The release of Attorney General William Barr’s “summary” of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report has launched Donald Trump into a dreamy state of narcissistic nirvana. For nearly two years, Trump has railed against Mueller’s team while being too scared to meet with them and answer questions under oath. Yet, Trump was delighted to proclaim that the report brought him total vindication. Although Trump’s latest word salad was predictable, it was also revealing.
If you somehow believe that Barr’s summary is a perfectly impartial and accurate recap of Mueller’s report, then you cannot also believe that Trump’s caveman-like translation of Barr’s summary is totally accurate. Here is what Trump said to the cameras before boarding Air Force One about obstruction: “There was no obstruction and none whatsoever, and it was a complete and total exoneration.” He echoed this sentiment in a tweet (“No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”) and in an email to supporters last night (“The Mueller Report proves what I have been saying since Day One: NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION — COMPLETE EXONERATION”).
By contrast, here is what Barr actually wrote in his summary about obstruction: “The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion – one way or the other – as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction… The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’” Barr went on to say that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and not Mueller, then decided on their own “that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
Perhaps even more revealing than Donald Trump’s chest-thumping was his silence on a very important matter. Trump did not even pretend to care that our democracy remains under attack by a foreign adversary. The Special Counsel’s core purpose was to examine Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the team’s efforts led to 199 criminal charges, 37 indictments or guilty pleas, and 5 prison sentences, according to Axios. Mueller’s report must contain valuable information about what the Russians did and how they did it.
As the President of the United States, Donald Trump should be quite eager to study the report so that he can take decisive action against the ongoing Russian threat. But Trump said nothing about how he is looking forward to getting to the bottom of what happened. It means Trump will continue working hard to protect himself, not the country.