When Democrats heard last week that Robert Mueller would testify before the House judiciary and oversight committees on July 17, they were as giddy as a 72-year-old Jerry Nadler waiting to question Hope Hicks. But unless committee Republicans botch the hearing—something entirely possible—the left’s strategy of placing Mueller center stage in their continued attempts to underdo the results of the 2016 presidential election will backfire bigly.
Why? For the simple reason that Mueller’s 400-plus page report presented the worst the special counsel could muster against Trump, so any new revelations will play to the president’s advantage.
So, what should Republicans do to make the most of Mueller’s appearance, both politically and from an oversight perspective? Two things: (1) Leave the political grandstanding to the Democrats and (2) Ask the right questions.
While it might be tempting for Republicans on the Hill to speechify on the left’s continuing witch hunt or condemn the Democrats for wasting the committee’s time on a political stunt, the members on the right side of the aisle would be better served by approaching the hearings seriously. Republican committee members should let Trump score political points via Twitter and resist the urge to pose the “Sir, are you incompetent, or a political hack?” questions they may feel the special counsel deserves. Instead, conservatives should use their limited time to hit five key themes.
Mueller Found No Russia Collusion
Foremost, Republicans should ensure Mueller repeats the conclusion of the special counsel report—that there was no collusion—and while stressing the nearly limitless resources available to his team. While the right may believe everyone already knows there was no collusion, the Democratic debate opener on Wednesday night had both the hosts and participants continuing to push the narrative, proving the populace needs to hear the truth from Mueller’s mouth.
Isn’t it true, sir, that your team included 19 lawyers and approximately 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, and forensic accountants assisting in the investigation? Isn’t it true that over the course of nearly two years, your office issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, nearly 500 search warrants, more than 230 orders for the production of communications records, and obtained nearly 50 orders authorizing the use of pen registers?
Isn’t it true sir, that you made 13 evidence requests to foreign governments, interviewed at least 500 witnesses, and spent more than $30 million? Isn’t it true that your team reviewed approximately 1.4 million documents? Isn’t it true sir, that the special counsel office did not charge anyone connected with the Trump campaign with crimes related to collusion with Russia?
And isn’t it true sir that your nearly two-year investigation, run by 19 lawyers, about 40 FBI and other agents, that issued thousands of subpoenas and court orders, and reviewed 1.4 million documents, and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses, “did not establish that the [Trump] Campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference activities?”
This final question quotes directly from Mueller’s report. Conservatives would be well-served to incorporate the former special counsel’s actual language in their questions, as opposed to directing Mueller to provide a dramatic reading of the report. That was the Democrats’ approach when drilling Hicks last week on all things Trump-related. Having Mueller (or any witness) read from the report merely highlights the redundancy of the testimony and the congressional waste of time at play. Leave that specter to the Democrats.
There Was No Obstruction of Justice
After putting to bed the collusion case, Republicans must counter the Democrats’ likely focus—Part 2 of the special counsel’s report, which ruminates on possible obstruction of justice. Here, conservative committee members should not get bogged down in the details because the law is complex and the facts are complicated.
Rather, Republicans should use their limited time to focus on six points: (1) there was no underlying crime to obstruct; (2) Trump knew there was no underlying crime, yet the press, with the aid of leakers, pushed the collusion story, affecting Trump’s governance; (3) the theories of obstruction are easily refuted; (4) Mueller failed to follow the special counsel regulations that required him to make a charging or declination decision; (5) the special counsel’s theory of criminal liability is debatable; and (6) Mueller inverted the standard governing prosecutorial decisions from a presumption of innocence to a presumption of guilty. These points the general populace can follow, without understanding the legal intricacies or the detailed and conflicting factual basis for Mueller’s theory.
First, as Mueller’s report made clear, there was no collusion and thus no crime to obstruct. And Trump knew this. These big-picture facts far outweigh the minutia Democrats will rely upon to create the impression that the president sought to obstruct justice. A controlled questioning of Mueller will convey this point to the public and a reasonable populace will “get” that it’s nonsensical to think that Trump would obstruct justice when there was no crime to hide.
Mr. Mueller, you were asked many questions about some of the facts in Part 2 of your report, but I would like to zoom out and ask you a few big-picture questions. Isn’t it true evidence indicated that “the President believed that the purpose of the Russia investigation was to delegitimize his presidency?” Isn’t it also true that “evidence indicates that the President believed that the erroneous perception he was under investigation harmed his ability to manage domestic and foreign affairs, particularly in dealing with Russia?”
Sir, you also agreed in your earlier testimony, didn’t you, that the evidence “did not establish that the [Trump] Campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference activities? So, an obstruction case would argue that the president attempted to obstruct justice when there was no underlying crime? And when the president knew there was no underlying crime?
At the same time, though, Republicans should not allow Democrats to present, unanswered, facts that create the false impression that Trump obstructed justice. But, again, the key is to dismantle the ten supposed instances of obstruction without engaging in a detailed regurgitating of Mueller’s findings.
Some additional quick questions will serve this purpose: The president was angry about media leaks that falsely portrayed his dealings with Russia, wasn’t he? And isn’t it true that the president told former FBI director James “Comey that the ‘cloud’ of ‘this Russia business’ was making it difficult to run the country?”
Isn’t it true that Comey refused to publicly state what he was telling Trump privately—that the president was not under investigation? Isn’t it true that Trump was angry at Comey for failing to lift the “cloud” of “this Russian business” by telling the American people that he was not under investigation?
And isn’t it true that as the head of the executive branch, Trump had the power to fire the FBI director at will? Isn’t it also true that the president had the power to fire Jeff Sessions at will?
While there may be additional “facts” to push back on the obstruction narrative, the Republicans on the committees should resist the urge to re-litigate the matter. Instead, conservatives should confront Mueller with the special counsel regulations to expose Mueller’s failure to abide by controlling law, while highlighting (through the language used in the questioning) the harsh criticism Attorney General William Barr leveled at Mueller for abdication of his prosecutorial role.
Are you familiar with the regulations governing the special counsel? And 28 C.F.R. CFR § 600.8(c), expressly provides “at the conclusion of the Special Counsel’s work, he or she shall provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel,” doesn’t it? And when the word “shall” is used in a statute or regulation, it is a command, isn’t it? It means “must?”
Yet, in Part 2 of the special counsel report, you did not make a “prosecution” decision, did you? And you did not make a “declination decision” did you? Would you agree, that the very prosecutorial function, and the power to convene grand juries, serves only one purpose, to determine, yes or no, whether the alleged conduct was criminal or non-criminal? Would you agree that a prosecutor’s function is not to collect information and throw it out to the public?
After you failed to provide the attorney general a prosecution or declination decision, your boss, in consultation with Rod Rosenstein, rendered a decision, though, didn’t he? And that decision was that “the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense?” And you understand that Rosenstein agreed with that decision, yes? Rosenstein appointed you special counsel, didn’t he?
Related questions should focus on the timing of Mueller’s decision not to decide the obstruction charge, and how long that investigation continued after Mueller determined there was no underlying offense. As Barr noted during congressional testimony, “the other thing that was confusing to me was that the investigation carried out for a while as additional episodes were looked into, episodes involving the president. So my question is or was ‘Why were those investigated if at the end of the day you weren’t going to reach a decision on them?’” Barr added that once Mueller “felt that he should not go down the path of making a traditional prosecutive decision, . . . that was the time to pull up.”
Mr. Mueller, when did you first realize it was unlikely that you would find evidence of collusion? When did you concluded there was no evidence of collusion? How long did you continue to investigation possible obstruction after you concluded there was insufficient evidence of collusion to recommend charges? When did you decide you would not make a prosecution or declination decision on obstruction?
Yet, after you decide not to render a decision on obstruction, you continued to the special counsel investigation, correct? Are you aware sir, that Attorney General Barr stated that once you decided not to make a “prosecutive decision” “that was the time to pull up?” But you didn’t, did you?
And if the timing was such that Mueller had concluded there was no collusion prior to the 2018 mid-terms: Did it occur to you that, by not releasing the no-collusion conclusion, you played a role in affecting the 2018 midterm elections?
Next, Republicans should force Mueller to admit that there is a disagreement about the controlling obstruction of justice law. Here, they should ensure they do not lose the public in the weeds, or create the appearance that Trump escaped prosecution on a technicality. A few simple questions making this point is best.
Sir, not everyone in the Justice Department agreed with your theory of criminal liability for obstruction of justice, did they? Your theory is based on your interpretation of the statute and case law, isn’t it? And reasonable people could take issue with your analysis, couldn’t they? And in fact, the attorney general disagreed with your interpretation of the law, correct?
Finally, congressional Republicans should highlight how Mueller inverted the standard governing prosecutorial decisions. While the accused is entitled to a presumption of innocence, Mueller portended to be searching for evidence to prove Trump innocent.
Again, a series of simple questions will suffice to make this point: Isn’t it true, that in the American justice system, an accused is presumed innocent? And all Americans are entitled to the presumption of innocence, aren’t they? A prosecutor’s job is to determine whether evidence is sufficient to charge the accused with a crime, correct? A prosecutor is not charged with exonerating the accused, is he? A prosecutor is not charged with “conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred,” is he?
These points the general populace can follow, without understanding the legal intricacies or the detailed and conflicting factual basis for Mueller’s 200-pages of speculation on obstruction of justice.
Mueller Failed to Investigate Whether Russia Fed Steele Info to Affect the Election
After questioning Mueller on the points he did address in his report, the republicans should highlight what he did not address: “Not once in the 448-page tome does Mueller mention an investigation into whether Russia interfered with the U.S. presidential election by feeding dossier author Christopher Steele misinformation.”
Shortly after Barr released the special counsel’s final report, I detailed the significance of this omission, explaining that Mueller maintained in his report that he was authorized to investigate “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” yet “the report is silent of efforts to investigate Russia role in feeding Steele misinformation.”
We know it was misinformation because Mueller found no evidence of collusion. That means either the Russians fed Steele false intel that the former MI6 spy then relayed to the FBI and DOJ, or Steele lied about his Russian sources or intel. But since Mueller did not refer Steele for prosecution for lying to the FBI, it seems safe to assume the special counsel team discovered Russia had played Steele.
This point should be another main focus for Republicans when Mueller heads to the hill next month. Again, controlled questioning is key.
Isn’t it true, sir, that, as you stated in the special counsel report, you were authorized to investigate “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election”? Isn’t it true that you concluded Russia sought to “interfere in the 2016 presidential election” through a social media campaign and computer-intrusion operations?
But your report never discusses whether Russia attempted to interfere in our election by feeding Christopher Steele false intel, does it? The memorandum Steele provided to the FBI and DOJ identified a variety of Russia and Vladimir Putin-connected sources for his “intel,” didn’t they?
Steele identified Source A as “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure,” correct? And Source B was supposedly “a former top-level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin?” Source C was identified by Steele as a “Senior Russian Financial Officer,” correct? And Source G was claimed to be “a Senior Kremlin official,” correct?
There were several other purported Russian sources, weren’t there? Your team would have looked at these claims to determine whether anyone connected to the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, right? But you conclude there was insufficient evidence of collusion, correct?
Would you agree, then, that if Russia invented these so-called facts and fed them to Steele believing the information would make its way to U.S. intelligence sources, that would be a significant effort to interfere in our election? And if Steele lied about his Russian sources to the FBI, that would subject Steele to criminal liability, right?
Did you ever refer a criminal case against Steele? And your 400-plus page report does not mention any investigation into whether Russia interfered with our election by peddling this false information to Steele, does it? And feeding false intel about a presidential candidate to his opponent would qualify as interfering in an election, wouldn’t it? Such information could be more damaging than Russia’s social media efforts, couldn’t it?
Yet, you discussed Russia’s efforts to interfere in the election via social media in the report but you did not mention even once the possibility that Russia interfered in our election by peddling false intel to Steele, did you?
Republicans then need to stop. They should resist the temptation to force Mueller to explain the reason he ignored Russia’s much greater interference in our election. The point is clear and all Mueller will do if asked “why” he ignored the many Putin-connected plebes feeding Steele false intel is obfuscate. Conservatives shouldn’t give him the chance.
Mueller Omitted or Misrepresented Information in the Special Counsel Report
Next, Republicans on the House committees should highlight the misrepresentations in the Mueller report and the inexplicably missing information. Jeff Carlson identified several discrepancies in his article for The Epoch Times.
For example, the special counsel’s report selectively edited the transcript of a telephone message left by John Dowd, the personal attorney for the president, and the attorney for former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to create the impression Dowd was attempting to influence Flynn’s testimony.
The Mueller report excepted the message to read:
I understand your situation, but let me see if I can’t state it in starker terms. … [I]t wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve gone on to make a deal with … the government. … [I]f … there’s information that implicates the president, then we’ve got a national security issue, … so, you know, . . . we need some kind of heads up. Um, just for the sake of protecting all our interests if we can …. [R]emember what we’ve always said about the president and his feelings toward Flynn and, that still remains …
But Mueller’s team parsed Dowd’s message in the most damaging way possible to Trump. The fuller statement read:
I understand your situation, but let me see if I can’t state it in starker terms. If you have, and it wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve gone on to make a deal with, and, uh, work with the government, uh, I understand that you can’t join the joint defense; so that’s one thing. If, on the other hand, we have, there’s information that implicates the president, then we’ve got a national security issue, or maybe a national security issue, I don’t know some issue, we got to-we got to deal with, not only for the president, but for the country. So … uh … you know, then-then, you know, we need some kind of heads up. Um, just for the sake of … protecting all our interests, if we can, without you having to give up any … confidential information. So, uhm, and if it’s the former, then, you know, remember what we’ve always said about the president and his feelings toward Flynn and, that still remains.
Mueller should be asked about this omission. Sir, in your special counsel report, you quote from a telephone message in which Dowd stated that “if there’s information that implicates the president, then we’ve got a national security issue, so, you know, we need some kinds of heads up.” But isn’t it true that your report omitted the full content of Dowd’s message? Isn’t it true Dowd said they needed to address the national security issue “not only for the president, but for the country?”
Isn’t it also true that in his phone message Dowd requested a heads up, only if Flynn’s attorneys could “without you having to give up any confidential information?” The special counsel report didn’t include those details, though, did it?
Republicans questioning Mueller should follow a similar tack with the other inconsistencies and omission identified by the press. (Hopefully their staff has discovered more). Other ripe areas include the special counsel’s discussion of communications between former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and Giorgi Rtskhiladze. Mueller’s report branded Rtskhiladze a “Russian businessman,” but as a letter his lawyer sent to Barr stressed, Rtskhiladze was born in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia and has been a permanent resident of the United States for 23 years and a U.S. citizen since 2017.
In addition to this “mistake,” the Mueller report selectively edited texts between Rtskhiladze and Cohen, creating the impression that Rtskhiladze had buried tapes showing Trump misconduct. But as the full text exchanges made clear, and as Rtskhiladze told Mueller’s team, he did not know if any tapes even existed, nor who supposedly possessed any such tapes. Mueller should be forced to acknowledge these discrepancies for the record.
John Solomon at The Hill also exposed another Mueller misrepresentation. “In a key finding of the Mueller report,” Solomon explained, “Ukrainian businessman Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked for Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, is tied to Russian intelligence. But hundreds of pages of government documents—which special counsel Robert Mueller possessed since 2018—describe Kilimnik as a ‘sensitive’ intelligence source for the U.S. State Department who informed on Ukrainian and Russian matters.”
At The Federalist, Ben Weingarten noted several similar omissions from the special counsel’s report, starting with Carter Page: “In discussing Page’s background,” Weingarten wrote, “the Mueller report notes his contacts with Russian agents, who supposedly tried to recruit him as an asset, beginning in 2013. The report notes that those agents were charged by U.S. authorities in 2015. What the Mueller report omits is that Page effectively served as an FBI asset in helping the bureau make the case against at least one of the agents.”
Weingarten also showed Mueller’s manipulative discussion of Felix Sater’s connections to Russia:
The Mueller report describes Felix Sater as a ‘New York-based real estate advisor’ who worked with and lobbied disgraced former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen extensively in an effort to execute the Trump Tower Moscow project, touting its political benefits and the ability to garner support from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Not mentioned is Sater’s colorful background: The Soviet Union-born Sater spun a stock swindling conviction into a lengthy career as a major CIA, DIA, and FBI asset, participating in numerous critical operations.
While Mueller will likely refuse to answer specific questions concerning whether Kilimnik served as a “sensitive intelligence source,” Sater as a CIA, DIA, and FBI assets, and Page as an FBI informant, he can still be questioned on whether he would have included that information.
Throughout your report, sir, you highlight various individuals’ connections to Russia. Did your report also indicate whether any of those individuals had previously served as intelligence sources or informants for America or her allies? To your knowledge, did any of the individuals identified in your report as being connected to Russia also serve as intelligence sources, asset or informants for the United States?
If an individual connected to Russia had also served as an intelligence source, assets, or informant for our country, wouldn’t that negate the sinister implication their connections to Russia might otherwise suggest? Yet those facts were not included in your report, were they?
There are yet more omissions and misrepresentations, as Weingarten explained. The special counsel’s report similarly skipped “critical information about Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.” Veselnitskaya was the Russian attorney involved in “the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower ‘bombshell’ turned dud meeting.”
While detailing that meeting, however, Mueller failed to “mention that Veselnitskaya (i) worked with Fusion GPS on behalf of Russian clients, and (ii) met with Simpson the morning of the Trump Tower meeting, as well as the night before and after it . . . Also unclear, and undisclosed, is why the Justice Department granted Veselnitskaya special entry to the United States multiple times in 2015 and 2016.”
Weingarten also highlighted the special counsel’s references to contacts between Roger Stone and Trump campaign advisor Michael Caputo “with a Russian citizen named Henry Oknyansky. Oknyansky and an associate supposedly came to Stone by way of Caputo seeking to sell ‘derogatory information’ on Hillary Clinton. Stone rebuffed them. Left unstated: Oknyansky, according to federal court filings and 14 visa waivers, has been an FBI informant for nearly two decades.”
Then there is the dearth of discussion of information—presumably highly relevant to investigating the supposed Russia collusion—that originated from Western intelligence sources, or individuals connected to Western intelligence agencies. There is no mention of dossier-author Steele (see above), or Stefan Halper, the spy who made contact with both Page and campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos.
Mueller’s report was also sparse in its coverage of Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud, even though it was Mifsud’s supposed tip to Papadopoulos that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails that purportedly launched the investigation into the Trump campaign. The special counsel’s report noted that Mifsud told FBI agents during a February 2017 interview that “he and Papadopoulos had discussed cybersecurity and hacking as a larger issue and that Papadopoulos must have misunderstood their conversation.”
But according to Mueller, Mifsud “falsely claimed he did not meet with Papadopoulos after his initial introductory meeting” with a woman posing as Putin’s niece. Although the Mueller report noted that “emails, text messages and other documentation showed Mifsud and Papadopoulos did meet at least two other times, as Papadopoulos claimed,” the special counsel did not charge Mifsud for lying to agents, as they had Papadopoulos. And Mueller’s team had no problem indicting other presumably unreachable Russians for interfering in our election. Why not Mifsud?
There is also a conflict in the Mueller report concerning Papadopoulos’ meeting with Australian diplomat Alexander Downer. As Carlson detailed, “the Mueller report notes that ‘on May 6, 2016, 10 days after that meeting with Mifsud, Papadopoulos suggested to a representative of a foreign government that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton.’”
But “publicly available information has always shown that Papadopoulos met with Downer on May 10th—and both Downer and the Australian government appear to stand by this date.” This conflict could be a press mistake, sloppiness on the part of the Mueller team, or suggest something more. Republicans should confirm the accuracy of the May 6, 2016 meeting date during Muller’s upcoming hearing.
Another area of concern? Mueller’s reliance on “the testimony of George Nader, who is mentioned more than 100 times in the Mueller report.” Carlson explained in The Epoch Times that Nader’s role involved arranging “a meeting between Kirill Dmitriev, a Russian national who heads Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, and Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, during the transition period following the 2016 presidential election.”
Then came Nader’s June 3, 2019 arrest on child pornography charges. As details emerged, it appeared that the FBI knew Nader had child pornography on his cell phones at the time he was cooperating with the special counsel team. Yet he was not indicted until after he had already left the country.
While the FBI succeeded in arresting Nader when he returned to the states, the failure to charge him earlier could have instead allowed a child predator to go free. Mueller should be quizzed on his knowledge of Nader’s offense and efforts agents took to ensure he did not flee the country.
After drilling Mueller on these misrepresentations and omissions, House Republicans should query him on what other aspects of his investigation he omitted from the report and the basis for his decision. In the report, Mueller acknowledged that “not all of the intelligence and counterintelligence information derived from the special counsel investigation was included in the report.” While that is understandable—the report by nature is a summary—it appears that Mueller’s demarcation line focused on the effect the evidence would have on Trump: harmful information was included, while exculpatory evidence was buried.
Sir, you note that not all information derived from your investigation was included in the report. Was there additional evidence indicating that Trump colluded with Russia? Which members of your team were involved in making the determination of whether to include the information in the report? And what standard did they use?
That last question is a gotcha because Mueller already stated that the report contains only the “information necessary to account for the Special Counsel’s prosecution and declination decisions and to describe the investigation’s main factual results.” Once Mueller repeats this standard, House conservatives should pounce: Isn’t it true, sir, that Part 2 of the report ran more than 200 pages? And isn’t it true that you did not reach a “prosecution” or “declination” decision in Part 2?
Bias Colored Mueller’s Report and Raises Concerns About Conduct
Finally, Republicans should ask Mueller about a variety of issues that suggest an anti-Trump bias colored the special counsel investigation, compilation of the report, and his conduct after releasing his report.
A good starting point will be to quiz Mueller on his team’s bias. Is it true that Andrew Weissmann served as your one of your top prosecutors? Was he your number two man? Were you aware when you selected Weissmann to lead your team that he had sent an email to former acting attorney general Sally Yates praising her insubordination to the president? (If Mueller bristles as the insubordination characterization, all the better to expose his own bias.)
Did you know he told Yates “I am so proud”? Yet you still choose him to lead an investigation into the president of the United States? And did Weissmann select the other team members? Did he have a role in selecting Peter Strzok and Lisa Page?
Sir, are you aware that Weissmann had pursued a theory of criminal liability that the Supreme Court later reversed in a 9-0 decision? And are you aware that that decision only came after Weissmann secured the criminal conviction of Arthur Anderson on that flawed legal theory? Arthur Anderson went out of business and tens-of-thousands of employees lost their jobs as a result, didn’t they?
Were you involved in that case, by the way? Had you agreed with Weissmann’s flawed legal theory? And did Weissmann agree with your theory of obstruction set forth in the special counsel’s report, the theory that the attorney general has concluded is flawed?
After highlighting the bias held at the top, the committee Republicans should determine if Weissmann (or someone else) was to blame for the special counsel’s failure to identify grand jury materials in the final report.
In his congressional testimony, Attorney General William Barr stated that he had asked Mueller’s office on multiple occasions to identify grand jury information in the final report so Barr could quickly review and redact the necessary portions of the report and promptly release it in full to the public. But the special counsel’s office ignored Barr’s directive, delaying the release of the full report.
Barr explained that he released the bottom-line results of the report because the time needed to redact grand jury and other material would necessarily create “a gap between the receipt of the report and getting the full report out publicly.” Barr also testified that offered to allow Mueller to review the draft before he its release; Mueller demurred.
But then after Barr released the bottom-line results of the probe, Mueller sent the attorney general a “snitty” letter—likely written by a staffer—asking Barr to release the executive summary from the special counsel report. Barr refused. Soon after, the press began reporting on claims that members of the special counsel team disagreed with Barr’s synopsis of the report and claimed it was misleading. Barr later released Mueller’s letter, which acknowledged that Barr had accurately summarized the report, but that the press’ reporting was misleading.
This sequence of facts suggests that the special counsel’s office sought to delay release of the findings until they had time to build an anti-Trump narrative, but that the plan failed when Barr issued the bottom-line conclusion of no collusion and no charges on obstruction. Mueller must explain these circumstances.
Sir, isn’t it true that Barr asked the special counsel’s office multiple times to identify grand jury material in the final report? Isn’t it true Barr made that request at least a month before you submitted the final report? Whom did you charge to identify grand jury materials? Did that individual inform you that he or she would not identify the grand jury materials, as Barr had directed?
Did you tell Barr before submitted the final report that you hadn’t identified the grand jury materials? Is it true that Barr offered to allow you to review his release of a summary of the conclusions, but that you did not accept that offer? So, you didn’t review the bottom-line summary Barr wrote before he released it, even though he offered you the chance?
But afterward, you wrote a letter to Barr complaining that Barr’s summary was being misrepresented, correct? Yet you agree, don’t you, that Barr’s letter was accurate? Was that letter your idea? Why didn’t you just call Barr? Did you leak to the press information about your disagreement with Barr? Do you know who leaked that information to the press? How many members of your team knew about the letter to Barr and your request to release the executive summaries? Who were those individuals?
Finally, since we are talking about the grand jury materials: It is illegal to release grand jury material publicly, correct? What about to Congress? Would it be illegal for you to provide that grand jury information to Congress? So the president and attorney general cannot release an unredacted copy of your report to Congress without breaking the law, correct?
There are many other questions deserving of answers, especially concerning the misconduct by DOJ and FBI agents (and others), as well as the true impetus for launching an investigation into the Trump campaign. But Mueller’s report did not touch on those issues and he is unlikely to have investigated (or fully investigated) those questions.
Republicans should leave those issues to Barr and focus instead on the questions Mueller can and should answer. Even if he refuses, Republicans can still expose the public to the many facts Mueller and the media have buried—just by asking the right questions.