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All the talk in Washington is that Robert Mueller will give his report soon to the new attorney general, William Barr, and it won't nail President Trump.

It's that we might have to take somebody's word on that.

As a special rather than independent counsel--because Ken Starr made such a fine mess that we changed the law--Mueller will make his report to the attorney general, not the Congress or the people.

The furor--there always will be furor--will be over whether Barr simply passes on the unabridged report to Congress and the people, or publicly summarizes it, as the law permits, in a way the Trump resistance can't or won't trust.

Thus, the next question will become whether the newly controlling Democrats in the House will--either way, based on Barr's untrusted summary or the full report itself--proceed full-speed on committee investigations of Trump on matters presumably covered in Mueller's report.

Our newly minted Trumpian spokesman of a governor, the Full Asa Hutchinson, went on Meet the Press on Sunday to perform an excellent Mike Pence impersonation.

The converted acolyte--Asa once didn't like Donald Trump at all--said Trump was doing a great job and that Democrats will look partisan if they continue committee investigations after a final Mueller report.

Asa, as you might recall, did not appear partisan at all--did he?--as a House member handling prosecutorial duty in the Senate in the late 1990s. That was after Starr, appointed to look at a silly little failed land deal, hung around long enough for Bill Clinton, inevitably, to have oral sex and not tell the truth about it under oath.

The issue was whether one could obstruct justice when he was really obstructing nothing more than injustice.

In the end, it turned out a spectacular waste of time. It takes too many votes in the Senate to convict via impeachment anybody short of John Dillinger in these polarized times.

There is an obvious fair and logical process to follow upon the delivery of this report, which means that process is probably out of the question.

Republicans can't have it both ways. They can't summarize the report--perhaps sanitize--and then accuse Democrats of partisan impropriety if they use their House chairmanships to hold investigative hearings into matters conceivably addressed in a Justice Department report that the Justice Department will sit on.

Only by conveying the report without redaction to congressional and public openness could Trump and the GOP find a leg to stand on in whining about partisan investigations.

Now it is likely true that House Democrats will proceed with committee probes either way--fully credibly without public release of Mueller's report and with legitimate issues of credibility with public release.

It is entirely possible the attorney general could convey the full report and the Democrats could say thank you for the openness and that the public deserves a fuller airing on a couple of these sections even if Mueller determined there was no cause for criminal action.

But that will be for the Democrats to decide and account. It will be for Republicans to assail with some credibility.

And it will be for voters to determine at the polling place in November 2020.

All of that hinges on the thing we don't yet know, which is what Mueller will report.

The speculation of the hour is that, since the report is imminent and Donald Trump Jr. hasn't been indicted yet, the report will fall short of clear findings of collusion by the campaign or the president himself.

And it's that obstruction of justice is a hard standard to impose on a president.

That Clinton could slide on perjury portends well for Trump's ability to slide on heavy-handed firing of Justice Department officials because they wouldn't stop investigating him.

Even so, the report might well be rife with intriguing findings short of criminal conspiracy about this president's dealings with Russian oligarchs and his tendency in office to oblige Vladimir Putin while ridiculing his own intelligence officials.

Mueller is a pro. His work will be thorough and fair.

We don't see much anymore in contemporary politics that is professional, thorough and fair. It would be sad not to let everybody behold such a rare thing.

How the politicians behave after that ... we can only judge that if and until we all see the full report.

First, the full report. Then, the political reaction. Then, the election.

That's how you do that.


John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

Editorial on 02/26/2019

Print Headline: JOHN BRUMMETT: It all hinges on the report


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  • Rightside
    February 26, 2019 at 7:19 a.m.

    Under the special counsel regulation, Mueller is only required at the end of his investigation to submit a final report to the attorney general. Barr has testified he believes the special counsel's report is confidential, but he has the authority to compile his own version for public consumption.
    Barr "As I said in my statement, I am going to make as much information available as I can, consistent with the rules and regulations." Barr testified that he expects Mueller's report will summarize "prosecutive or declination decisions," which will be treated like any similar material within the Justice Department. Declination memos, which summarize cases in which no charges are brought, are held within DOJ and not released to the public.
    One thing we know is there is no Trump Russia collusion after two years of democrats, media and wacky columnist pushing the lie, not one ounce of this conspiracy has emerge.

    The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act voted down by Democrats yesterday. Senate Democrats failed to protect babies from infanticide when they are born alive following botched abortions. 44 Senate Democrats voted for death, the extremism of the Democrats is real.

  • Skeptic1
    February 26, 2019 at 8:11 a.m.

    You poor left-wing nuts. You bought the Obama/Hillary smokescreen hook line and sinker and now you are left with a another gigantic nothing burger. What needs to happen now is for Barr to restore the integrity of our DOJ and FBI that the Obama Deep State has destroyed, and all of those bad actors need to be brought to justice before that can happen.

  • Packman
    February 26, 2019 at 10:17 a.m.

    Always remember the initial purpose of the deep state resistance efforts was to keep Donald Trump from being inaugurated. Then the goal was removal from office. If the Mueller report doesn't deliver the smoking gun bedwetting libs have been promising and salivating over for months on end, the new goal will be to do whatever possible to hurt President Trump's re-election bid, which means House investigations of any and all manner. Democrat party leaders seem to have dropped calls for impeachment like a hot tater.
    Dems made a tactical error in putting so many of their eggs in the Mueller report basket. If the report fails to recommend criminal charges for Trump/Putin collusion it will be a victory for President Trump. Regular Americans will say "enough, leave the guy alone" and the continued investigations will only create sympathy for President Trump. And impeachment will be a disaster for Democrats.
    After being exonerated by the Mueller report and considering the in-kind contribution to Trump's re-election from Alexandria Occasional-Cortex and her Green New Deal, President Trump may win in 2020 in a landslide.

  • GeneralMac
    February 26, 2019 at 11:22 a.m.

    I saw Ocassional Cortez on TV yesterday declaring....."I am the boss"

  • hah406
    February 26, 2019 at 11:58 a.m.

    Hey Packman, I think it is likely that the Mueller report won't recommend charges against Trump himself, only several more people around him like Junior and Kushner. So it won't exonerate him, but won't convict him either. At any rate, Mueller's investigation has produced over 200 charges now against over 30 individuals and agencies of governments. Any investigation that produces that many charges is a worthwhile endeavor.
    Finally, doing "whatever possible to hurt Trump" is fair game. Look back and remember the things that Mitch McConnell and company said and did to Obama, i.e. "everything possible to make him a one term president." The GOP needs to take it the same way they gave it. Finally, I seriously doubt anything could create sympathy for Trump from a majority of citizens, short of something truly tragic that I would wish on no one.

  • Packman
    February 26, 2019 at 2:17 p.m.

    Hey hah - Your assessment might be correct had the anti-Trump forces not put all their eggs in the Mueller report basket. They set themselves up for failure if anything less than a smoking gun is uncovered.
    From the beginning I've said if there is ANY credible evidence Donald Trump conspired with a foreign government to rig the election it should be presented to Congress the instant it was discovered and Trump summarily removed from office. That the evidence is contained in a massive report indicates no such smoking gun was found and the evidence of a conspiracy was inconclusive at best.
    "Finally, doing "whatever possible to hurt Trump" is fair game." Yes, to a certain extent as all if fair in love in war. But........ you must confess the guarantees by prominent democrats and their media accomplices that said the Mueller report would sink President Trump (drip, drip, drip) is a bad look for the resistance. You should also be able to see how it will make President Trump look somewhat sympathetic and a victim of the fire and pitchfork crowd. Further investigations/attacks will just add to the sympathy as voters scream "ENOUGH, it's time to leave the guy alone".
    The sympathy problematic for democrats is that generated among swing voters in the swing states. Can you really not see the potential for that happening?
    Hey GenMac - Silly us. And all this time us Normals thought we elected "representatives". Sure glad we have someone like Alexandria Occasional-Cortex to remind us who's boss.

  • mrcharles
    February 26, 2019 at 4:05 p.m.

    Seems to me the right is saying they wish all those many accomplices getting arrested should have been left alone and able to continue their lawless ways. They are such delicate flowers that they say and do things, but shed tears, not of joy, but of how dare someone treat them badly after all, the gop creates a divide to cause some to stand up and say perhaps you are wrong. They do not say perhaps they are wrong, as they have Sarah and some lesser imps in the evangelicals that inform us that god put DT in command of USA. It is fascinating that this god, has various natures when you talk to the various celestial decoders, but still only the gop has all the wavelengths covered to know all that there is.
    I remember white water where clintons were convicted along with jim guy tucker, wait that tucker guy did something else. Pilsbury said ignore the man behind the curtain, but no the baptist college president. Then we had the rose law firm guy who did whitewater stuff... Uncle joe, who is never wrong, said that is wrong. oh well, there were many whitewater criminals... or so they say.

    of course Dt will not be impeached, a high level decoder exist behind DT, and anyway DT will be given all sorts of awards for his ground breaking breakthrough with the un human, the 3 rd member of the N. Korean family trinity, or he will be honored , way past cheered by the russian parliament for the Order of mother land for a true believer of Putin [ unbelievers are often shot there], but I must interject the thoughts of mother applying to both putin and DT can cross a person's mind.

    There will be no mention in the report of the plight of the farmers due to tariffs, not the savior's grace of DT by saying he would give them money for what he did so they would still vote for him.

  • mozarky2
    February 26, 2019 at 4:55 p.m.

    mrschurlish, you've actually outdone yourself for unintelligible gibberish. I didn't think it was possible, but you did it!

  • mozarky2
    February 26, 2019 at 4:57 p.m.

    …"short of something truly tragic that I would wish on no one"...
    Mark Twain once said, "I have never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure"!