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'Massive Win' for Trump: 7 Takes on Mueller Report

Newser — Rob Quinn

Attorney General William Barr released his summary of Robert Mueller's findings Sunday, and reactions split predictably along party lines. According to Barr, Mueller found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, but did not exonerate him on allegations of obstruction of justice.

President Trump and his allies hailed the report as "total vindication" and evidence that the probe was a "witch hunt," while Democrats demanded to see the report in full so they could determine why Barr concluded that there wasn't enough evidence to determine if Trump obstructed justice.

Seven takes on Barr's letter and the issues it raises:

  • A cloud lifted. For Trump, Sunday may have been the best day of his presidency so far, writes Peter Baker at the New York Times: "The darkest, most ominous cloud hanging over his presidency was all but lifted." Trump can "now proceed with his administration without the distraction of new search warrants and indictments by Mr. Mueller’s team," he writes, though the investigation has already taken its toll on his presidency, and until they can read the full report, "Democrats are hardly going to agree that the president has been cleared."


  • "Good news for all Americans." The end of the "collusion illusion" should be "good news for all Americans," according to the Wall Street Journal.

The conclusion that while Russia did try to interfere in the 2016 election, nobody in the Trump campaign coordinated with their efforts "should restore a measure of public confidence in our political system and the integrity of US elections," they write.

  • A "key question unanswered." David Frum at the Atlantic notes that Barr's summary, and possibly Mueller's report, does not address why Vladimir Putin's government took an "extreme risk" by interfering to help Trump win.

"The 2016 election was altered by Putin’s intervention, and a finding that the Trump campaign only went along for the ride does not rehabilitate the democratic or patriotic legitimacy of the Trump presidency," he writes.

  • Bad day for anti-Trump media figures.

Barr's letter has left "egg on the faces" of some of the "most feverish anti-Trump figures in the media—including some supposed legal experts," Niall Stanage writes at the Hill.

"Mueller’s findings make the confident predictions that he was about to lower the boom on Trump and members of his immediate family look foolish, plain and simple," he writes.

  • A "massive political victory." While Democrats may have a very different take on the full Mueller report—and on Barr's determination that there wasn't enough evidence to establish an obstruction-of-justice offense—the attorney general's letter is still a "massive political victory for Trump," writes Zack Beauchamp at Vox.

Barr's letter is "everything Trump could have asked for" and allows the president to claim total victory, establishing a narrative that Democrats may find it hard to push back against, he writes.

  • The exoneration question.

Trump tweeted Sunday evening that the report was "Complete and Total EXONERATION," but the question of whether he has really been exonerated has divided legal experts, reports Politico, which rounds up a selection.

Brooklyn Law School professor Miriam Baer says the Mueller report declined to conclude whether Trump obstructed justice, meaning it would be "premature" to say he is exonerated.

"Obstruction depends heavily on how one views competing sets of facts," she writes. "Congress and the general public will want to see as much of the special counsel’s full report as possible."

  • More division ahead.

The report, as summarized by Barr, is going to deepen partisan divisions, Marc Fisher at the Washington Post predicts. The report "contains fuel enough for both sides to cling to their version of the truth about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, and not nearly enough for either side to alter their views," he writes.

The Republican "wall of support" in Congress is likely to harden, he writes, while Democrats can be expected to launch yet more investigations.

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