Trump-Barr’s Manipulation of the Mueller report: Political Cover-up of the Century?

Photo by Saul Loeb

We live in a very corrupt era. A case in point is the current and scandalous manipulation of the Mueller report by the Trump administration, with hardly any outcry from people in authority. Indeed, of the close to 400 pages (excluding tables and appendices) of the Mueller report delivered to the U.S. Attorney General on Friday March 22, 2019, not a single page has yet to be made public, as of Tuesday April 2, a deadline established by the House of Representatives, either to the elected Congress and/or to the American people to see for themselves the real content of the full report.

The only thing made public, so far, is a four-page memo written by Attorney General William Barr, a recent appointee of Donald Trump, which says nice things about his boss and contains a vague promise to release a heavily censored version of the Mueller report sometime in the future (see below). To take at face value what a Trump’s appointee says, especially a lawyer, could be a big mistake.

This is an administration known for its serial lies. It has no respect for the truth whatsoever. —It has only partisan interests. In fact, Donald Trump is a believer in the “Big Lie” political theory, a propaganda technique first advanced by Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) in his 1925 book Mein Kampf. According to this theory, the bigger a politician’s lies and the more out of the ordinary, the more part of the population will be ready to believe them.

Donald Trump was at it again on Thursday March 28, when he wrongly claimed in a speech in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that the Mueller report “fully exonerated him” of any wrong doing. This is curious since no part of the report has yet been made public and Barr’s own opinion and brief interpretation were only that “Mueller had reached no conclusion about whether Trump had obstructed justice”! This is an example of stretching the truth, if I’ve ever seen one. Trump’s political career has been a long series of lies, falsehoods, untruths, exaggerations and misrepresentations, and there is no reason to think that the future would be different from the past.

But, there is something fishy here. —If the 400-page report by the Department of Justice’s special Counsel Robert Mueller (about Donald Trump cheating and obstructing justice in his relations with Russia) really does contain positive conclusions about the current occupant of the White House, his family and associates, don’t you think the tandem Trump-Barr would have rushed to make it public? At the very least, wouldn’t they have delivered copies of the full report to Congress? Why are they willing to fight to keep it secret from the elected Congress? The only logical answer is that the complete Mueller report contains very damaging material about Trump, his family and his administration, and William Barr does not want Americans to see it.

In any case, even if some media have jumped onboard Mr. Barr’s presentation of the contents of the report, a net majority of Americans are not falling for the Trump-Barr sleight of hand trick of hiding the report Nor do they accept their game of hide and seek, claiming that the report contains conclusions favorable to them, but keeping those conclusions secret. A NPR/PBS NewsHour/Maris poll, for example, indicated that only Trump’s gullible political base, just 36 percent, believe the Trump-Barr manipulation of the report, i.e. that Donald Trump has been “cleared” from wrongdoing. What is more, 56 percent believe the contrary, and 75 percent want the full report, uncensored, un-redacted, unedited and with no blackouts, to be made public ASAP.

Attorney General Barr has lately pulled a rabbit, or maybe a red herring, out of his hat to stall things further, in an obvious attempt to ‘drown the fish’ and take the sting out of the Mueller report. Indeed, on Friday March 29, Mr. Barr wrote a letterto the chairmen of the relevant committees of both the House and the Senate offering to rewrite the Mueller report on his own in order to exclude some so-called “sensitive” sections, some of which no doubt referring to his boss and his immediate family working in the White House. It is doubtful that such censorship is really necessary because it is most likely that special counsel Mueller and his team, knowing full well that their report will be made public, have been very careful not to include any sensitive or classified intelligence or any other touchy legal information. —This could be the political cover-up of the century.

Indeed, the Attorney General now wants to make public his own censored version of the Mueller report by excluding four broad categories of information from the official report:

  1. Grand jury material;
  2. Information that could compromise sensitive intelligence sources or methods;
  3. Details related to ongoing investigations; and
  4. Information that would unduly infringe on ‘the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties’.

This is an obvious attempt to gut the entire report.

In conclusion, it appears that the Trump administration is very busy making sure that anything in the Mueller report found damaging to the president, his immediate family and associates will be purged from the censored version, to be released in a few weeks. I doubt very much that the Democratic leadership in Congress will acquiesce to such blatant censorship of a report about political figures and originally designed to be made public in its entirety.

Mr. Adam Schiff’s indictments of Republicans

Considering this development, it may be useful to recall House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff’s admonitions to his Republican colleagues, on Thursday, March 28, about their lack of probity and honesty and their “immoral,” “unethical,” “unpatriotic,” and “corrupt” behavior:

You [the Republicans] might think that it is okay:

  • That the Russians offered dirt on the Democratic candidate for president as part of what’s described as the Russian government’s effort to help the Trump campaign. You might think that’s okay.
  • That when that was offered to the son of the president (Donald Trump Jr.), who had a pivotal role in the campaign, that the president’s son did not call the FBI, and that he did not adamantly refuse that foreign help — no, instead that son said he would ‘love’ the help of the Russians. You might think it was okay that he took that meeting?
  • That Paul Manafort, the campaign chair, someone with great experience running campaigns, also took that meeting. You might think it’s okay that the president’s son-in-law (Jared Kushner) also took that meeting. You might think it’s okay that they concealed it from the public. You might think it’s okay that their only disappointment after that meeting was that the dirt they received on Hillary Clinton wasn’t better. You might think it’s okay. — I don’t.
  • That, when it was discovered a year later that they had lied about that meeting and said it was about adoptions, you might think it’s okay that the president is reported to have helped dictate that lie. You might think it’s okay. — I don’t.
  • That the campaign chairman of a presidential campaign would offer information about that campaign to a Russian oligarch in exchange for money or debt forgiveness. You might think that’s okay. — I don’t.
  • That [Donald Trump’s] campaign chairman offered polling data, campaign polling data, to someone linked to Russian intelligence. — I don’t think that’s okay.
  • That the president himself called on Russia to hack his opponent’s emails, if they were listening. You might think it’s okay that, later that day, the Russians in fact attempted to hack a server affiliated with that campaign. — I don’t think that’s okay.
  • That the president’s son-in-law (Jared Kushner) sought to establish a secret back-channel of communication with Russians through a Russian diplomatic facility. — I don’t think that’s okay.
  • That an associate of the president (Roger Stone) made direct contact with the GRU (the Military intelligence service of Russia) through Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks, that is considered a hostile intelligence agency. You might think it’s okay that a senior campaign official was instructed to reach that associate and find out what that hostile intelligence agency had to say, in terms of dirt on his opponent.
  • That the national security adviser-designate (Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn) secretly conferred with a Russian ambassador about undermining U.S. sanctions, and you might think it’s okay he lied about it to the FBI. You might say that’s all okay. You might say that’s just what you need to do to win. — But I don’t think it’s okay. I think it’s immoral, I think it’s unethical, I think it’s unpatriotic and, yes, I think it’s corrupt, and it is an evidence of collusion…
  • [Moreover], I don’t think it’s OK that during a presidential campaign Mr. Trump sought the Kremlin’s help to consummate a real estate deal in Moscow that would make him a fortune — according to the special counsel, hundreds of millions of dollars. I don’t think it’s OK to conceal it from the public. I don’t think it’s OK that he advocated a new and more favorable policy towards the Russians even as he was seeking the Russians’ help, the Kremlin’s help to make money. I don’t think it’s OK that his attorney lied to our committee. There is a different word for that than collusion, and it’s called ‘compromise’.”

International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”, of the book “The New American Empire”, and the recent book, in French « La régression tranquille du Québec, 1980-2018 ».

This article originally appeared on Dr. Tremblay’s blog.