Bill Barr Changes His Story 180 Degrees, Throws Mueller Under The Bus In CBS Interview

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It must have been a wild scene at the White House Thursday. Trump started the day off catastrophically with his “I had nothing to do with Russia getting me elected” tweet, which he then tried to desperately backpedal in the Rose Garden. In his best tough guy voice, he gestured to himself with a stubby digit, “You wanna know who got me elected? I got me elected!” Then of course the obligatory put down of Robert Mueller, whom Trump alleges is a Never Trumper because of a dispute over golf club fees and and Mueller allegedly asking for his old job back as FBI director — a laughable scenario without a shred of credible evidence — but it’s the lie du jour that Trump is pitching. Maybe “lie du moment” would be more accurate, since Trump can’t go an entire day with just one flaming falsehood, he has to keep pumping them out at full force, just like a firehose.

In any event, Fox News started running the chyron you see in the image above, and here is what Bret Baier had to say:

This was not, as the president says time and time again, “no collusion, no obstruction. It was much more nuanced than that. … [Mueller] said specifically if they had found that the president did not commit a crime on obstruction, they would have said that, and then went into specific details about the DOJ policy and why they couldn’t move forward with anything else than their decision.

You can surely imagine Trump’s reaction when he heard that. In Alaska,  Bill Barr is furiously trying to do damage control and give Trump’s alternate reality some meat for the base, so that’s why he went running to a television studio. Things have gotten very very bad when Fox News turns on Trump, it goes without saying. So Barr went on TV and explained that he, Mueller and Rosenstein had discussed the fact that Mueller didn’t make a decision on the topic of obstruction — to their surprise, he noted. Here are excerpts from the full transcript from CBS News:

JAN CRAWFORD: Now you have testified that when you met with Mueller at the Justice Department, you had that meeting, that you were surprised that he told you then that he was not going to reach a conclusion on obstruction.

WILLIAM BARR: Yes, Rod and I were both surprised by that.

JAN CRAWFORD: Did you ask him, look, we need you to make a conclusion on this? You should make a conclusion.

WILLIAM BARR: I wouldn’t say I really pressed him on it. I was interested in his thinking on it and he explained his position, said he was still thinking it through and- and- but I didn’t really press him nor did Rod.

JAN CRAWFORD: So, but you left that meeting thinking that he wasn’t going to have a conclusion?

WILLIAM BARR: That’s right.

JAN CRAWFORD: Do you feel because he didn’t do that, did he fulfill his responsibility as special counsel? If you look at regulations, it seems to anticipate that you would get a confidential report explaining why he made a decision to either prosecute or decline to prosecute. He didn’t do that, seems to me.

WILLIAM BARR: Right but on the other hand he did provide us a report and what he viewed to be the relevant facts. And that allowed us as the, as the leaders of the department to make that decision. [emphasis mine]

Well, there’s an interesting take. Apparently the Mueller report is not really finished, it is subject to interpretation by Rosenstein and Barr and they will re-interpret, or perhaps re-create it, it for one and all — or so it sounds.

JAN CRAWFORD: What is the fundamental difference? Why…I mean, he said he couldn’t exonerate the president. That he had looked at the evil there – these 11 instances of possible obstruction. He couldn’t exonerate the president, if he could he would’ve stated so. You looked at that evidence and you did. I mean, what is the fundamental difference between your view and his?

WILLIAM BARR: Well, I think Bob said that he was not going to engage in the analysis. He was, he was not going to make a determination one way or the other. And he also said that he could not say that the president was clearly did not violate the law, which of course is not the standard we use at the department. We have to determine whether there is clear violation of the law and so we applied the standards we would normally apply. We analyzed the law and the facts and a group of us spent a lot of time doing that and determined that both as a matter of law, many of the instances would not amount to obstruction.

JAN CRAWFORD: As a matter of law?

WILLIAM BARR: As a matter of law. In other words, we didn’t agree with the legal analysis- a lot of the legal analysis in the report. It did not reflect the views of the department. It was the views of a particular lawyer or lawyers and so we applied what we thought was the right law but then we didn’t rely on that. We also looked at all the facts, tried to determine whether the government could establish all the elements and as to each of those episodes we felt that the evidence was deficient.

The particular lawyer Barr is disagreeing with is Robert Mueller — whose views he accepted May 1, but denied May 31. Okay. Let’s see where this is going, because my instinct is that we’re headed straight down a rabbit hole here. Barr is going to stay true to his Roy Cohn “killer” role in Trump’s life, and if today’s interview is any indication, Barr is going to double down on what he initially said in his four page letter. So turn the fans on to high and oscillating, because there’s going to be a lot of smoke getting blown.

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34 Comments on "Bill Barr Changes His Story 180 Degrees, Throws Mueller Under The Bus In CBS Interview"

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Cmae
Guest

Evil has a dopey vest, and a smug, smiling face. Shame on CBS.

Cmae
Guest

And where’s the hot cocoa with whip cream on top, might as well go all the way.

Bareshark
Guest

Indeed, Cmae…it speaks volumes on how pissed Trump is at Fox to even have Barr go there, doesn’t it?

Cmae
Guest

And the Republican spot for the rule of law. Has that been aired yet? I am stunned that fox would even put it on the air.

Bareshark
Guest

I suspect that this is Rupert’s sons behind all these moves. Their dad might be tight with DT but they want to have a viable operation by the time Trump goes bye-bye at last. So…they’re slowly but surely steering the Fox News ship away from Trump. That way, they can keep their rube audience watching while laying the groundwork for a saner (if no less wrongheaded, I fear) approach to conservative politics. Such is my theory anyway, though I would hope it is as fact-based as it seems.

Bareshark
Guest

That leads to a very interesting question: do the sons have Ailes’ chops to properly pull it off?

Bareshark
Guest

I love the smell of panicked Republicans who ultimately answer to a man no longer able to stick to a consistent script. It smells like…victory.

Gerald Boyette
Guest

Mueller has let down his country by not standing up and saying what he needs to say. “Trump is a criminal”.

Bareshark
Guest

Actually, I think he kind of did. He just used words to mask that from the terminally gullible Trump.

Denis Elliott
Member
Actually I think it’s a rerun of Mattis’ resignation letter. Trump was too dense to understand that he’d been called out so someone had the unenviable task of having to explain to him that Mattis had insulted him “bigly.” The same thing applies here except I don’t think someone had to spell it out for Trump until Mueller gave his remarks earlier this week. Someone (and since they are willing to work for Trump I have no sympathy for them whatsoever) had to tell him to his face that Mueller basically said he had the goods to indict and convict… Read more »
Gerald Boyette
Guest
The public doesn’t have time to parse the obtuse thinking of Mueller and the “rules” so first impressions from Trump and Barr will stick. They denied misdeeds for weeks before any response from Mueller. Only a dramatic presentation by Mueller has a chance to reverse the first impressions and Mueller may already be tainted by Trumps lies about the man. No president is going to start his term by prosecuting the previous president. It will look like a political act, not an act of justice and taint the new president and his agenda forever. Trump will walk free and that’s… Read more »
Lone Wolf
Member

Mueller’s word’s were as plain as day, Trump only sees $$$ signs.

Bareshark
Guest

To US, it was plain as day, Wolf. To Trump? Highly debatable…he’d need an interpreter to figure it out. I also think that he sees what those $$$ signs symbolize to him: respect and fear, two things he was consistently denied by most people before his “presidency”.

p j evans
Member

he told congress it’s their job to impeach, and that he couldn’t do anything more because of DOJ rules.
It’s that simple.

Gerald Boyette
Guest

Not quite. He left behind a 400 page tome which no one will read. Meanwhile Trump and Barr go on TV in person and say whatever they want. That’s much easier to believe than the “fake news” about what’s in the Mueller Report. Until Mueller goes on TV like Trump and Barr the majority of Americans will continue to be opposed to impeachment.
We need to see him or it’s all for naught.

Concinnity
Guest

‘Trump is not, not a criminal’ is just that tiny bit more convoluted isn’t it?
It brings with it a moment of cognitive dissonance while we add and subtract the negatives.

Gerald Boyette
Guest

I have no cognitive dissonance with respect to Trump, I didn’t help get him elected. He needs to go to usher in a new age of Pence, another fine gentleman I’ll bet.

Denis Elliott
Member

There’s a thought that’s been going through my head that I can’t express online as it’s horribly offensive. However for someone of my age it involves a common term we used to hear all the time.

Bareshark
Guest

As I lack your dignity, I’ll hazard a censored guess…he’s effed?

Denis Elliott
Member

Nope, I really shouldn’t say more although I’ve reached out to someone I can trust to tell me whether I’d get eaten alive for saying what I think about Barr.

Nonya
Guest

What think about Barr, Trump, McTurtle, pence etc…CAN NOT BE EXPRESSED IN POLITE COMPANY!

Bareshark
Guest

As you like, Denis…personally, I believe NOTHING that can be said about Trump is too vile at this point.

p j evans
Member

emptywheel has a post on Barr denying – nine times! – that there was evidence of irregularity in the Russia investigation.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2019/05/31/bill-barr-was-unable-to-offer-any-evidence-of-irregularity-in-russia-investigation-nine-different-times