Had Mueller similarly delivered his statement of last week soon after delivering his report to Barr, he likely could have blunted, if not preempted entirely, the Trump efforts to misrepresent his office’s findings and their significance. For example, Mueller could have made plain that his decision not to make charging decision regarding Trump was grounded in a Justice Department rule against indicting a sitting president, and had nothing to do with Trump’s culpability (as Barr later suggested).

As a recently released letter to Barr indicates, Mueller simply didn’t contemplate that Barr would also embark on a weeks-long campaign to outright lie about the report and its findings, commencing with Barr’s own mendacious letter of March 24, 2019, and continuing through a press conference held minutes before the report itself was released.

It was only after Barr announced that he taking up the president’s demand for a full-blown investigation of the law enforcement officers who successfully uncovered the Russian attack that Mueller belatedly spoke. While all of the facts Mueller recited came straight out of his report, it was only after he appeared before the cameras that the full import of his account of the president’s misconduct finally began to hit home.