Two important factors on the outset. First, Barr’s letter is just not the Mueller report; it’s a four-page distillation. There isn’t any motive to imagine Barr has distorted Mueller’s report, however — as anybody who ever skated by way of English class utilizing Cliff’s Notes can attest — a abstract could be a pale substitute for the actual factor.
Second, Barr’s letter appropriately applies the requirements of legal legislation. That’s, Barr employs the acquainted “past an inexpensive doubt” burden of proof essential to convict a defendant of a criminal offense. Additional Congressional motion is a separate, and political, query.
As such, Barr delivers a decisive exoneration of Trump and the administration on the query of legal conspiracy or coordination with Russia. Once more, keep in mind: Barr studies that Mueller discovered inadequate proof to cost a federal crime, however not essentially that Mueller discovered no proof in anyway.
The query, then, was whether or not there was sufficient connective tissue between Russia’s efforts to intrude within the election and the Trump marketing campaign’s need to profit from these efforts to help a legal cost. Barr right now delivered a transparent reply: no.
Mueller punted on the obstruction query. Whereas I’ve the very best doable regard for Mueller as a prosecutor — I might be joyful to be half the prosecutor he’s — this was an uncommon transfer. Prosecutors make tough, and sometimes razor’s edge-close calls about legal expenses on a regular basis. Mueller has been a paragon of decisiveness all through his profession, so this “onerous cross” is hard to know.
The main target now shifts to Congress. First, Congress should confirm whether or not Barr gave the thumbs-down to obstruction expenses due to inadequate proof or due to his excessive and untested views on presidential authority. Congress additionally should make an necessary political calculation: Even when there’s not proof of obstruction past an inexpensive doubt, is there sufficient for Congress to justify additional proceedings?
Whereas I don’t anticipate the SDNY to defy current Justice Division coverage and indict a sitting president, the investigations nonetheless might expose legal wrongdoing by Trump and others in his orbit (the latter group being topic to indictment primarily based on adequate proof, in fact).
Mueller’s investigation, lengthy seen as an existential menace to Trump’s presidency, won’t finish with the President in handcuffs. Barr’s letter all however assures that. However many high-stakes showdowns nonetheless lie forward — for the President, Justice Division, Congress and the courts.