Attorney General William Barr’s press conference about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Thursday appeared to let President Trump off the hook for any “collusion” with Russian agents. But sharp-eared listeners also caught some particularly slippery language when it came to Barr addressing the 2016 Wikileaks scandal.
“The Special Counsel … investigated whether any member or affiliate of the Trump campaign encouraged or otherwise played a role [in the dissemination of hacked Democratic emails],” Barr said. The attorney general added that “under applicable law, publication of these types of materials would not be criminal unless the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy. Here too, the special counsel’s report did not find that any person associated with the Trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of the materials.”
That’s the point reporters are hung up on: The report “did not find that any person associated with the Trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination.” As Jon Swaine, a reporter for The Guardian, tweeted, in Barr’s comments the attorney general seemingly “left open the possibility that Mueller did find Trump associates were involved in the dissemination of hacked emails by WikiLeaks.”
Hmm. Barr sure seemed to go out of his way to say it’s not criminal to disperse stolen (Democratic) emails- if not part of the original hacking. Why so defensive?
— Jane Mayer (@JaneMayerNYer) April 18, 2019
Wow. Barr essentially acknowledges that Trump associates worked with WikiLeaks to publish stolen documents, but couches it in the language of exoneration because they did not participate in the hack. That is amazingly weaselly
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) April 18, 2019
The public version of the Mueller Report will be released later Thursday, and you can bet all eyes are going to be on figuring out exactly what Attorney General Barr means with that “illegally.”
Read more: theweek.com