A View from the Side* #1 March 28, 2019
Today the news is full of commentary and blather on the Mueller report, now concluded and submitted to AG Barr. I’m amazed and dismayed at how many conclusions have already been drawn about it. Like great conjurors, the press and pundits lean forehead against fist and scry a vision of the truth out of smoke and mirrors.
I won’t comment on the Mueller report, when I haven’t read it.
But I have read William Barr’s four page excuse for a bad summary of said invisible report. As a former English teacher, I could offer some pretty severe criticisms of that letter as not fulfilling the basic needs of a summary report. Barr’s most egregious fault is to not quote the source material in support of his interpretation. Barr’s letter, in fact, only includes two sentences of Mueller’s, and they are both significant. Let’s focus on what Barr does tell us. He has given the Democrats in the House grounds for impeachment, if they choose to take it.
Barr says that Mueller did not find enough evidence to prove a crime in terms of the so-called “collusion” with Russia in interfering with the 2016 election. But at the same time Mueller could not exonerate the President from charges of obstruction of justice.
So, first and foremost, Barr’s own letter requires the House to investigate the criminal charges of obstruction which Mueller could not prove false. Obstruction of justice is grounds for impeachment. Barr’s letter (and perhaps the invisible Mueller report) gives the Democrats a basis to move forward. In one of only two quotes ** in Barr’s letter, Mueller says, “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Mueller must have uncovered evidence of obstruction to make that statement, and the Democrats have enough reason in that one sentence to impeach.
But Barr’s letter also suggests that cooperation with Russia must also still be investigated. Because the obstruction of justice Mueller refers to could have worked, and therefore it could have successfully hidden the evidence of collusion.
If Trump obstructed justice, that obstruction may have also prevented the Mueller investigation from gathering the information needed to reach the truth. That’s what obstruction does. Further investigation of the obstruction could reveal what it intended to hide. Barr’s tortured logic that if you can’t prove the crime there’s no obstruction is absurd. That’s why “obstruction of justice” is a crime, because it might destroy evidence of the crime itself.
Barr’s letter, therefore, contains in itself plenty of reason to pursue an impeachment investigation into the crimes of obstruction of justice and potential illegal interference in elections in cooperation with Russia.
Of course, part of that investigation would be a subpoena of the Mueller report and of Mueller and Barr themselves to testify.
It’s time for the Democrats to get to work.
Or the system is broken.
*(I’m planning to write a series of short political news commentaries leading toward the 2020 election. I’m writing as a progressive environmentalist who has recently left the Democratic Party due to its inaction on the Environmental Crisis and its ineffective resistance to the current administration. I’ve stepped to the side of the two-party circus, and I’ll be commenting on how it looks from this side of the curtain.)
** The second quote Barr includes in his letter reads only “confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions”. This quoted fragment obviously signals Barr’s threat to fight release of the twice emphasized “confidential” report. The Dems would be ill-advised to take this bait. Impeach and subpoena to avoid that long, useless fight.