Attorney General William Barr announced Sunday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller found that President Trump’s campaign did not collude with Russia during the 2016 election, but some diehards are continuing to push the narrative that there was collusion.
“Of course Trump colluded with Russia,” the New York Magazine‘s Jonathan Chait wrote on Sunday, arguing unequivocally that there really was collusion, but that it did not rise to the level of criminality.
He then tweeted a cherrypicked paragraph from a Lawfare piece that was overall positive for the president but suggested that Barr’s announcement “would be consistent” with a Mueller report that finds “lots of ‘evidence of collusion’ that for one reason or another falls short of criminal conduct.” (A following sentence in the Lawfare piece added, “Our point here is not that the report suggests any of these things.)
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) also argued that Mueller did not find “sufficient” evidence of collusion, and suggested there was evidence of “Russian offers to help Trump’s campaign” and “their acceptance.”
Mueller did not find sufficient evidence to establish conspiracy, notwithstanding Russian offers to help Trump’s campaign, their acceptance, and a litany of concealed interactions with Russia.
I trust Mueller’s prosecutorial judgement, but the country must see the evidence.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 24, 2019
Mother Jones‘ David Corn also argued in a piece that there was indeed collusion and Trump “betrayed” the United States.
“There were instances of collusion—not on the specifics of the attack, but secret scheming between Trumpworld and Russia,” he wrote. “None of the evidence underlying this is in dispute. No matter what Mueller report contains, a harsh verdict remains: Trump and his gang betrayed the United States in the greatest scandal in American history.”
Their assertions went against what Barr wrote in a letter to congressional leaders summarizing Mueller’s report, submitted to him on Friday.
Barr, in the letter, included a direct quote from Mueller’s report, that said, “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Barr also includes a footnote that states the Special Counsel defined “coordination” to mean an “agreement — tacit or express — between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference.” That means that there was not even unspoken agreement found — as some have spent the last two years suggesting.
Barr’s letter to Congress made no mention of the sufficiency of evidence of collusion.
Others diehards claimed that the Justice Department acted somehow to protect the president.
Slate’s William Saletan argued that the Justice Department is not going to prosecute Trump “by tailoring legal standards to protect the president,” and accused Barr of using “weasel words.”
Never Trumper Bill Kristol at first tweeted that Barr’s letter was a “good outcome” — noting “Our president did not conspire with a hostile power to win his election.”
However, later he tweeted Slate’s piece along with, “We really need to see the report: ‘For now, all we have is the letter. And it doesn’t show that Trump is innocent of collusion or obstruction. It shows that collusion and obstruction were defined to exclude what he did.'”
Meanwhile, journalist and commentator Matthew Yglesias floated the idea that Barr’s summary is “totally inaccurate.”
Anyways, I don’t want to be a tinfoil hat guy or anything but having watched Trumpniks put forward easily debunked lies about crowd sizes and everything else one shouldn’t totally discount the possibility that Barr’s summary is totally inaccurate.
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) March 24, 2019
Democrats have taken to demanding that the entire Mueller report be made public.
But as the writers for Lawfare also noted, “Depending on what’s actually in Mueller’s report, the news could get better still for the president.”