Barr’s Spin, not Mueller’s Report

My Slate piece on the Barr letter on Sunday:

On Sunday, Attorney General William Barr introduced his letter to the Senate and House Judiciary Committees by saying: “I am writing today to advise you of the principal conclusions reached by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller and to inform you of the status of my initial review of the report he has prepared.” This introduction does not fit his letter, though: If one wanted to advise of the report’s “principal conclusions,” one would expect that more of the “principal conclusions” actually be shared.

Instead, Barr distributed parts of four of Mueller’s sentences throughout his letter—three of which offer any kind of conclusions, and none of which even appear to be complete sentences from Mueller’s text. Those sentences are obviously helpful for Trump legally and politically, but Barr’s short letter—one page on Russia, one page on obstruction—raises more questions than it even tries to answer.

What Barr put out on Sunday was not Mueller’s summary, nor a summary of Mueller. It literally contains more of Barr’s legal conclusions—after just 48 hours of review—than of Mueller’s own conclusions over almost two years of investigation. In contained zero details of the evidence that led to either man’s conclusions. Mueller surely wrote an executive summary of his findings for Barr, and it clearly would have been easier for Barr simply to give Congress and the public Mueller’s summary than to write this letter himself. The question is why Barr didn’t… [For more, follow the link]

Author: Jed Shugerman

Legal historian at Fordham Law School, teaching Torts, Administrative Law, and Constitutional History. JD/PhD in History, Yale. Red Sox and Celtics fan, youth soccer coach. Author of "The People's Courts: Pursuing Judicial Independence in America" (2012) on the rise of judicial elections in America. I filed an amicus brief in the Emoluments litigation against Trump along with a great team of historians. I'm working on "The Rise of the Prosecutor Politicians," a history of prosecutors and American politics, and another project on the origins of independent agencies in America.

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