I wrote last week that Trump would use the old Iran-Contra playbook, where the executive summary of the Mueller report would contradict the actual findings. I should have anticipated that Bill Barr would quarterback that particular play, but sadly, I'm not surprised that so many access journalists would parrot the White House talking points.That said, I'm pleasantly surprised that this morning, there's a solid core of journalists pointing out the contradictions and complexity of the alleged findings.
CNN's New Day had Lisa Monaco, Bob Mueller's former chief of staff, on to offer her thoughts on what we know about the report, and she made clear that she has questions about Bill Barr's interpretation of her old boss's report.
"Lisa, on that front I want to start with you on William Barr's claim, William Barr writes that Robert Mueller ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment on the issue of obstruction of justice," John Berman said. "Knowing Robert Mueller as you do, any thoughts about why he may have chosen not to tell us whether or not he believed the president broke the law and credibly criminally obstructed justice?"
"So here again, I think it's going to be important to see what the special counsel's said on the subject," Monaco said. "What we know from Barr's letter is that the special counsel and his team laid out what may well be a substantial record, a substantial set of facts regarding obstruction and Barr's letter says that was done on both sides of the obstruction question.
"And then goes on to say, as you noted, that the special counsel declined to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. That's very interesting language and I'd like to see the report on this piece. But we know the Justice Department guidelines are that you cannot indict a sitting president. So it does not surprise me at all that Bob Mueller would hew to that guidance and follow that policy. But what I think is quite striking is the attorney general's decision to weigh in, to kind of insert himself into this and make his own judgment, along with Rod Rosenstein.
"It seems to me that what may be the case is that Bob Mueller and his team laid out a substantial record -- a road map, if you will, for the next phase in this process for Congress which the Constitution and DoJ policy all indicate are the ones who are best positioned to make a judgment about conduct, whether or not it arises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors of a sitting president.
"But rather than just leave that for Congress, it seems the attorney general has inserted himself in this, and that was a surprise."