Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Et Tu, CNN?

William Barr sent a 3 1/2 page alleged summary of the Special Counsel's report to the chairpersons and ranking members of the Senate and the House Judiciary committees on March 24, and the "liberal media" reacted as should have been expected.

The New York Times, though otherwise relatively objective, claimed "the investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III found no evidence that President Trump or any of his aides coordinated with the Russian government's 2016 election interference."

Politico Editor-in-Chief John F. Harris, on March 27 practicing worse than bothsiderism, lamented "We can’t all seem to agree that it’s a good thing the president didn’t conspire with Russia, nor can we all admit that the Kremlin may have helped elect Trump."

Of course, the President didn't conspire with Russia- but the Kremlin may have helped elected Donald Trump. (And the President at that time was Barack Obama.)

 CNBC's headline of March 24 read "Trump did not collude with Russia, says Mueller, and is cleared of obstruction by the attorney general."

The only problems here are that

1) Barr cleared the campaign of having committed an "obstruction-of-justice" offense not because Donald Trump was found by Mueller not to have obstructed justice. Instead, Barr rationalized, it was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that an underlying crime had been committed, in part because corrupt intent is unlikely when the obstruction took place in public view.

2) Even Barr does not claim that Mueller stated that Trump did not collude with Russia, but rather "the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated...." Absence of proof is not proof of absence.

3) Barr carefully referred to the "Russian government" and "Russia," never addressing "Russian actors" or "Russians."  Given that Vladimir Putin's power and influence extend well beyond government officials, that is a significant, if not telling, distinction.

But the worst mangling of the findings came from Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb- not members of an editorial board, columnists, or analysts- but reporters at CNN.

 "Democrats' past statements on Trump and Russia are facing new scrutiny," they maintain, though the only scrutinizers cited are the "Trump campaign." They claim "Special counsel Robert Mueller found that no one in the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in 2016," though even Barr chose to claim only that Mueller "did not find" collusion" rather than stating definitively that no one conspired.

Although a determination is "the resolving of a question by argument or reasoning"- and the question has not been resolved- the reporters complain Democrats refuse to believe the "determination" that no collusion transpired. Barr invoked a less definitive "did not establish" for a reason.

Raju and Herb believe Democrats "demanding the full release of the Mueller report" and promising to "continue investigating ties between Trump  and Russia" is a strategy which "risks political backlash for Democrats "if they are viewed as overreaching and probing into an area that has already been exhaustively investigated..."

There is no acknowledgement of (overwhelming) public supportfor release of the report nor of the implied constitutional obligation ofCongress to render oversight of the Executive branch.

This was not Breitbart, Fox News, or even the Washington Examiner. It was CNN, periodically cited by Donald Trump as "fake news." As a former Vermont governor notes

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