The Jury Talks Back

4/30/2019

Mueller: Barr’s Letter “Did Not Fully Capture the Context, Nature, and Substance” of Mueller’s Report

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:47 pm

#FAKENEWSBEZOSPOST:

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III wrote a letter in late March complaining to Attorney General William P. Barr that a four-page memo to Congress describing the principal conclusions of the investigation into President Trump “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of Mueller’s work, according to a copy of the letter reviewed Tuesday by The Washington Post.

The letter and a subsequent phone call between the two men reveal the degree to which the longtime colleagues and friends disagreed as they handled the legally and politically fraught task of investigating the president. Democrats in Congress are likely to scrutinize Mueller’s complaints to Barr as they contemplate the prospect of opening impeachment proceedings and mull how hard to press for Mueller himself to testify publicly.

Oh, and by the way:

The letter made a key request: that Barr release the 448-page report’s introductions and executive summaries, and it made initial suggested redactions for doing so, according to Justice Department officials.

Barr did not do that. The executive summaries are far more damning than Barr’s letter. They would have been easy to release. But Barr chose not to. Draw your own conclusions.

The spin (which I’m seeing everywhere) is that “Mueller’s complaint was only about the media!!!” — based on this passage from the article:

A day after Mueller sent his letter to Barr, the two men spoke by phone for about 15 minutes, according to law enforcement officials.

In that call, Mueller said he was concerned that media coverage of the obstruction investigation was misguided and creating public misunderstandings about the office’s work, according to Justice Department officials. Mueller did not express similar concerns about the public discussion of the investigation of Russia’s election interference, the officials said. Barr has testified previously he did not know whether Mueller supported his conclusion on obstruction.

When Barr pressed Mueller on whether he thought Barr’s memo to Congress was inaccurate, Mueller said he did not but felt that the media coverage of it was misinterpreting the investigation, officials said.

That spin ignores the quote from Mueller’s letter saying Barr’s letter “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of his work. That’s not a complaint about the media. (Plus, the second passage above is based on DoJ officials working for Barr, not a quote from the letter.)

We have the report now, but Barr’s spin reflects on his credibility.

I’m not really interested in reading comments about this.

152 Comments

  1. Barr has hired gun hat on, not his officer of the court hat. Trump is delighted. He finally found his idea of a lawyer.

    Comment by DRJ — 4/30/2019 @ 8:45 pm

  2. Barr spun. That’s been spectacularly obvious since the day the Mueller report came out, and it was predictable from the day Barr’s letter to the Judiciary chairs and ranking members came out. DRJ is probably right that Trump thinks he has his Roy Cohn.

    Consider this, however:

    The regs did not require that Barr release any of Mueller’s report, nor — since there were no occasions on which he or Rosenstein had overruled Mueller — that Barr reveal anything further beyond the bare fact that Mueller had concluded his work. 28 CRF § 600.9(c) assigns to the Attorney General, exclusively, the power to decide whether and to what extent “public release of these reports would be in the public interest.” Barr could have said, “For all of the very same reasons that Jim Comey was out of bounds holding a press conference to explain why Hillary Clinton wasn’t being indicted — that is, pursuant to our universal policy on other prosecution declinations — I have decided to release none of it.

    And while that would have generated a huge amount of public and political outrage, I think that would have stood up in court. You can look damned hard for court opinions, outside the waiver context, compelling the release of prosecutorial materials in a prosecution declination, and for very good reason, even when the subject thereof is the POTUS. At a minimum it would likely have delayed public release of the report through the 2020 election while it was litigated.

    Barr did not do that, even though he could have, and even though it obviously would have been spectacularly beneficial to Trump.

    I think Barr can fairly be accused of playing politics with his communications about his actions. But all Attorneys General promote their boss’ policy agendas, and indeed, that’s what they’re supposed to be focused on, not individual prosecution decisions. This is an exception to that only because of the special counsel regulation, and I don’t see any court finding an abuse of discretion when the AG decides to treat an investigation into a POTUS like an investigation into anyone else.

    I also think that Barr neither slow-walked the release nor over-used redaction.

    In each of these respects, I think Barr made a better, more principled choice than would have a Roy Cohn.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 12:56 am

  3. I take an extremely broad view of the responsibilities lawyers have as officers of the court. Had his letter to the Judiciary chairs and ranking members contained outright lies instead of spin, that would have been very problematic, and I’d be much, much harsher in my evaluation of Barr so far.

    But his letter wasn’t addressed to the courts, it was addressed to Congress. That’s precisely where one expects to see an Attorney General doing much of his spinning.

    I suspect Barr may claim credit, when speaking to Trump, for being a “hired gun.” But I think on matters of substance so far — as opposed to this political spin for Congress’ consumption — he’s played it pretty close to down the middle.

    I also credit Barr in particular for asking Rosenstein to delay his resignation until after the release of the Mueller report.

    And I would not that communications criticisms aside, Mueller, Rosenstein, and Barr were all three on the same page to the critical extent that none of them proposed referring a potential “high crime or misdemeanor” to the Congress, none of them proposed demanding a statute of limitations waiver from Trump, and none of them proposed testing in court the DoJ policy against indicting any sitting POTUS. And the report has come out, and is being talked about, despite whatever advantage Barr gained for Trump by spinning in the letter to Congress.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 1:09 am

  4. None of them insisted upon forcing Trump to sit for an interview via a grand jury subpoena, I ought also have included in my list.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 1:11 am

  5. thanks for your words, Beldar.

    Comment by mg — 5/1/2019 @ 2:56 am

  6. “The Special Counsel emphasized that nothing in the Attorney General’s March 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading,” According to DoJ spokesperson, Kerri Kupec.

    Comment by iowan2 — 5/1/2019 @ 4:59 am

  7. Barr released the full report with proper redactions, how in the wide world of sports did he mislead anyone? Mueller said his letter was accurate, end of story. If Barr had withheld parts of the report then perhaps you’d have a leg to stand on but he told Mueller he wasn’t going to release parts but rather the whole report, which he did. Of course a four page letter isn’t going to fully encapsulate a multi-hundred page report, but to push a narrative that Barr is some political hack based on that startling revelation is grasping at straws.

    Comment by Sean — 5/1/2019 @ 5:11 am

  8. I think Barr can fairly be accused of playing politics with his communications about his actions. But all Attorneys General promote their boss’ policy agendas, and indeed, that’s what they’re supposed to be focused on, not individual prosecution decisions. This is an exception to that only because of the special counsel regulation, and I don’t see any court finding an abuse of discretion when the AG decides to treat an investigation into a POTUS like an investigation into anyone else.

    So there’s a sliding scale, on one end you have Michael Cohen and on the other you have the platonic ideal of an independent AG. (can’t think of an example)

    Barr’s in the middle and probably compatible to other Recent AG.

    Comment by Time123 — 5/1/2019 @ 5:45 am

  9. Avondale School, 1969
    Robert A. Heinlein: nk, the book report you turned in on my book Have Spacesuit — Will Travel did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of my work.
    nk: Is it inaccurate, Mr. Heinlein?
    Robert A. Heinlein: Call me RAH.
    nk: Is it inaccurate, RAH?
    RAH: No, it’s not.
    nk: Then what’s the problem?
    RAH: The other students’ discussions of it are misinterpreting what I sat down to write.
    RAH: I suggest that you submit the book’s introduction and book review summaries from the dust jacket. I approve of those.
    nk: But then, that would not be my book report, RAH. It would be other people’s. And Miss Mertes would give me an “F” and a lecture on plagiarism.
    nk: I’ll tell you what. There are two copies of the book in the school library, and three more within walking distance at the Logan Square Public Library. Why don’t we just let people read the book for themselves if they care to and draw their own conclusions?
    RAH: But that would make this whole conversation we just had moot and inconsequential.
    nk: Yeah.

    Comment by nk — 5/1/2019 @ 6:14 am

  10. Mueller: Mr. Barr, you only stressed the legal conclusions of my report. You skimped on my political messaging.

    Barr: Prosecutors don’t proceed on a theory of “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

    Comment by AZ Bob — 5/1/2019 @ 7:20 am

  11. @Beldar, thanks for that. While AG Barr is surly the focus of the media/Democrat ire, I think he did the best he could.

    I don’t see any “spin” really. The only thing he was required to do, was to send “a communication” to Congress and his rationale.

    He did that.

    What he didn’t do, and I think this is where the critics are hanging their hat, is to allow Mueller to set the narrative/context. The special counsel has one job: to assess whether or not the actions amounted to a crime and indict. That’s it.

    Right?

    If there’s no indictment… in a normal course of investigation, the public would even know the details of such investigation.

    Right?

    So, considering that these are extraordinary times, we have to ask ourselves: Is it worth deviating from standard prosecuturial(sp?) conduct and risk precedents to be set in the future?

    I don’t know.

    In any event, I think Barr should be praised for quickly releasing the report publicly that was minimally redacted. It’s now up to Congress/Voters to determine what, if any, fallout should occur.

    I think we’re in uncharted waters here and I’m sure history will feast in these crazy times.

    Comment by whembly — 5/1/2019 @ 7:29 am

  12. Is it worth deviating from standard prosecuturial(sp?) conduct

    The OLC opinion that Presidents cannot be indicted is a deviation from standard prosecutorial conduct. The availability of impeachment as a remedy is not a standard prosecutorial tool. An investigation of the President is sui generis.

    Let’s put it this way: “we don’t reveal unflattering material about people we don’t plan to indict” is a fine standard prosecutorial principle, but when you put it together with “we don’t indict sitting presidents” you get “we don’t reveal unflattering material about sitting presidents.” Well, then there’s no point to the investigation, is there — if literally anything bad you find, you’re not allowed to mention? That’s why this is different. Mueller had a *responsibility* to let Congress and the American people know what he found. [EDIT: As Beldar notes, technically his responsibility was to let the AG know that, but I believe Barr had a moral (and structural), if not a technical legal, responsibility to convey that information to the American people. More here.]

    Barr did his best to spin it while not going so overboard that people could accuse him of a direct lie. But he did release the report and he does not appear to have over-redacted, and so we have the information we have.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/1/2019 @ 8:03 am

  13. Mr. Barr’s letter “threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations,” Mr. Mueller wrote.

    From a *second* letter from Mueller to Barr.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/01/us/politics/mueller-letters-barr.html

    Again: we have the report. But the fact that Barr refused to release the executive summaries in the report, refused to say anything about the obstruction conclusions in his presser — these show a spin machine in progress, I believe.

    It’s not required that you agree with me.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/1/2019 @ 8:14 am

  14. One, the Mueller report already had summaries of the different aspects of the investigation, so Barr’s 4-page letter was unnecessary. The easy conclusion is that Barr intended to spin the results of the report, leaving his take to settle into the minds of the public, even if the Mueller contradicts what he said.
    Two, Barr’s 4-page letter was already shown to be incomplete and misleading. The real news is that Mueller agreed that the Barr letter was incomplete and misleading.

    Comment by Paul Montagu — 5/1/2019 @ 8:26 am

  15. Pat said:

    Let’s put it this way: “we don’t reveal unflattering material about people we don’t plan to indict” is a fine standard prosecutorial principle, but when you put it together with “we don’t indict sitting presidents” you get “we don’t reveal unflattering material about sitting presidents.” Well, then there’s no point to the investigation, is there — if literally anything bad you find, you’re not allowed to mention? That’s why this is different. Mueller had a *responsibility* to let Congress and the American people know what he found.

    I do see your point. Thank you.

    Makes you wish the Independent Counsel laws didn’t relapse don’t you think? Because the current Special Counsel laws will always seem to be tainted because the investigators will always be under the jurisdiction of the POTUS.

    Comment by whembly — 5/1/2019 @ 8:30 am

  16. Whembly, I don’t think the IC laws worked better.

    There isn’t sufficient evidence available to conclude that Trump was involved in the underling crime.
    Trump being Trump would almost certainly commit perjury or obstruction if given enough opportunity.
    Based on it went with Bill Clinton impeaching a sitting president in that scenario accomplishes nothing good.

    I’m glad that we got clarity on foreign interference.
    But removing Trump from office because he tried to obstruct the investigation due to vanity or whatever would not in my opinion be good. It needs to happen through an election..

    Also, I strongly suspect there are other aspects of his administration that would benefit from oversight and a 100% focus on obstruction doesn’t help with that.

    Comment by Time123 — 5/1/2019 @ 8:40 am

  17. I will now wait while Beldar takes what I was trying to say and states it in a clear, compelling, and all around superior way. 😀

    Comment by Time123 — 5/1/2019 @ 8:41 am

  18. I’ll say this. The Special Counsel process worked a lot better than the Independent Counsel. Rosenstein gave Mueller an explicit set of instructions and he hewed to them, passing off prosecutable offenses to other US Attorneys that were outside his mandate. There was no “mission creep” in his investigation. Starr’s mission didn’t creep, it ran, all with congressional approval.

    Comment by Paul Montagu — 5/1/2019 @ 8:47 am

  19. We knew that the full report contained arguments against Trump, because Barr said so.

    https://judiciary.house.gov/sites/democrats.judiciary.house.gov/files/documents/AG%20March%2024%202019%20Letter%20to%20House%20and%20Senate%20Judiciary%20Committees.pdf

    or

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/03/24/us/politics/barr-letter-mueller-report.html

    The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion – one way or the other – as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as “difficult issues” of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The Special Counsel states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

    Now Barr did not describe what any of these possible acts of obstruction were.

    What may have been misleading were the capsule summaries reported in the nmedia of what Barr said, and what Trump and the White House said.

    Comment by Sammy Finkelman — 5/1/2019 @ 9:09 am

  20. Barr wrote his letter in order to make something public quickly above and beyond the bare fact that Mueller had finished his work and that there were no new indictments. I think he wanted to make clear that the reason Trump was not indicted was not only because of the policy aof not indicting sitting presidents – at least it was according to Barr and Rosenstein.

    I think he made clear that Mueller did not necessarily agree with that determination. He made clear there was a difference of opinion between Mueller and him.

    In cataloguing the President’s actions, many of which took place in public view, the report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent, each of which, under the Department’s principles of federal prosecution guiding charging decisions, would need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to establish an obstruction-of-justice offense.

    Whose judgment? Rosenstein and BArr, but not necessarily Mueller. he gave the impressionn that Mueller’s team was not necessarily all in agreement with each other.

    Comment by Sammy Finkelman — 5/1/2019 @ 9:17 am

  21. “we don’t reveal unflattering material about people we don’t plan to indict”

    But they do reveal unflattering information about unindicted co-conspirators. There was nobdy associated woth Trump to indict for the hacking and the leaking and no American whatsosver for the sockpuppeting.

    Reading between the lines of Barr’s letter, some Americans may have been involved with the leaking, but none of that was criminal (or they got immunity.)

    Comment by Sammy Finkelman — 5/1/2019 @ 9:22 am

  22. Bar only released the redacted report after waiting and waiting to make sure the Trump narrative had been sold.

    Hired gun.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/1/2019 @ 9:25 am

  23. Of course, when they are honest, most people want a hired gun as their lawyer, just as most people want a doctor who will push the limits of FDA regulations and a plumber who will tiptoe around the City Code. We want the most we can get for the least possible.

    But most people hire lawyers because they want to get out of trouble or avoid trouble. Some hired guns tale chances that can get clients in deeper trouble with prosecutors, the IRS, etc. Trump doesn’t mind that, as his life shows, and now that he has access to more lawyers, he likes it even more.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/1/2019 @ 9:37 am

  24. Let me add that to the extent someone like Beldar can be considered a hired gun, he is the kind who works overtime to make sure his clients don’t get in more trouble. But not all, or even many, are like that.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/1/2019 @ 9:39 am

  25. We now have the report to read so why make any hay out of the Barr summary, which accurately states the conclusions.

    The issue seems to revolve around the 10 areas of investigation that Mueller wrote about but did not conclude were obstruction.

    Barr looked at them and declined to proceed.

    What is Mueller’s beef when he had the opportunity to recommend charges for any of these 10 areas of investigation? He said he didn’t like the way the press handled the story. Welcome to Trump’s world.

    Comment by AZ Bob — 5/1/2019 @ 9:39 am

  26. IMO Barr’s goal is to get Trump through this term and the next, if there is one, and he is primarily relying on the DOJ policy against indicting Presidents. He could care less about citizen Trump. If so, that is a classic hired gun.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/1/2019 @ 9:41 am

  27. Bob,

    Using your logic, why care if initial media reports are biased as long as they get corrected eventually?

    Comment by DRJ — 5/1/2019 @ 9:43 am

  28. I think the answer is the narrative is set and the damage is done, right? Just like the Bar summary.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/1/2019 @ 9:44 am

  29. My point is that there is a dispute over the significance of the 10 areas of investigation regarding obstruction.

    Do you really expect the AG to say that even though none of the 10 are sufficient to proceed with as criminal prosecution, they should be used to take the president down politically by way of impeachment. That is not in the AG job description. Just ask Holder and Lynch.

    Comment by AZ Bob — 5/1/2019 @ 10:03 am

  30. Barr isn’t spinning, and Patterico is wrong. The quote Patterico gives us, that the Barr letter “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” IS in fact about the media. We know this because it goes to Mueller’s complaint that Bar’s letter was being treated like a summary of the report, when in fact it was not a summary of the report, but a statement of principle conclusions. Barr spoke with Mueller – Mueller specifically stated that the letter did not misrepresent the conclusions of the report.

    Mueller didn’t like the fact that the media, in his opinion, was treating the letter like it was a summary of the report. Mueller wanted the executive summaries to be released before the full report was released – to shape the media narrative the way he wanted it shaped. Mueller can not like how Barr handled distribution of the report all he wants, but he isn’t disputing the accuracy of the letter. D.GOOCH

    Comment by GOOCH — 5/1/2019 @ 12:17 pm

  31. LOL…

    In one of his last statements, AG Barr says that the letter the Democrats are all excited about seemed “snitty” and was probably written by a snitty Mueller staffer.

    I think Barr got irritated about that letter…

    Comment by whembly — 5/1/2019 @ 12:27 pm

  32. Baghdad Barr. Sad.

    Turning to sports, the latest scores:

    Patriot Games

    Rule of Men – 375
    Rule of Law – 0

    Comment by DCSCA — 5/1/2019 @ 12:55 pm

  33. Our host wrote (#12):

    Mueller had a *responsibility* to let Congress and the American people know what he found.

    No, he emphatically did not! In fact, the regulation was drafted to take that decision out of his hands. Remember, this was Janet Reno’s DoJ writing the reg immediately after Clinton’s acquittal in the Senate. They wanted no more “Starr Reports” from lawyers independent of the Attorney General. So these regs very dramatically and very definitely place the decision on what goes public into the hands of the Attorney General.

    Mueller had a responsibility to let the AG know what he found. And he did, and the AG promptly wrote a politically spun summary (which was accurate but certainly slanted to favor Trump), and soon thereafter released to the public what Mueller found. We are now free, therefore, to draw our own conclusions about what Mueller found, which is a good thing, and way beyond what the regs compel in terms of disclosure. But Mueller never had a responsibility, or even an ability (without violating the regs) to bypass the AG and go directly to the public.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 3:16 pm

  34. One can construct a very respectable argument — as I say, I think it would have stood up in court — that an investigation of the POTUS is indeed sui generis, unique, precisely because of the extraordinary likelihood that such investigations can be used for entirely political purposes. If so, there is an even more compelling reason to maintain the veil over investigations of presidents which result in a prosecution declination (or, given the DoJ regs, its equivalent here, that being a referral to Congress of a potential high crime or misdemeanor by the AG, not the special counsel himself).

    Barr did not go that route. Trump surely would have preferred that he do so, and almost assuredly didn’t know that was one of Barr’s options, or he would have insisted that Barr fire it. Instead, Barr adhered to the assurances he made to Congress — albeit unenforceable assurances, except by impeachment and conviction/removal of Barr, which is no more likely than impeach and conviction/removal of Trump — that he would be as transparent with the Mueller report as existing law (especially that governing grand jury proceedings and other pending investigations) would permit.

    I entirely agree with our host that the political spin must be considered when assessing Barr’s credibility. That’s an entirely fair and accurate observation. But if we’re assessing Barr’s performance in office, we ought to give him credit for not being the kind of toady Trump wants, which is someone who’ll ignore altogether the substantive requirements of the law and simply issue orders corresponding to Trump’s whims.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 3:25 pm

  35. Got my negatives confused. Trying again:

    If so, there is an even more compelling reason to maintain the veil over investigations of presidents which result in a prosecution declination (or, given the DoJ regs, its equivalent here, that being a decision by the AG (not the special counsel) not to refer to Congress what the AG and special counsel label a potential high crime or misdemeanor; compare Jaworski & Starr).

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 3:28 pm

  36. The executive summaries had to be reviewed and appropriately redacted just like the rest of the two-volume report. The six-page executive summary for volume 2 (obstruction) does indeed include a couple of redactions; for that matter, so does its table of contents.

    For Barr to have released the executive summary text simultaneously with his transmission to Congress of the regulation-required notice that Mueller had concluded his investigation, Barr would have had to delay that transmission for several weeks at a minimum. So Barr would have been criticized for doing that, too.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 3:40 pm

  37. I never object to being called a “hired gun” or “mouthpiece.” I accept those as colloquial shorthand for the more wordy formulation — that lawyers are ethically obliged to advocate for their clients zealously within the bounds of the law.

    Barr’s client is the United States of America, not just the White House or the Office of the President of the United States. Trump has both White House counsel and personal counsel whose job it is to advocate zealously for, respectively, the POTUS and for Donald J. Trump individually.

    I agree that Barr’s spin, however, was politics on behalf of Donald Trump, who is the current occupant of that office but not Barr’s direct client. It’s not spin on behalf of the United States of America, so it’s outside the sort of zealous advocacy required of Barr by virtue of the fact that he’s in an attorney-client relationship. Nevertheless, as political appointees, AGs often engage in such spin — some more fawningly than others, but none of them, in general, sets out to make the POTUS who appointed them look bad before Congress.

    That’s why I agree with our host that this all affects Barr’s credibility, and adversely so, and I think it’s also why our host chose to focus on credibility rather than, say, calling for Barr’s immediate resignation or impeachment.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 3:51 pm

  38. If Barr had recommended removal from office and life imprisonment for Trump, he still would have been called Trump’s hired gun by the Democrats and the media for not recommending the death penalty.

    Comment by nk — 5/1/2019 @ 4:11 pm

  39. @ nk (#37): Good point! But the death penalty takes too long to enforce. Sen. Hirono, for example, would not be satisfied by anything short of a DoJ finding that Trump is a terrorist subject to immediate termination with extreme prejudice by a drone strike.

    I’m getting a ton of professional gratification from the House Dems’ tacit admission that their members are utterly incapable of conducting anything but a clown car drill in trying to question the likes of Bill Barr on national TV. Everyone knows that an experienced and reasonably good witness can run rings around the average Congresscritter, simply because the Congresscritters cannot resist running for reelection, which is in fact different from and often inconsistent with conducting a fruitful cross-examination.

    As with when the GOP senators delegated the questioning of Dr. Ford to an experienced sex-crimes prosecutor, the Dems’ insistence that Barr submit to questioning by actual trial lawyers is both an admission of their own incompetence and an endorsement of the value of trial lawyer skillsets in ferreting out the truth.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 4:34 pm

  40. (Whether the Dems would use actual trial lawyers to do the questioning is actually still an open question; they might instead use mere “litigators” who think that they’re trial lawyers, but aren’t. Still, even “litigators” are better than the average Congresscritter at asking a question without making a five-minute reelection speech.)

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 4:37 pm

  41. (Actually, in the case of Dr. Ford, the GOP senators’ decision to go with a professional questioner wasn’t to better ferret out the truth, but to ensure rigorous discipline to avoid anything which would have been perceived as an attack on Dr. Ford, which the GOP senators, correctly I think, calculated was the overriding priority.)

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 4:44 pm

  42. I think the zealous advocacy standard makes it easy for lawyers to embrace the worst aspects of a “hired gun” such as people like Avenatti. I don’t like that standard.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/1/2019 @ 5:02 pm

  43. @ time123, who wrote (#8):

    So there’s a sliding scale, on one end you have Michael Cohen and on the other you have the platonic ideal of an independent AG. (can’t think of an example)

    Barr’s in the middle and probably compatible to other Recent AG.

    Michael Cohen’s certainly a good example of a lawyer who puts his client’s wishes ahead of compliance with law or legal ethics, but fortunately he was never an attorney-general. But to occupy that spot on the spectrum, Nixon’s AG, John Mitchell, is the most obvious candidate, since he served 19 months in federal prison for obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and perjury.

    As for the righteous end of the spectrum: I think Michael Mukasey, brought in from his seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by Dubya to replace the comprehensively ineffective Alberto Gonzales, is a pretty good example. Probably also Carter’s AG, former Fifth Circuit Judge Griffin Bell, and Truman’s AG, former SCOTUS Justice (and still the only Texan to serve on the SCOTUS!?!) Tom C. Clark. These three obviously have in common their prior service on the federal bench, which lifetime appointments they surrendered to become AG.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 5:13 pm

  44. @ DRJ (#42): We’ve discussed this before, you and I, and I credit your concerns, and agree at least that they reflect a constant tension between competing motivations. Drawing the line there is another one of those “least-worst” solutions, like democracy.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 5:16 pm

  45. In the case of Avennati, his downfall will come not from excessive zeal in representing his clients, but from stealing their money. The same lawyers who are unable to resist the temptation to stray beyond the bounds of the law in their zealous representation of clients also often find themselves unable to resist the temptation to mishandle their clients’ funds. But the SDNY indictment of Avenatti for allegedly extorting Nike may become an important test case to better establish the bounds of the law in zealous representation (intermixed with personal avarice).

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 5:25 pm

  46. @39

    Beldar,

    If this was spin by AG Barr, feel free to explicate how it is spin and not a reasonable and fair representation of the facts.

    D.FOOCH

    Comment by GOOCH — 5/1/2019 @ 5:28 pm

  47. Comment by Patterico — 5/1/2019 @ 5:47 pm

  48. That’s why I agree with our host that this all affects Barr’s credibility, and adversely so, and I think it’s also why our host chose to focus on credibility rather than, say, calling for Barr’s immediate resignation or impeachment.

    Yeah, calling for his resignation or impeachment is silly. I mean, I think he’s a hack, but that was evident when he was confirmed.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/1/2019 @ 5:49 pm

  49. The executive summaries had to be reviewed and appropriately redacted just like the rest of the two-volume report. The six-page executive summary for volume 2 (obstruction) does indeed include a couple of redactions; for that matter, so does its table of contents.

    For Barr to have released the executive summary text simultaneously with his transmission to Congress of the regulation-required notice that Mueller had concluded his investigation, Barr would have had to delay that transmission for several weeks at a minimum. So Barr would have been criticized for doing that, too.

    My understanding is that Mueller’s follow-up letter attached redacted version of the executive summaries. I think Barr testified to that this morning. That is clearly not why he declined to release the executive summaries and he has never said it was his reason. Basically he has said: it was my decision what and how and when to release information. OK…and the way you did it, Mr. Barr, shows you’re a hack.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/1/2019 @ 5:51 pm

  50. @ Gooch (#46): “Spin” is a short-hand reference for advocacy that is not false, but that is selective and intended to emphasize only favorable portions.

    In my day job, when I’m operating under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (or their state-court analogs), and the canons of legal ethics and implementing disciplinary rules of professional responsibility, from time to time I’m obliged — as part of the zealous representation of my client — to summarize things which originated elsewhere. To take a conspicuous example, if I’m representing the plaintiff in federal court, the rules require me to create the first draft of a proposed joint pretrial order that must include among its terms a meaty summary of both sides’ claims and defenses. But the rules further require me to provide that draft to my opponent, whose job in our adversary system is to represent his client zealously within the bounds of the law. If I engage in “spin” — if I get cute in what I select from my opponent’s prior pleadings and briefs when I’m summarizing my opponent’s positions — then it’s his job to catch that, object to it, and insist that I revise it to include what he thinks is important enough to include in the meaty summary. And ultimately motivating us both to be reasonable, to avoid being to cute, and to reach a fair compromise after negotiation and revision, is our certainty that if we show up for the pretrial hearing without having both agreed upon the pretrial order, the judge is very, very likely to literally lock both of us in a room at the courthouse, with instructions to the U.S. Marshals not to let either of us out until both of us are in agreement.

    Here there was no procedure for locking Barr and Mueller in a room until both of them could agree on what ought to be included, and what could be omitted, from Barr’s letter to Congress. Barr apparently offered Mueller a chance to offer specific revisions to his letter short of including the entire executive summaries of each volume of Mueller’s report, and Mueller declined that opportunity.

    And as a consequence, for example, Barr’s letter doesn’t include the juicy details of obstructive attempts by Trump that Mueller included in his executive summary, which do indeed reflect less well on Trump than the rest of what was in Barr’s letter.

    Omitting those details was spin, and because the regs don’t permit Mueller to report directly to Congress, it was spin that Barr knew he could get away with. My belief is that he did so precisely to placate Trump and maintain Trump’s favor, lest he immediately become — like Jeff Sessions — an AG utterly undercut by his POTUS’ public rants and rages. And I further believe that he did so in the full knowledge that people (including but by no means limited to our host, everyone else skeptical of Trump, and essentially all Democrats) would immediately speculate that the full report included embarrassing stuff that Barr hadn’t included. But he also knew that essentially the full report was going to come out soon thereafter anyway, and that when it did, Trump would blame Mueller — not Barr.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 6:22 pm

  51. @ Patterico (#49): I think you’re right, and I stand corrected. From Mueller’s March 27 letter to Barr:

    I previously sent you a letter dated March 25, 2019, that enclosed the introduction and executive summary for each volume of the Special Counsel’s report marked with redactions to remove any information that potentially could be protected by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e); that concerned declination decisions; or that related to a charged case. We also had marked an additional two sentences for review and have now confirmed that these sentences can be released publicly.

    I view this letter as Mueller attempting to reallocate — from the Attorney General to himself as special counsel — the authority and obligation under the regs to decide what, if anything, to forward to Congress. I expect Barr will allow Mueller to testify to Congress, though, and I expect Mueller to say that he continues to believe Barr ought to have complied with his (Mueller’s) suggestion, but that declining to do so was within his (Barr’s) exclusive discretion. I do not believe Mueller will claim Barr’s decision to be an abuse of that discretion.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 6:41 pm

  52. (I ought to have included a link for that quote in #51.)

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 6:41 pm

  53. Mike Wallace (#47) is a good reporter and a good analyst as well. But almost no reporter, not even a good one like him, can resist the urge to turn any disagreement into high political drama.

    Is Mueller “very upset” with Barr? We’ll see, perhaps, if and when Barr permits Mueller to testify and someone asks him that question. I will be spectacularly shocked and surprised if Mueller characterizes himself as “very upset.”

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 6:48 pm

  54. @ whembley (#11): To your assessment that Barr seems to be doing his best, I would offer this amendment, with apologies in advance for its length:

    Like any lawyer representing a client whose CEO is giving the lawyer his marching orders on a day-to-day basis, Barr’s professional duties include assessing that CEO’s capacities and shortcomings, and remedying them when possible, so that the client can make well-informed decisions that are based on a correct and thorough understanding of the lawyer’s advice.

    This falls under the broad rubric of “clientsmanship.” If I’m a board member of Berkshire Hathaway, whose CEO Warren Buffett is world-renowned for his long-term good judgment, and I’m trying to find a new general counsel for Berkshire Hathaway, I don’t need to worry much about the various candidates’ abilities at clientsmanship, because I don’t anticipate that said lawyer is going to have to deal with a lot of craziness from Warren Buffett. On the other hand, if I’m a board member at Tesla Inc. trying to hire a new general counsel, “Can this lawyer handle Elon Musk in his crazy modes?” is near the top of my list of considerations.

    For all his political experience, Jeff Sessions immediately showed himself to lack any abilities at all in clientsmanship. Don McGahn, by contrast, may be the all-time world champion; I suspect that Jay Sekulow is also very, very good at clientsmanship. My preliminary assessment is that in terms of finding permissible compromises necessary to gratify or at least divert his client’s CEO’s worst impulses, Barr is much closer to McGahn/Sekulow than to Sessions, even though it’s a skillset that was less critical for him the last time he had this job (under George H.W. “wouldn’t be prudent” Bush).

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 7:14 pm

  55. Barr isn’t spinning, and Patterico is wrong. The quote Patterico gives us, that the Barr letter “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” IS in fact about the media.

    That’s simply not true, GOOCH. I have read the letter. It is about Barr’s letter and not about the media. Period.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/1/2019 @ 7:29 pm

  56. @Patterico

    I’m sure Mueller isn’t happy with how Barr has handled the report – which has been fair to Trump, rather than letting innuendo and rumor dominate the narrative. But that doesn’t change the fact that Mueller did not claim that Barr’s letter misrepresented or distorted the reports principle conclusions. Whereas Barr has assiduously adhered to the principles that bind prosecutors, rightly so given their power to intrude on our private affairs, Mueller clearly wants to try his case in the media, given he didn’t have the predicate facts and evidence to try his case in court. That desire is nothing Barr has to defer to, nor does his upset at losing control of the narrative equate to a material deception or distortion on the part of Barr. D.GOOCH

    Comment by GOOCH — 5/1/2019 @ 7:32 pm

  57. Our host wrote (#12):

    Mueller had a *responsibility* to let Congress and the American people know what he found.

    No, he emphatically did not! In fact, the regulation was drafted to take that decision out of his hands. Remember, this was Janet Reno’s DoJ writing the reg immediately after Clinton’s acquittal in the Senate. They wanted no more “Starr Reports” from lawyers independent of the Attorney General. So these regs very dramatically and very definitely place the decision on what goes public into the hands of the Attorney General.

    Mueller had a responsibility to let the AG know what he found. And he did, and the AG promptly wrote a politically spun summary (which was accurate but certainly slanted to favor Trump), and soon thereafter released to the public what Mueller found. We are now free, therefore, to draw our own conclusions about what Mueller found, which is a good thing, and way beyond what the regs compel in terms of disclosure. But Mueller never had a responsibility, or even an ability (without violating the regs) to bypass the AG and go directly to the public.

    Technically, you’re quite right, and I phrased it badly. However, my point did not go to the identity of the person with that responsibility but the nature of his responsibility — which was not, IMO, pace Barr, to determine whether there was a crime The End. I believe a big part of the reason we *had* a special counsel to begin with was to address serious concerns that might be a crime or might be impeachable in a way that did not involve political actors in whose conclusions one could not have complete confidence.

    Under the technical regulations it was then up to Barr, but in the big picture the public was entitled to the information, as was Congress, and it was Mueller’s job to collect it.

    That was really my point, poor phrasing aside.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/1/2019 @ 7:33 pm

  58. The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.

    People who can read English can plainly see that Mueller’s actual quote stands in direct contradiction to GOOCH’s entirely false claim:

    Barr isn’t spinning, and Patterico is wrong. The quote Patterico gives us, that the Barr letter “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” IS in fact about the media.

    False. Flatly false.

    Now he has moved the goalposts to whether “Barr’s letter misrepresented or distorted the reports principle conclusions.”

    This is dishonest argumentation, GOOCH, and if I see it one more time you’re off this thread, and if you don’t stay off you’re banned. This Jury Talks Back side of the site DEMANDS honest argumentation. Period. It’s not negotiable.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/1/2019 @ 7:38 pm

  59. I view this letter as Mueller attempting to reallocate — from the Attorney General to himself as special counsel — the authority and obligation under the regs to decide what, if anything, to forward to Congress. I expect Barr will allow Mueller to testify to Congress, though, and I expect Mueller to say that he continues to believe Barr ought to have complied with his (Mueller’s) suggestion, but that declining to do so was within his (Barr’s) exclusive discretion. I do not believe Mueller will claim Barr’s decision to be an abuse of that discretion.

    Yeah, I’m laying down a marker here: if Democrats are expecting Mueller to come on and act like some shrieking partisan Democrat, they are going to be sorely disappointed. He will solemnly affirm what he wrote in that letter, but he’s not going to make a spectacle of himself doing so, and I doubt Democrats are going to get the theater they are dreaming of.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/1/2019 @ 7:41 pm

  60. @55

    Patterico,

    The quote is about how the media has treated the letter-not the letter’s factual claims. Don’t fall for the bait and switch being played here. Mueller does not contend that Barr’s letter misrepresented his conclusions. Mueller wanted Barr to publish his reports summaries first, and then the full report later. That Mueller disagrees with Barr’s decision to disclose the principle conclusions first, and then the full report, and only the full report, redacted as necessary, once it was ready, seems apparent – but it is NOT, as the media contended, a position that Barr’s letter was deceptive or misrepresentative of his conclusions. That Mueller thinks his position is justified given that the media (in his opinion) treated the letter like a report summary rather than a conclusions summary does not turn Barr’s letter into a deceptive or misrepresentative letter. It just means that Mueller and Barr differed on how to deliver the conclusions and the redacted report. Mueller’s difference with Barr is all about the media and the narrative – politics – not the facts of the report. Thus Barr was not spinning. D.GOOCH

    Comment by GOOCH — 5/1/2019 @ 7:43 pm

  61. The quote is about how the media has treated the letter-not the letter’s factual claims.

    The quote is about the letter. It is not about the media. It is a waste of time for me to have to repeat the truth because you insist on repeating falsehoods. I warned you about repeating your false claim. You’re banned from this thread. If you leave another comment on this thread I’ll delete it and ban you from both sites.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/1/2019 @ 7:55 pm

  62. GOOCH clearly believes what he says, and he is getting more adamant with each comment. I suspect he is as convinced of his analysis as he is that the sun rises in the East. FWIW I think it came from a Zero Hedge post.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/1/2019 @ 7:57 pm

  63. GOOCH 1) ignored my warning 2) repeated the falsehood yet again 3) dared me to ban him and 4) compared me to LGF. Partial quote: “And there he goes. This is the LGF problem all over again. You claim to be enforcing standards of decorum – but all you are really doing is shutting down debate by removing dissenting opinions. Ban me all you like.”

    Done.

    My warning was crystal clear, and my reason compelling: THIS SIDE of the site does not allow dishonesty. I quoted the letter, which leaves no doubt that the quote was about the LETTER and not the media. For GOOCH to ignore my warnings and repeat the falsehoods when I showed that it was false is not tolerable on THIS SIDE and the consequences were spelled out. He has now suffered them, and I for one will not miss him.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/1/2019 @ 8:00 pm

  64. As usual, a sincere apology and a full recognition of why the behavior was unacceptable would lead to reinstatement. I don’t think GOOCH is capable of that.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/1/2019 @ 8:02 pm

  65. The bits of Barr’s testimony I heard today reveal a Clintonian performance worthy of Clinton himself. Weasel.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/1/2019 @ 8:07 pm

  66. No, I don’the think he will either, so let’stand move on, too.

    It occurred to me that Trump has done an end run on Mueller’s report in two ways:

    First, by having Barr release a summary that sucked all the air out of the story before anyone could read the report, but also

    Second, by making himself (Trump) the focus, the larger point if the report has been lost. Specifically, the point if the report was actually that Russia engaged in a sweeping and systematic interference in our election. I don’t think Trump wants us talking about that. He may need more help.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/1/2019 @ 8:09 pm

  67. Under Leahy’s questioning in particular, Barr looked evasive and extraordinarily disingenuous.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/1/2019 @ 8:11 pm

  68. Sorry for the typos. Old eyes.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/1/2019 @ 8:11 pm

  69. Our host wrote (without his yellow background, which I miss here!) in #59:

    if Democrats are expecting Mueller to come on and act like some shrieking partisan Democrat, they are going to be sorely disappointed. He will solemnly affirm what he wrote in that letter, but he’s not going to make a spectacle of himself doing so, and I doubt Democrats are going to get the theater they are dreaming of.

    The word cloud for Mueller’s testimony is going to have six gigantic words all next to one another: As I stated in my report ….

    If they had a clue, the Dems would ask Mueller no argumentative questions at all, and would use none at all of their time venting at their GOP colleagues, haranguing Trump, or furthering their own next campaigns. They would instead, on a non-duplicative basis, ask short, absolutely open-ended (non-leading) questions directed to objective facts, not opinions or interpretations, on particulars on which the report is silent. And if they did that, they might stumble upon something still secret that’s genuinely useful to them politically. (I’d bet the small toe on my left foot that such nuggets exist, and that Mueller would reveal them if asked a question to which they’re directly responsive.)

    I think the odds of them getting said clue are roughly equivalent to Sen. Joe Manchin’s chances of winning the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 8:11 pm

  70. I didn’t see any of it. That is unfortunate. If Trump has people he thinks are competent and will cover for him, he may do more deals with Democrats. Infrastructure and then DACA, oerhaps?

    Comment by DRJ — 5/1/2019 @ 8:13 pm

  71. If there is something Mueller wants to say, I think he will find a way to say it.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/1/2019 @ 8:15 pm

  72. Beldar, I would give Barr less credit than you’re giving him. First, I would say that his 4-page letter was technically accurate, not plain “accurate.” Either way, it was misleading, and I believe it was on purpose that Barr’s misleading letter was out there for weeks before the Mueller report was released.
    Two, Mueller had perfectly good, unredacted summaries of the two volumes, so there was really no point for Barr to craft his “summary” but for misleading political spin.
    Three, sure Barr wasn’t obligated to release the report but, politically, I don’t see how it could not have been. Trump and Barr would’ve paid a steeper political price by keeping it under wraps. And if there’s anything we know about the modern political environment, information will out, so better for Barr to direct its outing than by leak.

    Comment by Paul Montagu — 5/1/2019 @ 8:27 pm

  73. Was this part Clintonian, where Barr was struggling with whether anyone in the White House had “suggested” the DOJ investigate a someone?

    Comment by DRJ — 5/1/2019 @ 8:47 pm

  74. I’m new to the conversation but didn’t Ted Cruz claim today that Mueller’s executive summaries were released and are contained within the 488 pages of the report that Barr released in full (redacted)
    https://twitter.com/i/status/1123663729676054528

    Comment by steveg — 5/1/2019 @ 9:04 pm

  75. The bits of Barr’s testimony I heard today reveal a Clintonian performance worthy of Clinton himself. Weasel.

    I half-watched and listened to most of it, and two words came to mind: Evasive and obfuscatory. Except for Hirono, who was blatantly grandstanding, the Democrats weren’t that bad. Lindsey Graham was a pathetic embarrassment. I’m convinced that he’s burned off what’s left of his soul in his water-carrying efforts for Trump. The rest of the Republicans were trying to change the subject.

    Comment by Paul Montagu — 5/1/2019 @ 9:11 pm

  76. @ the always thoughtful and civil Paul Montagu, who wrote (#72):

    Beldar, I would give Barr less credit than you’re giving him. First, I would say that his 4-page letter was technically accurate, not plain “accurate.” Either way, it was misleading, and I believe it was on purpose that Barr’s misleading letter was out there for weeks before the Mueller report was released.

    What material fact were you led to believe was true by Barr’s March 24 letter to Congress, Mr. Montagu, that you now believe, based on Mueller’s full report or otherwise, to be untrue?

    I believe what you are actually concerned about is emphasis and comprehensiveness, which are judgment calls, and all assertions about which are matters of opinion, and therefore not subject to objective proof or refutation. I therefore wouldn’t use the word “misleading,” but I don’t quibble with “spun.”

    Mr. Montagu also wrote in that same comment:

    Two, Mueller had perfectly good, unredacted summaries of the two volumes, so there was really no point for Barr to craft his “summary” but for misleading political spin.

    The regs don’t mention anything about summaries. Obviously they could have been written to require the AG to transmit summaries of the special counsel’s findings, including prosecution declinations (or their presidential analogs), and even the evidence in support and opposition thereto if the findings are on matters of contested fact.

    The regs do mention the special counsel’s reports, though. They give the AG enormous discretion regarding timing — Barr could have delayed telling Congress anything, even that Mueller was finished, if Barr found it to be in the public interest to do so (e.g., to avoid prejudice to another ongoing investigation). And they give the AG enormous discretion regarding content, too.

    On March 24, Barr was writing to satisfy the regulation’s requirement that he advise Congress that Mueller was done. Barr wasn’t writing, or purporting to write, a summary of all of the evidence and analysis that Mueller did. He disclaimed any undertaking to do so; he instead promised to make the report itself available as soon as redactions could be made; and therefore, everyone who read his four-page letter knew, and immediately began speculating about, what more was to come in the Mueller report itself. There’s nothing misleading about saying any of that.

    As Barr said repeatedly in his testimony today, in his March 24 letter, he was trying to communicate something analogous to the verdict after a long trial — not to summarize the entire trial. I agree with him that doing so was certainly useful, both to Congress and the public, even without the full report and even without Mueller’s executive summaries.

    Mr. Montagu also wrote,

    Three, sure Barr wasn’t obligated to release the report but, politically, I don’t see how it could not have been. Trump and Barr would’ve paid a steeper political price by keeping it under wraps. And if there’s anything we know about the modern political environment, information will out, so better for Barr to direct its outing than by leak.

    I don’t agree with you that the report itself would inevitably have been leaked, even if Barr had decided to go to the mattresses and refuse to release any of it. Mueller and his team haven’t leaked, and Barr could have imposed draconian safeguards on access to the document (including prior drafts).

    And if Trump fought and won in court — which I predict he would have — he could use that as political vindication, probably on the very brink of the 2020 election, for the stonewall. It would be as if the SCOTUS had ruled for Nixon on the tapes case; do you think Nixon would still have been driven from office? I’m by no means certain that the political blowback at the polls in November 2020 from that would end up being worse than the blowback from the negative stuff in the actual report.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 9:45 pm

  77. I do not come to this site to be gaslighted or insulted. I come here to escape stuff like that. Those who do either get banned from both sites.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/1/2019 @ 9:55 pm

  78. @ Patterico, and further to your #49 and my #51:

    Barr asserted in answer to questions from Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) that the executive summaries had been vetted and redacted by Mueller’s team, but not the intelligence community, when Barr sent his March 24 letter to the Judiciary chairs and ranking members.

    He mentioned this as an aside, however, and doesn’t contend that that was the basis for his failure to include them as part of his March 24 letter, repeating again that he (Barr) “wasn’t interested in putting out summaries” (meaning summaries of Mueller’e entire report and its supporting evidence, like those included in each volume of the report). So I continue to stand corrected.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 10:20 pm

  79. I’ve been following this conversation with great interest. One point I’m particularly curious about is Beldar’s post (#2 in the thread) referencing
    28 CRF § 600.9(c), that the AG could have kept the entire report undisclosed to anyone.

    I also see some logic for doing so on grounds that releasing information on a person they decided not to indict is unfairly damaging.

    However, as a practical matter in this case, my guess is that had AG Barr done so, it would have been worse for Trump, because there would have been all manner of damning “leaks” of plenty of things that were not in the report at all, plus keeping it secret would IMHO have appeared damning in and of itself. .

    Also, could the House simply have subpoenaed the report? Or called Muller in to give it to them verbally?

    Also, as a matter of curiosity, supposing Barr had decided to keep the report secret, could Trump have ordered it disclosed, seeing as how he’s the main subject? Surely the subject could waive any restrictions predicated on protecting themselves, plus in this instance (I think?) he can give Barr lawful orders. (Hrmm, had that occurred, I wonder if the Democrats would try to impeach Trump for giving them the report they’d have no doubt been loudly demanding?).

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 5/1/2019 @ 10:25 pm

  80. What material fact were you led to believe was true by Barr’s March 24 letter to Congress, Mr. Montagu, that you now believe, based on Mueller’s full report or otherwise, to be untrue?

    I didn’t say “untrue”, Beldar, I said misleading. I know Patterico doesn’t like ’em, but the DDID made a fair case. But just to pick one example, Barr said it was left to him to determine whether Trump committed a crime, but how can that be under OLC guidelines? The place to determine whether Trump committed a high crime or misdemeanor is Congress, not Barr. Another example is the amount of evidence which shows that Trump committed obstruction, in six of the ten cases investigated. His verdict that “the report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct” is misleading, bordering on false. The heat map is instructive (link).
    P.S. I use the term “misleading” deliberately because, in my profession, if there are enough errors or opinions that, on their own, may not be that bad but all point in one direction, can result in a misleading appraisal conclusion. Like I said, IANAL, so I always appreciate your perspective.

    Comment by Paul Montagu — 5/1/2019 @ 10:30 pm

  81. I saw and heard very little of the Barr hearing, but paraphrasing badly here, Barr seemed to be a bit offended at the punt on obstruction. He seemed to feel Muellers job was to either bring charges or don’t. He didn’t seem happy witha ny attempt at claiming the middle ground. He seemed to be saying something along the line of “either get first downs or score. Play it out but don’t punt it to me. The punt meant game over, by punting you conceded you couldn’t win”

    I know I’m a little crazy with this football comparison, but who punts the ball down 9 points with 5 seconds left in the game and then trots out their playbook at the post-game press conference showing all the nifty plays in there for fourth and long with 2 seconds of time on the clock.
    Barr seemed to say to Mueller that “either you’ve got enough to charge or you don’t. If you punt to me, you don’t”

    Comment by steveg — 5/1/2019 @ 10:56 pm

  82. Mr. Montagu, re your #80: Thanks again. Let’s not quibble further about distinctions between “spin” and “misleading” if we’re agreed the material facts in Barr’s letter were truthful.

    However, the WaPo article you linked, at a glance, treats the word “misleading” to include “left out some of the stuff that an advocate for the opposite position would have highlighted.” How dare these scoundrels not admit to us that they’re scoundrels — that sort of tenor. I find it annoying and, now, unquestionably mooted by the release of the full report.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/1/2019 @ 11:04 pm

  83. I picture Barr and Trump being pleased with the public and media reception of Barr’s summary because it changed the debate from “bad Trump” to “bad media.” Trump does not seem to be a long-term thinker but Barr must have realized the report would, at some point, be released. It almost seems that Barr succumbed to Trump’s devotion to overnight ratings.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/1/2019 @ 11:05 pm

  84. I read Mueller’s letter as saying the Barr summary was not a fair representation of the report. Barr is the AG. He is not an advocate for a party. If he can’t summarize the report in a way the author thinks is fair, then it is not materially true.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/1/2019 @ 11:12 pm

  85. Nor is it mooted by the report itself, since the summary was the narrative that Trump and Barr used to “move on” from the substance of the report.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/1/2019 @ 11:15 pm

  86. But he didn’t claim to summarize the report, DRJ.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/2/2019 @ 3:03 am

  87. He didn’t claim to be giving a “fair representation” of Mueller’s report either, but rather, its “principal conclusions” and the “results of his investigation” (italics mine):

    Although my review is ongoing, I believe it is in the public interest to describe the report and to summarize its principal conclusions reached by the Special Counsel and the results of his investigation.

    That’s what he did. Did Mueller reach any results that he left out? No. Did he describe the report? Yes.

    Could he have done more? Perhaps, but he did not claim to have done more, nor was he under any obligation to do even as much as he did.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/2/2019 @ 3:09 am

  88. Beldar, you asked:

    What material fact were you led to believe was true by Barr’s March 24 letter to Congress, Mr. Montagu, that you now believe, based on Mueller’s full report or otherwise, to be untrue?

    From Barr’s summary

    Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.

    This is factually true because “our” refers to the AG and DAG.

    Omitting the impact these rules had on Meuller’s decisions, while referencing them in his decision is misleading.

    Do you disagree?

    Comment by Time123 — 5/2/2019 @ 5:26 am

  89. It isn’t a summary?

    Although my review is ongoing, I believe it is in the public interest to describe the report and to summarize its principal conclusions reached by the Special Counsel and the results of his investigation.

    Italics mine.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 6:30 am

  90. You want to put the emphasis on principal conclusions and results, but how can you argue that Barr did that when he did not address how Mueller left it to Congress to decide because of DOJ guidelines about a sitting President? Wasn’t that really Mueller’s ultimate conclusion? Isn’t that the missing context Mueller wrote Barr about after he released his “summary”?

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 6:41 am

  91. I think Time123 and I make the same point so any response to his comment will likely respond to mine as well.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 6:56 am

  92. Although my review is ongoing, I believe it is in the public interest to describe the report and to summarize its principal conclusions reached by the Special Counsel and the results of his investigation.

    Mr. Weasel always leaves out the italicized part. Very good catch.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/2/2019 @ 7:07 am

  93. GOOCH wrote me a long email about how sad it is that I have gone full LGF. In it he reiterated that this quote, from Mueller to Barr, about Barr’s letter:

    The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.

    Was a complaint about the media and not about Barr’s letter.

    He seems to sincerely believes this. But I am tired of being gaslighted. I’m at the point where I don’t really care if the gaslighting is sincere — perhaps the result of successful brainwashing of my opponent by Zero Hedge or Conservative Treehouse or whatever. It’s still gaslighting. It’s still looking at a line of text that complains about a letter and saying that’s not a complaint about a letter. That is gaslighting.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/2/2019 @ 7:10 am

  94. I would not have banned someone at the main site for that. People gaslight there all the time. You give them a quote where Trump is upping a spending proposal from $1.5T to $2T and they look you in the eye and say “what possible other choice does the man have?”

    I come here to escape gaslighting like that. When someone pursues me and gives me the gaslighting treatment despite warnings, they get the axe.

    I’m supposed to feel bad about that?

    Comment by Patterico — 5/2/2019 @ 7:13 am

  95. Sorry, I’ve read the full letter and Mueller and it’s a non-issue. Mueller didn’t like Barr’s letter because it didn’t “fully capture the context, nature, and substance”… but what summary ever does? Of course he didn’t like how Barr’s letter was being taken in the public square, as he mentioned a sentence later: “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation.” Why was there confusion? Because Barr declined to release the report until the full report was ready with proper redactions. The fact that Mueller didn’t like the truncated letter and wanted Barr to release his conclusions ahead of the full report is rather ironic. If he didn’t like Barr’s letter because it lacked “context” why would he then expect Barr to simply release his own summary without the same respect to “context” of the full report?

    Comment by Sean — 5/2/2019 @ 7:43 am

  96. You should not feel bad. To steal and modify Simon’s analogy, the other site is like your front porch where occasionally people can scream at you from the sidewalk. It is annoying but not surprising. This site is like your living room. It is not a place where you should have to tolerate drive-bys.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 7:52 am

  97. Mueller objected to Barr’s summary the day it was released, before public and media reaction had taken hold. It looks to me like Mueller may have objected before it was released; perhaps he had gotten an advance copy? In either event, Mueller objected immediately because the Barr letter purported to describe and summarize the report, but instead cherry-picked for the pro-Trump side. That is not what the AG’s role is.

    The AG works for the country, not the President. We complained about Holder and Janet Reno for the same reason. The answer to people who don’t do their jobs isn’t to eliminate standards completely.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 7:58 am

  98. Gooch is a professor at a college in Texas. He is not a dumb man and he has been here a while. And yet he looks at a quote that says it is about a letter and repeatedly says it is not about a letter. It literally feels like gaslighting precisely as occurred in the movie of the same name. I feel like I’m a phone conversation I could get him to admit this but I’m written communication he can just keep saying the same wrong thing and justify it by references to irrelevancies and tangential matters.

    He may be a nice man and maybe we would get along on the phone but if this is how he writes I do not see how he can communicate here without driving good people batty.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/2/2019 @ 8:03 am

  99. Just to add, I wonder how many people the full unredacted report has leaked to. I’m surprised it hasn’t come out yet.

    Comment by Ingot9455 — 5/2/2019 @ 8:03 am

  100.  If he didn’t like Barr’s letter because it lacked “context” why would he then expect Barr to simply release his own summary without the same respect to “context” of the full report?

    Comment by Sean — 5/2/2019 @ 7:43 am

    He expected it because Barr doesn’t represent Trump. He represents the nation and supervises the DOJ that administers our laws/rules. The Attorney General owes everyone fair and impartial justice:

    To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 8:04 am

  101. DRJ, your analogy to inaccurate new stories is spot on. Here is another analogy: insufficient headlines when the body of the story has all relevant facts. The conservatives who say this is fine because the full report came out two weeks later? Those same conservatives complained after Barr’s letter came out and news headlines failed to say “no collusion” even though the body of the story said no conspiracy. Why were they upset? Because they know some people read the headlines and not the story. Likewise most people, if they read anything, read Barr’s letter and not the report.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/2/2019 @ 8:08 am

  102. The more status/education/etc. someone has, the harder it is to admit a mistake. It is especially hard to admit they may have been wrong about Trump because it was such a passionate, polarizing election, so most of us took a position on who shoukd win. There weren’t many people who truly didn’t care in 2016.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 8:11 am

  103. … insufficient headlines when the body of the story has all relevant facts. 

    Exactly. And the sad part is that Trump and his supporters (and you!) have been legitimately criticizing the media for doing this. You’ve done it for decades. But now that “we” have power, we aren’t draining the swamp, we are jumping in.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 8:13 am

  104. You aren’t jumping in, of course. You are trying to stop it.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 8:14 am

  105. Sean,

    What good does it do to have a Special Counsel who actually tries to investigate in a fair and impartial manner, only to have the AG “summarize” the report in a slanted way?

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 8:17 am

  106. He seems to sincerely believes this.

    If a person can’t agree on the meaning of a simple sentence, then the prospects for future productive conversations are damn near zero. Oh, and the comparison to LGF is bulls**t. I should know, Johnson bounced me when I called him out for making a false comparison between Anita Dunn and John McCain.

    Comment by Paul Montagu — 5/2/2019 @ 8:37 am

  107. Did Barr lie to Congress and therefore commit a crime?

    Comment by AZ Bob — 5/2/2019 @ 8:51 am

  108. I have no idea. What do you think?

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 10:07 am

  109. From Bob’s link:

    members of the special counsel’s team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24 letter. … Do you know what they are referencing with that?”

    Barr: “No, I don’t. I think I think, I suspect that they probably wanted more put out, but in my view I was not interested in putting out summaries.”

    Barr says he wasn’t trying to summarize the Mueller report. Describe not summarize?

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 10:23 am

  110. In addition, Barr szid he thought the question involved aides, not Mueller, so his answer was truthful despite already receiving Mueller’s letter the week before.

    But yesterday Barr said he thought the tone of Mueller’s letter was “snitty” because a member of his staff wrote it.

    Trump’s casual attitude toward the truth seems to be catching.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 10:30 am

  111. Wow what a great catch DRJ. Stuff like that will not convict him of perjury but it shows how disingenuous he is.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/2/2019 @ 12:15 pm

  112. I know my divorce from the party is complete when I am Impressed by Leahy’s questions and rolling my eyes at Cruz’s.

    Trump superfans will say that means I am a Dem but really it just means I have contempt for Barr and only one side is challenging him.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/2/2019 @ 12:18 pm

  113. “Do you know what they are referencing with that?”

    He is a mind reader.

    Comment by AZ Bob — 5/2/2019 @ 2:36 pm

  114. The thing that gets me, is that Barr explicitly said he wasn’t summarizing Mueller’s report and made it clear that he was describing Mueller’s principal conclusions.

    It still surprise me that many seems to argue that Barr’s memo was an attempt to mischaracterize the whole report or to endeavor some sort of hackish spin for the benefit of Trump.

    We can have a debate that he should not have sent that memo, and waited till he was able to release the full redacted report, but I’d proffer that we’d still be having the same sort of discussions as we’re having now.

    The report has been released in damn near it’s entirety, when Barr wasn’t required to even disclose one freaking comma to Congress or the public. So, Barr deserves a lot of credit for taking upon himself to disclose the report as fast as possible.

    In respect to that Mueller’s complaint regarding Barr’s initial memo… I have zero sympathy for him and his team. You should too. It was obvious that mere months after Mueller was appointed, he knew that there were no conspiracy act that the government can prove in court. He should’ve issued an interim report then, rather than letting that spectre hang over Trump’s head like the Sword of Damocle. Since he didn’t, it appeared to be a tactic to taunt/entrap Trump and his orbit to break process crimes, when there wasn’t an underlining crime. That’s why Trump’s cry that this “is a witch hunt” resonate with his supporters (and even those who don’t pay attention to politics).

    I heard something that seems to apply this whole ordeal rather succinctly:
    The complaints about Barr’s memo and his testimony is analogous to complaining about a movie trailer when the movie itself was released three weeks ago.

    Comment by whembly — 5/2/2019 @ 2:38 pm

  115. Still haven’t heard how Barr criminally lied to Congress.

    Comment by AZ Bob — 5/2/2019 @ 2:46 pm

  116. Mr. Wittes points out the depths of AG Barr’s deceptions and political hackery. Another soul burned away.

    Comment by Paul Montagu — 5/2/2019 @ 3:24 pm

  117. Still haven’t heard how Barr criminally lied to Congress.

    I have. Final ‘graf:

    We’ll leave it to readers to decide whether Crist’s question was “very related” or “very different.” But at the very least, the attorney general didn’t give Congress the full story about what he knew regarding the special counsel’s concerns about his March 24 memo.

    Or a less charitable way to phrase it is that Barr lied to Crist.

    Comment by Paul Montagu — 5/2/2019 @ 3:40 pm

  118. @AZ Bob don’t hold your breath.

    Comment by Sean — 5/2/2019 @ 3:42 pm

  119. The thing that gets me, is that Barr explicitly said he wasn’t summarizing Mueller’s report and made it clear that he was describing Mueller’s principal conclusions

    This is what Barr’s letter said:

    Although my review is ongoing, I believe it is in the public interest to describe the report and to summarize its principal conclusions reached by the Special Counsel and the results of his investigation.

    You can choose to ignore that he specifically said he was going to “describe the Report” but it strikes me as unfair. Ignoring what we’ve written to make a point is certainly not something you or I would want anyone to do with what we write.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 4:08 pm

  120. Further, as I said above, I think one of Mueller’s principal conclusions — if not the single most important thing in the report — was that Mueller had decided to follow DOJ guidelines that criminal indictments would not issue against a sitting President, but Barr did not include that in his letter.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 4:12 pm

  121. Lawyers read and analyze written words. I think non-lawyers can do that, too, which is a reason why people come here to discuss issues. But I think some non-lawyers (and maybe some lawyers) believe you can manipulate legal reasoning and analysis to mean whatever you want it to mean, like Bill Clinton talking about the meaning of “is.”

    How we views words and meaning used to be at the heart of the difference between Democrats and Republicans when it came to SCOTUS. Republicans used to think words mattered. Democrats are more revisionist. It is sad to see Trump and his supporters at all levels decide words don’t mean much.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 4:21 pm

  122. Sean 118,

    I encourage you to join in the discussion, not snipe from the sidelines. I read Bob’s link and offered my point of view on a related matter. You and Bob both seem to care about Pelosi’s claim that Barr lied. I did not watch the hearings. If ya’ll did, tell us what you think.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 4:44 pm

  123. @DRJ as I said above this is much ado about nothing. Barr released the full report even though he was under no obligation to do so and the letter sent by Mueller prior to the reports release is nothing more than a complaint that the full context (report) wasn’t released at the same time as Barr’s letter. So what? Barr never claimed his summary or letter was a detailed set of points and was upfront in his assertion that he was working with the department AND Mueller’s team on the appropriate redactions but he would release the report in full. I don’t know what part of the Cruz’s comments in the hearing our host found distasteful, but the fact that Cruz pointed out that Democrats are angry with Barr for allegedly hiding the report he released publicly is pretty spot on.

    Comment by Sean — 5/2/2019 @ 6:05 pm

  124. I went to a baseball game and watched the pitcher throw a no hitter.

    I told someone who rooted for the opposing team that I saw the pitcher throw a no hitter.

    But this fan said my summary “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of that game. He said that there were many at bats in which the defense made some difficult plays in order to get the batter out. The fielders had a lot to do with it.

    And I said, the pitcher threw a no hitter.

    Comment by AZ Bob — 5/2/2019 @ 6:50 pm

  125. #119

    The thing that gets me, is that Barr explicitly said he wasn’t summarizing Mueller’s report and made it clear that he was describing Mueller’s principal conclusions

    This is what Barr’s letter said:

    Although my review is ongoing, I believe it is in the public interest to describe the report and to summarize its principal conclusions reached by the Special Counsel and the results of his investigation.

    You can choose to ignore that he specifically said he was going to “describe the Report” but it strikes me as unfair. Ignoring what we’ve written to make a point is certainly not something you or I would want anyone to do with what we write.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 4:08 pm

    I’m not sure I follow your line of thoughts here…I think the disconnect here was that I saw Barr wrote that initial memo as if he was a prosecutor. That is, describing the principle conclusions and not really “airing out” the subject of the investigation’s dirty laundry. Whereas Mueller and his team wanted much more… which, and I feel like I’m repeating myself, Barr gave every opportunity for Mueller to review his initial memo to Congress and chose not to participate.

    In a typical case, prosecutor don’t air out the findings of an investigation unless it merited indictments.

    But, in this case, we can agree that it’s anything “but typical”. Thus, you can see Barr’s rationale (which he stated so during his confirmation) in releasing as much as he can to the public due to obvious public interests.

    Furthermore, it’s obvious by now that Mueller and his team wrote this report with the expectation that it would be released for the public…(in which they didn’t document exculpatory information in some cases) hence the “snitty” memo to Barr.

    And again, Barr offered Mueller to review/work together with in Barr’s initial memo. He chose not to participate… so, that’s on him… not Barr.

    Comment by whembly — 5/2/2019 @ 7:06 pm

  126. Mueller provided summaries when he delivered his report, summaries that Barr chose not to use. That was his choice but it was on Barr to provide a fair description/summary if he chose to write his own.

    Barr was not operating as a prosecutor IMO. He was and is operating like defense counsel.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 7:50 pm

  127. Sean and Bob,

    Fair enough. I thought you both wanted to discuss the substance of Pelosi’s claim that Barr lied, but I see you don’t. My mistake.

    FWIW I don’t think he lied but his statements were inconsistent in a way that tell me he can’t be trusted. I am not surprised Pelosi said he lied.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 7:53 pm

  128. I’m not sure I follow your line of thoughts here

    I don’t know how else to explain my thinking than what I said in comment 119. Barr ‘s letter said it would describe the Mueller report and summarize its principal conclusions. You said he only wanted to summarize the principal conclusions, but that is not what his letter said. You are ignoring the part where he said he would “describe the report.”

    You can do that, just as I could ignore some parts of what you write and act like you never said things you actually said. It wouldn’t be fair or right, but we can do it.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 8:01 pm

  129. I have invited GOOCH to post his mea culpa in this thread but if he does not I have linked it here:

    http://patterico.com/jury/2019/05/02/republicans-also-republicans/comment-page-1/#comment-408869

    He came to realize what he had done after an email exchange.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/2/2019 @ 8:04 pm

  130. So my official mea culpa:

    I acknowledge the quote is about the letter. So my posts to the contrary are wrong, wrong, wrong to suggest otherwise. I fully concede that, and since it is the fruit that poisoned the tree, it certainly tainted the conversation that followed. So to be clear – I acknowledge and concede that in structuring my argument around the quote and what it referenced, it was reasonable to take issue with that misrepresentation of the facts, and expect me to acknowledge such. Pat rightly held my feet to the fire on it. I have apologized for wasting Pat’s time with a frustrating series of pointless posts. As we Catholics say: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

    D.GOOCH

    Comment by GOOCH — 5/2/2019 @ 8:08 pm

  131. Accepted and welcome back, GOOCH.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/2/2019 @ 8:12 pm

  132. I admire your ability to rethink this, D. Gooch, and to apologize.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 8:16 pm

  133. #128 DRJ

    I don’t think I’m ignoring that part. I think I dont interpret that part they way you did since I was confident that’s we’d see the whole report shortly after that.

    Don’t you think you’re being a wee bit too harsh on Barr by assuming the worst?

    Comment by whemby — 5/2/2019 @ 8:40 pm

  134. No, plus I have not assumed anything. I am explaining what I see.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/2/2019 @ 9:01 pm

  135. Okay DRJ… we’ll just need to agree to disagree here. Thank you for this exchange.

    Comment by whemby — 5/2/2019 @ 9:26 pm

  136. @ Time123: I don’t understand your question in #88, in particular your assertion that “[o]mitting the impact these rules had on Meuller’s decisions, while referencing them in his decision is misleading.”

    No rules are involved here. What’s involved is this Office of Legal Counsel memorandum from 2000, entitled A Sitting President’s Amenability to Indictment and Criminal Prosecution. In its conclusion that the indictment or prosecution of a sitting president would undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions, the 2000 memo adhered to the conclusions of previous memoranda (discussed therein) from the Watergate era.

    The Mueller report discusses the OLC memo, but at least some readers — which include both me and Bill Barr — can’t quite follow what Mueller wrote about its impact, if any, on his conclusions and report. It is easily the most intellectually opaque portion of the entire Mueller report.

    For that reason, Barr has quite properly been reluctant to try to paraphrase what Mueller has written about it, or to explain what he thinks Mueller was thinking when he discussed the memo. But now that it’s in the public domain, anyone — you, me, our host, whomever — can read that for themselves.

    Instead Barr and Rosenstein decided to ignore the memo for purposes of argument and to proceed instead as if the DoJ were free to indict a sitting president in making their decisions regarding obstruction of justice. I have zero trouble following their logic, and approve of their approach.

    I’m disappointed in general that other commenters, including our host and DRJ, appear to have ignored, and certainly have not answered, several non-rhetorical questions I’ve posed in comments above. At this point, I don’t have anything further to say beyond what I’ve already said, except:

    It’s preposterous — laughable — for anyone, including our host, to suggest or imply that anyone was misled by the Barr letter into believing that the Mueller report’s full details would contain no surprises. Our host wrote a lengthy post, much of which I agreed with, containing his speculations about what more would be revealed in the report when it was released. And indeed, when it was, it included both further details favorable to Trump’s position, and further details which cast him in a very bad light indeed.

    I also disagree emphatically with DRJ’s assertion that Barr cherrypicked, and included in his letter, details favorable to Trump while omitting details unfavorable to him. Neither sort of detail appears in Barr’s letter.

    Right now I’m feeling pretty surly, based on our host’s new and very snarky post about “Republicans” and what we all believe, so this will likely be my last comment in either forum on this general topic.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/3/2019 @ 1:54 am

  137. @ Gooch (#130): Bravo.

    Feel free to ignore this question, but are you perhaps related to R. Gordon Gooch, now retired but formerly the long-time top partner in the D.C. office of Baker Botts?

    Comment by Beldar — 5/3/2019 @ 1:59 am

  138. Our host was prompt and gracious, in comment #57, in acknowledging a serious mistake in his comment #12 regarding the scope of Mueller’s and Barr’s respective responsibilities to the public. It would be even more gracious were he to use his editing superpowers to edit his comment at #12 to correct the mistake there with obvious footprints, to prevent readers who don’t make it to #57 from being misled, because #12 really is bass-ackwards from the truth.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/3/2019 @ 2:09 am

  139. Our host was prompt and gracious, in comment #57, in acknowledging a serious mistake in his comment #12 regarding the scope of Mueller’s and Barr’s respective responsibilities to the public. It would be even more gracious were he to use his editing superpowers to edit his comment at #12 to correct the mistake there with obvious footprints, to prevent readers who don’t make it to #57 from being misled, because #12 really is bass-ackwards from the truth.

    Done. Also I missed your questions above — things have been pretty busy for me! — but will look for them now and respond as appropriate.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/3/2019 @ 4:54 am

  140. Beldar, I think your points in comment 2 are all quite right. Barr spun. He did a good job getting the report out quickly with apparently fairly minimal redactions. (From his testimony and the public reporting, it appears that his principal disagreement with Mueller was probably that Mueller wanted public the fact that Don Jr. committed a computer crime, and Barr wanted to redact it.) He was not legally required to release it. His letter does not appear to have been flatly inaccurate on any single point.

    I think Benjamin Wittes wrote a great post about why Barr’s conduct has been reprehensible in the extent of its spinning, and I will likely do a post about that, because some commenters here have asked how Barr spun anything, and I think my opinion on that could use some elaboration.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/3/2019 @ 4:58 am

  141. Right now I’m feeling pretty surly, based on our host’s new and very snarky post about “Republicans” and what we all believe, so this will likely be my last comment in either forum on this general topic.

    I didn’t say *all* Republicans believe the things I said in the post — or, well, anything. There is literally no proposition that I believe *all* Republicans (or *all* Democrats) believe. If your feelings are hurt because you’re reading something into my post that I didn’t say and didn’t mean, consider the fact that I didn’t say it and the possibility (which I am now telling you is a certainty) that I didn’t mean it.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/3/2019 @ 5:02 am

  142. But he didn’t claim to summarize the report, DRJ.

    But as DRJ has noted, he did claim to “describe” it. Maybe he meant something different by that than “summarize” but it’s not crazy for people to have read it as a claim of a summary.

    It was only after Mueller wrote his letter that Barr explicitly clarified it was not a summary.

    It’s preposterous — laughable — for anyone, including our host, to suggest or imply that anyone was misled by the Barr letter into believing that the Mueller report’s full details would contain no surprises.

    It’s “laughable” to suggest “anyone” was misled by that?

    Do you really want to stick with that formulation? I submit that you might want to rephrase.

    Perhaps it’s “questionable” to suggest that “anyone who is smart, diligent, and feels a citizen’s obligation to learn the facts surrounding this matter” could be misled. But you can’t possibly mean that the notion that “anyone” at all was misled is “laughable.” Come on. As DRJ has analogized it, that’s like saying it’s “laughable” to say “anyone” is misled by a misleading headline when the story itself is accurate. Of course that happens, because some people just read the headlines. And a LOT (a lot a lot a lot) of people 1) read Barr’s letter and 2) have not read the report and 3) aren’t all that bright.

    Those people easily could have been misled, and to suggest that literally nobody could possibly fall into the category of people misled — well, I won’t call that argument “laughable” because I think that kind of language is a little insulting for this site, but I’ll say it’s pretty obviously not accurate.

    I think it’s time to do a post on Wittes’s article.

    Comment by Patterico — 5/3/2019 @ 5:10 am

  143. I think it is worth noting that there was no assurance that the Mueller report was going to be released:

    It’s not clear how much, if any, of the report will be made public or provided to Congress. None of Mueller’s findings were immediately released.

    All we initially had was the promise from Barr that he would share the report’s conclusions. I am glad Barr publicly shared the report but it was not clear that was going to happen when he released his summary letter.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/3/2019 @ 6:49 am

  144. Beldar, thank you for responding. I understand your position better.

    When I read the Barr memo my conclusion was that the OLC memo didn’t play a role in the conclusions.

    When I rear the report itself my conclusion was that Meuller didn’t make any accusations because it would be improper for him to make accusation that were not in the form of an indictment that could be publicly challenged.

    Further my conclusion from the report was that Meuller did think that actions taken by trump met the standard to bring changes.

    This is what I thought was most obviously misleading.

    Comment by Time123 — 5/3/2019 @ 7:42 am

  145. The only people misled were those who wanted to be misled and didn’t read the Barr’s letter closely. You read it closely. You weren’t misled.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/3/2019 @ 1:46 pm

  146. In addition to ignoring the Barr letter’s particulars, such people also had to ignore commentators like you, Patterico — and you were far from alone — who predicted, within hours of the Barr letter’s release, that the actual report would have much more damning details. Those people weren’t misled, but rather, they allowed their preexisting biases to be confirmed, and their refusal to immerse themselves in detail to continue indefinitely.

    Comment by Beldar — 5/3/2019 @ 2:02 pm

  147. Can you point me to the post you are remembering? I remember this post where Patterico pointed out how much information was already known because Trump said most of it in public. But look at how many times Patterico corrected commenters who misunderstood Barr’s letter. He said some version of “Barr didn’t say that” about a dozen times. Careful reading isn’t always enough, especially here.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/3/2019 @ 2:30 pm

  148. It is much easier reading Barr’s letter and listening to the various stories when we have the Mueller report for facts and context. We didn’t have it, but Barr did. We were flying blind and totally reliant on seeing it through the prism Barr gave us. It is clearer now, but not because Barr was clear. It is clear because we know what is in the report.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/3/2019 @ 2:33 pm

  149. steveg,

    First, Trump has been talking about the importance of getting even for decades. To him, it clearly means getting revenge and to hurt.

    Second, I don’t think that means all his supporters feel the same way. Some probably do mean it in the sense of pushing back. But not all.

    Finally, I did not watch the Cruz-Barr questions so I don’t have an opinion on that. Is it worth watching?

    Comment by DRJ — 5/3/2019 @ 5:42 pm

  150. I think I put that on the wrong thread. Sorry.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/3/2019 @ 5:45 pm

  151. @137

    None that I am aware of Beldar. The only connection I know I have to D.C. is on my mother’s side – my Great Aunt was General Eaker’s personal secretary for many years. It’s nice to know that a Gooch acquitted himself well in the legal profession. While I ultimately chose another path (academic), it was a close run thing. And I’m still in the business a bit – I’m SFA’s Pre-Law Advisor and I teach our law-related classes and Coach our undergraduate Moot Court team. D.GOOCH

    D.GOOCH

    Comment by GOOCH — 5/4/2019 @ 9:41 pm

  152. My father knew and spoke well of General Eaker. He flew under his command in WWII and knew him in the oilfield after the war.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/5/2019 @ 7:15 am

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