Will wonders never cease?
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Jake Tapper, and Jeffrey Toobin were all forced to admit that President Trump seemed to be completely vindicated by Attorney General William Barr’s Thursday press conference. Sadly, they also seemed heartbroken to admit it… and suspicious of the Attorney General for deciding to do so.
Wolf Blitzer: All right, so there you have almost a complete vindication of the President of the United States by the Attorney General of the United States. He says, and we still haven’t seen this nearly 400-page redacted report, and he said there are limited redactions but several times, maybe four, five, six times, he said precisely what the President of the United States wanted to hear, no collusion.
Jake Tapper: Yeah, at least six or seven times he made the very clear point that the special counsel found no evidence that there was any attempt by any on the Trump campaign or associated with the campaign or any American knowingly, conspiring with the Russians. He made the point several times which will no doubt please President Trump.
I guess the question is now, what does the report say? And how well does that line up with what the attorney general just said?
A couple of things struck me. First of all, there was this attempt to get into the president’s head at one point. The attorney general talking about in assessing the president’s actions, discussing the report, talking about potential obstruction of justice, it’s important to bear in mind the context. President Trump faced an unprecedented situation as he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities. Agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct and the conduct of some of his associates at the same time there was relentless speculation about his personal culpability. When asked, the attorney general said the president’s state of mind is relevant in terms of whether or not he obstructed justice and he took issue with the questioner who characterized it as you’re being generous to the president. He said if it’s not unprecedented, can you tell me a precedent?
There is this part of his comments is going to be highly debated and discussed over the next several days, weeks, months, about whether or not he was bending over backward to try to put himself in the president’s shoes, be empathetic to President Trump, but there are those who will argue it is relevant to the president’s state of mind hen talking about obstruction of justice.
There are details that are fascinating that again we have to wait to see what’s in the actual report. That’s why so many people have been critical of the attorney general talking about this, people talking about this press conference as Bill Barr’s second summary letter in the sense he’s getting out his interpretation of events before we actually see the actual report, and one of them has to do with, and Jim was talking about this, whether or not anybody on the Trump team had anything to do with pushing these stolen emails that were published by Wikileaks, Guccifer 2.0, and D.C. Leaks, the latter two, D.C. Leaks and Guccifer 2.0, being Russian agents. Wikileaks taking information, we assume from the Russians, although we don’t know that definitively, and knowing under applicable law, the publication of these types of materials would not be criminal unless the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy.
That’s something we’ll be pouring over when the actual Mueller report comes out. But bigger picture, the big question is why did the attorney general do this? We were told it was just to be transparent, that he was just going to be talking about how executive privilege was not waived and his decisions on redactions, et cetera, but it actually was what the Democrats feared it would be, which was the attorney general getting out there and getting his narrative, his take on it as vigorously as possible.
Wolf Blitzer: It was basically a repetition of the March 25th letter when he concluded yes, the Russians did interfere in the election, but no American, whether involved in the Trump campaign or outside the Trump campaign, illegally did anything to help the Russians.
Jeff Toobin: It was much more ringing in its endorsement of the president’s conduct than even the press conference several weeks ago. I mean, it was an extraordinary political commercial for the president.