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You remember Leon Lett, don’t you? Lett was a member of the Dallas Cowboys, and in Super Bowl XXVII against the Buffalo Bills, Lett recovered a fumble on the Dallas 35-yard line.
As he approached the 10-yard line on his way in for a touchdown, he decided to celebrate…a bit prematurely as it turned out, as Bills wide receiver Don Beebe knocked the ball out of Lett’s hands just before he reached the goal line. No touchdown for Leon, but a great deal of embarrassment. A classic example of premature celebration.
Since history has a way of repeating itself, let’s now turn to President Donald J. Trump and the Bill Barr four-page “exoneration” encapsulation of the almost 400-page Bob Mueller report.
The four-page Barr memo summarizing the “principal conclusions” of the Special Counsel’s Report resulted in another great example of premature celebration. This time on the part of Trump and his Republican sycophants.
Before we get to the report and the Trump reaction to it, let’s first talk a little about Attorney General Barr. For two full years, Trump repeatedly castigated his original choice for Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, for “not protecting him” because Sessions followed Ethics Office advice and chose to recuse himself from the Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election.
Trump famously asked the question “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” a reference to the Joseph McCarthy sidekick who served as a protector for Trump in the 70s and 80s. In comes Bill Barr, Trump’s new Cohn.
Is there anyone, absolutely anyone, who believed that the individual who Trump would decide on to replace Sessions after his firing as Attorney General would be someone other than an individual of whom Trump was convinced, rightly or wrongly, would PROTECT him?
Someone who would serve Trump foremost and only secondarily the American people? Whether Matthew Whitaker, Bill Barr or anyone else, the next Attorney General would be someone Trump was absolutely confident would protect him whether an actual loyalty oath was administered or not.
Anyone who believes that Trump would go through the trouble of firing Sessions only to replace him with anyone who might, by chance, recuse himself from the Russian investigation even if the Ethics Office so advised or who might not protect him is either monumentally naive or totally in denial about this president.
Now, back to the Mueller Report and the four-page summary of “key” points issued by Attorney General William Barr. According to Barr’s letter of March 24, and this is right out of the letter, “The Special Counsel’s investigation determined that there were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election.
“The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually to interfere with the election…the second element involved the Russian government’s efforts to conduct computer hacking operations intended to gather and disseminate information to influence the election.”
Of importance to Trump is Barr’s assertion that the “(T)he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
The letter also addressed the obstruction of justice concerns regarding the president. In the letter, Barr states “The Special Counsel…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.”
Great news for Trump, right? Well, Trump sure thinks so, and he would be correct. That is good news for him and his supporters. He has now uttered the words “total exoneration” almost as many times as he had uttered the words “no collusion, no obstruction.” Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. However, let us not forget about Lett.
Since a four-page summary of principal conclusions of a 400-page report could not possibly provide a full picture of the findings, most individuals, other than the president and his minions, would like to see the full report before coming to any conclusions. The report has not, as of this writing, been provided to either Congress or the American public. Although I, too, have not yet seen it, I will let you know what I am fairly certain is in it. Clearly, Bob Mueller did not find enough evidence to meet the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard for a criminal indictment of the president or his underlings.
The irony of ironies. That is exactly what James Comey said about Hillary’s email investigation and the reason for not moving forward on an indictment. Do I hear calls to “lock him up?”
So then, what is in the report in my estimation, you wonder. My guess, a long list impeachable offenses including abuse of power, obstruction of justice and questionable interactions with Russia. And that is why the report must be made available to Congress and the American people.
However, the discussion about the widespread release of the report does not and should not start and stop with revealing the report findings regarding the behavior of the president for purposes of determining fitness for office. We already knew the answer to that issue and understood it without the need for the Mueller Report.
Of particular interest to me and for most Americans should be that the report names explicitly Russia as having interfered in and influenced the presidential election of 2016 and NOT a 400-pound guy sitting on his bed in New Jersey. What is our government doing about that as we approach the 2020 election? What is the Trump administration, specifically, doing to protect the 2020 election and prevent a recurrence of the Russian influence even if it benefits him again?
Democrats always seem to allow Republicans to control the campaign narrative.
In 2004 “swift boats” became the issue of the day. In 2016 the issue was sloppy email management. With the four-pager from Barr, the problem focused almost entirely on the findings regarding collusion and obstruction rather than holding this president’s and his Republican enablers’ collective feet to the fire to address the portion of the report dealing with Russian interference in our election.
That, ladies and gentleman, is an issue every bit as important as whether or not our president is guilty of conspiracy or obstruction of justice, as important as those issues are. This issue goes to the very heart of our elections and is critical to minimizing the chances of another unfit president. If this is not a vital campaign issue, what is?