NewDealdemocrat | March 31, 2019 11:44 am
No, the Meuller report ***DID NOT*** “find no collusion!”
This past week I nearly became apoplectic about he malfeasance of much of the press and the punditry reporting of Barr’s 6 paragraph substantive “summary” (3 paragraphs each as to “collusion” and “obstruction of justice”) of Mueller’s roughly 300 page report.
As an initial matter, because Mueller’s grand jury is continuing to meet, and there are still subpoenas and witnesses outstanding, it is incorrect to say that “the investigation” has concluded. clearly “the investigation” is ongoing. What *has* concluded is Mueller’s involvement as special counsel, now that an Attorney General has taken over who did not have to recuse himself. Keep that basic point in mind.
But that’s not what got me livid. Much has already been covered by others. But it is one important, even fundamental, aspect of Barr’s executive summary on which I wanted to focus.
Start with the fact that Barr is a very good attorney. He is going to choose his words, and what he cites and what he omits with great care. Now, this is the *totality* of the language from the actual Mueller report that Barr quotes as to collusion:
“[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Barr repeats this formulation virtually verbatim twice more in his letter. Here’s the second time:
Stop right there. Let me just slightly reword Barr’s money quote:
“[T]he investigation established that members of the Trump Campaigndid not conspire or coordinate with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
All I did was change the phraseology (in italics) slightly. But the meaning is much more definite and sharper. In my formulation above:
1. There was a finding.
2. The finding was no collusion.
But in the quote which Barr cites, and refers to twice more, it states:
1. There was no finding.
2. The “no finding” was that there was collusion.
Notice that the first formulation above is much stronger than the second. And yet, three times in his executive summary, Barr chooses the second – in circumstances where, if the first were true, he certainly would have used that instead.
While the “no finding” formulation is consistent with a “finding of no collusion,” it is also consistent with other readings:
1. The investigation isn’t complete yet (which is almost certainly a correct statement).
2. The evidence is inconsistent, weak, or contradictory.
3. There are too many unknowns to come to a conclusion.
4. While the evidence of collusion is strong, it is not strong enough to support a jury verdict beyond reasonable doubt.
To reiterate, Barr is a seasoned attorney. He chose the weaker rather than the stronger formulation for a reason. Again, if the stronger statement were the true one, don’t you think he would have used the stronger statement? That he chose the weaker statement is telling. The reason, almost certainly, is that the stronger formulation is not correct, and that some version of the 4 weaker possibilities I’ve listed above is the correct factual statement.
Further, as it was elsewhere pointed out a few days ago (sorry, lost the link), the bracketed [T] in Barr’s quote of Mueller is doing a lot of work. Because it means that there was a first part of the sentence that was omitted. Put that together with the fact the Mueller’s quote then specifically references that “the investigation did not establish …” and there is compelling evidence that the first part of the actual sentence was a qualifier.
In the first place, had the first part of the sentence been a positive statement, Mueller would not have repeated the phrase “the investigation” in the second part. It would have been something like “The investigation demonstrated that at all time Donald Trump and his Campaign acted lawfully, and thus it did not establish …”
Almost certainly the first part of the sentence is something like “Although…’” “Since …’” or “Despite …” followed by “the investigation…”, or a formulation like “The grand jury’s work is incomplete, and so the investigation …”
Yet the press and most commentary wrote as if Barr had chosen the stronger formulation I discussed above. Here are some examples:
Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard:
Even, surprisingly, Josh Marshall:
Aside from the fact that none of these people has read the actual Mueller report, the simple fact is they are all incorrect as to what Barr stated as well.
And that probably tells you why Barr, who putting it most charitably, as Trump’s attorney general was going to “tell the truth with the best foot forward,” pounded this quote 3 times in his three paragraph discussion of the collusion issue: because he wanted people who aren’t versed in parsing attorney language to jump to the exact conclusion they reached: the “no finding” of collusion became a “finding of no collusion.”
There is no such “finding of no collusion” in evidence. This is spin, plain and simple. It needs to be corrected.
still, if Mueller’s investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government” it’s unlikely that anyone else will…
time to give it a rest…about now, i am more pissed at the anti-Trumpers for Russiagate than at Trump for any lines that he may have crossed…
the left has forfeited two years when they could have been going after Trump for his actual policies rather than wasting our time with this Russian conspiracy trash…and worse, they have pushed Trump away from any further detente with Putin, bringing the world’s two most dangerous nuclear powers ever closer to a perilous military miscalculation..
“the left has forfeited two years when they could have been going after Trump for his actual policies”
I missed this part. Last time I looked the Mueller investigation was ordered by teh DOJ, not “the left”. At the same time, the House and Senate opened investigations.
I also missed the part where the left stopped going after trump for his policies, though certainly not a whole lof can be done by the minority party against those policies but I cannot find an instance where the Dems allowed him free reign.
The ACA would have been dead without the Dem filibuster threat, without which the Reps could have cobbled together enough crap to get 50 votes.
As we move towards the inevitable(I hope not) administration of dem primary litmus tests regarding our healthcare system, there is another side. Course, it is not that important to some people as they’re all the same.
“But the real weapons of mass deception will be deployed as part of Trump’s resuscitated push to repeal Obamacare. You may recall Republicans tried this when they essentially controlled every branch of government in 2017, only to fail spectacularly. But Trump’s Justice Department opted last week gave up fighting a lawsuit lodged by various Republican secretaries of state, raising the possibility the law could be struck down by the kind of unelected judges about which Republicans occasionally used to complain. This raises the specter that the Trump administration—and the Republican Party more generally—will be complicit in throwing millions of Americans off their healthcare coverage heading into a presidential election year.
As the Post report on Trump’s truthiness illustrated, this will occasion a festival of deception from this president, like the dross he trotted out at his Totally Normal Rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the end of last week.
Remember this because it’s very important, and I’m speaking now for the Republican Party: We will always protect patients with preexisting conditions, always.
This goes well with Trump’s batty claim last week that “the Republican Party will become the Party of Healthcare!”
The various abominable healthcare “reform” bills Republicans cooked up in 2017 culminated with the Graham-Cassidy version, which offered states the chance to apply for “waivers” that granted them exemption from Obamacare’s “essential benefits” mandate. That guaranteed insurers had to cover 10 core services, like emergency room visits or prescription drugs or maternity care, but the Republican plan—which they tried to force through the Senate before it could be fully assessed by the Congressional Budget Office—could have waived these for insurance companies in states that applied.
Considering how many red states refused free money from the federal government to expand Medicaid (the Graham-Cassidy bill also rolled back that expansion), it’s safe to say many states would have sought waivers, which could have, according to Politico, jeopardized protections for “pre-existing conditions and undermine[d] prohibitions on annual and lifetime limits for insurance coverage.” As a fun little thing, Trump has tapped Bill Cassidy—the Cassidy in Graham-Cassidy—to develop the new Party of Healthcare’s plan. He’s joined by Rick Scott, who’s got his own stellar record on the issue.
You can safely assume that what you are hearing is a crock of shit, because the president says 22 false things per day in public now. Again, this makes it all the more gobsmacking that when Trump’s hand-picked attorney general wrote a summary of Robert Mueller’s report, members of The Liberal Media treated it as God’s own gospel. William Barr wrote a 19-page memo attacking the Mueller probe before he got the job, and now he’s saying his first letter was never meant to be a comprehensive summary of the Mueller Report’s findings. Yet The Barr Letter wasn’t just taken at face value—it was repeatedly referred to as The Mueller Report itself in press coverage.
Folks: It’s been years now. Lucy is not actually presenting the football for you to kick it.”