On Tuesday, the day before Attorney General William Barr was set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Washington Post oh-so-coincidentally came out with a sensational story about Robert Mueller complaining in a letter to Barr a month ago that Barr’s four-page conclusion didn’t capture the “context, nature and substance” of the special counsel report. Predictably, the Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) went into histrionics over that. Sen. Richard Blumenthal called it “an unprecedented, stunning rebuke” of the attorney general by the special counsel. Rep. Maxine Waters said Barr should resign or otherwise face (what else?) impeachment. It went on and on, so I’ll spare you any more.
Let’s dispense with this non-event so we can move on to more important things. Way far down in that same story, it was reported that Mueller “emphasized that nothing in the attorney general’s March 24 conclusion was inaccurate or misleading,” that he was just concerned that the media coverage of it might be giving the wrong idea. Well, Washington Post, that just totally cancels out your headline and renders this a non-story, doesn’t it? Did you read your own story, WAPO? Are you aware that Mueller had to know from the start of his investigation that it was based on essentially nothing in the way of evidence, so he would have had to draw the same conclusion as Barr, albeit reluctantly? Are you also aware that Mueller was given the option of reading Barr’s conclusion before it was released to Congress but chose not to?
Another reason this story means nothing is that the full report was made public very soon after Barr got that letter from Mueller. Nothing was ever intended to be kept under wraps. At the time he was writing his conclusion, Barr knew he’d be releasing the whole thing, so there was no point in trying to slant it. Also, Mueller could have refuted the conclusion right away –- publicly –- if there had been anything to refute. So, who cares?
Yet another reason this means nothing is that Barr and Mueller spoke by phone right away to discuss Mueller’s concerns. They spoke cordially about whether to release additional material for context, with Barr deciding the full report should just come out all at once, not piecemeal. Contrary to news accounts, it was not a big deal. After all, Mueller (Rod Rosenstein, too) had worked with Barr on the redactions to the report as well as the four-page conclusion that came out in March, the one Mueller was supposedly complaining about. There is nothing to this story at all.
As Byron York tweeted, “Interesting situation. We have Barr’s letter. We have Mueller report. Unless there’s some huge, decisive stuff in the redactions (and early indication is there’s not), we can judge for ourselves, can’t we? Does it really matter what Barr, Mueller or Andrew Weissmann thinks?”
Keep in mind that the more we find out about the fraudulent FISA warrants and the spying on Trump even after he was elected President –- and, especially, start to question how high this goes –- the more Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) will try to distract with non-stories such as this one. They will do whatever they can to discredit Barr. Like FBI officials who can smell the Trump support inside a small-town Walmart, I smell the anxiety and desperation of government officials, both present and former, who are scared to death of being found out.
As with so many stories that come out in WAPO and the NYT that turn out to be flat-out wrong or based on nothing, this one isn’t worth spending much time on. But here it is...
And here’s the FOX News version…
Moving on. At this writing, House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler is still insisting that staff attorneys should be able to question Barr in his Thursday hearing, in an hour-long follow-up to the regular session. Here’s why this is a ridiculous demand: it’s obvious they’re just trying to make this look as much like an impeachment hearing as possible, even though it’s nothing of the sort. There is no need to have a team of slick, unelected attorneys pose questions to the attorney general, as, according to the rules, members of Congress would normally do the questioning and the attorneys can always pass suggested questions to them, like paid SAT cheaters passing the answers to children of rich, famous celebrities. Barr knows perfectly well that this is just a big show designed to make it look as if he --- and, by extension, the Trump administration --- were guilty of something, even though the special counsel investigation has finished and Trump was found guilty of NOTHING.
No matter how Barr decides to handle this, it’ll play as political theater –- melodrama, to be more descriptive. If he comes to testify, there will be the video of him being grilled by a cadre of attorneys like someone on trial. If he doesn’t come to testify, there will be the video of Nadler taking to the microphone and shaking his head at the attorney general’s lamentable dereliction of duty, which of course he’ll say was undertaken to “protect the President.” Then Barr will be served with a congressional subpoena –- which is unenforceable, by the way, though he could be held in contempt –- and the drama will continue. In fact, I think Nadler would dearly love to be able to serve Barr with a subpoena, just to make it look as though Barr has something to hide when he really doesn’t.
Sean Hannity on Tuesday night pointed out the exact rule that deals with the questioning: “Rule III. Hearings, (d) In the course of any hearing each Member shall be allowed five minutes for the interrogation of a witness until such time as each Member who so desires has had an opportunity to question the witness.” Nothing there about interrogation by staff attorneys. “Member” means “member of Congress,” not “member of the American Bar Association.”
By the time you read this, Bill Barr will likely be testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which, as led by Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, WILL follow the rules. So let’s move on to what I’d planned to lead with today…
The few investigative reporters who have been chasing the story of Fusion GPS, the Steele dossier and the phony “Trump/Russia” investigation have started to look seriously into Obama’s role in the whole thing. They know it doesn’t make sense for the likes of John Brennan, Loretta Lynch and James Clapper to have been working on this unbeknownst to the President. When reporters turn up texts between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page that say things like “potus wants to know everything we’re doing,” it keeps them pressing on.
Here’s something from the archives that shows they’re on the right track. In 2016, Hillary for America paid Perkins Coie, the law firm that hired Fusion GPS, just under $5.1 million. The DNC (which, as we know, was also working for Hillary) paid them nearly $5.4 million. And...(drum roll, please)...Obama for America, described as “Obama’s official campaign arm,” paid them nearly $800,000 that year. Obama wasn’t running for anything by then, so I wonder what they got for their money. You know, it's really interesting to look back on this and other stories from that time (2017) because back then, we didn't know a lot of what we know now about Perkins Coie, Fusion GPS, Christopher Steele, Nellie Ohr and the rest. The picture is slowly filling in.
Finally, Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch is still trying to get information on how the FBI communicated with Christopher Steele after he was let go for being an unreliable source (which they never told the FISA court). He’s suing the Justice Department under the Freedom Of Information Act to get key emails between Peter Strzok and Bruce Ohr after the FBI just couldn’t seem to find them. Some of those records are as elusive as files from the Rose Law Firm. But Fitton never gives up. He knows we'll thank him later.
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