Not an entirely unfair question, although almost certainly nothing more than a nine-days wonder in the end. According to the New York Times, the report from Robert Mueller to William Barr ran over 300 pages, more than suggesting that Mueller may have gone well beyond his minimal requirement in outlining prosecution and declination decisions. What did the Attorney General leave out to squeeze Mueller’s findings down to just four pages?
The still-secret report on Russian interference in the 2016 election submitted by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, last week was more than 300 pages long, according to American officials with knowledge of it, a length that raises new questions about Attorney General William P. Barr’s four-page summary.
Mr. Barr wrote to Congress on Sunday offering what he called the “principal conclusions” of the report — including that Mr. Mueller had not found evidence that the Trump campaign took part in a conspiracy to undermine the election. But he had notably declined to publicly disclose its length.
The total of 300-plus pages suggests that Mr. Mueller went well beyond the kind of bare-bones summary required by the Justice Department regulation governing his appointment and detailed his conclusions at length. And it raises questions about what Mr. Barr might have left out of the four dense pages he sent Congress.
Perhaps, but this seems less than meets the eye. First off, the length of the report — if the Times’ sources are correct — isn’t all that extraordinary. Nicholas Fandos and Adam Goldman note that the Watergate “road map” only ran 62 pages, but that’s on the short end of the spectrum. Ken Starr’s Whitewater report ran almost 500 pages, the 9/11 Commission report went past 500, and Michael Horowitz’ inspector-general report on the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation ran almost 600 pages. No one got prosecuted in that case either, although Horowitz did make some potential criminal referrals to the Department of Justice.
In contrast, Mueller issued dozens of indictments and conducted at least one major trial against Paul Manafort. By law, Mueller had to explain those decisions and go into detail about the actions his team took in all of those indictments. Part of that section will have to contain a detailed explanation why he chose to charge criminal violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act, which had rarely if ever been so enforced before. Add in all of the other indictments, plus the referrals to the Southern District of New York and other DoJ offices, plus the decisions in which Mueller declined to prosecute, and those pages will add up fast.
Besides, a belief that Barr left out anything that would contradict the conclusions in his letter is akin to a belief in the Tooth Fairy. Rod Rosenstein would hardly feel obligated to go along with such a ruse, having often been the target of Donald Trump’s wrath over the last two years. Don’t forget that Mueller himself is now free to comment on the issue now that he’s retired the special-counsel office. If Barr misrepresented his findings, does anyone doubt that Mueller would remain silent?
Recall that Mueller had his office break radio silence during the probe itself to rebut and rebuke Buzzfeed over a false report that Trump had instructed Michael Cohen to lie about his efforts to build in Moscow. Mueller did that within hours of Buzzfeed’s publishing the false story. It’s been four days since Barr’s letter was made public. If it was inaccurate or incomplete, we’d have heard from Mueller.
Nevertheless, the mystery of what’s in those 300-plus pages will linger until the report gets released to Congress and the general public. House Democrats are already insisting that they won’t accept Barr’s word until they see Mueller’s report for themselves. It will take several weeks to sort out what can be released and what cannot, so they’ll be able to maintain the Collusion Fairy narrative for that long. But after that, as McKay Coppins wrote yesterday, it’s gonna be “turbulent times for Resistance Inc”:
The Robert Mueller fetishization cottage industry is collapsing. Russia conspiracy theorists are frantically tweet-storming as though their life—or livelihood—depends on it. And across liberal America, cable-news obsessives and keyboard warriors who have spent years waiting for investigators to produce a presidency-ending bombshell are in a state of open mourning.
Nowhere has the anticlimactic conclusion to Mueller mania been more acutely felt than in the alternative partisan media complex that services the so-called resistance. I first wrote about this world back in 2017, when an array of hyper-partisan Facebook pages, Twitter conspiracists, click farms, and podcasts were gaining popularity among stressed-out Trump-era liberals.
The landscape has shifted since that early attempt to map its topography. But even as new players have arrived on the scene and others have flamed out, the appetite for unsubstantiated, Mueller-centric speculation—and the attendant Trump-is-doomed narrative—never abated. So, when Attorney General William Barr notified Congress last weekend that the special counsel was closing up shop without having established a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, I decided to check back in on the resistance media. How were they taking the news—and what would they do now without their favorite content bonanza?
We’ll get the answer from McKay on today’s Ed Morrissey Show at 4 pm ET. Be sure to join us!