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Transparency? With AG Barr, 'Trust -- But Verify'

"We know that the president was explicitly not exonerated on the question of obstruction. We have repeatedly heard the opposite from Team Trump," John Avlon said.
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New Day's John Avlon did a Reality Check segment on whether Bill Barr can be taken at his word.

"Things got hot and heavy when Bill Barr met Congress for the first time since his letter on the Mueller report. There was grandstanding, some new information and lots of still-open questions. But the biggest issue stems from a promise Barr made during his confirmation hearings.

My goal is to provide as much transparency as I can, consistent with the law.

"Transparency. That's the issue, and whether Barr is really doing all he can. So let's take a closer look. Yesterday, Barr said this:"

I tried to use as much of the special counsel's own language as I could.

"That may have been his intention, but let's look at the results. We know the full Mueller report is somewhere between 300 and 400 pages, excluding charts and supporting documents. That's a doorstop of a document. So let's be conservative and say roughly 90,000 words. Barr included exactly 101 words from the Mueller report in his four-page letter, and that's counting a footnote and the title. That's about .1% of the total Mueller report. It's hard to square with Barr saying he tried to include as much of the special counsel's language as he could. His letter was the result of a 48-hour reading binge of the report and is worth asking whether Barr's 18-page memo saying the investigation was fatally misconceived was written quite as quickly.

I was not interested in putting out summaries or trying to summarize. I think any summary regardless of who prepares it not only runs the risk of being under inclusive or over inclusive but also would trigger a lot of discussion and analysis that really should await everything coming out all at once.

"Okay, so Barr certainly seemed to have erred on the side of being under under-inclusive and of course his letter triggered discussion and analysis. He was greeted with cheers of vindication from Team Trump and indelibly framed the national debate. Look, despite Democrats' complaints, It's totally appropriate to redact information that could compromise sources or ongoing investigations. But it's striking that Barr said he has no interest in asking a judge to approve the release of grand jury testimony, as was done after the Watergate and Starr investigations. Among many open questions is whether Mueller intended to have the AG decide if the president could be charged with obstruction, an impeachable offense. Just ask presidents Nixon and Clinton.


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"We know that the president was explicitly not exonerated on the question of obstruction. We have repeatedly heard the opposite from Team Trump, including Tom Graves yesterday:

The conclusions were simple. No collusion, no obstruction.

"No. But notably, AG Barr didn't take the opportunity to correct the Georgia congressman. He did confirm he's looking into the roots of the Russia investigation, essentially bowing to Trump's demands to investigate the investigators. When the report is released in the next week or so, we'll all get much more visibility into the evidence behind it. In the meantime, Attorney General Barr deserves the benefit of the doubt -- but as Ronald Reagan reminded us, we should trust, but verify. And that process has only just begun."

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