Remember all those stories about the number of Democratic lawyers Mueller hired to carry out his investigation? In case you’ve forgotten, 13 of the 17 people he hired were registered Democrats and many had donated to Democratic candidates. It’s worth keeping that in mind as you read the lede to the NY Times’ latest story on the Mueller report:
Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.
At stake in the dispute — the first evidence of tension between Mr. Barr and the special counsel’s office — is who shapes the public’s initial understanding of one of the most consequential government investigations in American history. Some members of Mr. Mueller’s team are concerned that, because Mr. Barr created the first narrative of the special counsel’s findings, Americans’ views will have hardened before the investigation’s conclusions become public.
Mr. Barr has said he would move quickly to release the nearly 400-page report but needed time to scrub out confidential information. The special counsel’s investigators had already written multiple summaries of the report, and some team members believe that Mr. Barr should have included more of their material in the four-page letter he wrote on March 24 laying out their main conclusions, according to government officials familiar with the investigation. Mr. Barr only briefly cited the special counsel’s work in his letter.
I wonder which team members have a problem with Barr’s letter? It’s not the Republican members of the team because there aren’t any. Not one of the lawyers Mueller hired was a registered Republican (though one of the Democrats on the team had donated to former GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz and to former Sen. George Allen).
Today’s revelation just happens to play right into the hands of Democratic operatives in the media claiming the Mueller story has only just begun. AG Barr has already said he is working on a redacted version to share with Congress so it’s not clear why this leak to the Times is necessary except that, as the story itself says, some members of the team don’t want public views of the report to harden into the conventional wisdom yet. They needn’t have worried too much about that. The dead-enders at MSNBC had no intention of giving up after the Barr letter. Rachel Maddow has ratings to maintain.
At the very end of the report, the Times spells out the current political dynamic into which this leak is being dropped:
Mr. Barr’s promises of transparency have done little to appease Democrats who control the House. The House Judiciary Committee voted on Wednesday to let its chairman use a subpoena to try to compel Mr. Barr to hand over a full copy of the Mueller report and its underlying evidence to Congress. The chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, has not said when he will use the subpoena, but made clear on Wednesday that he did not trust Mr. Barr’s characterization of what Mr. Mueller’s team found…
Republicans, who have embraced Mr. Barr’s letter clearing Mr. Trump, have accused the Democrats of trying to prolong the cloud over his presidency and urged them to move on.
Mr. Trump has fully embraced Mr. Barr’s version of events. For days, he has pronounced the outcome of the investigation a “complete and total exoneration” and called for the Justice Department and his allies on Capitol Hill to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for opening the inquiry.
We all know that once the Democrats get their hands on the report, redacted or not, there will be a fresh string of leaks about how devastating it is for Trump. Today’s story is just meant to bridge the gap until that happens. It’s hard to imagine when this will ever end. My guess: Not before 2020.