William Barr’s Press Conference on the Mueller Report Was the Farce We All Thought It Would BePhoto by Win McNamee/Getty Politics Features The Mueller Report
If a 400-page report completely and totally exonerates the president, then there’s not much of a reason to have a press conference before releasing it. You just…you know…release it. If you missed Trump’s Attorney General’s press conference (which was definitely not designed to inject a narrative into the media before the facts of the Mueller Report have come out) this tweet from former Department of Justice Spokesman Matthew Miller just about sums it up.
This is astonishing. He’s Trump’s defense attorney.
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) April 18, 2019
Even Fox News’ Chris Wallace got that impression about a report that Trump’s personal lawyers were briefed on (I emphasize personal because that’s not how this is supposed to work—executive branch lawyers are who should be seeing this—and it further gives the impression that there is a slow-motion cover-up going on).
Chris Wallace on Fox: “The Attorney General seemed almost to be acting as the counselor for the defense, the counselor for the president, rather than the Attorney General, talking about his motives, his emotions… Really, as I say, making a case for the president.”
— Michael M. Grynbaum (@grynbaum) April 18, 2019
Barr spent about as much time in his press conference defending Trump as he did detailing Mueller’s conclusions about Russian interference. Yesterday when this press conference was announced, everyone with half a brain in their head had about 15 BS detectors go off, and this press conference was exactly what we thought it would be. Barr even went as far to state that he “disagreed with some of the special counsel’s legal theories” on obstruction of justice, confirming that what we all just saw was William Barr’s interpretation of the Mueller Report, not a summation of it.
Plus, Barr also contradicted himself, by affirming that Trump 100% did not collude or obstruct justice…but that we also cannot see parts of the report because of an ongoing case against Roger Stone, who was arrested earlier this year. If we can be certain that no members of Team Trump did anything shady, then we should be able to see the Roger Stone section of the report, but because it is an ongoing court case, it seems preposterous to say anything affirmative about his role in whatever the hell happened in 2016 until the case is resolved. Barr also basically made the case that Trump couldn’t have obstructed justice because he was upset.
More AG BARR: “Apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the President had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.”
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) April 18, 2019
Barr has helped cover up a major Republican scandal before. When President George H.W. Bush pardoned six people charged with crimes in the Iran-Contra scandal as he was leaving office, Barr supported it. Recently, Barr also agreed with one of the most absurd decisions ever made by a judge, and effectively ruled the Affordable Care Act to be completely invalid despite the law stating otherwise. The Very Serious People around our politics and media sold Barr to us as a conservative who nonetheless respects the rule of law, but one look at decisions like Iran-Contra or the ACA prove that to be a farce. He’s a political operator who won’t hesitate to put his boss’s political wishes above the rule of law. Any news outlet printing Barr’s words free of context is doing Trump’s bidding, as that was the entire goal of talking about the Mueller Report before actually releasing it.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.