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A Witch Hunt?

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

President Trump, Attorney General Barr, Special Counsel Mueller

Now that Attorney General William P. Barr has reported to Congress that the Russia investigation report by Special Council Robert S. Mueller did not find that Donald Trump or his 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russians, Congressional Republicans and Trump, himself, are crowing that the president was "completely exonerated" and that Barr's memo proves the lengthy investigation, indeed, was a "witch hunt."

Congressional Democrats, of course, are taking a slightly different tact, saying Congress and the American people need to see the full report and its underlying documents. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) observed that Barr is not exactly "a neutral observer."

According to Barr's memo, Mueller said there was no evidence of collusion but that it didn't' mean Trump was not guilty of a crime. So what are we to make of it?

Journalist, author and University of New Hampshire Professor @SethAbramson provided an excellent, cohesive, easy-to-digest explanation in a series of Twitter posts this afternoon. He is asking that his thread be retweeted far and wide, so I am reprinting it here in full:

(THREAD) The Barr Summary—a very different document from the Mueller Report—is being woefully misread by media. It doesn't import what media is suggesting it does. Lawyers are welcome to comment on this thread as I report the Summary accurately. I hope you'll read on and retweet.

1/ Mueller was supposed to decide if Donald Trump could be charged with Obstruction of Justice—or, if not chargeable, whether he should be referred to Congress for impeachment for Obstruction of Justice. But AG Barr usurped Mueller's job and decided to make that decision himself.

2/ Barr was selected by Donald Trump upon Trump's reading of documents written by Barr and sent to Trump allies arguing Trump *couldn't* be charged with Obstruction of Justice. So in not forcing Mueller to make the decision his appointment obligated him to make, Barr saved Trump.

3/ Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, a witness in the Obstruction of Justice investigation against Trump, appears to have assisted Barr—who had already put his position on Obstruction in writing prior to his nomination—in usurping Mueller's obligation to make a decision on that question.

4/ Obstruction of Justice is an impeachable offense, and therefore we now have a *witness* in a case and a man who made his views known on the case *before he had any evidence on it*—and who *got his job* because of his view on the question—saving Trump from impeachment for that.

5/ On "collusion," investigative reporters and independent journalists just spent years gathering evidence on a very specific allegation of collusion: that for his own enrichment, Trump traded away our foreign policy on Russian sanctions at a time he knew Russia was attacking us.

6/ We are now being told that *Mueller never investigated* the collusion allegation Trump was facing—on a money-for-sanctions-relief quid pro quo—and *instead* investigated the allegation *as Trump saw it*, which was whether he struck an agreement with the IRA or Russian hackers.

7/ For two years, as Trump's team defined the collusion allegation against him *falsely*—saying he'd been accused of striking a secret accord with the Internet Research Agency and/or Russian hackers before-the-fact—his critics shrugged and said, "Yeah, we're not looking at that."

8/ On this collusion allegation no one was even making against Trump, the Special Counsel *didn't* find "no evidence"—which I would've been fine with, as I've never accused Trump of that type of collusion—he actually just found he didn't have 90%+ proof of that form of collusion.

9/ This isn't backpedaling: *anyone* who reads this feed—or anyone else researching and reporting on collusion—will *know* that we did *not* accuse Trump of striking a *secret deal with the IRA or Russian hackers before-the-fact*, and that "collusion" has *never* been about that.

10/ So we alleged Obstruction—and people *ineligible to make a decision on that issue* made the decision. We alleged collusive activity—and it appears the activity we alleged was *never investigated*. *That* is how critics of Trump should be seeing what has just happened. *That*.

11/ What will happen now is that Trump will say that Mueller found no Obstruction—false, because Mueller made no conclusion on that (though he was supposed to). Trump will then say that Mueller found no *collusion*, and *that* will be wrong on *two* separate and distinct grounds.

12/ The *first* way in which Trump's coming statement will be wrong on collusion is that the collusion he was actually *accused* of wasn't fully investigated—or perhaps not investigated at all. The *second* issue is, Mueller said he "didn't exonerate" Trump as to *any* collusion.

13/American discourse surrounding Mueller's investigation is at this moment in *dire* danger—because most in the media don't understand either point I've made here: that a proper Obstruction finding *was never made*, and that a full collusion investigation *was never conducted*.

14/ So what does it all mean? Well, as the Obstruction determination was *not* made by Mueller—and was improperly made by Barr and Rosenstein—it now falls to Congress to review the underlying evidence and, if House Judiciary finds it appropriate, initiate impeachment proceedings.

14/ So what does it all mean? Well, as the Obstruction determination was *not* made by Mueller—and was improperly made by Barr and Rosenstein—it now falls to Congress to review the underlying evidence and, if House Judiciary finds it appropriate, initiate impeachment proceedings.

15/ As to collusion, 1) it continues to be *properly* investigated—not in the narrow way Trump demanded and apparently Mueller's team acceded to—in *multiple other federal jurisdictions*; 2) the inability to indict on the *investigated* collusion is *not* an inability to impeach.

16/ So what's my reaction to today's news? Well, I thought there was *no* evidence Trump colluded *via secret agreement with the IRA or Russian hackers*—I always said that—so *now* I want to know why Mueller said he wasn't able to "exonerate" Trump on that allegation. I mean—wow.

17/ As to the collusion allegations never investigated—as opposed to the ones Trump self-servingly *himself* raised only because he knew he wasn't guilty of *those*—my feeling is that there are now *19 federal jurisdictions* working on Trump probes that could resolve that issue.

18/ Moreover, some of those jurisdictions being Congressional, and many working on cases involving people never interviewed by the SCO face-to-face—Trump, Trump Jr., Prince, Ivanka, and so many others—I feel like we're only at the *beginning* of the real collusion investigation.

19/ On Obstruction, once Congress gets all Mueller's hard evidence, they should proceed with impeachment (or at worst, wait for other federal prosecutors to finish their collusion investigations). Why? Because if the *public evidence* made a prima face case—it did—so did Mueller.

20/I ask people to retweet this thread. Misinformation spreads fast—the nation already misunderstands what happened today, as media wrongly uses terms like "exoneration," "vindication," and "collusion." As for fellow lawyers? Come at me if you disagree with anything I said. /end

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