This morning Palmer Report spelled out the two reasons why the page count of the Mueller report matters. First, if the report is very lengthy, the more evidence Mueller found that he felt was worth including – meaning the report is worse for Donald Trump and his team. Second, knowing the exact page count will make it more difficult for William Barr to disguise just how much of it he’s excluding when he inevitably releases a “version” of it. Now the page count saga has taken another strange turn.
Around noon eastern time, multiple major media outlets including CNN and the New York Times began reporting that according to unnamed sources, the Mueller report was more than 300 pages. This number deserved skepticism, because for all we know, the “source” could be William Barr himself, and he’s already demonstrated that he can’t be taken at his word when it comes to this report. Then, sure enough, other major news outlets acknowledged that the source was in fact Barr’s DOJ.
At the least, this told us that the report was indeed very lengthy and chock full of collusion and obstruction evidence. But then, by mid afternoon, MSNBC was announcing on air that its sources said the report was north of four hundred pages. Why would Barr’s DOJ announce that it was “more than three hundred pages” if it was actually more than four hundred pages? In such case, “more than three hundred pages” would be a technically true statement that was nonetheless completely misleading.
So what’s really going on here? Now that Barr’s original four page “summary” of the Mueller report has only served to raise suspicion and increase public demand to see the real report, Barr and Team Trump seem to be scrambling. Yesterday Trump’s own people contradicted each other about whether Trump would be allowed to edit the report before it’s released, and now Trump’s people may be trying to convince the public that the report is shorter than it really is, only to be contradicted by others with knowledge of the page count.
The longer this drags on, the more it looks like a sloppy attempt by Donald Trump and William Barr to bury the Mueller report and mislead the public into believing that it’s not worthy of being released. Mueller turned in his report six days ago, and Team Trump can’t even give anyone a straight story about how many pages it is. The messier this attempted coverup becomes, the more the public and the media will demand to simply see the entire report.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report