What The Mueller Report Is And Isn’t

I am skipping over the memo by Attorney General William Barr to wait for the full Mueller report before I start parsing sentences and paragraphs.

I would like to remind us all of Rod Rosenstein’s charge to Robert Mueller as special counsel. Here is the meat of it.

The scope was open and potentially wide ranging. But time was important – The report needed to come out before the 2020 election campaign to avoid the mess that Comey stumbled into in 2016. It seems reasonable for Mueller to have defined his scope tightly.

That scope could include prosecuting federal crimes, as in (c), but that was not the primary objective. The investigation mentioned in paragraph (b) was a counterintelligence investigation, for which ascertaining the facts of the case relative to (i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.

This was an investigation, not a trial. So claims of exoneration and expectation of a case for guilt are equally inappropriate. On possible obstruction of justice by Trump, Barr quotes Mueller as not making a judgment.

Mueller’s investigation resulted in 199 criminal charges, 37 indictments or guilty pleas, and 5 prison sentences. Many of those, like against Michael Cohen for paying off women who had had sex with Trump, seem peripheral to the question of Russian involvement. It’s possible that they were obvious enough and perhaps could motivate witnesses to speak on other matters.

Many expectations of Mueller’s investigation were unrealistic. It was never intended to verify or disprove the material in the Steele dossier. Apparently Mueller did not feel it was intended to be an exhaustive examination of all possible Russian links, although the words of the charge seem to allow for that. The large number of Russian attempts at linkage and coordination may have precluded such an exhaustive examination within the time available.

That is an issue on which the report itself is essential. We have seen many actions suggesting that there was interest on the part of the Russians and the Trump campaign in actions that would hurt Hillary Clinton. We need to understand why Mueller concluded there was no linkage or coordination.

The report in no way absolves Trump of possible violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, inappropriate granting of security clearances to his children and other nepotism, his constant lies, his erratic and dangerous conduct of foreign policy, his understaffing of the government, and possible human rights violations like separating families seeking asylum at the border.

Impeachment never required that Mueller charge Trump with statutory crimes. Such a conclusion would have been convenient, but Trump’s malfeasance in office continues. Now it is up to Congress to decide what comes next.






122 replies
  1. 1
    patrick II says:

    So, Stone has already been indicted by the DC grand jury. Wasn’t Mueller running that grand jury? If Mueller goes home, who is taking that up?

  2. 2
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Cheryl, I haven’t even read your post yet (I will in a minute), but just wanted to say how much I’ve missed your wise commentary the last several weeks. Welcome back!

  3. 3
  4. 4
    Hitlesswonder says:

    The Mueller Report is an official complete and total exoneration of President Trump. Full stop.

    It’s amazing that all those documented contacts with Russia ended up with this result while Hillary’s e-mails demanded a much more equivocal resolution. This country is screwed.

  5. 5
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    I hope the kittehs are thriving.

  6. 6

    @Hitlesswonder: If you have access to the report, please share!

  7. 7
    Sandia Blanca says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Agree completely–good to see Cheryl back on this page.

  8. 8
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    We have seen many actions suggesting that there was interest on the part of the Russians and the Trump campaign in actions that would hurt Hillary Clinton. We need to understand why Mueller concluded there was no linkage or coordination.

    And if House committees don’t get Mueller and/or key members of Mueller’s team to testify before them under oath, then they are in dereliction.

    Happily, I have greater confidence right now in most House Democrats than I do in just about any other institution.

  9. 9

    This evidence doesn’t go away.

  10. 10
  11. 11
    Suzanne says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Yes, you have been missed.

  12. 12
    NotMax says:

    How dare you bring common sense into a blog discussion?

    :)⁳

  13. 13
    chris says:

    Impeachment never required that Mueller charge Trump with statutory crimes. Such a conclusion would have been convenient, but Trump’s malfeasance in office continues. Now it is up to Congress to decide what comes next.

    Well said. Good to see you, Cheryl.

  14. 14

    @NotMax: Gentlemen, there’s no fighting in the War Room.

  15. 15
    Jay says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Much more polite response than I was going to write.

  16. 16

    I am skipping over the memo by Attorney General William Barr to wait for the full Mueller report before I start parsing sentences and paragraphs.

    That seems wise to me.

  17. 17
    debbie says:

    4. If you know a foreign power has kompromat on you, my guess is you don’t talk about it. With anyone. Ever.

    I don’t think Trump is capable of never talking about something.

  18. 18
    JaySinWA says:

    b.i and b.ii limit the probe to links to Russian government and matters arising out of that investigation.
    I was curious about b.iii

    § 600.4 Jurisdiction.
    (a)Original jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of a Special Counsel shall be established by the Attorney General. The Special Counsel will be provided with a specific factual statement of the matter to be investigated. The jurisdiction of a Special Counsel shall also include the authority to investigate and prosecute federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, the Special Counsel’s investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses; and to conduct appeals arising out of the matter being investigated and/or prosecuted.

    I had mistakenly assumed any foreign interference was the subject matter.

  19. 19
    ola azul says:

    @Hitlesswonder:

    Unaware how you could know what you claim.

    Think the germane, and depressing, and infuriating, point is that BagmanBob (veteran cleaner of the Iran-Contra crime syndicate!) is try’nta put lipstick on the pig, i.e. put the absolute best face on whatever is contained in the Mueller Report — cuz that’s why he was hired.

    There’s a long ways to go yet, but the CoverupBarrNone letter lays down a marker at the very highest level — he/they intend to spurt clouds and clouds of opaque squid ink to try’n minimize all.

  20. 20
    Mike J says:

    Keep in mind that the report in no way clears Trump of conspiracy. Barr said it doesn’t prove it. The LAPD never proved OJ Simpson murdered anybody, but people have very strong opinions about it.

  21. 21
    Mike J says:

    @Mike J: Or in other words, there’s a difference between “doesn’t prove he did” and “proves he didn’t.”

  22. 22
    raven says:

    I’ve missed you as well. I don’t say much on your threads, I just read and learn. Don’t let these dorks keep you dow

  23. 23
    The Dangerman says:

    Sorry for the OT so early, but if you hate Duke, they are getting a great game from UCF today. UCF zones (they are mixing and matching) really has Duke confused.

  24. 24
    Mart says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Yes, it is great to see Ms. Rofer back on the blog.

  25. 25
    raven says:

    @The Dangerman: Hey, saw your note, my brother is Pinks manager. They’d love to see you in SLO!

  26. 26
    FelonyGovt says:

    Thank you, Cheryl, and it’s really good to see you back.

    I think waiting until we see the full report (and I suspect we’ll wind up seeing most of it) is wise.

  27. 27

    Welcome back, woman in science!

  28. 28
    James E Powell says:

    I am skipping over the memo by Attorney General William Barr to wait for the full Mueller report before I start parsing sentences and paragraphs.

    But that flies in the face of all internet traditions.

  29. 29
    The Dangerman says:

    @raven:

    They’d love to see you in SLO!

    I’ll probably be there!

    Damn, Duke was done. Fuck!!

  30. 30
    geg6 says:

    We’re never going to see the report. Barr will lie straight up to Congress and stonewall forever. Mueller will not testify or will refuse to answer. We’re a failed country. Get used to it.

  31. 31

    @James E Powell: Although we are aware of all internet traditions, we are not required to follow them.

  32. 32
    raven says:

    @The Dangerman: TWO shots roll off. The alley-oop killed em.

  33. 33
    B.B.A. says:

    @geg6: Life is meaningless. Eat at Arby’s.

  34. 34
    piratedan says:

    my thinking is, what would you expect from the AG that let Ollie North walk when there’s an unspoken mandate to protect the President at all costs if he’s got an R party affiliation, so this “interpretation” of the report is pretty much expected. What bothers me the most is having to combat the prevalent media narrative setting that is already now in place because its now proven that Trump is innocent. How will the media walk back this narrative now that everyone and their sister has heard all of these special reports exonerating the President? How can the Dems defeat the “witch hunt” narrative that has been persistently crowed by the President that could eventually take root with what the media has laid down as the foundation of their reporting?

    This is part of our problem of deprogramming all of these unknowing folks and true believers when the media does this shit and no actual analysis of the report is being performed, other than those beholden to the President himself.

  35. 35
    Aleta says:

    Thanks Cheryl.
    I know you’ve been busy and also traveling, but you do class up the joint when you’re here. Appreciate your clarity.

  36. 36

    Welcome back, Cheryl! I’ve missed your insights.

    Barr is clearly trying to spin things in the best light, and clearly phrasing things carefully. I.e. given how other things in Trumpworld were carried out based on a wink and an understanding, it wouldn’t surprise that there’s no direct connection between Trump and the Russians. Doesn’t mean there wasn’t evidence involving cutouts.

    Again, if the Mueller report truly cleared Trump, his family, surrogates, etc. the full report would’ve been released or leaked as soon as it was turned in.

  37. 37
    The Dangerman says:

    @raven:

    The alley-oop killed em.

    Yup, if that gets converted, it’s 6 and it’s almost game.

    To be fair to Duke. I don’t think the ball hit the iron when the clock reset. Damn close either way and not reversing was right call, but if it grazed, it was by the slimmest of grazes.

    Great, great ballgame. Fall is going to play in the league a long time and Zion is gonna be a very wealthy man here soon.

    ETA: Damn, if Fall was in for that last play, Duke goes home.

  38. 38
    Mnemosyne says:

    This is when I kind of wish the US had adopted the Scottish system of law that allows for three possible verdicts: guilty, not guilty, and not proven. As I understand it, that last one basically means We’re pretty sure that you’re guilty, but the prosecutor was unable to prove their case, so watch yourself.

    Note: I am not a lawyer, even in Scotland.

  39. 39
    Chris Johnson says:

    Trollskis CARPETING this place and Twitter all talking about how effective this ploy was and how the Democrats will just give up now.

    I’m not ready to conclude anything. We know just how heavily social media and all internet-accessible places are swarmed with trollskis. They’re most certainly here too, both as drive-bys and embedded (this is a swing voter forum).

    The Saturday Night Massacre was a desperation move. We haven’t heard the end of this (or indeed one full sentence out of Mueller’s report). Here’s hoping he stashed a copy somewhere before enjoying his polonium tea as the traitors try REALLY HARD to brazen out what’s happening and Pravda it up.

    That is now apparently the American way.

  40. 40
    khead says:

    Scott Pelley just said Trump was “exonerated” on 60 Minutes.

  41. 41
    Another Scott says:

    @piratedan: You point out a problem, but I don’t think it’s a big one. We know that the modern press has no sense of or, use for, history. But be that as it may, the mainstream press isn’t driving history any more.

    The House committees are going to do their jobs. We might as well accept that it’s going to take time. Let the lazy reporters take statements from Donnie’s supporters at face value. Once Mueller’s actual evidence and statements and rationale come out (as they will) the press will cover it and these 6 hour old comments will become “no-longer operative”.

    We can’t control how others react to the news.

    We’ll see what happens…

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  42. 42
    MomSense says:

    Oh god, someone needs to stage an intervention for James Comey. His twitter right now is whack.

  43. 43
    Dan B says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Good to have you back here breaking all internet rules!

  44. 44
    MomSense says:

    @khead:

    Like I said in an earlier thread, the narrative is set.

  45. 45
    The Dangerman says:

    @khead:

    Scott Pelley just said Trump was “exonerated” on 60 Minutes.

    CBS is being a dick; tomorrow (I think), they are doing a special on the Mueller Report, which is not right. It’s the Barr Report (yeah, I know, you all know that).

  46. 46
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Mnemosyne: in the US legal system, not guilty=not proven. There is no “innocent”.

  47. 47

    Rs and T have one skill they can play Ds and media including the liberal blogs like a fiddle. 80% of the comments here are about how everything is lost and we are forever doomed.

  48. 48
    hilts says:

    Claims of exoneration and expectation of a case for guilt are equally inappropriate.

    Cheryl, thanks for being a voice of sanity. There’s an avalanche of stupidity emanating from cable news reporters regarding the findings of this report

    CNN’s Dana Bash pointed out that the letter said Mueller found no Trump campaign member guilty of conspiring with the Russians in their efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.

    “It is, in fairness, what the president has been saying,” Bash added.

    CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz said Trump’s legal team should be “so thrilled” with Mueller’s report.

    “This is a win for this president, who now for two years has essentially been screaming, there was no Russian collusion,” Prokupecz said. “He is backed up by Mueller.”

    Over at NBC News, reporter Ken Delanian agreed, writing in a tweet: “this is a total legal exoneration of the president. Congress will want to know more, of course. But the topline: No conspiracy, no obstruction.”

    h/t https://www.mediaite.com/tv/cnn-analyzes-mueller-report-the-president-has-just-been-exonerated

  49. 49
    eemom says:

    @geg6:

    Oh take a valium for fuck’s sake. Your jaded schtick is so threadbare at this point we can all see right through to your ass.

  50. 50
    raven says:

    @The Dangerman: Yea and Zion charged twice on one play. Funny game it is.

    eta, oops the no charge arc. One charge.

  51. 51
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Hitlesswonder:
    One of the few sentence fragments Barr included was

    The Special Counsel states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

    So, no.

  52. 52
    banditqueen says:

    The range of views on Barr’s decision not to prosecute doesn’t surprise me at all. Because no matter what your view is today, tomorrow, etc, Pelosi, Schiff, Nadler, Lieu, et al will do the work needed to bring the *resident’s malfeasance to the public. Cheryl, thank you for your analysis of what’s happening as this process begins to unfold.

  53. 53

    Here’s more from three commentators I trust:

    Popehat

    Neal Katyal

    Lawfare

    They all conclude that we need to see the report itself.

    I am concerned that idiot reporters are taking Trump’s spin on this. It will be harder to break through the narrative.

  54. 54
    SenyorDave says:

    Scott Pelley just said Trump was “exonerated” on 60 Minutes.

    An American public that has seen Trump’s behavior normalized (paying off porno stars, constant provable lies, trashing a dead man, etc. will accept that Trump has been totally exonerated. The ones who say wait a second aren’t the ones that matter in this case.

    The Democrats need to force the report to be public.

  55. 55
    joel hanes says:

    Cheryl : very very glad to see you back on the front page.

  56. 56
    The Dangerman says:

    @raven:

    Yea and Zion charged twice on one play.

    Last play when they needed 3 to tie (and fouled out Fall)? Yeah, that was a charge.

    Again, being fair to Duke, Zion’s 4th foul, also a charge, was a flop.

    If I was his future agent, I’d be pissed right now (Zion slipped in the 1H and kinda tweaked an ankle). An ankle sprain and he’s still a zillionaire. Tear an achilles and hope the insurance pays off.

  57. 57
    Jay says:

    Calling it quits in the Barr Report threads,

    All the fukn Eeores and Doomers.

    Gonna have a glass or two of a nice merlot, pet the cats and come back later when there’s a new thread.

    👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍 to all the sane ones here.

    And fuk the fukn MSM.

  58. 58
    raven says:

    @The Dangerman: I’m not complaining about the officiating, if you get the rock and time to score down one that’s all you can ask. (says an Illini fan whose team had one shot to beat Carolina in the championship game.)

  59. 59

  60. 60
    Chris Johnson says:

    Watch closely for which posters are persistently saying it’s all over and everything is lost.

    Watch closely for which media outlets are claiming they have a full and conclusive answer based on a hilariously spun mad-libs of incomplete sentences by an obvious political hack.

    EXACTLY who is making a really big noise about how this is the end of the story? Exactly who is concluding that we’re done with this part, that we know what Mueller said without having seen even one complete sentence, and that we must roll over and die nobly as all our institutions are sadly lost?

    I call muchos bullshit. TRUCKS of bullshit. And very heavy troll presence, and this is a time to watch closely for who is calling for what, and claiming what. Masks are coming off, I think.

  61. 61
    Mike in NC says:

    @SenyorDave: Barr’s slanted report was intended for an audience of one. It was why he was hired. He’ll now get invited to golf at Mar-A-Lago and get two scoops of ice cream. BFD. Nobody who isn’t a deplorable believes Barr. I trust the House Democrats to continue with those 17+ investigations into this crime cartel.

  62. 62
    Cowgirl in the Sandi says:

    I don’t comment much, but echoing others – it’s so good to see you commenting again Cheryl. I have been worried that previous threads drove you away – am glad to see it’s not true. Hope to see much more of your thoughts in the future.

  63. 63
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    All those pronouncements of “complete exoneration” in the press neglect an incontrovertible fact: Trump said he fired Comey “because of the Russia thing,” and we have it on tape. Mueller may have foregone making any conclusions, but I won’t.

    Also too: Cheryl says “It’s now up to Congress.” I think we have seen how the GOP is going to play it. It’s down to Nancy and the House.

  64. 64
    SenyorDave says:

    @Mike in NC: There is maybe 15% of the American electorate who need to be convinced about Trump. 45% or so will never, ever vote for him, and about 40% will absolutely vote for him. The other 15% is pretty damn wishy-washy. Some of those 15% will be swayed by this. Hopefully it is temporary, and more bad stuff comes out, maybe indictments on his evil spawn. But I think it does matter, at least for now.
    Agree to disagree.

  65. 65

  66. 66

  67. 67

    Thanks to everyone for the kind words.

  68. 68
    ola azul says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Here’s more from three commentators I trust:

    Popehat

    Neal Katyal

    Lawfare

    They all conclude that we need to see the report itself.

    I am concerned that idiot reporters are taking Trump’s spin on this. It will be harder to break through the narrative.

    Agreed (and welcome back, btw; your probative and informed-speculative commentary is much valued).

    Will say tho: lotta cross-currents is swirling here. And while it’s best to wait and see what the Mueller Report actually sez (vs. what BagmanBarr wants us to think it sez), it also must be said: It’s best cuz that’s all we can do. And, riffing on your concern about the idiot media adopting Barr’s spin, ya, that’s why this is so depressing and infuriating.

    Barr is managing the message. It’s quite clearly deliberate. And it’s to establish the response. (Viz. Scott Pelley claiming Trump is “exonerated”.) That Barr’s representation provides the absolute best soft-landing for the Mueller Report and the Trump admin *and* divides and demoralizes the opposition is its raison d’etre.

    I get the (sometimes helpful, sometimes incendiary) point many are making to the gloomiest among us to calm the fuck down. Yes. Cuz what the fuck else can we do?

    But the gloomiest among us are feeling demoralized precisely because you don’t getta second opp to reframe the narrative. The baseline understanding of the Mueller Report after years of investigation is, tx. to BagmanBob, is, at worst, “shit-happens!-whatddya-gonna-do?”, and, at best, “we-gotta-wait-n-see-if-squid-ink-is-in-fact-murky”.

    Problem being: the damage is already done.

    Reminds me of when Comey put his oar in the water on the Oct. eve of the election contra DoJ policy and threw the election to Trump. Ya, the story changed later, but: the damage was done.

    All’s we can do is make the best of the shit-show we are living thru, and patiently and doggedly revise the script as more reliable info becomes available, but, to repeat: the damage is already done.

    Think that’s (among a great many reasons) why folks’re so frustrated and despondent.

    imo

  69. 69
    chris says:

    See also this thread from Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics:

    1/ Thread: With Barr having delivered a bare bones summary of the Mueller report to Congress, let’s remember that what we already knew about Trump is so terrible that any other president would have been impeached and removed from office.— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) 24 March 2019

  70. 70
    HeleninEire says:

    @eemom: Hi eemom. Love you (some of the time ;)).This is not about geg6; love you too.

    But here is my perspective. I left the US on November 15, 2016. Not because of Trump. It was a long planned move. I, like everyone else, thought Hillary would win. I spent 2+ years in a country and city that I absolutely love. It was, at that time, a permanent move.

    2 years, 3 months later I chose to return. During those 2+ years I paid 100% attention to what was going on in America. And I chose to return anyway.

    I am as pissed off as everyone here today. But we can fix this.

    In the words of Winston Churchill (who was 1/2 American) “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing after they have tried everything else.”

  71. 71
    banditqueen says:

    @Jay: People will react the way they need to–Pelosi, Schiff, Nadler, Lieu, AOC, etc will do the work that needs to be done.

  72. 72
    Fuzz says:

    The despair, despite the fact that the full report is not out yet, comes from the fact that as @ola azul just said, the narrative is now completely on Trump’s side. He has, amazingly, been given a certain amount of vindication and thus credibility. He will be able to say, rightly, “I told you there was no collusion all along.” As Ola says, the damage has been done. Now the democrats are fighting against the narrative and will have to swim upstream.

    Plus we need to be honest. This was supposed to be the beginning of the process of ridding the country of Trump. The events of today have made it abundantly clear that will not be happening anytime soon. The framing of this report, even if it was only implied and hoped for by a lot of us, was that this would be the beginning of the end and major crimes tied directly to Trump’s relationship with Russia would be there. To have quotes directly from the report itself (not Barr, Barr quoting the actual report) saying there is no collusion at all is very devastating.

  73. 73
    ola azul says:

    @Chris Johnson:

    Your premise that peoples’ understandable frustration with the rollout of the BagmanBob representation of the Mueller Report perforce is evidence of trollery is, imo, wanting. People are angry and are speaking from feeling. I don’t happen to share their view, but it don’t make ’em trolls.

    It just makes ’em peeps who aren’t making critical distinctions (cuz they’re mad and/or sad as fuck), a principle you might do well to reflect upon.

    Reactionaryism is got two sides to that coin.

  74. 74
    James E Powell says:

    @hilts:

    Within 48 hours, that avalanche of stupidity will harden into what passes for truth in the press/media.

  75. 75
    Bill Arnold says:

    @ola azul:

    Problem being: the damage is already done.

    No, it’s not done. Well, some has. But the letter is short and it clearly quotes a sentence fragment from the Mueller report (re obstruction):

    The Special Counsel states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

    And some in the press are noticing that this does not square with the “Full Exoneration” narrative. They need to be pushed on. Late-day sunday press cycles stretch into Monday.
    It is a bit depressing that the press are mostly not noticing that the Barr letter is a designed to shape a narrative. But it can be fixed, to some extent.

  76. 76
    Sebastian says:

    @Chris Johnson:

    Well said. Eyes on the ball, folks. This was their best shot, now let’s see the report.

  77. 77
    Will says:

    @The Dangerman: I can’t stand the commercial CBS is running right now for that special tomorrow, saying something to the effect of “Collusion with Russia in the 2016 Election? NO. Obstruction of Justice? UNRESOLVED” The narrative is set with the first Q and A, even if they indicate there’s some question on the obstruction issue.

  78. 78
    B.B.A. says:

    “The Mueller report is old news, and a distraction from the real issue: Hillary’s emails!” – every bobblehead on TV next week, probably

  79. 79
    James E Powell says:

    @Bill Arnold:

    It is a bit depressing that the press are mostly not noticing that the Barr letter is a designed to shape a narrative. But it can be fixed, to some extent.

    The press/media know exactly what Barr’s letter is for and they are – it appears – eagerly promoting that narrative.

  80. 80
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Fuzz:

    Plus we need to be honest. This was supposed to be the beginning of the process of ridding the country of Trump. T

    Rubbish, the people in the know have been saying for years now that the report will be the beginning of the fight.

  81. 81
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    @James E Powell:

    Why not just shout down the media and those promoting this narrative?

  82. 82
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: And everyone here is buying into the horse race nonsense. Good lord.

  83. 83

    @James E Powell: Like you seem to be promoting the narrative that all is lost, over here.

  84. 84
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Chris Johnson:

    And very heavy troll presence, and this is a time to watch closely for who is calling for what, and claiming what. Masks are coming off, I think.

    Yeah, very much so. (Think of it as entities burning assets. I’m certainly watching carefully, here and elsewhere. :-) (People do need to be a little more careful about “new commenter” assertions; google can answer those questions. site:balloon-juice.com “commenter nym”. Similarly with Russian troll assertions though those are harder, and this place is a snark-heavy, multi-age, and cross-cultural community.)

  85. 85
    Kryptik says:

    It’s been ages since I’ve commented here, and…probably the worst time to jump back in, so i’ll try to restrain myself because fuck all…

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷:

    Wholly easier said than done. The Dems went quick and hard trying to get out in front of this as it was ,but it was quickly dwarfed by the ‘TRUMP EXONERATED!!’ narrative from the GOP, and quickly adopted wholesale. That’s exactly the double-fold problem with trying to shout over the media and the narrative: 1) even the ‘alt-media’, social media, etc. far as alternate ways to get news still usually end up informed by the main media narrative first and foremost because they still decide the larger discourse. 2) no matter how hard you try to get them to give you a voice from the left, they will increasingly go out of their way to let the GOP set both sides of the narrative. Almost even out of spite if Dems try to get in the word in edgewise.

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    I see less buying into the horse race nonsense, and more bemoaning that it’s going to come down to that anyway. Because lets face it, we don’t have to buy into shit for it to become the de facto ‘truth’ rather rapidly. And that seems to be exactly what’s happening, regardless of our input. The media seems wholly dead set on coalescing that narrative and trying to fight it seems to make them harden the narrative that much more.

  86. 86
    ola azul says:

    @Bill Arnold:

    Agree with alla your points, *except*: the damage *is* in fact done. Not insurmountable, necessarily, but, to lean on a silly but apt expression: You don’t getta second opp to make a first impression.

    The Barr letter is a soft-landing, the softest they could manage, and it inspires legions of useful fools and cynical hacks to say fuck-tons of unfounded shit that ossifies into erecting erroneous (or cynical/sophistical) premises, which *then* need to be assailed all over again ad nauseum/ad infinitum, devolving into an insipid and infuriating round of “debating” whether the Word is Round or the World is Flat Both-Sides! idiocy.

    That, it seems to me, is a problem.

    I ain’t arguing against proceeding in the most probative determined manner possible. We must.

    Was just trying to give voice (or perhaps articulation is a better word) for why, imo, so many are freaking out and why so many are so bone-deep discouraged. I feel that, too, but choose to respond differently.

    The lawyerly, parsed, strained diminishing BagmanBob rollout is deliberate — and, in fidelity to observed reality it must be acknowledged — the BagmanBob representation of the Mueller Report is achieving its short-term objective. As Fuzz rightly noted: We still gotta long ways to go, swimming gamely upstream in Shit Crick.

    That’s what’s so fucking frustrating.

    imo

  87. 87
    B.B.A. says:

    CIA Superior: What did we learn, Palmer?

    CIA Officer: I don’t know, sir.

    CIA Superior: I don’t fuckin’ know either. I guess we learned not to do it again.

    CIA Officer: Yes, sir.

    CIA Superior: I’m fucked if I know what we did.

    CIA Officer: Yes, sir, it’s, uh, hard to say.

    CIA Superior: Jesus fucking Christ.

  88. 88
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Kryptik:

    The media seems wholly dead set on coalescing that narrative and trying to fight it seems to make them harden the narrative that much more.

    It’s depressing (and yes worryingly true as a point in time based on observed behavior), but the (US) media can be worked (not just official statements, also e.g. reporter twitter. Pelosi has some talent for the former and we all can do the latter. And there are plenty of other quite established ways to play the press, as any competent PR person can tell us.) and isn’t as wired for Republicans as people seem to imply excepting Fox and other Republican propaganda outlets.

  89. 89
    Bill Arnold says:

    @ola azul:

    The lawyerly, parsed, strained diminishing BagmanBob rollout is deliberate — and, in fidelity to observed reality it must be acknowledged — the BagmanBob representation of the Mueller Report is achieving its short-term objective. As Fuzz rightly noted: We still gotta long ways to go, swimming gamely upstream in Shit Crick.

    Agreed, completely, and well-stated. I’m just in no mood to play the Eeyore side tonight. (Eeyoreing I reserve for the hulking climate-change gigacides in a high percentage of our possible futures.)

  90. 90
    Chris Johnson says:

    @Fuzz:

    He has, amazingly, been given a certain amount of vindication and thus credibility.

    Bullshit. That is not credibility. It is propaganda and I’m watching who’s spreading it. We don’t even get a full sentence out of the report and yet all this is settled in a matter of hours? On whose say-so? Bull fucking shit.

    I think a certain somebody is cashing in ALL his chips and squeezing every possible operative to force this narrative, which is simple nonsense.

    I’ve glanced over at the reddit dirtbag left and holy mother of FUCK are the trolls carpetbombing that place. There’s a few people sort of wondering ‘why does this supposed left-wing haven suddenly sound like r/TheDonald?’. It’s kind of obvious.

    As for the media, it is wired for MONEY. Which is another very effective angle for Russian oligarchs to use, and I have been increasingly convinced that Putin literally controls at least a few media outlets like the famously FYNYT. Think about it, a paper newspaper decades into the age of the internet, with all other paper newspapers going out of business. They must have needed money something fierce.

    When we say ‘our institutions are ruined, oh woe, all is lost and fucked’ let’s not ignore the implications of the PRESS, the VILLAGE being ruined and fucked. There is every reason to believe that is literally true. And that means they are most likely paid hacks doing whatever their masters wish: and we don’t have to look that far for their masters. Even without Putin, they do the biddings of Kochs and Adelson etc etc.

    Do NOT put much stock in ‘news’ around about now. It’s a load of pravda.

  91. 91
    oldgold says:

    @ola azul:

    I agree.

    Barr moved with astonishing speed to set the political narrative.

    Trump and Co. have always seen this as a political game and have played accordingly.

  92. 92
    JoeyJoeJoe says:

    For anyone concerned about the the media taking Shithead’s spin as fact, and Barr is obviously on the trump treason train as I call it, maybe contacting the media and asking them to report accurately as I am doing might help . CBS (Scott pellet) number is 212-975-3247

  93. 93
    Kryptik says:

    @Chris Johnson:

    I mean…most of us understand that it’s bullshit. It’s bullshit from top to bottom. But we’re the junkies. We’re the folks who consume political intrigue almost daily. Imagine someone who’s only casually tracking this shit.

    The truth is that Trump absolutely has been extended an amount of vindication and credibility. It doesn’t matter that it’s hollow and based off bullshit, it matters that he’s been given it to begin with, because it’s already setting the tone and laying out the playing field going forward. And that’s going to be really fucking hard to fight because, as you rightly pointed out, the blitz is on, and it’s something that may very well be nigh impenetrable at this point, no matter how hard we try. The press is in full-on enablist mode.

    And unfortunately, the narrative in the press still ends up being the foundation for what most of the country and electorate are going to hear, and first impressions on kinda shit tends to be hard to break through, because to do so requires a lot of explaining most ‘common’ folk just don’t have time to parse. “If you’re explaining, you’re losing”, remember?

  94. 94
    Chris Johnson says:

    @Kryptik: Courage. The USSR fell, and they had the REAL ‘Pravda’.

    I think people around here often are too blinded by their own privilege to understand that most people out there in the real world are truly fucked, and have no special reason to believe the press when it’s blowing smoke up their ass. Before the 2016 election, Trump and his people had it easy: they had to push the message that people were fucked (and to blame Others, esp. brown people).

    But now they have a much tougher job: they have to pretend things are GOOD.

    Nobody’s going to believe that shit.

    This is the Trumpian version of Saturday Night Massacre, except in 2019 the forces of evil also control the fuck out of the press and have brigades of clickfarms and trollskis to blow smoke and squid ink. You’re absolutely right about the narrative in the press: they’re paid to do that. You’re wrong that this intense propagandizing doesn’t arouse suspicion.

    When the last argument is ‘well we know better, but THE PUBLIC are fools and will always fall for this stuff’ that’s when things are about to blow up. History will show that this was the moment when the Trump forces went for broke… and blew it.

    Wait and see. We are being served narrative that is IMPOSSIBLE. Impossible. Don’t forget for a moment that it’s impossible.

    We don’t get to see a single unexpurgated sentence from what Mueller said. You’d think Barr would have been able to use something, anything, that was a little more conclusive than that. It’s over-reaching. This is outrageous over-reaching and it’s showing the puppet strings, bigtime.

  95. 95
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Chris Johnson:

    Bullshit. That is not credibility. It is propaganda and I’m watching who’s spreading it. We don’t even get a full sentence out of the report and yet all this is settled in a matter of hours? On whose say-so? Bull fucking shit.

    Yes, this.

    Not only have we haven’t seen the report, the Barr letter basically says “we feel we don’t have enough evidence to convict Trump of obstruction in a court of law” think of that for a moment.

    As for the media, it is wired for MONEY. Which is another very effective angle for Russian oligarchs to use, and I have been increasingly convinced that Putin literally controls at least a few media outlets like the famously FYNYT. Think about it, a paper newspaper decades into the age of the internet, with all other paper newspapers going out of business. They must have needed money something fierce.

    Even if they aren’t on the take, as you said, wired for money and the Horse Race sales. Trump might weasel out of his comeuppance! Oh the Drama! Oh the bold all caps healdlines! Oh the click views!

  96. 96
    MomSense says:

    I never thought Mueller would save us or that the release of the report would lead to impeachment. I’m pissed that there are no more indictments. We saw don junior’s emails – where he invited Russian help. We found out through the Manafort trial that he delivered polling data to the Russians. We found out that Kushner wanted Kislyak to set up communications that our IC couldn’t intercept. Flynn walked without jail time for cooperating. Gates, too. They just asked that the sentencing hearing for Gates be delayed because he was still cooperating in ongoing no investigations. Why the fuck did they bother with Stone if they were just going to drop the whole thing? Corsi?

    I can see why Mueller wouldn’t want to violate a DOJ memo about indicting a sitting president- you don’t rise to the head of the FBI without becoming a stickler for policies – but I don’t understand why there were no other indictments. If we spent five minutes on a thread noting all the fucking criminal things that are public information we would have plenty of material for indictments. Did Mueller sell us out or is this Barr shutting down the investigation just like the White House leaked that he would when he was confirmed?
    We are going into another presidential election and we still haven’t been informed about what happened in the last election.

  97. 97
    MomSense says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    CNN ran a story about Trump being bathed in a golden light and NYT says a cloud has been lifted. It’s fucking morning in America!

  98. 98
    guachi says:

    Give people lighter sentences for cooperating and then do nothing with that information and indict no one else.

    This gives Trump the excuse to pardon everyone involved and I bet he does.

  99. 99
    Sloane Ranger says:

    Hasn’t this happened before when the GOP have released highly edited transcripts or documents and the MSM have started a narrative only to reverse themselves when the full information has come out?

    I seem to remember this happening quite a lot when Devon Nunes was a committee chair.

    Basically lets keep calm and focussed on getting the full report out there.

  100. 100
    Kryptik says:

    @Sloane Ranger:

    The problem is that 1) the actual reversals tended to be rare, and 2) never got anywhere near the amount of coverage the initial reportage did, thus never upending the initial narrative outside of the daily tea leaf watchers like us.

  101. 101
    Hitlesswonder says:

    @geg6: agreed

  102. 102
    tobie says:

    Barr’s turned out to be everything we expected: a hack determined to do whatever was in his power to ensure no Republican would ever be held accountable for what they do. There’s no surprise there. The person whose reputation is now tarnished is Mueller’s. He knew the extraordinary political moment we’re living through and the existential threat to the Republic and decided to play it safe and not make waves. What’s his defense? I was just following orders?

  103. 103
    Bill Arnold says:

    Finally doing a full parse of the Barr letter, like so many others.

    But as noted above, the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.

    Bold mine, other people are noticing this careful language too. The Russian government has close affiliates that are not the Russian government, e.g. Russian organized crime, independent contractors/operatives of various sorts, cutouts (Sister Golden Bear @ 36)
    Is Barr seriously considering redacting/not releasing substantial portions of the Mueller report, or stalling for a long time? That would not end well for him. In particular the IC would balk about such burying if there were e.g. metadata showing communications between the DJT team and not-Russian-government-Russian-government-affiliates but the content (e.g. voice (especially well-encrypted voice), or well-encrypted text, or well-encrypted emails) was not intercepted.

  104. 104
    plato says:

    @Sloane Ranger:

    MSM have started a narrative only to reverse themselves when the full information has come out?

    There is no more sixth page burial of corrections/retractions.

  105. 105
    plato says:

    @tobie:

    The person whose reputation is now tarnished is Mueller’s.

    Not to forget those generals who were gonna be saviors, the much touted intelligence community who had all ‘the receipts’, the judges who provided cushions to the thugs, the whole system of checks and balances.

  106. 106
    JWR says:

    @piratedan:

    How will the media walk back this narrative now that everyone and their sister has heard all of these special reports exonerating the President?

    I just wrote to CBS about their brief “Special Report” on 60 Minutes spewing just this nonsense, quoting Cheryl Rofer from her reply to hitlesswonder:

    @Hitlesswonder: If you have access to the report, please share!

  107. 107
    tobie says:

    @plato: So true. Not one of the supposed adults in the room (Mattis, Tillerson, McMaster) has had the courage to speak up. And our judicial system is at this point so partisan that anything like ‘rule of law’ seems like a quaint fantasy. The three judge panel sitting on the emoluments case was hostile to the DC and Maryland AGs. One was appointed by W, one by Reagan, and one by Trump. I’m bracing myself for this case to be thrown out.

  108. 108
    hilts says:

    I am concerned that idiot reporters are taking Trump’s spin on this.

    the narrative in the press still ends up being the foundation for what most of the country and electorate are going to hear, and first impressions on kinda shit tends to be hard to break through, because to do so requires a lot of explaining most ‘common’ folk just don’t have time to parse.

    This drives home the fact that the dem nominee will be running against cable news in addition to running against Trump.

  109. 109
    rikyrah says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    Glad that you are back👏😏😏

  110. 110
    JoeyJoeJoe says:

    Aside from everything else, I think think that someone in the IC (if they’re listening) who’s been holding on to some embarrassing information on assface waiting for a good time to release it could definitely do so now, give the media a different narrative to pursue and giving a big “fuck you” to him

  111. 111
    rikyrah says:

    @HeleninEire:
    Welcome back, Helen😏😏

  112. 112
    Kay says:

    NY Times political team celebrates:

    By Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman
    March 24, 2019
    WASHINGTON — President Trump was in the private quarters of his Palm Beach, Fla., club on Sunday afternoon when two White House lawyers briefed him on the details of Attorney General William P. Barr’s four-page summary of the Russia investigation.
    Mr. Trump, just back from a round of golf, expressed vindication, though no great display of emotion, two people close to him said. An hour later, as he boarded Air Force One to fly to Washington, a very different Mr. Trump emerged.
    Speaking with barely concealed fury, he told reporters, “It’s a shame that our country had to go through this. To be honest, it’s a shame that your president has had to go through this.” He denigrated the investigation, led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as an “illegal takedown that failed” and said those responsible for it should face scrutiny.

    I wish these people weren’t covering our candidates in 2019 and 2020. They should all just stick to the Trump Beat and let the public figure the rest of it out unassisted. They can cover Team Trump and we’ll go around them, under them, something.

  113. 113
    Kay says:

    @MomSense:

    CNN ran a story about Trump being bathed in a golden light and NYT says a cloud has been lifted. It’s fucking morning in America!

    They’re thrilled. Now they can go back to abject adoration of the manly man, without any pesky questions to deal with.

    I know they hate to hear it but it’s true and it should be repeated, forever. Go compare this nationwide media celebration to the Clinton emails. Just look at the headlines. They’re declaring him the victor of the 2020 election and it’s 2019.

    Unfuckingbelievable. I don’t know why we bother to hold elections. They’ve declared a winner.

  114. 114
    plato says:

    @Kay:

    fynyt covered him covered for him for decades, they are not gonna their spots now. I wouldn’t be surprised if the fourth estate fifth columnists start beating the mueller should apologize to the totus thug drums soon.

  115. 115
    janesays says:

    I don’t believe Cohen’s prosecution, conviction, and eventual cooperation had anything to do with SC Mueller’s investigation. That all came out of the SDNY U.S. Attorney’s office.

  116. 116
    MomSense says:

    @Kay:

    We hold elections for the ad revenue.

  117. 117
    Karen says:

    Why won’t Barr prosecute him for obstruction?

    Could Barr just be editing the info? And did he say Trump wasn’t exonerated? Funny how the media didn’t mention it…

    Now if the Dems say anything, they look like sore losers. What do you think Nancy SMASH can do?

    Do we have any hopes in SDNY? Or any other state?

    I cannot watch any political TV. If I see his smug fat face I may puke.

  118. 118
    Karen says:

    @Kay: Now I understand why the media isn’t taking any female President candidate seriously.

  119. 119
    J R in WV says:

    Very late on the thread, very late at night too, here. I just want to say, before I read the thread, Thanks, Cheryl, for chipping in with some thoughtful things to point out about the nature of this investigation and the possibility of other inevstigations going on outside of the Special Counsel’s Office.

    Missed you the past couple of weeks, glad to see you again… I do see I’m not the first (or second or third,…) to say hi, welcome back.

  120. 120
    prostratedragon says:

    After a nap I’m convinced that this is an attempt to disguise the firing of Mueller.

  121. 121
    Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn says:

    @Chris Johnson: I appreciate your succinctly-stated argument. I suspect you’re onto something (heh).

    @guachi: “Give people lighter sentences for cooperating and then do nothing with that information and indict no one else.” I think this statement actually bolsters Chris Johnson’s point: such an outcome (nothing being done about info gleaned from cooperating invidiuals) would make the hullabaloo of Cohen’s, Gate’s, etc., cooperation entirely pointless. It’s not sustainable. Folks gonna ask, “So, about those flippers…?” Besides, Mueller doesn’t sound like the type that would charge up and down blind alleys and dead ends just to get his prosecution on. Chris Johnson’s aforementioned strings show.

    One thing I do know is that, before the weekend, we knew Trump and certain of his underlings face a shiteload of legal peril the moment they’re out of office (however that comes about) from other of the prosecutorial jurisdictions that are still actively following up on various other criminal complaints. And that legal exposure isn’t going anywhere regardless of Mueller’s own findings.

  122. 122
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    Politico has an article from a lawyer pointing that Barr wrote that summary in record speed. Sort of like it was already written before Barr saw Muller’s report.

    It feels like the we have going form the emo state to “WTF did Barr write?” now and I predict it will be “Ok cut it out and show the report” by Tuesday.

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