}

Monday, March 25, 2019

Spin, spin, spin

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves: We still don’t really know any more about what’s actually in the Mueller Report than we did a couple days ago. What we are mainly hearing is spin and marketing, and no amount of PR puffery and declarations to the contrary can change that fact. Once the entire report is released, we can judge for ourselves what is true—and what isn’t.

Republicans are claiming that the report “exonerates” the current occupant of the White House from charges of collusion with Russia, but that relies on Robert Barr’s assertion alone. What we can surmise from what he said is that there is no prosecutable evidence of collusion, which is absolutely NOT the same thing as there not actually being collusion. Moreover, a prosecutable crime is not the same thing as an impeachable offence. The US House of Representatives will investigate the matter. In any case, if Barr and the current regime are so certain that the report “exonerates” the current occupant, they should just release the entire report. What are they afraid of?

Barr notes that Mueller’s report doesn’t commit either way on the question of whether the current occupant or his regime engaged in the crime of obstruction of justice, saying: “The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him’.” Regardless of whether a crime was committed, once again, a prosecutable crime is not the same thing as an impeachable offence. The US House will investigate this matter, too. If Barr and the current regime are really so certain that the report “exonerates” the current occupant from the crime of obstruction of justice, they should just release the entire report. What are they afraid of?

Barr will claim that most of the report cannot be released because much of Mueller’s work was done before a grand jury. Whether that’s a legitimate reason or a political excuse is something we cannot know unless we see the full report. Expect Congressional subpoenas and then lawsuits when the current regime defies them. But, again, if Barr and the current regime are so certain that the report “exonerates” the current occupant of any crimes, they should just release the entire report. What are they afraid of?

Barr gives the appearance of trying to seem dutiful, but, to reiterate, we cannot know whether that’s the case or not unless the entire report is released. There’s a very good reason for Barr to make assertions that are not necessarily, or not literally, supported by the report: Getting ahead of the news cycle. They know that getting the current regime’s narrative out first will dominate the news cycle and, because of that, people’s perceptions of what’s factual and true. Sceptics have little to counter with right now other than casting doubt and raising an eyebrow. This whole matter, including the questions about whether Barr is being accurate and truthful in his summary, can be answered very simply by releasing the entire report. What are they afraid of?

In the Republican Party’s spin, they attack Democrats as now somehow having no grounds to oppose the current occupant. But as Robert Reich pointed out in an opinion piece, the important point here, and one that Democrats have always been focused on, is not whether or not the current occupant engaged in prosecutable crimes related to collusion with Russia, its that he “has undermined the very idea of America”. His lies, his deliberate attempts to divide the American people, his using the office of president to enrich himself, his cosy hero worship of brutal dictators, his undermining of the Western Alliance that's kept the peace since the end of World War Two, all of these are things that make him unfit to be president—and most are mainly political matters.

We know that some 40-ish% of the American people won’t care about any of his failings, some 50-ish% will care enough to possibly vote against him, and the remaining 10-ish% will be somewhere in between. Who will prevail? No one has any idea, and anyone who claims they know for certain is either lying or delusional. Or both.

Even if the report really does say that the current occupant of the White House didn’t participate in the collusion, that doesn’t exonerate him of responsibility. As I’ve long suggested, it’s entirely possible that the current occupant didn’t know that people close to him in his campaign were colluding with Russia. If this were a normal crime syndicate, they would have kept him in the dark to preserve plausible deniability. It’s also possible that he was told, but his fading cognitive abilities have prevented him from remembering. It also possible that he simply didn’t have the intellectual heft to understand what was happening or the implications of what his people were up to. At the moment all of those are possible, none can be ruled out, and none can be proven. We simple don’t know. But if any of those are true, he's still responsible for the conduct of his campaign, particularly when it was traitorous.

However, there are plenty of reasons to be suspicious of him, and to think that the talk of collusion is based on something. We know, for example, that he lied about his business dealings with Russia, something that caught the attention of the Mueller investigation, but we don’t know what led do, as opposed to what it could have led to; the former would be fact-based, the latter speculation.

The current occupant has had multiple private chats with the Russian dictator, but we don’t know what they talked about. We do know, however, that he nearly always takes the dictator’s side—and few exceptions are both insignificant and short-lived. We also know he shared classified information with the Russians when they called on him in the White House. There are plenty of other connections, too, including the infamous Trump Tower meeting.

Having said all that, we still don’t know what we don’t know, and it’s far too early to draw any firm conclusions.

I don’t know that we’ll ever know the truth, or, at least, we won’t until he’s out of office—assuming, of course, that the USA’s republic and constitution survive this regime. But right now, we simply don’t know what the truth is, and we cannot know unless the full report is released.

So, no, we have absolutely no reason to believe that the report really does “exonerate” the current occupant or his regime, nor can we have certainty that it doesn’t. The ONLY way we can ever know is if the entire report is released. What are they so afraid of?

The reality now is exactly the same as it was, say, a week ago: The Constitutional process will have to run its course. Congressional committees will now take over the job of investigating the current occupant and his regime, as is their role under the US Constitution. Whether the solution is ultimately a political one alone or from the criminal justice system will be clear in time.

Until we have some real answers and some actual facts to look toward, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Related:

“4 key takeaways from the Mueller report summary”Washington Post

“Special counsel finds Trump did not collude with Russia”ThinkProgress

“Nadler: Mueller 'not exonerating' Trump in report”The Hill

The image of the spinning gyroscope up top is in the public domain (via Wikimedia).

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