With multiple stories breaking that the Mueller report may be far less favorable to Donald Trump and his campaign than the way it was presented in William Barr’s “no collusion, maybe obstruction” letter, NBC News is now reporting that there may be a simple explanation. It’s not that Mueller’s team found that Trump’s campaign staff wasn’t involved with Russian efforts to affect the outcome of the 2016 election by driving up racism, introducing false stories, manipulating social media, stealing private documents, and leveraging ad networks. It’s that they were very much the junior partners in this affair.
NBC has confirmed reports from the New York Times and Washington Post that investigators in the special counsel’s office are disappointed and frustrated by the way Barr “summarized” their work in a way that apparently left Trump free of blame. But even though Trump has declared the Barr letter provides “total exoneration” and “total vindication” it’s clear it does neither. On the point of obstruction, one of the few sentence fragments to make its way from the Mueller report to Barr’s letter explicitly says that Trump was not exonerated.
But it’s the other area dealt with by the Barr letter—the consideration of conspiracy between the Russian government and the Trump campaign—that may generate more interesting information when the full report becomes available. According to the NBC report, the summaries provided in the actual report “paint a picture of a campaign whose members were was manipulated by a sophisticated Russian intelligence operation.” The report also says that some information may be classified.
From “Russia, if you’re listening” to “If it’s what you say I love it” it’s clear that Trump and other members of his staff welcomed the Russian interference and were eager to do their part. How a campaign that was “manipulated” by Russia differs from a campaign that “colluded” with Russia … is going to be on interesting read.
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