“I don’t care about the Mueller report. I’ve been totally exonerated,” was what Donald Trump had to say to reporters last week. As laughable as that statement is, I don’t necessarily blame him for thinking that way. Much of the media has long reported William Barr’s summary of the Mueller Report as if it were a cloud lifted from the Trump administration. It’s not. Donald Trump and his supporters took one look at it, or maybe a look at the headlines about it, and thought “total exoneration.” It’s not.
What Donald Trump and most of his supporters failed to do was read, let alone read closely, or they would have realized that the truth is embedded in the summary – and it’s not good for Donald Trump. His willingness to distance himself from reality so openly, only serves to further suggest this.
“[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” is perhaps the sentence that stood out for most of us, the day the news broke. It seems disappointing to those of us who thought Trump got away with treason, and reassuring to his fans. But Barr specifically chose the word “establish” rather than “find” – the latter would imply that there was no evidence of conspiracy. It’s also not the first time that William Barr has been known to dance around the truth in such a way – and now it’s not just House Democrats or Robert Mueller’s team calling him on it.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton called out William Barr ahead of the report’s Thursday release, citing concerns about transparency. Walton, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, has offered to review the full report on his own, before the redacted report is released to the public, in order to determine if the Justice Department is yet again trying to mislead the public.
Not only is Judge Walton contemplating reviewing the report, but also giving it to media outlets like Buzzfeed, who requested the document through the Freedom of Information Act. It should be noteworthy to remember that the last time Barr misled Congress with one of his briefs, he was caught in the act when Congress subpoenaed the full report. His tactics didn’t work thirty years ago, and with the opposition he’s already facing, won’t work now.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making