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An investigation into whether the president of the United States committed treason has devolved into a squabble over Attorney General Bill Barr’s brief letter saying that he didn’t.

We’ve gone from Donald Trump allegedly betraying the nation to Bill Barr allegedly betraying the nation, from potential Trump impeachment to potential Barr impeachment.

Barr’s offense, of course, is writing a quick letter summarizing the top-line conclusions of the Mueller report. Ever since, he’s been the focus of conspiracy theories and the target of smears.

The anti-Barr fury reached a new level with the news that Robert Mueller wrote him a letter complaining about the summary. Not since the Zimmermann telegram has a missive so exercised Washington, at least the segment of it that’s been in a perpetual lather of outrage since November 2016.

Let’s be clear: If Barr wanted to cover for Trump, he could have crimped the Mueller probe, sat on the report or redacted the report into meaninglessness. He did none of the above.

No one can claim his summary of findings was inaccurate. According to Barr, even Mueller conceded as much in a phone call. Mueller instead complained about the press coverage of the Barr summary, which isn’t, strictly speaking, the attorney general’s responsibility.

Barr’s conduct is defensible on its own terms. He wanted to get the basic verdict out because the investigation had so roiled our national life, especially the possibility that there was collusion with the Russians.

When Mueller came back to him with a request for release of the summaries from the report, Barr declined because he didn’t want to get into piecemeal releases when the full report would soon be available.

That’s what makes the controversy so nonsensical. Barr went further than required by the regulations to release the entirety of the report, letting everyone decide for themselves. What else was he supposed to do?

Of course, Barr’s summary letter inevitably lacked the narrative force and details of the 400-page report, but we know that ... because he released the report.

The notion that Barr was deceptive in congressional testimony is similarly absurd. In an exchange with Sen. Chris Van Hollen last month, he was asked if Mueller supported his “conclusion,” meaning his judgment that the president didn’t obstruct justice. Barr accurately said he didn’t know.

Rep. Charlie Crist asked Barr if he knew what Mueller officials anonymously complaining about his letter were referring to. Barr said he didn’t (he presumably hadn’t talked to these anonymous officials), but volunteered that they probably wanted more information out.

Ultimately, the firestorm over Barr’s letter is a misdirection, and he’s a scapegoat. If Robert Mueller wanted to recommend charging Trump with obstruction of justice, he could have done so. Instead, he punted, and now he — or people around him — is upset that the Barr letter accurately stated his convoluted not-guilty/not-exonerated bottom line.

As for the Democrats, if they disagree with Barr’s conclusion that Trump didn’t commit a chargeable crime, it is fully within their power to impeach the president for abuse of power.

Democrats still want someone else to do their work for them. First, they wanted Mueller to blow Trump out of the water, and now they want Barr to adopt a frankly adversarial posture toward the president.

Barr is not the one distorting procedure or norms here.

It’s the Mueller team that declined to make a call on whether Trump had committed a crime or not (the job we ordinarily ask prosecutors to do), yet cataloged his conduct in a quasi-indictment written for public consumption (which prosecutors aren’t supposed to do) and, now we know, cared very much about the media narrative around its report (a public relations or partisan question, not a legal one).

That Barr and his letter are the focus of such political and media ire is a symptom of the lunacy of this era, rather than anything rotten in his Department of Justice.

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Rich Lowry can be reached

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nationalreview.com.

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(48) comments

new2Lax

I guess Nadler refuses to review the Mueller report in its entirety or for that matter other Democrats never bothered to show up and read it as well. If he don’t really want to see it, I guess he must think Mueller is either an incompetent or he does not believe Mueller and must be lying.

Redwall

Since Nadler can go to the DOJ and read the unredacted report, these people must be looking for the last dumb fool liberal that doesn't understand what these Democrats are trying to do. I wish Nadler would at least stop lying with a straight face; but then that would exhaust his purpose in life.

Cassandra2

That's a LIE, Redwall. The version Barr is willing to share still contains redactions.

Redwall

The redactions required by law. To bad so sad (for you).

Cassandra2

Redwall proves, once again, that he doesn't understand the law and hasn't actually read the report.

capedcrusader

So new2Lax - It sounds more like wishful Hillary Clinton thinking on your part. Are you willing to take my $100 bet? I'm betting she isn't going to prison. And if you want to keep talking about that with the likes of "A Veteran" (who won't take the bet) or Czeczok or Buggs Raplin who refused a bet of mine regarding her taking away your guns, aren't you in essence just doing the very same thing the radicals (like Czeczok and A Veteran) are claiming the Dems doing with the Mueller report? What say YOU? You want to take my bet? And I know a way we can even sweeten the pot! Btw, you rightwingers have been all over Clinton for 30 years and have come up with zilch. I'm willing to go another couple to the end of Trumps first term. You can't keep beating the drum of ignorance forever without saving face. Time to put up of shut up I say.

Redwall

Maybe you can get a job walking Hillary's dog. Earn your $100 the old fashion way.

capedcrusader

Hey, perhaps YOU would like to put up or shut up...

oldhomey

caped, perhaps Red can't take you up on this bet right now, as he is a little strapped for cash since he decided he had to cough and pay for his Tribune subscription in order to get back to commenting on these boards.

capedcrusader

Oh, and I forgot Snow Cougar Runnells. Another coward.

Redwall

To bad so sad OldFoney. Dropped my subs to the Tribune in 2011 and havent paid them a dime since except the edition with the Maple Leaf parade insert.

Why I even turned the Tribune down when they offered me a free subscription. I told them I could not support such a one-sided view of the world; then the lady who called actually hung up on me. Hilarious.

capedcrusader

Redwall, I'm proud of you. If you can't pay the subscription and support this so called (one sided view of the world) then why are you here?

oldhomey

caped, on the off chance that Red in this one instance is actually telling us the truth, that he has still not resubscribed to the Tribune, I reported him again, hoping editors will look at his boast. If it is true, it is an insult to the rest of us on here who pay to use the services of the Tribune newspaper and this tea party free loader does not. More than that, it should be regarded as theft of services.

johnnybragatti

Oh yeah zerokok ,the Orange Carcass is so overwhelmingly bringing our country together. With uneducated numbnuts like yourself, "unity" ain"t gonna be in anyone"s vocabulary anytime soon. I bet you"re a proud :"Trump-Humper" ???

Rick Czeczok

When you have no plans for the country and are so split within the party, what else do you do but complain and obstruct. The democratic party is self destructing and imploding on itself, and there leaders Polosi and Chucky have no answers to stop it from happening. Sad to see what was once a party of compromise and bringing ideas to the table, has turned into this shell of it's past. The president is at least trying to help America, can the democrats say the same. Where are their plans, ideas, so far nothing....

capedcrusader

What is Trumps plan to bring our country together?

Redwall

Record low unemployment for all is a good start.

Much better than Obama telling us no economic growth was the new normal and that we should all learn Spanish, what a dolt.

capedcrusader

It sounds to me like YOU are the dolt. Obama is a President that taught constitutional law. Doesn't sound like a dolt to me. Obama took us from the doldrums and despair of the Republican led Bush/Cheney disaster and kept our economy and country alive. We were bleeding thousands of jobs out the door by the end of their fiasco. You better go to the doctor for a cognitive assessment. I suggest you take Czeczok with you.

PhysicsIsFun

I have no memory of Obama telling us no economic growth was the new normal and that I should learn Spanish. (I wish I could learn Spanish, but I am an idiot when it comes to language acquisition.) You're just making things up now.

martian2

amen caped, you got redwall by the gonads now. You won't see him anytime soon, gone hiding for awhile.

Redwall

Let me reframe this for you; spoon feed it to you liberals.

Obama called no economic growth "secular stagnation". Ohhhh you say. Thats what that meant!

dah.

Thats ok, Obama didnt really want you to know what it meant. No matter, that is behind us now. We have the lowest unemployment in 49 years under Trump.

capedcrusader

And Trump had very little to do with it. It was heading lower before he took office. So lets dispell that myth shall we? What EXACTLY did Trump do to get the unemployment rate to where it is today. What EXACTLY did HE do?

capedcrusader

Redwall, I'm still waiting for you to explain how Trump helped with the low unemployment.

johnnybragatti

Too funny how the news2EXlax still thinks H. Clinton is president . A startling revelation, to the old ,decrepit ExLax2 Geezer is ....:Clinton "s looking pretty dern good right about now , in spite of a rigged ,fake election by Repubics and Russians ...together, again.

new2Lax

Hillary Clinton has never looked good for one, she obviously didn’t look good in 2016 and to be sure, with her claims of “the election as stole from her”looks even worse, if possible. As to how Mueller saw no collusion and you seem to have information very different, let’s hear it, I’m not sure how he missed your information, either he is incompetent or the 13 angry Democrat investigators are.

Redwall

Apparently she didnt look good to Bill, either.

oldhomey

Ahem. Nothing misogynistic or sexist about Red, I guess. You have to assume he, too, is another of God's gifts to women.

capedcrusader

Barr and Trump belong in a jail cell.

A Veteran

cape ---if you have evidence please share,TDS is not evidence and it is obvious you are suffering from this mental illness,please seek help before it destroys your life!!!!!!!

capedcrusader

Says "A Veteran" who can't make any argument without hurling insults like a child. Go back to school or back the basement and play by yourself. You may just start hearing imaginary applause for the stupid comments you make. Or, maybe just man up and take my $100 bet you so cleverly avoid talking about anymore.

oldhomey

Rich Lowry, the man who concedes Trump is a lout and a liar, does his best to protect him again with Lowry's dubious style of rationale. Lowry tells us:

"An investigation into whether the president of the United States committed treason has devolved into a squabble over Attorney General Bill Barr’s brief letter saying that he didn’t."

He boils all this down to some little "squabble"? That is a bit like a judge declaring his kleptomaniac nephew not guilty before the start of the trial because the judge personally deems there is lack of sufficient evidence to proceed with the trial. Or the Cook County State's Attorney declaring lack of sufficient evidence against actor Jessie Smollett that Smollett staged a false racist against him. It is the sort of crooked maneuvering that leaves the public deeply dissatisfied with and suspicious of the people entrusted to oversee justice in our society.

Lowry goes on: "Let’s be clear: If Barr wanted to cover for Trump, he could have crimped the Mueller probe, sat on the report or redacted the report into meaninglessness. He did none of the above."

Let's be clear: If Bill Barr had withheld the report entirely, or if he had redacted it down to a meaningless release of entirely blacked-out pages, there would be impeachment proceedings in process right now, and the Republican Senate would not be able to support the president without risk of being turned out of office in 2020.

Furthermore, the portions of the report that were released are ample proof of lack of ethics and the desperation both of the Trump campaign's willingness to deal with the Russians and the desperation of the president to stop the Mueller investigation. And we have seen a continuation of this behavior by Trump and his minions since the release of the report, with Trump continuing to embrace Putin for whatever reason, while his administration continues to refuse to do anything to keep Russian interference in our electoral process in check.

Lowry: "No one can claim his summary of findings was inaccurate." His summary was totally inaccurate to anybody reading the report. And there are indications that Barr himself has not actually read the report and the underlying investigative findings behind the report. Strange behavior on Barr's part, indeed, when our electoral system is under terrible threat.

Lowry continues: "According to Barr, even Mueller conceded as much in a phone call. Mueller instead complained about the press coverage of the Barr summary, which isn’t, strictly speaking, the attorney general’s responsibility."

Barr wants us to take him at his word on this. He has fumbled and misrepresented the facts so badly on this, why should we? And why should we not demand that Mueller himself appear before the House committee or a Senate committee in open session to answer these questions? Why is Trump so desperate for Mueller and his aides to NOT give any testimony? Something is rotten in Washington D.C. that smells all the way to Denmark.

new2Lax

No need for a squabble at all, the bottom line no collusion and no obstruction, end of story. If Trump had decided to use his right of executive privilege, you would have nothing. If there was a hint of a successful impeachment, would have been half over by now, there is no chance with either Trump or Barr. Alleging Trump was willing to deal with the Russians is not dealing with the Russians as Mueller stated, there was no one in the campaign they found evidence of collusion. Now what the DNC and Hillary Clinton did was actually pay for Russian documents that even Christopher Steele said he had no proof of there legitimacy, they paid 11 million dollars and that is not an allegation it is a fact.
As far as doing something about Russian meddling, lets talk about that. I wonder why when the Obama Administration knew of this meddling in 2015 they did nothing about it. When in 2016 the DOJ didn't give the Trump Administration a defensive briefing on the Russians trying to meddle in their campaign, as testified to by Barr, this would be normal procedure for a campaign.
So what I hear you saying is the two weeks or so Barr had the Mueller report, he didn't read it. He testified he had read it several times and with Rod Rosenstein. He also said the reason he didn't make a charge was not because he thought a sitting President couldn't be charge and he said there were several people in the room when Mueller said it. How could the findings be inaccurate when Mueller himself said he had no problem with the bottom line of the report. So Mueller wrote the report and did not make a charge and you read it and can. I guess you are saying Mueller is now in the tank for Trump, after all you read it and come to a different conclusion. I think you have a bias and I think a majority of Republicans thought Mueller and his 13 angry Democrats had a bias. It is not the responsibility of either Barr or Mueller to be concerned with the press but it seems Mueller is.
The facts that are important here are no collusion or obstruction. I suspect getting Mueller to testify will be a difficult task for him as almost all his testimony would be unlawful in exposing anything without the consent of the AG and or Trump himself.
What smells is a lot closer to the Democrat party and their obvious motives.

capedcrusader

You sound like a broken record. And in todays paper there is an article that has almost 400 ex prosecuters who disagree with you assessment regarding obstruction. Get with the program and stop living in the past. You would have made a good friend of Richard Nixon. You could have been one of his speechwriters.

new2Lax

Take a look at who signed it, you noticed the two mentioned were two Republicans and one is running for President. My guess is if another 500 were asked by Republicans or their supporters you would see the opposite view. What matters and is not speculative at all is what Mueller and Barr reported. The same type poll was conducted stating the very same thing on Hillary Clinton’s actions, prosecutors polled said they could have made a case against her. So what is the point here. You can get a poll to say what you want them to say, if you manipulate the questions.

oldhomey

No, I don't think there are another 500 ex federal prosecutors who will be stepping up to declare that there is no evidence of Trump committing crimes in the Mueller report. Are you trying to say that out of all of these ex prosecutors who are saying otherwise there were only two Repubiicans?

There is no alleging that Trump was willing to deal with the Russians. The evidence is there, he and his campaign willingly dealt with the Russians. The report says only that no transactions occurred in that dealing that would appear to be worthy of prosecution. Intent on the part of a person seeking the presidency of the United States to allow a hostile foreign power to give that candidate an electoral advantage is extraordinarily evil on any level.

You apparently don't listen to the actual news, new2. It is evident by Mr. Barr's own words that he did not look at the supporting evidence that backs up the instances in the Mueller report that Trump indeed took steps to obstruct justice. This man is the attorney general of the United States, sworn to uphold the laws of the country, not to protect the president. The president is shown in the report taking steps for more than two years to try to stop or impede the investigation. The attorney general who would not steep himself in all the evidence in this case is not serving the people of this country, he is serving and protecting the president, which is contrary to the oath of office that Barr took.

Those are the facts. You can press your nose to the behinds of Donald Trump and A.G. Barr all you want. That is the source of what you are smelling.

new2Lax

No, what I’m saying they paraded two Republicans because there’s damm side more Democrats than Republicans who signed this BS and yes There is probably just as many with an opposite view, as there always is. The AG trusted the summary’s of Mueller and why wouldn’t he. I’m sure he trusted Mueller’s judgement,even though he did pick for his team 13angry Democrats. The decision has been made and you don’t like it, you are just going to have to get over it. I was going to say it’s what Republicans we’re going to have to do with the Hillary Clinton decision but that’s just going to get started very soon, soI just have to wait for the new investigations to get started. Much has already been accomplished already so I don’tthink We will be waiting two years for some results.,,

oldhomey

new2: "No, what I’m saying they paraded two Republicans because there’s damm side more Democrats than Republicans who signed this BS . . . "

Gosh, thanks, new2. It is always SO instructive when you tell us what you said, but, gee, could you explain what your explanation is saying, too?

PhysicsIsFun

Is Trump doing anything to prevent foreign (Russian) interference in the 2020 election.? If he is he's keeping it a secret.

Cassandra2

The Newt hasn't read the Mueller Report and continues to spread lies about its conclusions.

Comment deleted.
oldhomey

Yes, A Veteran (of no known military group), I am slowly going mad at the appearance of all those exclamation points! What a sinister plan you and your friend Ricky have launched to drive people crazy with all your exclamation points, question marks and manic HaHaHas.

johnnybragatti

Barr"s a farce ,liar ,like Low-ry and that Trump dude. Ain't no question. Hard to believe he is a "friend" of Robert Mueller III.....or is he?
Trump said the last election was rigged....until he won. This election will be far more rigged.

martian2

I see Lowry has taken a hard right turn these past several weeks. Must be an election coming fairly soon, and he better get on the GOP band wagon. He writes about Barr"No one can claim his summary of findings was inaccurate. " No use reading any further than that. He starts out with a lie to build more lies. Like a house of cards his whole argument falls apart. I would expect better from a well paid columnists, but he has taken the same path as Trump, just keep lying and distracting from the truth, soon no one will be able to keep it all straight. We already know that Trump worshipers can't keep anything straight.

A Veteran

martain--that is what you are doing here starting with a lie(And we have proven several times that you are a liar) and using more lies to cover it up.Seek help for your mental illness known as TDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

new2Lax

Trump supporters got this straight, Hillary Clinton should have been charged for destroying evidence under a subpoena, the Obama DOJ and the FBI leadership have been fired or disciplined for their bias against Trump. Eight criminal referrals and dozens more pending, there will be more people charged than all the Russians charged and this is just in the investigation team.

martian2

ooh wonderful, another whataboutism from newt. Nothing changes with him. Another conspiracy promoter who predicts gloom and doom for the democrats. Kinda reminds me of someone else who used to be on these boards. None of their predictions came true either. Make room for another false conspiracy, newt just keeps bringing them on.

Cassandra2

Right, Martian, but the avid readers of Q-Anon will continue to spout their nonsense no matter how many times the Great Pumpkin doesn't show up.

capedcrusader

He's not living in reality.

capedcrusader

"Clinton should have been charged". Are YOU willing to bet $100 that she isn't?

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