In preparation for a week of intense spin, Americans should read the Mueller report if they haven’t already.
This is important because the ultimate judge of President Donald Trump’s behavior, and that of his critics and defenders, is the American people.
Informed voters and patriots concerned about the nation’s security and the integrity of the presidency must decide for themselves what to make of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Or they can tune in to the next episode of the spin machine coming on Wednesday.
That’s when Attorney General William Barr, who spun the Mueller report before it was released by downplaying the open question of obstruction, is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He’ll face the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Wednesday is also the deadline of a subpoena issued by House Democrats, demanding the full, unredacted report and evidence from the Department of Justice.
Congress must address open questions in the Mueller report and seek more transparency. Even a cursory skim of the report will help the public discern which representatives are being productive and seeking to address threats and wrongdoing that Mueller documented, and which are dissembling.
Trump is apparently betting voters won’t read the report and will just take his word for it. He continues to repeat and retweet false claims, ad nauseam, that the report exonerates him and it’s a bogus hit job. That’s a safe bet now that Americans are spending nearly six hours a day watching TV and online video, according to Nielsen, leaving little time for reading anything, much less a 448-page government report.
Even so, before voters’ opinions are hardened by partisan distortions and media punditry, they should read at least the opening summaries.
Just those few pages describe how Russia successfully attacked the election, creating confusion and chaos, helping Trump win. While the attacks weren’t coordinated by the campaign, it eagerly welcomed them. Crimes by many close to Trump were found during the investigation, and Trump himself engaged in problematic behavior that could yet be deemed criminal.
If nothing else read the last sentence. It’s a cliffhanger, putting the question of whether Trump is guilty of obstruction into the hands Congress:
“Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Mueller’s punt on this historic question feels ominously like the Seahawks decision in the 2015 Super Bowl to pass, rather than hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch on the one-yard line.
But don’t take our word for it – read the report, which is posted online at justice.gov/storage/report.pdf.