“The distortion of the Dowd quote,” Alan Dershowitz told Sean Hannity last night, “is very serious.” The discussion last night mostly bypassed John Dowd himself, who argued that the actual and full transcript of a voicemail he left gives a much different impression than Robert Mueller presented in his report. Dowd gets a chance at the end to accuse Mueller of conducting a “smear,” and called the edited transcript in the report an “ambush”:

The transcript of Dowd’s remarks comes from Power Line’s Scott Johnson, who first flagged this issue on Friday:

Well, I had an obligation as counsel to the president to find out what was going on and I’m so glad Judge Sullivan ordered the transcript because we now know the truth and we also know that this entire report by Mueller is a fraud and we’re going to find more of these things. Isn’t it ironic that this man who kept indicting and prosecuting people for process crimes committed a false statement in his own report? By taking out half my words they changed the [garbled], the tenor, and the contents of that conversation with Robert Kelner. And it’s an outrage and there’s probably more of it. …

Sean, they not only went after Donald Trump. They went after his lawyers. I mean that paragraph that they put out in that [fraud?] is a smear of me and my reputation. And when I used to be a prosecutor, if anyone made an allegation about a lawyer and what he was doing and that he was crossing the line, I’d call the lawyer and talk to him. Now I met with Mueller and [James] Quarles the whole time. They never said a word to me. Instead they pulled this ambush in their report.

Scott explained on Friday why the report should have enraged Dowd. The full transcript shows that Dowd was being very careful not to obstruct the investigation, and that the Mueller report’s ellipses seemed calculate to hide that effort. And, Scott surmises, this attempt at manipulating transcripts might not be limited to Dowd:

The report finds the message potentially obstructive: it “could have had the potential to Flynn’s decision to cooperate, as well as the extent of that cooperation.” In its analysis of the message, the report states: “Because of privilege issues…we could not determine whether the President was personally involved in or knew about the specific message his counsel delivered to Flynn’s counsel.” I reviewed this part of the Mueller Report here, citing all relevant pages and noting that the Trump attorney leaving the message goes unnamed in the report. …

Well, lookie here.

… And that’s not all. For some reason or other, the government has failed to produce additional documents responsive to Judge Sullivan’s order. The CNN story notes: “Regarding the Kislyak call, another key piece about Flynn in the Mueller report, prosecutors appear to say they don’t believe they need to hand over other recording transcripts they may have involving Flynn, because they were not used in his sentencing recommendation. But their explanation in the filing Friday isn’t extensive.”

Something’s happening here. I do believe that Attorney General Barr has his hands full in trying to get to the bottom of it.

Scott’s conclusion today is in line with Dowd’s:

The report smears Dowd, we now know, by means of a deceptively edited voicemail message left by Dowd with Flynn counsel Robert Kelner. Following an order promulgated by Judge Emmet Sullivan in Flynn’s case, prosecutors filed the full transcript of the voicemail message with the court on Friday.

By the way, although they filed the full transcript of the voicemail message with the court this past Friday, the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice have declined to comply fully with Judge Sullivan’s order. Like Bartleby, they would prefer not to.

The problem for Mueller and his team is that there doesn’t seem to be any good reason for their edits of the voicemail message. It’s not as though they related to any privileged content, or went off at length on unrelated topics. They didn’t replace an extended conversation about, say, the prospects for the Washington Nats with three-dot ellipses. The only apparent reason for editing out the underlined passages is to make Dowd look nefarious for doing basic due diligence in a conscientious manner regarding potentially confidential information.

And this does make attempts by prosecutors to keep other transcripts out of court look suspicious, too. Perhaps this was just one singular, ill-advised attempt by Mueller’s team to put a thumb on the scales in its report. At this point, though, it’s tough to bet on it — and one might suspect that federal judges might not want to bet on it either. Barr might have more to consider in this investigation than just the FISA warrant.