If Attorney General William Barr had made his “summary” of the Mueller report just a bit more believable, even while still slanting it heavily in Donald Trump’s favor, he might have pulled it off. But knowing Trump, he must have insisted that Barr go the cartoonish false vindication route, no matter how unlikely it was to succeed. No one bought the stunt for more than a hot minute, and now the truth is coming out. So now what?
Did William Barr really think this would work? Or was he merely doing whatever Donald Trump foolishly told him to do, knowing that it would likely fail? Either way, Barr doesn’t appear to have a Plan B, or at least not a viable one, or we’d have seen it by now. He’s already resorting to fallback positions as silly as retroactively claiming that his own summary wasn’t a “summary,” and claiming that he didn’t release Mueller’s own summaries because Mueller somehow marked them as not being for release. If this is all Barr has left, he has nothing.
This is going to get very ugly, rather fast. Robert Mueller’s own team is now asserting that Barr’s “summary” is a willful misrepresentation of what’s in the report, with regard to obstruction and collusion. This means we can’t even take Barr’s claims at face value about Mueller having found no collusion. Everything is on the table now.
So what will William Barr do? He’s clearly corrupt, or he wouldn’t be trying to bury the Mueller report. He clearly doesn’t care about his reputation, or he wouldn’t be lying about the Mueller report in such absurd fashion. But now that it’s all going to come out anyway, is he stupid enough to commit felony obstruction of justice in a futile effort to stop the inevitable?
If William Barr doesn’t try hard enough to keep suppressing the Mueller report, Donald Trump could fire him out of spite. But if Barr does keep trying to suppress and misrepresent the report, he runs the risk that after the 2020 election, the next administration could criminally indict him for his actions. Richard Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell went to prison for obstruction after Nixon was gone. So just how far down the rabbit hole is Barr willing to go? We’ll soon find out.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report