Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Monday, March 25, 2019

The Barr Summary -- a very different document from the Mueller Report -- is being woefully misread by media. It doesn't import what media is suggesting it does. Lawyers are welcome to comment on this thread as I report the Summary accurately. I hope you'll read on and retweet. Mueller was supposed to decide if Donald Trump could be charged with Obstruction of Justice -- or, if not chargeable, whether he should be referred to Congress for impeachment for Obstruction of Justice. But AG Barr usurped Mueller's job and decided to make that decision himself.

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It can't be emphasized enough that according to Barr's summary the only "coordination" Mueller was charged with investigating was defined as a secret accord with those entities hacking and attacking the US electoral process, something that no one ever alleged. If this is the "collusion" that Trump did not commit then cue Captain Obvious for his taglines. This is what most thought was being looked into by Mueller and his team of investigators:

On "collusion," investigative reporters and independent journalists just spent years gathering evidence on a very specific allegation of collusion: that for his own enrichment, Trump traded away our foreign policy on Russian sanctions at a time he knew Russia was attacking us. We are now being told that *Mueller never investigated* the collusion allegation Trump was facing -- on a money-for-sanctions-relief quid pro quo -- and *instead* investigated the allegation *as Trump saw it*, which was whether he struck an agreement with the IRA or Russian hackers.
If this indeed is correct, it makes perfect sense why Trump never fired Mueller because he conclusively knew that he and his henchmen were indeed innocent of having entered a "tacit or express(ed)" agreement with the Russian government or the IRA. But it doesn't mean that our own eyes ears and intellect is wrong when Barr's conclusion is based on something that no one alleged actually happened in the first place.

#1 | Posted by tonyroma at 2019-03-25 10:26 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Barr's conclusion is based on something that no one alleged actually happened in the first place.

#1 | Posted by tonyroma at 2019-03-25 10:26 AM | Reply


Barr's made things worse. Didn't we all know that he would? The real importance of the Mueller Report will be gauged in how viciously the AG and Trump seek to prevent its contents from being public.

#2 | Posted by Zed at 2019-03-25 10:30 AM | Reply

So what's my reaction to today's news? Well, I thought there was *no* evidence Trump colluded *via secret agreement with the IRA or Russian hackers* -- I always said that -- so *now* I want to know why Mueller said he wasn't able to "exonerate" Trump on that allegation. I mean -- wow. As to the collusion allegations never investigated -- as opposed to the ones Trump self-servingly *himself* raised only because he knew he wasn't guilty of *those* -- my feeling is that there are now *19 federal jurisdictions* working on Trump probes that could resolve that issue. Moreover, some of those jurisdictions being Congressional, and many working on cases involving people never interviewed by the SCO face-to-face -- Trump, Trump Jr., Prince, Ivanka, and so many others -- I feel like we're only at the *beginning* of the real collusion investigation.

I ask people to retweet this thread. Misinformation spreads fast -- the nation already misunderstands what happened today, as media wrongly uses terms like "exoneration," "vindication," and "collusion." As for fellow lawyers? Come at me if you disagree with anything I said. /end PS/ As ever, my concern about the media *isn't* an accusation of bad faith: I think people are rushing -- and don't understand certain things they *need* to understand to do their jobs well tonight, like *what the collusion allegation actually was* -- so threads like this are critical.

Amen.

#3 | Posted by tonyroma at 2019-03-25 10:49 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

" I thought there was *no* evidence Trump colluded *via secret agreement with the IRA or Russian hackers* -- I always said that -- so *now* I want to know why Mueller said he wasn't able to "exonerate" Trump on that allegation. I mean -- wow"

Yesterday was the high point of premature triumphalism by the forces of evil

#4 | Posted by Zed at 2019-03-25 11:51 AM | Reply

Seth Abramson @SethAbramson

David Gergen (CNN) says we still don't have answers as to whether Russia bribed Trump with deals or whether Trump laundered Russian money or whether there are other Trump-Russia associations that explain his and his family's inexplicable behavior.

So media IS starting to get it.
7:15 AM - 25 Mar 2019

#5 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2019-03-25 12:13 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

I feel like he's writing the 6 Stages of Uncovering the Truth:

Seth Abramson @SethAbramson

As I said yesterday, the first thing that'll happen will be the unraveling of the early reporting we heard yesterday on Obstruction. That's now occurred. The second thing that'll happen is the unraveling of the early reporting we heard yesterday on collusion.

That's coming soon.

twitter.com

#6 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2019-03-25 12:19 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

This is how the unraveling of the *collusion* reporting begins. Kyle Griffin: A source with direct knowledge of the investigation told The Daily Beast that it was their interpretation that "Mueller was making a case to Congress, who (unlike DOJ, in Mueller's view) is empowered to weigh the lawfulness of a president's conduct."

Stage 2 of the unraveling of the *collusion* reporting will be people focusing with great intensity on AG Barr writing that there was no prosecutable evidence of collusion with the "Russian government," which people will soon realize wasn't alleged by anyone in/on those terms.

Stage 3 of the unraveling of the *collusion* reporting will be people focusing on the difference between not prosecuting something and not having *evidence* of something. People will realize that there's a *good deal* of evidence on collusion *and that it is still developing*.

Stage 4 of the unraveling of the *collusion* reporting will be the realization there are 19 pending federal and state investigations into Trump, his family, and his aides, and that many of these directly intersect with the question of what Trump's relationship with Russia was.

Stage 5 of the unraveling of the *collusion* reporting is the realization that evidence Congress and these 19 investigations develop will be added to the full Mueller report to help Congress decide if (say) 80% but not 90% proof of collusion is enough for impeachment. (It is.)

Stage 6 of the unraveling of the *collusion* reporting sees Dems develop a way to explain to America what's happening, for instance, "Just as a counterintelligence investigation doesn't require beyond-a-reasonable-doubt proof, neither does a counterintelligence *impeachment*."

Every time you hear someone in media muse publicly about all the unexplained Trump-Russia connections and events, you're hearing them slowly come to the realization that the "collusion" allegation against Trump was *never* that he signed a secret agreement with the IRA or GRU.

Seth Abramson


#7 | Posted by tonyroma at 2019-03-25 12:49 PM | Reply

A lot of allegations against Trump make complete sense. Monetizing his presidency, grift, hush money payouts to porn stars to cover up a tryst, etc. All of that is totally believable. The collusion with Russia thing never made sense to me. Given how tightly our intelligence services monitor all things going on in Russia, you would have thought that any secret dealings between Trump and the Kremlin would have been easily spotted given how free-wheeling and incompetent the Trump campaign was.

This probably won't go over well, but I'm going to say it anyways: If you continue to hitch your wagon to the Trump collusion train you are probably going to end up extremely disappointed. You all need to emotionally divest yourselves from that narrative. I get that the full report hasn't been released and that you probably don't trust Barr/Rosenstein. Fine, I get that. Having said that, I honestly don't think either of those two would blatantly misrepresent the conclusions of the report. You may end up finding some leaves but you are not going to find a forest in that report, based upon Barr's summary.

Trump is a sleaze-ball. I firmly believe that SDNY has legitimate goods on his grift that goes back decades and likely continued after he became POTUS. I recommend hitching your wagons to that train. It will likely yield results.

#8 | Posted by JeffJ at 2019-03-25 01:08 PM | Reply

It's not a matter of hitching anything to any train. It has always been a search for the truth as nearly as it can be determined. Here is a succinct analysis of this point:

On May 17, 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein authorized the establishment of an Office of Special Counsel to look into "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a)." He hired Robert Mueller to lead this investigation. According to McCabe, Mueller then inherited the counterintelligence investigation that he had just initiated.

Going back to Rod Rosenstein's 2017 "Scope of Investigation" memo, he declared that the original order had been "written categorically in order to permit its public release without confirming specific investigations involving specific individuals." My interpretation of that is that he was envisioning a counterintelligence report where sources and methods have to be protected and prosecutorial decisions are not the focus. There is no mention from Barr of any counterintelligence assessment on whether the president is or has been the subject of blackmail or external control. That is the most important thing that Congress and the American people need to understand, and Barr is silent about it. In Rosenstein's original authorizing memo from May 2017, he asked for "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump." Where is the report on the links?

The links are important because they inform any counterintelligence assessment.

On the obstruction question, it may be that Barr has the final legal say, but Congress needs all the facts because one remedy is impeachment, and another remedy is to adjust the law to better deal with future rogue presidents who are under investigation from their own underlings. Who can a president pardon or not pardon? When does firing someone to obstruct an investigation become a prosecutable crime? These things can't be hashed out until the facts are known.

The debate is really just beginning. This week Felix Sater will testify before Congress about matters he once said would end Trump's presidency. Namely, he'll talk about the Moscow Trump Tower deal. The president not only lied about the existence of that project but his obviously opened himself up to blackmail by the Russians by doing so. When the public learns of this in all its sordid detail, they won't be satisfied with William Barr's whitewash.

This was all started because the one indisputable thing was that the Russians intervened in the election in ways that we'd like to prevent in the future. We know that the Mueller Report is largely dedicated to this topic, but we haven't yet seen any of those details either. There is a lot of work to do on these subjects before we can put this all in the past and move on to the 2020 campaign. washingtonmonthly.com

#9 | Posted by tonyroma at 2019-03-25 01:27 PM | Reply

I said this on the other thread, but having read Seth Abramson's rants in support of his upcoming book on Russian Collusion, to now see him frantically trying to "re-message" his conclusions is fairly amusing and should be a cautionary tale on rushing to judgment.

In my experience, anyone who states "This isn't backpedaling:" is doing exactly that.

#10 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2019-03-25 02:10 PM | Reply

He lost me when he said nobody was accusing Trump of collusion. He must have been hiding under a rock for two years.

#11 | Posted by MUSTANG at 2019-03-25 02:50 PM | Reply

He lost me when he said nobody was accusing Trump of collusion.

I'm feeling magnanimous today so I'll clue you in on what should have been obvious as it regards that statement. Read what Barr said in his summary and how he defined "coordination" (ie. collusion).

The Special Counsel defined "coordination" as an agreement -- tacit or express -- between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference. (footnote at bottom of page 2)
Abramson, nor anyone that I can recall, ever suggested that "collusion" was defined as there having been in place a "tacit or express(ed) agreement" between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, GRU, and IRA. However, this is the metric evidently used by Mueller and the White House unbeknownst to the greater world at large.

No one was accusing Trump of having any direct agreement with the Russian government or intelligence services, that is what Abramson is referring to. Here is the type of collusion that most are still certain that Trump and his campaign undertook because direct and circumstantial evidence of it is so widespread and undisputed throughout the public realm:

On "collusion," investigative reporters and independent journalists just spent years gathering evidence on a very specific allegation of collusion: that for his own enrichment, Trump traded away our foreign policy on Russian sanctions at a time he knew Russia was attacking us.
Hope that clears up any confusion.

#12 | Posted by tonyroma at 2019-03-25 04:27 PM | Reply

For ROC...

Lawfare: In fact, Barr's letter quotes Special Counsel Robert Mueller as stating that the investigation "did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities." Saying that the investigation did not establish that there was collusion is not the same thing as saying that the investigation established that there was no collusion. Two points are worth emphasizing.

First, as quoted by Barr, Mueller used the words "conspired" and "coordinated." Unlike the colloquial term "colluded," these terms have legal significance. "Coordination" with a foreign government would be a basis for a finding of criminal liability under the election laws, and "conspiracy" would be a criminal agreement to violate those laws. This language suggests that Mueller's report viewed the conduct through the lens of a criminal investigative process -- that is, whether the evidence met the Department of Justice standards for prosecution, including the ability to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was intent to violate the law.

This interpretation is further supported by Barr's discussion of the obstruction allegations. Barr's language dismissing those allegations is strikingly similar to that used by Mueller with respect to the Russia investigation: Barr said that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein "have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense," echoing Mueller's statement that the investigation "did not establish" a conspiracy. This conclusion must be read in coordination with Barr's 2018 memo arguing that acts within the president's constitutional authority over law enforcement, including firing the director of the FBI, cannot constitute obstruction of justice -- at least if they do not "impair the integrity or availability of evidence."

Barr's letter to Congress makes clear that there was substantial evidence supporting the possibility that the president obstructed justice -- enough that Mueller did not feel he could draw a conclusion -- but that Barr nonetheless concluded that prosecution was not warranted. By using the same language that Mueller used with respect to "establishing" coordination with Russia, Barr's letter suggests the possibility that, rather than "no evidence" of collusion, Mueller did find such evidence -- but similarly did not conclude it warranted a criminal prosecution. Clearing up this ambiguity is yet another reason why the Mueller report should be released promptly.

#13 | Posted by tonyroma at 2019-03-25 09:44 PM | Reply

-Saying that the investigation did not establish that there was collusion is not the same thing as saying that the investigation established that there was no collusion

obviously, but if Barr is to believed then wouldn't the continued effort to establish collusion be the the proverbial "beating a dead horse"?

#14 | Posted by eberly at 2019-03-25 09:58 PM | Reply

but if Barr is to believed then wouldn't the continued effort to establish collusion be the the proverbial "beating a dead horse"?

It's not a matter of establishing whether there was collusion/coordination because that has already been confirmed. At this point, the question should be what constitutes the factual evidence of collusion/coordination and how exculpatory is the counter evidence pointing to it not reaching the standard/level needed for criminal prosecution. In reality, since impeachment is not a legal thing, the known evidence included in Mueller's actual report may indeed provide enough damning facts that could force the public to demand accountability up to the point of impeachment proceedings or at minimum an impeachment investigation undertaken by Congress that can force testimony and further uncovering of facts and evidence that Mueller did not receive, especially considering the individuals who were not questioned under oath (Kushner, Ivanka, Don Jr., Eric, Sessions, and the President himself, just to name a few) who have been credibly linked to incidents/actions that appear to be collusive in nature.

#15 | Posted by tonyroma at 2019-03-25 10:11 PM | Reply

First, as quoted by Barr, Mueller used the words "conspired" and "coordinated." Unlike the colloquial term "colluded," these terms have legal significance. "Coordination" with a foreign government would be a basis for a finding of criminal liability under the election laws, and "conspiracy" would be a criminal agreement to violate those laws. This language suggests that Mueller's report viewed the conduct through the lens of a criminal investigative process -- that is, whether the evidence met the Department of Justice standards for prosecution, including the ability to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was intent to violate the law.

Well, duh...Mueller was specifically instructed as follows:

"The special counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation [into]:

a) any links/coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump;"

This specifically, for a criminal prosecutor, calls for an examination not only of the crime of interference itself but of any conspiracy to commit same, which is where the "coordination" and "conspiracy" words come into play. Of course he has to view it in the lens of DOJ standards for prosecution and whether the burden could be met.

This interpretation is further supported by Barr's discussion of the obstruction allegations. Barr's language dismissing those allegations is strikingly similar to that used by Mueller with respect to the Russia investigation: Barr said that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein "have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense," echoing Mueller's statement that the investigation "did not establish" a conspiracy.

Again, this is a rather brainless recitation of the obvious from a prosecutorial standpoint, the difference on the obstruction claim being that it was a closer call that Mueller might not have felt that he had the authority to make, which is why he punted it upstairs.

Barr's letter to Congress makes clear that there was substantial evidence supporting the possibility that the president obstructed justice -- enough that Mueller did not feel he could draw a conclusion -- but that Barr nonetheless concluded that prosecution was not warranted.

It is important to keep in mind that "substantial evidence" isn't even a civil law standard (the lowest standard is a"preponderance" of evidence, but criminal charges require a "beyond a reasonable doubt", which Mueller most likely didn't have for obstruction. That does not mean that there isn't plenty of smoke in the evidence he had, but not enough for a fire.

By using the same language that Mueller used with respect to "establishing" coordination with Russia, Barr's letter suggests the possibility that, rather than "no evidence" of collusion, Mueller did find such evidence -- but similarly did not conclude it warranted a criminal prosecution.

Given Lawfare's obvious anti-Trump bent over the past two years, this seems to be more wishful thinking on the conspiracy/coordination evidence but of more import on the obstruction evidence: I obviously haven't seen the report (and neither have the Lawfare writers) but reading the tea leaves that obstruction is where the House Dems will get the most traction. However, since the standard for impeachment is also "beyond a reasonable doubt", regardless of how politically uncomfortable it gets for Trump, the fact that Special Counsel didn't find that the evidence of either conspiracy/coordination or obstruction rose to that level, the House will be hard pressed to argue otherwise.

#16 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2019-03-25 10:14 PM | Reply

#16

While your supposition may be true, it's also quite possible that Mueller was always operating from the standpoint that he was not able to indict a sitting President regardless of the evidence due to the DOJ memo, and that his report was written precisely to provide Congress with enough evidence for them to decide politically what to do.

Again, as we both recognize, until the report is public, everything is speculative because no one knows but for Barr, Mueller and Rosenstein (and any other DOJ personnel read-in).

#17 | Posted by tonyroma at 2019-03-25 10:25 PM | Reply

Given Lawfare's obvious anti-Trump bent ...

That's a reach. Wittes, yes as he acknowledged shortly after the election, though he's patted the Buffoon on the back a couple times. Other contributors are more balanced on issues beyond the cult of party/personality (which the blog generally eschews).

#18 | Posted by et_al at 2019-03-25 11:15 PM | Reply

"Saying that the investigation did not establish that there was collusion is not the same thing as saying that the investigation established that there was no collusion."

Is this like when JeffJ says partisans can be non-partisan?

#19 | Posted by snoofy at 2019-03-25 11:38 PM | Reply

There is no misreading.

100% innocent.

All of them.

I've read it here and seen it in the news for days.

I think I read here that the Barr summary proved that this was "the cleanest campaign in history."

I can't wait to read the full report, I'm certain it says exactly that.

#20 | Posted by MrSilenceDogood at 2019-03-26 05:59 AM | Reply | Funny: 1

#18

I disagree that it is a reach, but agree that a decent number of contributors try to hide their biases in either direction.

#21 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2019-03-26 12:52 PM | Reply

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