Since Attorney General William Barr first released his paltry four-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 400-page report, one big question has clouded the public perception of how the results of the probe into the allegations of the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia and its obstruction of the investigations.
With over two weeks separating the release of the report’s “principle conclusions” — at least as interpreted by the president’s cherry-picked Justice Department head — and the redacted version of Mueller’s nearly 400-page opus, that question has remained: how much has the Attorney General revealed about the contents of the report to President Trump, his legal team, and White House staffers?
Today, we learned the answer to that unresolved issue just one day before the redacted document is made public.
According to a report in the New York Times:
“Justice Department officials have had numerous conversations with White House lawyers about the conclusions made by Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, in recent days, according to people with knowledge of the discussions,” The Times reported. “The talks have aided the president’s legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the report and strategizes for the coming public war over its findings.”
This key revelation explains several puzzling occurrences over the last week, including how the ghoulish Trump legal defender Rudy Giuliani could be discussing already preparing the president’s response to a report that Trump claims not have seen and why the president has been endlessly tweeting “No Collusion — No Obstruction” like an automated bot after initially assuring his followers that the report was a complete exoneration of his actions.
For many people, this premature leak of the contents of the report to the subject of its investigation would be indication enough that Barr is involved in a coverup and should be immediately removed from office.
As Democrats have been pointing out since Barr issued his summary, the entire process around the delivery, redaction, and release of the Mueller report stinks to high heaven.
The fact that after Mueller chose — or was forced — to not reach a conclusion regarding Trump’s guilt on obstruction charges, Barr himself made the decision to clear the president with providing any of the underlying reasons for his decision looks particularly suspicious.
With rogue members of the usually leak-tight Mueller team dropping anonymous tips to reporters that the report contains much more damaging accounts of the president’s behavior than Trump’s crowing of “Complete Exoneration” would warrant, the entire process around making the information public seems tainted as a public relations exercise in damage control.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said as much as he condemned Attorney General Barr for playing politics around the release of the report, especially after it was announced that Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would be holding a press conference about the report at 9:30 AM Eastern Time tomorrow and not handing the report to Congress until the afternoon.
Nadler took to Twitter to register his displeasure with the Attorney General’s questionable tactics which smelled as fishy as an outdoor oyster shack in New Orleans on a hot August afternoon.
I’m deeply troubled by reports that the WH is being briefed on the Mueller report AHEAD of its release. Now, DOJ is informing us we will not receive the report until around 11/12 tomorrow afternoon — AFTER Barr’s press conference. This is wrong. #ReleaseTheReport https://t.co/bR50HhGJ0i
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) April 17, 2019
The fireworks will begin tomorrow morning with the Justice Department press conference, but now that we know the fix is already in the works, we can ignore any characterization of the Mueller report that Barr issues then and simply wait until we can read between the likely heavily redacted multi-colored lines to glean for ourselves whatever morsels of information that may have survived the bowdlerizations.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.
Original reporting by Mark Mazzetti, Maggie Haberman, Nicholas Fandos and Katie Benner at The New York Times and by Bob Brigham at RawStory.