Special Counsel Robert Mueller complained to U.S. Attorney General William Barr that his summary of the 400-page report on Mueller’s two-year investigation was labeled a “summary” instead of “an account of top conclusions,” according to a report published Tuesday night by the Washington Post.
The report, which rocked Washington, DC, and gave renewed hope to the cottage industry of Trump-Russia conspiracy theorists, says Mueller quibbled with Barr about semantics in a one-on-one phone call while ultimately admitting the attorney general did not write anything inaccurate in his four-page preview of the full report, released several weeks later.
The Post’s headline omitted the admission of Barr’s accuracy in the article’s headline — “Mueller complained that Barr’s letter did not capture ‘context’ of Trump probe” — and on its homepage — where the featured title reads “Mueller complained to Barr about memo on key findings.”
Reporters Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky bury the rebuttal of their own headline 13 paragraphs into the story — before revealing Mueller’s apparent frustration with a rather insignificant detail, the informal title given to Barr’s document:
A day after Mueller sent his letter to Barr, the two men spoke by phone for about 15 minutes, according to law enforcement officials.
In that call, Mueller said he was concerned that media coverage of the obstruction investigation was misguided and creating public misunderstandings about the office’s work, according to Justice Department officials. Mueller did not express similar concerns about the public discussion of the investigation of Russia’s election interference, the officials said. Barr has testified previously he did not know whether Mueller supported his conclusion on obstruction.
When Barr pressed Mueller on whether he thought Barr’s memo to Congress was inaccurate, Mueller said he did not but felt that the media coverage of it was misinterpreting the investigation, officials said.
In their call, Barr also took issue with Mueller calling his memo a “summary,” saying he had never intended to summarize the voluminous report, but instead provide an account of its top conclusions, officials said. [emphasis added]
A statement from the Justice Department reminded the Post that Barr did accommodate Mueller’s hurt feelings: “In a cordial and professional conversation, the Special Counsel emphasized that nothing in the Attorney General’s March 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading… The next day, the Attorney General sent a letter to Congress reiterating that his March 24 letter was not intended to be a summary of the report.”
The Post published its story hours before Barr was slated to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Mueller report conclusively states that no members of then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign conspired or colluded with Russian nationals during the 2016 presidential election. The most high-profile case of an American citizen duped by Russian propaganda on social media is far-left filmmaker Michael Moore, who marched in a rally allegedly organized by Russian trolls via Facebook.
However, the report contains a second “volume” insinuating obstruction of justice from President Trump, which Democrats have insisted is a “roadmap to impeachment.” Democratic strategist Mark Penn, who previously served in the 2008 campaign of Hillary Clinton, argued that this portion of the investigation — the only portion for which Mueller complained to Barr about “context” — “should not exist at all.”
“Even if you believe Mueller should have been appointed given the swirl of questions kicked up about Russia, Volume 2 of the Mueller report should not exist at all, once investigators determined there was no collusion and they were not issuing any charges,” Penn wrote in The Hill.