Who shapes the public’s initial understanding

Mueller’s team is not happy with what Barr is doing with the report.

Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.

In other words, Barr is doing exactly what everyone expected him to do: he’s following up that unsolicited memo to the White House by withholding the report and misrepresenting what it says. He’s running interference for Trump and sabotaging the efforts of law enforcement to hold Trump to account.

At stake in the dispute — the first evidence of tension between Mr. Barr and the special counsel’s office — is who shapes the public’s initial understanding of one of the most consequential government investigations in American history. Some members of Mr. Mueller’s team are concerned that, because Mr. Barr created the first narrative of the special counsel’s findings, Americans’ views will have hardened before the investigation’s conclusions become public.

Barr is the wrong person to be shaping the public’s understanding, because he has a clear bias in favor of The Executive Branch. (In his case it’s not obvious to me that the bias is in favor of Trump as opposed to the office he holds.)

Mr. Barr was also wary of departing from Justice Department practice not to disclose derogatory details in closing an investigation, according to two government officials familiar with Mr. Barr’s thinking. They pointed to the decision by James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, to harshly criticize Hillary Clinton in 2016 while announcing that he was recommending no charges in the inquiry into her email practices.

This again, ffs. First they get Trump elected by doing that to Clinton, then they keep Trump in office in defiance of his flagrant criminality by saying oh noes we mustn’t do to him what we did to Clinton. I get that it may genuinely be a matter of “we can’t make that mistake again” but it’s still pretty exasperating to see them offer it as justification. Especially when “they”=Barr.

At the same time, Mr. Barr and his advisers have expressed their own frustrations about Mr. Mueller and his team. Mr. Barr and other Justice Department officials believe the special counsel’s investigators fell short of their task by declining to decide whether Mr. Trump illegally obstructed the inquiry, according to the two government officials. After Mr. Mueller made no judgment on the obstruction matter, Mr. Barr stepped in to declare that he himself had cleared Mr. Trump of wrongdoing.

Oh come on, guys. Can you not get it together? This shit is serious.

Mr. Barr has come under criticism for sharing so little. But according to officials familiar with the attorney general’s thinking, he and his aides limited the details they revealed because they were worried about wading into political territory. Mr. Barr and his advisers expressed concern that if they included derogatory information about Mr. Trump while clearing him, they would face a storm of criticism like what Mr. Comey endured in the Clinton investigation.

And that would never do. We mustn’t make Barr uncomfortable. The importance of dealing with the reckless criminal in the White House is trivial in comparison.

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