The internet is currently buzzing over allegations that Attorney General William Barr mischaracterized the Mueller report from none other than Robert Mueller himself. Here’s a selection of sources and their headlines:
- Washington Post: Mueller complained that Barr’s letter did not capture ‘context’ of Trump probe
- USA Today: Robert Mueller objected to AG William Barr’s initial summary clearing President Trump of obstruction
- CNN: Mueller expressed misgivings to Barr about 4-page letter
- HuffPost: Robert Mueller Told William Barr He Mischaracterized His Findings: Report
These headlines all suggest some sinister attempt by Attorney General Barr to mislead the public about the Mueller report in his four-page memo on the report’s findings. But, when you actually read beyond the headlines you’ll discover that the media is doing all the misleading here. This comes from CNN’s story:
Later, Barr and Mueller spoke by phone and while Mueller didn’t think Barr’s letter was inaccurate, the special counsel believed his report was more nuanced on the obstruction of justice issue, according to Justice Department officials. Mueller was frustrated by media coverage, and wanted more of the report to come out, those officials told CNN.
Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement Tuesday that Mueller did not tell Barr that anything in the letter was factually wrong.
“In a cordial and professional conversation, the Special Counsel emphasized that nothing in the Attorney General’s March 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading. But, he expressed frustration over the lack of context and the resulting media coverage regarding the Special Counsel’s obstruction analysis,” Kupec said.
The Washington Post buried the same thing as well:
A day after the letter was sent, Barr and Mueller spoke by phone for about 15 minutes, according to law enforcement officials.
In that call, Mueller said he was concerned that news coverage of the obstruction investigation was misguided and creating public misunderstandings about the office’s work, according to Justice Department officials.
When Barr pressed him whether he thought Barr’s letter was inaccurate, Mueller said he did not, but felt that the media coverage of the letter was misinterpreting the investigation, officials said.
So, the two key points here are (1) Mueller did not think Barr’s memo was inaccurate, and (2) Mueller’s major concern was actually misleading media coverage.
Of course, this isn’t stopping liberal pundits from foaming at the mouth with allegations that Barr’s memo on the report was misleading or even false.
As Robert Mueller told Barr, his mischaracterizations of the report mislead the public and undermined one of the central purposes for the Justice Department appointing the Special Counsel. Barr then lied to Congress and the press.
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) May 1, 2019
Whoa.#Mueller confronted #Barr, according to WaPo.
Barr is one of the worst of the Trump sycophants/apologists. An utter disgrace. https://t.co/v1RDxJ71O9
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) April 30, 2019
Whoa, Special Counsel Robert Mueller says that Attorney General Bill Barr mischaracterized his report.
Is this why @TheJusticeDept Barr is afraid of testifying before the @HouseJudiciary Committee this Thursday? https://t.co/P7OmzKANJQ
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 30, 2019
This is incredible: Mueller all but said Barr was sabotaging the report https://t.co/CP9I4yta8t
— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) April 30, 2019
At the time of this writing, #ImpeachBarr is trending on Twitter, and Senator Chuck Schumer is jumping on the Barr-Mischaracterized-The-Mueller-Report bandwagon. “The Senate will hear from Attorney General Barr this week, where he must answer for his mischaracterization of the special counsel’s findings, his outrageously partisan press conference and, in general, his failure to behave with the impartiality demanded of the Office of Attorney General,” Schumer said. Congressman Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee also pounced on the misleading headlines, tweeting, “I have demanded the letter & Barr must answer for this. Mueller must be allowed to testify.”
And liberals wonder why Trump calls the media the enemy of the people.
Matt Margolis is the author of The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama and the bestselling The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy, will be published in July 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis