PoliticsStacy M. Brown

Media’s Acceptance of Barr Conclusion: Fake News at Its Finest?

The report from special counsel Robert Mueller is in, and after it was placed in the hands of President Donald Trump’s attorney general William Barr, mainstream media again did obeisance to the president’s mantra of “fake news.”

They did so by taking Barr at his word and not questioning Mueller himself — though Mueller isn’t being made available to the press.

Mainstream media hurried to report, “No collusion. No obstruction.”

But is that what the unverified report states?

Remember, Barr’s conclusion is not necessarily Mueller’s findings.

“Having reread William Barr’s June 2018 memo critiquing Mueller’s obstruction investigation and now his summary of Mueller’s report, it is clear that Richard Nixon would not have been forced to resign his office if Barr had been attorney general,” said John Dean, an author, lecturer and former Nixon White House counsel. “Barr wants a president who’s above the law.”

Though Trump and the many worshippers who stand at his pulpit claim victory and exclaim that the “witch hunt” is over, such not make the investigation illegal, wrong or any type of political hack job on the president.

After all, Mueller’s investigation led to the indictments of 34 individuals — including six former top aides, advisers and a personal lawyer of Trump.

“Mark me down as someone who can no longer believe anything from the Trump ‘Justice Department,'” said Malcolm Nance, a U.S. intelligence expert and best-selling author.

“This is narrative control to make Barr’s decision to absolve Trump look reasoned,” said Nance, who has called on Congress to subpoena Barr.

Again, the Barr report in some respects is similar to the infamous deposition of Bill Cosby. Once the Associated Press got its hands on what had been a sealed deposition dating back a decade long, they, like Barr, provided a summary.

The summarized that Cosby had admitted to drugging and sexually assaulting women.

By the time Cosby stood trial, countless other news organizations reported what the Associated Press had summarized.

Only the entire deposition, once unsealed, told an entirely different story — that each and every woman spoken of in the report said they agreed to accept a substance from Cosby, no one was forced to do so.

Mainstream media didn’t bother to read the deposition in its entirety and neither did jurors, so for Cosby — the jury pool had been stained and compromised and there was no going back.

Conviction was fait accompli.

In the case of the Mueller report, Congress — particularly Democrats — want the entire report released, not just Barr’s conclusion from something he had absolutely nothing to do with.

In fact, Barr had everything to gain and keep — namely, his job — by concluding that Mueller exonerated Trump, which he did not.

Seth Abramson, an attorney, college professor and Newsweek columnist, went against the grain and perhaps best summarized the Barr-Mueller fiasco.

“The Barr summary — a very different document from the Mueller report — is being woefully misread by media,” Abramson said. “It doesn’t import what media is suggesting it does. Mueller was supposed to decide if Donald Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice — or, if not chargeable, whether he should be referred to Congress for impeachment for obstruction of justice,” he said.

“But Barr usurped Mueller’s job and decided to make that decision himself. Barr was selected by Donald Trump upon Trump’s reading of documents written by Barr and sent to Trump allies arguing Trump ‘couldn’t’ be charged with obstruction of justice,” Abramson said.

So in not forcing Mueller to make the decision his appointment obligated him to make, Barr saved Trump.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a witness in the obstruction of justice investigation against Trump, appears to have assisted Barr — who had already put his position on obstruction in writing prior to his nomination — in usurping Mueller’s obligation to make a decision on that question, Abramson said.

“Obstruction of justice is an impeachable offense, and therefore we now have a ‘witness’ in a case and a man who made his views known on the case ‘before he had any evidence on it’ — and who ‘got his job’ because of his view on the question — saving Trump from impeachment for that,” he said.

“On collusion, investigative reporters and independent journalists just spent years gathering evidence on a very specific allegation of collusion: that for his own enrichment, Trump traded away our foreign policy on Russian sanctions at a time he knew Russia was attacking us,” Abramson said. “We are now being told that Mueller never investigated the collusion allegation Trump was facing — on a money-for-sanctions-relief quid pro quo — and instead investigated the allegation as Trump saw it, which was whether he struck an agreement with the IRA or Russian hackers.

“For two years, as Trump’s team defined the collusion allegation against him falsely — saying he’d been accused of striking a secret accord with the Internet Research Agency and/or Russian hackers before-the-fact — his critics shrugged and said, ‘Yeah, we’re not looking at that,'” he said. “On this collusion allegation no one was even making against Trump, the special counsel didn’t find any evidence — which I would’ve been fine with, as I’ve never accused Trump of that type of collusion — he actually just found he didn’t have 90 percent or more proof of that form of collusion.

“So we alleged obstruction — and people ineligible to make a decision on that issue made the decision. We alleged collusive activity — and it appears the activity we alleged was never investigated,” Abramson said. “That is how critics of Trump should be seeing what has just happened.

“What will happen now is that Trump will say that Mueller found no obstruction — false, because Mueller made no conclusion on that, though he was supposed to,” he said. “Trump will then say that Mueller found no collusion, and that will be wrong on two separate and distinct grounds.

“The first way in which Trump’s coming statement will be wrong on collusion is that the collusion he was actually accused of wasn’t fully investigated — or perhaps not investigated at all,” Abramson said. “The second issue is, Mueller said he didn’t exonerate Trump as to any collusion. American discourse surrounding Mueller’s investigation is at this moment in dire danger — because most in the media don’t understand either point I’ve made here: that a proper obstruction finding was never made, and that a full collusion investigation was never conducted.”

So what does it all mean?

“Well, as the obstruction determination was not made by Mueller — and was improperly made by Barr and Rosenstein — it now falls to Congress to review the underlying evidence and, if the House Judiciary finds it appropriate, initiate impeachment proceedings,” Abramson said.

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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