It’s probably impossible to rank Donald Trump scandals. We’d be here all day! But this is definitely one of the biggest from a rule of law perspective. It’s just, you know, a bit late to the game. But you know what? We know about it now!
OK, so let’s rewind. Remember the Mueller Probe? Prosecutor Robert Mueller was tapped as a special counsel to investigate any possible collusion between agents of the Russian government and Donald Trump. It was an important mission because we don’t ever want people in office when they are at all beholden to foreign interests. What Russia wants and what America needs are far different prospects — especially with a crooked killer like Vladimir Putin in charge over there.
But what did Mueller actually find? Well, that’s a huge area of controversy…
The Mueller Report
If you’ll recall, Trump said it was TOTAL EXONERATION. That was after his handpicked Attorney General Bill Barr released his summary letter of the Mueller Report to the public. That summary absolutely made it sound like Mueller found no crimes.
But the truth is Mueller found plenty of crimes. He filed criminal charges against 34 individuals and 3 corporations, most of them Russian agents. The report stated clearly that Russia had absolutely acted to put their thumb on the scale for Trump — but that collusion on the Trump side could not be proven. However, the report also said the reason collusion could not be proven is because of all the obstruction of justice. On that end, six Trump campaign associates — George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, and Roger Stone — were charged with crimes from lying to Congress to witness tampering. Not exactly the nothingburger Barr led Americans to believe.
As to whether Trump committed obstruction of justice? Basically Mueller said they couldn’t flat-out accuse him because they weren’t allowed to charge him. The team sent it to Congress to impeach. But Congress wouldn’t impeach because Mueller didn’t flat-out accuse him. It was a stupid mess. And Trump used the chaos to declare victory, calling the whole thing a hoax.
The Actual Witch Hunt
It wasn’t enough for Trump to just tell everyone he was the victim of a deep state conspiracy. He wanted it in writing. He wanted charges filed. So he got Bill Barr to discredit the first probe. Barr assigned another investigator to investigate the first investigation. We know, this sounds incredibly silly, we can’t help it this is our government right now.
Barr tapped prosecutor John Durham to find any impropriety in the Trump-Russia probe. His job was ostensibly to make sure the law was followed. But in reality, according to a new New York Times exposé, Barr and Durham were working together to try dig up any dirt they could. Remember, the whole point of a special counsel is that they’re supposed to be independent — to make sure nothing is politically motivated, it’s all about justice. So Barr and Durham drinking Scotch together in back rooms while trying to prove a conspiracy that didn’t exist is already offsides. But it gets worse. A lot worse.
Apparently Barr had been suspicious of the Mueller probe from before he was even made AG. So he was starting with the conclusion that it was a massive deep state conspiracy and then just trying hard to prove it — instead of going where the facts led. And holy crap, where the facts led…
OK, so remember Barr believed everything about Trump getting help from Russia was a lie. So because multiple intelligence agencies had confirmed it, he suspected the NSA, the CIA, and British intelligence had all colluded to lie. He and Durham even flew together to the UK and to Italy to try to convince them to publicly backtrack on all of their intelligence findings.
The thing is, they didn’t have any reason to do that. Their findings were solid. British intelligence were actually PISSED that they had been accused of lying. (The American version of pissed, meaning ANGRY — not drunk.) But Italy did offer the investigation some help. They had information regarding the then-President — “a potentially explosive tip linking Mr. Trump to certain suspected financial crimes.”
Yeah. You read that right. Italy had some kind of evidence that TRUMP HAD COMMITTED MORE CRIMES. The investigation meant to expose Mueller had inadvertently just stumbled onto more Trump accusations. We mean, there are just so many…
Apparently it was a good tip, too. According to the Times, Barr and Durham “decided that the tip was too serious and credible to ignore.” So what did they do? Well, besides being independent, a special counsel is also supposed to be focused. Just one single investigation, in this case looking into the Mueller probe. But we guess Barr couldn’t risk more people finding out about YET ANOTHER Trump scandal when he was bending over backwards trying to protect the man… because he assigned that investigation to Durham, too! What happened to THAT investigation? We can’t say for sure that it was swept under the rug, but here’s what the Times wrote after their thorough investigation:
“Mr. Durham never filed charges, and it remains unclear what level of an investigation it was, what steps he took, what he learned and whether anyone at the White House ever found out.”
The NYT team never even found out what the financial crimes were! So if Durham was told to make it disappear, he did a good job.
Lying To America
OK, so this takes us back to what Barr said in his BS letter about the Mueller report. Remember how he totally mislead Americans? Heck, he didn’t even include a single full sentence from the Mueller report itself in his summary. Like when a critic calls a movie “an incredible waste of time” and they just put on the poster “…Incredible”!
Well, the subterfuge continued here. See, the news did get out that Durham had been given extra powers of criminal prosecution. Various sources had learned he was investigating criminal activity. But remember, the special counsel is only supposed to investigate ONE CASE. And since everyone knew he was investigating the Mueller probe, that news was a huge gift to Trump and his supporters. The conspiracy theorists had been vindicated; they now knew the Trump-Russia investigation was a hoax, and people were going to prison for it…
Except it wasn’t a hoax. The criminal investigation was, yet again, into Trump. Even when they were trying to protect him they couldn’t help but trip over crimes.
Barr, of course, did nothing to dissuade any of this public conjecture. He stayed silent. And it’s not like that was his thing, keeping quiet and carrying a big stick. No, he spoke out when he could wrongfoot the American people. In December 2019, the inspector general completed its own investigation into the Trump-Russia investigation. It confirmed the probe was on the level, and that it had started — as had been previously reported — after an Australian diplomat’s tip that Trump advisor George Papadopoulos knew in advance that Russia was going to release some hacked Democrat emails (suggesting that he knew about the plan and the advantageous release date for it). Just minutes before that report, Barr did release a statement… just like with the Mueller report, he got there first and implied the exact opposite of the truth. He said the FBI started their investigation”on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient.” So yeah, he speaks when he wants to. But in the case of people getting the wrong idea about the Trump-Russia case? Yeah, he shut right up then.
The simple conclusion is that Barr wanted the American people to believe, as he did, regardless of evidence, that Trump was innocent and the entire Trump-Russia investigation was a hoax. In fact, the Times also revealed that right before the 2020 election, he tried to get Durham to publicly imply Hillary Clinton was going to be in trouble for the Trump-Russia “hoax”. JFC.
Sadly, it mostly worked. Very few people have the time to read the Mueller Report, or the IG’s report, let alone the much more complicated New York Times one. But you know what your aunt and uncle do have time to do? Listen to Fox News pundits. And read Trump tweets (or Truths we guess). They hear TOTAL EXONERATION, they hear TRUMP-RUSSIA HOAX, they hear HILLARY CLINTON, and they don’t hear anything else. They hear the lie.
It’s like Mark Twain said:
“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
Only Mark Twain never did say that. But it takes a hell of a lot longer to explain how that quote probably got misattributed than it does to say Twain said it. And that’s the whole point. Sigh.
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