Bob Franken


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Editors: Please note use of profanity in Trump quote, graf 4.

Before we get too worked up at Attorney General William Barr for his cheesiness in scheduling the release of the partially full report of Robert Mueller’s investigation for when very few people would be around to pay attention, let’s remember that it could be worse. It’s true that Barr is quickly establishing a reputation for being just another Donald Trump shill. He conveniently decided that the intensely controversial document could be put out only right before the Easter weekend, smack-dab in the middle of spring break, when members of Congress and so many others are out partying.
This is worse timing than the usual “Friday night dump,” which is when sleazy politicians make public information about their unseemly activities when others are distracted by weekend time off. Even with a couple of days warning so all the reporters and analysts could break their family plans (remember, in D.C., water runs thicker than blood), it was still a big cluster scramble for us to go on TV and/or write our columns after absorbing all the available documents. Frequently, we did so before we had read the stuff, or thought about it, meaning we didn’t have any earthly idea what we were talking about.

The plodders among us decided to wade through the material, compiled after nearly two years of the Mueller posse chasing every lead on the activities of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and the rest of the Trump campaign gang. It outlined how brazenly candidate Trump’s people did cozy up to the Russians, but did not cross that technical line into illegality. As Mueller wrote: “While the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges.”
Mueller also declined to draw any conclusion over whether Donald Trump should be charged with obstruction of justice, even though he showed a President Trump who did everything he could to interfere with the investigation, citing 10 instances. They included exerting inappropriate pressure on his White House counsel at the time, Don McGahn, to arrange for Bob Mueller to be dismissed. McGahn refused. It actually started back when Robert Mueller was named special counsel. Mueller wrote that Trump exclaimed “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m f—ed.”
It wasn’t and he wasn’t. By hook and by crook, including the most recent push from Attorney General Barr — who is supposed to have the American people as a client, not the president — Trump has escaped accountability. So far. Democrats are already insisting that Mueller testify before their committees. In addition to issuing subpoenas for the piles of unredacted copies … of everything.
Still, the hundreds of analysts and news personalities who filled the air with pundit chatter were talking to themselves. No one was paying attention. There were too many holiday distractions. The politicians — those who weren’t pulled in by the TV bookers — put out their prefabricated and predictable statements. Sometimes reporters would track them down as they sat poolside sipping one of those drinks decorated with fruit and cute little umbrellas.
It’s worth noting that the arrangement was not as tacky as it could have been. If Barr had waited just a few days more, he could have dumped this onto the next weekend, which just happens to coincide with activities swirling around the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. That’s when most reporters put on their country-come-to-town get-ups and pretend they’re glamorous. They’ll be too busy putting on airs to pay attention to just about anything else.
President Trump is skipping this journalists’ salute to journalists once again. But what about Barr? Presumably he won’t go. He’ll stay home, enjoying his status as Donald Trump’s newest lackey.

© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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