On Sunday, Attorney General William Barr delivered a brief, narrow summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia. The president and his allies responded by declaring the matter settled while doing all they can to convince Americans that Barr’s assessment exonerates Trump of any wrongdoing. The president’s surrogates are, as Trump might say, “working overtime” on cable news to press the issue. Trump, himself, is fighting for the cause on Twitter. On Tuesday morning, he tried to leverage Barr’s conclusion to bolster his argument that the mainstream media is the Enemy of the People.
The Mainstream Media is under fire and being scorned all over the World as being corrupt and FAKE. For two years they pushed the Russian Collusion Delusion when they always knew there was No Collusion. They truly are the Enemy of the People and the Real Opposition Party!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 26, 2019
As many have argued, a four-page summary of a massive investigation written by someone who has demonstrated a bias against said investigation should not be considered a definitive assessment. Regardless of what the White House says, Mueller’s findings cannot be truly understood until the complete report is released. Unfortunately, it’s up to Barr to determined how much of it will see the light of day, as Trump makes sure to note whenever reporters ask him whether he thinks the public should see the report. “It’s up to the attorney general but it wouldn’t bother me at all,” the president said on Monday.
It would, however, bother senate Republicans. Last week Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) blocked the senate from voting on a resolution calling for the report’s full release that had been passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 420-0. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked an effort by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to unanimously pass the same measure. The move was applauded by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 25, 2019
After Barr submitted his summary to Congress, McConnell released a statement in which he emphasized the attorney general’s assessment that there was “no collusion, no conspiracy, no obstruction” between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. “I sincerely hope that now, at last, our friends on the left will be able to put aside their fixation on permanently re-litigating their loss in 2016 and actually join in the productive work that the rest of us have been proudly engaged in for two years and counting,” McConnell wrote.
The best way to convince congressional Democrats to “put aside” the Mueller investigation, one would think, would be to endorse the release of the full report. If Republicans like McConnell actually believe Barr’s assessment that the report exonerates the president, they should be demanding the its release with more vigor than Democrats.
But only Democrats are taking real action to force the issue. On Monday, six House committee chairs sent a letter to Barr requesting the report be submitted to Congress in full by Tuesday, April 2nd. The letter requesting the release was three pages, one shy of Barr’s summary of the entire report, the length of which is still unknown. “To the extent that you believe applicable law limits your ability to comply, we urge you to begin the process of consultation with us immediately in order to establish shared parameters for resolving those issues without delay,” the representatives wrote.
— House Intelligence Committee (@HouseIntel) March 25, 2019
The letter was signed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY).
“Special Counsel Mueller worked for 22 months to determine the extent to which President Trump obstructed justice,” Nadler wrote on Twitter. “Attorney General Barr took 2 days to tell the American people that while the President is not exonerated, there will be no action by DOJ.” Nadler also tweeted that the Judiciary Committee plans to call Barr in to testify about the “very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report.”
Schiff expressed similar frustrations. “Mueller spent two years investigating obstruction of justice and found evidence that ‘does not exonerate’ Trump,” he wrote. “Barr took two days to set aside that evidence. The entire report must be published and evidence provided to Congress so the American people can judge for themselves.”
On Monday, the Trump campaign sent a letter to television producers encouraging them to reconsider booking Nadler, Schiff and a handful of others who have criticized the 2016 campaign’s relationship with Russia. The campaign writes that “the only way to interpret [Barr’s] conclusions is as a total and complete vindication of President Trump.” Those arguing otherwise, the campaign claims, are “lying” and “reckless,” unlike a certain president who spent the better part of two years trying to stymie a federal investigation he is now praising.