Mueller Report Meets A Low Barr

By Jamie Stiehm

March 27, 2019 5 min read

WASHINGTON — We didn't need Anderson Cooper to say on CNN what a good day it was for America. Because it was not, unless you set a low Barr — um, bar.

The politics of perception say that President Donald Trump "won" Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report that kept us on ice for so long. But hold the champagne. We're in for a major revenge revival tour.

The president was expressly not exonerated on obstruction of justice in Mueller's sweeping Russian probe. He was legally cleared of coordination or collusion, a word he spoke of constantly, wearing it out along with "witch hunt" — as if he had anything in common with women who died upon the Puritan gallows.

Trump got a fresh wind from the short, slanted summary by his new hired hand. Attorney General William Barr studied Mueller's report on the Russian probe from Friday to Sunday. He assured an anxious press and public that he'd give them his views as early as this weekend. Barr gave us his views — which tell us little.

This much we know: A four-page summary from Barr is no substitute for the story of Mueller's 22-month investigation into the president and his men. (Some things don't change, men.)

Barr is writing for the wrong client, the president, seemingly to save him from impeachment. His client is the country.

No matter what, the politics of reality are that every member of the House and at least some of the Senate demands to see the full Mueller report. The man at the bus stop wants to see it, too. Every citizen of the United States should have access to Mueller's words, not Barr's. Mueller enjoys more public trust.

The full report must be released by April 2, a deadline set by House Democratic leaders. Will it happen? You tell me.

So, Trump lived to fight and crow another day, falsely claiming he was exonerated, shouting, "To be honest, it's a shame that your president has had to go through this." The investigation yielded 34 indictments. Only he could claim honor and glory from an egregious track record, with several guilty pleas from close associates like his lawyer, national security adviser and campaign manager.

But no, Trump's the wronged one. He's so good at that game, you have to give him that. Saying the same thing over and over, savagely, is his simple device.

A renewed attack on Obamacare and another attempt to build a border wall against the will of Congress may not be far behind this spring.

The real shame is that we know Russian spy operatives meddled in the 2016 election to help Trump, but the president refused to admit the alarming evidence gathered by our intelligence agencies. It's clear as day that happened, also that the Trump campaign did nothing to discourage the helping hand from Moscow. Quite the opposite. In a historic heartbreaker of an election, every bit of help counted.

Who knows, Barr may have promised a short turnaround because he knew he'd whitewash that fence. He's only been on the job since last month but gave clear signs earlier on that he'd act as the president's defense lawyer, not as the nation's highest justice advocate.

Barr is no Janet Reno, President Bill Clinton's attorney general, who made several decisions and appointments that cut against Clinton's interests. Reno had integrity, if not a lot of political finesse.

Speaking of Clinton, he endured far more punishment, was meted out in his impeachment and investigated for far less. A slight consensual affair does not violate the Constitution, but it does happen. Washington became something like a Puritan town seized by hysteria. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., then on the House Judiciary Committee, brought his pitchfork.

The stakes were smaller then — not about a foreign power damaging American democracy.

That road leads back to President Barack Obama as inexorably as a Greek drama. He still can't believe Trump won. Obama and the FBI knew about the Russian operation during the 2016 campaign. Neither Obama nor his talkative FBI Director James Comey told the truth to the American people to clear the field for a free and fair election.

That's why we have such a low bar now.

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, please visit the website,

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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