Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, has weighed in on the Mueller Report, the most talked-about body of work that nobody’s read since your high school summer reading assignments.
On Pod Save America, Bharara said he thought Mueller meant to “punt” the decision on whether to charge President Donald Trump with obstruction of justice to Congress. However, Attorney General William Barr then “came off the sidelines, caught the ball, and ran it into the end zone for a touchdown for Trump” with his four-page summary of the report. Bharara described Barr’s version as “sanitized and streamlined and shortened and highly abridged,” recommending that those reading the summary take it with a “grain of salt.”
Bharara himself was fired by Trump in 2017 after refusing to return the president’s call, which the attorney considered a breach of protocol. He called into question Barr’s late-stage role in summarizing the report, saying that the attorney general is a “direct appointee of the president who’s weighing in” on Mueller’s investigation, thus casting a “cloud” over the proceedings. Barr’s participation closes the “arm’s-length distance” that the special counsel established during his investigation. We don’t need to explain how much of a glaring red flag that is.
Overall, Bharara made the point that Barr’s letter intentionally spins the report so that, no matter what details emerge in the coming months, whether they be damning or dull, this fairly benign “imprint” he’s created will remain in people’s minds. And honestly, considering that Trump initially ran on a campaign that repeated the aurally clunky moniker “Crooked Hillary” until it stuck like a particularly well-lobbed spitball, Bharara is likely not too far off track.
Listen to the full interview on Pod Save America below.