Mueller doesn't agree with Barr's assessment that Trump is exonerated: Report

Insiders say Mueller penned a letter to the Attorney General, disagreeing with his characterization of the report

By Keith A. Spencer

Senior Editor

Published April 30, 2019 8:39PM (EDT)

William Barr; Robert Mueller; Donald Trump (AP/Getty/Salon)
William Barr; Robert Mueller; Donald Trump (AP/Getty/Salon)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller appears to disagree with Attorney General William Barr’s assessment of the special counsel report as exonerating the president from any wrongdoing.

According to a New York Times report that quotes several unnamed sources with “direct knowledge of the communication” between Barr and Mueller, Mueller penned a letter to William Barr in which he disagreed with Barr’s pronouncement, in the wake of the release of the heavily-redacted special counsel report, that President Trump had been cleared of obstruction of justice charges.

Ever since the Mueller report’s release, political analysts and pundits have been arguing over its legal meaning. Given that many, many Trump confidantes were arrested due to the special counsel’s investigation, the notion that Trump and his allies are exonerated appears a farce. And yet, that was how Barr painted it. As Salon previously reported:

According to Barr’s memo of Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the special counsel did not exonerate Trump from committing the crime of obstruction. Rather, Mueller laid out evidence to support both that the president was guilty of obstruction and that he wasn’t guilty.

Barr, however, cleared Trump of any wrongdoing in his four-page summary of the Mueller report without revealing any of Mueller’s actual evidence for and against obstruction charges.

According to the Times, Barr and Mueller clash on their legal interpretation over what to do next. As the Times reported:

Mr. Barr and senior Justice Department officials were frustrated with how Mr. Mueller ended his investigation and drafted his report, according to the two people with knowledge of the discussions and another person briefed on the matter.

They expressed irritation that Mr. Mueller fell short of his assignment by declining to make a decision about whether Mr. Trump broke the law. That left Mr. Barr to clear Mr. Trump without the special counsel’s backing.

Regardless of the outcome of the Mueller findings, the collective media obsession over the Mueller report and its aftermath seems to ignore the larger atmosphere of offenses and illegal acts committed by the president that don’t involve murky, conspiratorial plots involving direct collusion with foreign countries. As others have noted, the president has committed many impeachable offenses that involve other things — notably, his payoff to Stormy Daniels to cover up their affair while in the heat of the presidential race, and his use of his high office to enrich himself and his own businesses.

Despite this, the Democratic leadership seems increasingly disinterested in pursuing impeachment, a courtesy that the rival GOP leadership has never extended to Democrats when in power.

By Keith A. Spencer

Keith A. Spencer is a social critic and author. Previously a senior editor at Salon, he writes about capitalism, science, labor and culture, and published a book on how Silicon Valley is destroying the world. Keep up with his writing on TwitterFacebook, or Substack.

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