”. That’s basically what Mueller did.

Kurt Schlicter writing on Twitter said, “Prosecutors don’t often exonerate people. They simply decide whether there is sufficient evidence to prove a charge beyond a reasonable doubt. What is remarkable is the collusion exoneration.”

And since we are given the presumption of innocence in our justice system, that’s what we must presume. But Democrats seem like they would rather dispense with that, much like they did with Brett Kavanaugh. When they say they want the full Mueller Report released, they know that this would include all the findings of Mueller’s team. This could then be used to try Trump in the court of public opinion with a smear campaign. Fortunately, the Attorney General is not legally allowed to release this information for that very reason. When you start hearing Democrats complain that the full report isn’t released, understand that they know this; they’re just hoping you don’t.
Now let’s talk about the second major issue; the charge of obstruction of justice. You might wonder how someone can obstruct justice if they were exonerated of the underlying crime. Well, good point, and both Mueller and Barr made that rather logical point as well. How can you obstruct justice if there’s no justice to be obstructed? Byron York tweeted that it can be done, but Trump has a powerful argument against it. “You’re saying I obstructed an investigation into something that didn’t happen?”

You can make another point by asking, was the process obstructed at all by Trump? The firing of James Comey did not obstruct anything; the process went on its way. Heck, Democrats were calling for his firing during the Hillary Clinton email server scandal. Talkin’ smack about the process or the prosecutor isn’t obstructing anything.

What the Mueller Report did say was that they couldn’t determine whether any of the (usually very public) actions taken by Trump constituted obstruction. After 2 years, the best Mueller and his team could say was, “I dunno”. They laid out the specific events and evidence for and against each, and punted to the Justice Department. So, as Mueller said and Barr recognized, this is not an exoneration.

One thing I’ve noticed are people who have accused the Barr summary of exonerating Trump on the obstruction charge and using that accusation to show that supposedly Barr is trying to cover things up to make the President look good. The premise is false. Barr did not say that, so this is a straw man. They know that; they’re just hoping you don’t.

But if Mueller decided not to prosecute after a 2 year deep dive, it sounds like a pretty flimsy case.

The biggest loser in this whole debacle – of which there were many – was the media. There’s a video in the show notes of a supercut of all the times the media were absolutely sure that “the noose was tightening” and “the walls were closing in” after every so-called “bombshell” report. Twitter was on fire over the weekend the report came out, and I want to highlight some of the tweets on this subject.

@RichLowry said, “There’s going to be a serious effort to memory-hole the media hysteria of the last 2 years. But it was a real thing—if you said on air that it was unlikely the campaign colluded with Russia and we should wait for the evidence, you were often treated like you were in the tank.”

@dougmckelway said, “One inescapable observation from Mueller report. Putin’s attempts to sow discord in the American public worked beyond his wildest dreams. And two of the three major cable news channels were his useful idiots.”

@MZHemingway (Molly Hemingway) said, “Was joking about this just today. yes, the WP and NYT won *PULITZERS* for their supposed stellar reporting on Trump’s treasonous activity with Russia. It’s too perfect. PULITZERS. I thought media’s reputation couldn’t go lower than where it was November 2016. Boy was I wrong.”

And finally, @seanmdav (Sean Davis) spotted a trend, “Hands up, don’t shoot. Trump’s a Russian spy. Kavanaugh ran a secret gang rape cartel. Covington kids assaulted a vet. Never forget that these lies–and yes, they were outright lies–were deliberately peddled by all the same people for all the same reasons.”

Will they learn their lesson, or will they be Monty Python’s Black Knight who, after having his arm cut off, will proclaim that it’s just a flesh wound, no big deal? Yeah, well, that’s been happening for decades and it’s easy to predict that the trend will continue. And so that’s what I’m doing.

Barr has said that his full report will be out in weeks, not months. He has said in the past that he will release as much as he is legally allowed to do so. In the meantime, expect Democrats and liberal pundits to beat the drum for #ReleaseTheFullMuellerReport. That’s already a hashtag on Twitter from people who are desperate to be able to nitpick the full report like they’ve been scouring the Barr summary for anything to hang their dignity on. Yes, let’s release it, but you just know this will be exactly like when Barack Obama released his birth certificate and the Birthers scoured it for the same reason.

Filed under: AsiaMediaMueller ReportPartisanshipRussia