Attorney General, William Barr is desperately trying to come across as a good guy. He has now released three letters about the Mueller report. In each letter he name drops Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and claims he is working with him. Clearly he is hoping Mueller’s stellar reputation will rub off and cover him.
Barr can no longer pull off the I’m-friends-with-Mueller narrative. In his second letter, Barr implied that Mueller shirked his responsibility to provide a decision about obstruction of justice charges against the President. That is no way to treat a friend. Barr’s latest letter denies that his earlier letter, which he described a high-level summary of the Mueller report, was meant to be a summary. Instead, he said it was only the bottom line conclusions. Barr reveals that the Mueller report is almost 400 pages long, and he promises to release it by April 15th.
Clearly, he is stalling, and attempting to buy Donald Trump two additional weeks to take his victory laps, and for people to lose interest in the Trump-Russia saga, and to entrench the view that it was settled in the President’s favor. Barr has also revealed that he is redacting a lot of material, including things that could be embarrassing to “peripheral” players.
These letters reveal two important things about Barr. First, he is not that savvy or impressive. His latest letter sounds rambling and defensive. All of Barr’s letters are the type of missteps people make when they lack confidence in the positions they are trying to defend. The other thing we’ve learned about Barr is that he does care about his reputation. In the letter he released today, he desperately tried to align himself with Mueller and with transparency, even as he listed the number of redactions he would make, and the amount of time he would delay the release of the report.
The letter Barr released today sounds like it was written by someone who was nervous. Barr tries to explain and walk-back his previous letter, and he blames readers and reporters for misinterpreting what he had written. Unlike Mueller, Barr seems to lack the confidence and wisdom to remain silent. He would have been better off.
Cheryl Kelley lives in the DC area with her husband and young son. She is active in government and politics.