RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Turow writes: "Attorney General William Barr's summary of special counsel Robert Mueller's conclusions, in the fancy language of lawyers, impeaches itself."

William Barr. (photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
William Barr. (photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

"A Crime in Public View": How William Barr Pardoned Donald Trump

By Scott Turow, Vanity Fair

26 March 19

Trump had plenty of reasons to obstruct Mueller’s investigation, whether or not there was an underlying crime. The most obvious one has been staring us in the face all along.

ttorney General William Barr’s summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusions, in the fancy language of lawyers, impeaches itself. That means that its own words and reasoning call some of Barr’s conclusions into doubt, particularly Barr’s eagerness to say that Donald Trump can’t be proven to have obstructed justice.

It is hard for any of us to know how much credence to give Barr’s précis of the Mueller investigation without knowing more about the evidence. Barr’s letter, however, acknowledges that much and pledges to work to disclose as much as he can without violating Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e), which bars making public grand jury proceedings. But the attorney general’s eagerness to clear Trump of possible obstruction of justice, after having the report in hand for less than 48 hours, is unbecoming of his office and Mueller’s two-year investigation. Furthermore, some of the reasoning in his letter is clearly deeply flawed.

In particular, Barr’s conclusion that obstruction can’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt involves bootstrapping that is utter nonsense in this case. Barr—just like Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani—claims that ordinarily obstruction requires a nexus to an underlying crime. Because Mueller found the evidence insufficient to prove that Trump actively conspired with the Russians to interfere with the election, traditional legal reasoning would say he’s not likely to have committed obstruction either. Barr says, “Generally speaking, to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct with a sufficient nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding.”

This sounds like arcane legal stuff, but it’s actually a matter of common sense. In judging whether a suspect had a corrupt intent to obstruct justice, a reasonable prosecutor would look at the potential gain to the defendant by engaging in the questionable behavior. In most cases, if the target didn’t commit an underlying offense, he would have no reason to hinder the investigation.

But that is not true in Trump’s case. Throughout his election campaign and long after, Trump denied that Russia was responsible for the massive interference in our election that Mueller has now concluded occurred. Trump made these denials “despite,” to quote Barr, “multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.” Aside from any crimes Trump or his campaign committed by being in cahoots with the Russians, there are other clear gains to Trump in hindering the investigation. The most obvious is that the Russian interference, which both Barr and Mueller say the Trump campaign knew about, calls the legitimacy of the 2016 election into question.

With our focus on whether the president is going to jail, we have run past a point that is now undeniable: Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States after a sustained series of crimes by the Russian government aimed at boosting his chances of winning. Because of the political damage to the president that Russia’s criminal interference posed, he had an obvious reason to terminate the investigation. In other words, he had something to hide, and the Mueller inquiry seems to have concluded that there was plenty of evidence that he hid it.

To argue that no underlying crime means no obstruction is therefore nonsense. That is fallacious reasoning and it impugns Barr’s integrity and his reputation as a lawyer. Worse, it represents a troubling effort to paper over the acknowledged evidence that Mr. Trump committed a crime in public view.

Email This Page your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

-20 # Anne Frank 2019-03-26 14:00
That Trump is a despicable imitation of a human being does not mean that every accusation against him, no matter how preposterous and opportunistic, like the campaign of the deep state warmongers to whip the idiot masses into a frenzy of hatred for Russia, is true.
+46 # HarryP 2019-03-26 15:11
A Cook’s Tour of Obstruction of Justice:

Acting AG Sally Yates was the first person Trump fired after she had told him Flynn had been compromised.

Trump then fired Comey because Comey refused to end the Russia investigation.

Trump then immediately told two secret visitors to the WH, Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador to the US, that he had squashed the FBI’s Russia investigation. In the next day he said the same to Lester Holt of NBC.

Trump then fired McCabe for expanding the investigation.

In a display of consciousness of guilt, Trump threatened to fire Rosenstein and Mueller (the persons in charge of the investigation) except other people intervened.

He fired AG Sessions for recusing himself (that is refusing to interfere in the investigation.)

Trump hired an Acting AG who had made clear he thought the investigation was illegal.

He ten hired an AG who had applied for the job in a lengthy job application critical of the investigation.

In between, Trump lied about the Trump Tower meeting in an attempt to obstruct justice. He lied about Russian contacts, again to obstruct. He threatened to pardon all who were found guilty, again to obstruct. He lied about every and anything Russia, again and again to obstruct.
+42 # Concerned Citizen 2019-03-26 15:31
Clearly Barr's intent is to serve the unindicted criminal in The White House, not the American people as he swore in his oath of office. He fits right in with the other ethically challenged members of this crime family.
-35 # BKnowswhitt 2019-03-26 15:57
Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States after a sustained series of crimes by the Russian government aimed at boosting his chances of winning. Because of the political damage to the president that Russia’s criminal interference posed, he had an obvious reason to terminate the investigation. In other words, he had something to hide, and the Mueller inquiry seems to have concluded that there was plenty of evidence that he hid it.

The entire thing is a stretch .. He did not Collude nor Contact them to do any interfering .. Stone is fall guy because of wiki leaks contacts .. we'll see about how that turns out .. and Russians creating blogs onto internet does not sway an election .. Dems had a poor candidate .. they lied their asses off and still do so ... with this false and phoney ''.. investigation of Trump ...
+9 # nogardflow 2019-03-26 21:35
'He did not Collude nor Contact them to do any interfering', He publicly asked Russia to find Hillary's emails.
-6 # BKnowswhitt 2019-03-28 14:04
Wrong no evidence he contacted them to release emails .. emails got released .. all the national media had Hillary winning by a landslide .. even Trump thought he was going to lose .. all of this is an unbelievable stretch and goes to why people hate the government so much .. this gives them another good reason .. what will happen with healthcare .. housing crisis .. etc ... Dems don't give a rats ass about you .. neither side does really .. Trump is an anomoly to that though he is a Republican he was once a Democrat .. he won off of that ..
+2 # MikeAF48 2019-03-26 16:14
Meet the bull dog and he is in neat.
+27 # DongiC 2019-03-26 19:40
Does anyone believe that Barr is going to be objective and fair in adjudicating this Trump situation? What we have is a farce in fast motion. Barr was handpicked to be Attorney General. Trump, the master cheat, would hardly select someone neutral in such an important case. Not when Sir Donald's future may well depend on how Barr decides.
+13 # janie1893 2019-03-27 00:50
Do taxpayers have a right to demand full access to the report?
-5 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-03-27 13:34
Janie -- I'll tell you what happened to me about 20 years ago. I was hiking and came across a sign that said "US government property. No trespassing." I ignored the sign and kept walking along a trail. An hour or so later, a guy in a uniform came running after me and was yelling, "how did you get here. This is government property. You can't be here." I said, "if it is government property, then it is public property. We all own it. So we can go on it." He gave me a death scowl and said I had 10 seconds to turn around and march out of here or I would go to jail in handcuffs. So I left and was followed to the boundary by a scowling federal officer with a very big gun on his waist. Go ahead demand. You will be told that it is government business. Not your business.
-7 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-03-27 09:10
Wow, this is just a sour grapes valedictory address by a sore loser. Talking about "the fancy language of lawyers," this one is filled with it.

It is just time to face the clear light of day. The Russiagate affair was a campaign dirty trick. It had no truth in it from the start. The amazing thing is that it was taken seriously by the FBI and DOJ who both knew Steele for a fraud from their own experience with him.

But I think Mueller served his purpose. The central job of the FBI for nearly a century now has been to blackmail elected government officials and even president into doing what the naiton's oligarchs want. Trump was elected as an outsider and a pseudo-populist . That scared the be-jesus out of the oligarchs and their hatchetmen in the intel agencies. So the Trump-Russia hoax was taken up in all earnestness in order to beat Trump into line.

Now Trump is 100% under the control of the normal rulers of the US -- banks, weapons makers, Israelis, right-wing think tanks, neo-cons, and the rest. In this sense, the Mueller Probe was fabulously successful and it no longer needed to continue.

In all reality, I think Mueller knew from the start that there was no basis to the original charge. He just needed it to browbeat Trump.

Maybe Mueller did leave open the obstruction of justice claim so that congress could have the impeachment harpoon. If so then I expect Ahab Schiff to take up the harpoon and begin hunting his White Whale.
+13 # sinclairnoe 2019-03-27 13:10
Bill Clinton was charged with impeachment for lying under oath. The underlying offense was consensual sex with an adult. The lie caught Clinton. Now, compare that to the never-ending lies spewing forth from the orange gasbag. The affairs with K MacDougall and Stormy Daniels, lies, hush money, demonization, intimidation, campaign finance fraud, etc. Oh yea, some problems with Russia and the election, but just the sex and lies part should be enough for impeachment (based upon the Clinton history).
+7 # dascher 2019-03-28 15:54
Trump learned his "craft" from Roy Cohn and the organized crime guys he worked with in the building industry in NYC and New Jersey. "Never get your hands dirty" is Rule 1. Of course, he is so stupid that he has repeatedly and publicly bragged about obstructing the investigations into his activities. If the investigation can be obstructed, then the crimes can be hidden; if the crimes cannot be proven to have occurred BY HIM, then there is no "justice" to obstruct (although there was still obvious interference with the investigation).

John Gotti managed to get aquitted several times using the same kinds of tactics. Eventually, he was brought down like Whitey Bulger, using "conspiracy" charges - charges that are almost guaranteed to convict anybody.

Donald J. Trump is guilty of being in charge of a conspiracy to commit multiple frauds - the biggest frauds being that he is not incompetent, not ignorant, and not stupid - but the legal frauds have continued for decades, cheating people who worked for him, cheating the banks who lent him money, cheating the taxpayers who's cities and states gave him tax breaks. His defense wobbles between "it's not fair because everybody does it" and "I didn't do it". Very convincing stuff that only a genius could possibly have come up with.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.