The media and diehard resistance Democratic politicians and pundits are going to do the same thing with the obstruction of justice issue they did for two years with collusion. It’s beginning with the invention of the false narrative that there’s a “fight” with Attorney General William Barr over releasing the special counsel investigation report to Congress.
It’s the old political hackery of demanding the inevitable. Everybody knows Barr will release everything he can lawfully disclose, and it seems at the moment that most of the obstruction evidence is derived from President Trump’s public actions and statements, which suggests evidence was obtained outside of otherwise restricted grand jury or classified channels and is releasable.
As with the two-year collusion narrative debacle, they’re projecting onto Barr all of their hopes and wishes of scandal, then packaging their unsubstantiated assumptions into a cable news panel argument as if it were actually occurring. It’s not.
As Barr clearly stated in his letter to Congress, “I am mindful of the public interest in this matter. For that reason, my goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel’s report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.”
Nothing about that statement says anything resembling what we’re hearing now from pundits and Democratic politicians talking about a “fight” to pry this information out of the clutches of a resistant attorney general. Blind to the lesson just delivered regarding rampant speculation under the guise of argument and debate, they’ve taken the extra step of characterizing the obstruction evidence as “substantial,” having seen nothing that the rest of us haven’t seen.
As is inevitably the case with lessons unlearned, they’re setting themselves up for another swat on the nose, but they can’t help themselves. It’s all they’ve got left, and they’re going to play it out as long as they can—even if it requires besmirching Barr’s character in advance of any actions that he’s taken, or is yet to take.
MSNBC’s Ari Melber’s comments Monday reflect this narrative:
We also learned last night in this letter there were other actions by Trump that Mueller analyzed as possible obstruction that, to this morning, have not been disclosed. And Barr, who is nothing if not a skilled lawyer, felt the need to cover himself. He felt the need to volunteer the fact that Mueller has those other disclosures that we haven’t heard yet and that he’s not putting out yet because Barr wanted to close that letter by trying to close the door on the Mueller report before it’s been read. That’s an important thing – history and the congress will judge how Barr is doing this, but he felt the need to say…there’s other stuff in there, and he didn’t release it yet.
Melber is referring to a segment in Barr’s letter wherein he describes the obstruction evidence as “acts by the president, most of which have been the subject of public reporting—that the Special Counsel raised as potentially raising obstruction-of-justice concerns” (emphasis added).
It is Melber’s considered opinion, shared by most of the commentariat holding forth this week, that what lies beneath “most of” is quite possibly the key to the lock that opens it all up for Congress to move on impeachment. This evidence is so potentially explosive, in Melber’s telling, that Barr “felt the need to cover himself” and “volunteer the fact that Mueller has those other disclosures.”
This sounds serious. And, if you’ve been paying attention to the hyperbolic sophistry of the last two years, it also sounds familiar.
As with almost every emerging blockbuster report of Trump-Russia collusion evidence, there exists within all of us the ability to consider facts in context that doesn’t necessarily default to the darkest side of the room.
In this case, it’s quite possible that Barr included the phrase “most of which” in describing the president’s acts, not as an attempt to “cover himself” while “trying to close the door on the Mueller report before it’s been read,” but—wait for it—perhaps simply because it’s the truth. In fact, the report has been read—by Barr—hence his knowledge and disclosure that not all of the “acts by the president” considered by Mueller were in the public domain.
If we’ve learned anything from the last two years, it’s that knee-jerk speculation of malign intent projected on unresolved questions isn’t necessarily a healthy way to live. Perhaps journalists would better serve their viewers by resisting the urge to assign evil intent to pending issues, such as whether an attorney general who has pledged to be as forthcoming as possible with disclosure of the Mueller report will follow through on his promise.
It’s been four days. One would think Barr is due at least a few more before declaring him a Trump stooge engaged in a massive cover-up to keep the American people from knowing the depth of President Trump’s obstructive mendacity.
As I said, it all sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We’re going to hear this nonsense about “fighting” for full disclosure of the report until the day it’s turned over to Congress, at which point one of two things will happen. Either Democrats in Congress will find enough information to support the Great Deflection from collusion to obstruction, or they won’t find enough information to support the Great Deflection but will pretend that they did.
Either way, they will fail to consider that those of us out here in the cheap seats have seen this play before, and we know how it ends. After two years of lies, misinformation, irresponsible and inaccurate leaks from anonymous sources, false representation of testimony and classified evidence by Democratic members of Congress, and unfounded speculation based on unverified information, we won’t believe them.
We’ll wait until we can read the evidence ourselves, and make our assessment independent of the calculated influence of the carnival barkers who brought us the Steele dossier and the Trump-Russia debacle. In the meantime, we’ll sit back and watch the “fight.”