Thursday, April 4, 2019

It's Mueller Time, Con't

The NY Times is now running, not walking back its "Mueller Finds No Trump Collusion" story by actually doing some goddamn reporting and asking Mueller's team what Mueller did find, and the resulting story make it very clear that the report is bad enough for Trump that America will never see it.

Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.

At stake in the dispute — the first evidence of tension between Mr. Barr and the special counsel’s office — is who shapes the public’s initial understanding of one of the most consequential government investigations in American history. Some members of Mr. Mueller’s team are concerned that, because Mr. Barr created the first narrative of the special counsel’s findings, Americans’ views will have hardened before the investigation’s conclusions become public.

Mr. Barr has said he will move quickly to release the nearly 400-page report but needs time to scrub out confidential information. The special counsel’s investigators had already written multiple summaries of the report, and some team members believe that Mr. Barr should have included more of their material in the four-page letter he wrote on March 24 laying out their main conclusions, according to government officials familiar with the investigation. Mr. Barr only briefly cited the special counsel’s work in his letter.

However, the special counsel’s office never asked Mr. Barr to release the summaries soon after he received the report, a person familiar with the investigation said. And the Justice Department quickly determined that the summaries contain sensitive information, like classified material, secret grand-jury testimony and information related to current federal investigations that must remain confidential, according to two government officials.

We basically suspected if not outright knew this material, but it took out journalistic institutions a couple of weeks apparently to get around to following up with Barr.  Now they're all but accusing him of covering up for Trump, and the fight, as Politico's Darren Samuelsohn describes it, will be the "redaction wars."

House Democrats want to see everything related to the special counsel’s nearly two-year-old investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election. But their open-book demands stand at odds with the Justice Department’s desire to black out sensitive areas throughout Mueller’s 400-page submission.

The high-stakes chess match will play out on both political and legal grounds, and so far neither side has yet to show any signs of compromise.

As a result, the battle could spill into the courts, setting up a protracted legal confrontation that inevitably causes waves in the thick of the 2020 White House race. For President Donald Trump, the possibility of freshly unveiled Mueller bombshells dropping while he runs for reelection could be devastating. But Democrats are in a tough position: pursuing their legal challenge at all costs could feed the Trump-approved narrative that they’re overzealous, but giving up risks angering their own Trump-hating base.

“It seems to be shaping up as a classic collision of interests by two coordinate branches of government, each with their own respective legitimate interests that may be in conflict with one another,” said David Laufman, who ran the Justice Department’s counterintelligence unit from 2014 to 2018 and had a key role overseeing the early stages of the FBI’s Russia investigation before Mueller’s appointment.

I fully expect Barr to delay  the report for "national security reasons related to ongoing cases" as long as he can get away with it.  But if you ask me, my gut tells me that this story is chin music right past Barr's head.

Maybe a full leak is next unless Barr plays fair.

We'll see.

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