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When the refs get worked

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– The Justice Department on Wednesday appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including potential collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials.

An insider from the Mueller investigation of Trump explains why the report was ultimately so inadequate:

Weissmann offers a damning indictment of a “lawless” president and his knowing accomplices—Attorney General William Barr (portrayed as a cynical liar), congressional Republicans, criminal flunkies, Fox News. Donald Trump, he writes, is “like an animal, clawing at the world with no concept of right and wrong.” But in telling the story of the investigation and its fallout, Weissmann reserves his most painful words for the Special Counsel’s Office itself. Where Law Ends portrays a group of talented, dedicated professionals beset with internal divisions and led by a man whose code of integrity allowed their target to defy them and escape accountability.

“There’s no question I was frustrated at the time,” Weissmann told me in a recent interview. “There was more that could be done that we didn’t do.” He pointed out that the special counsel’s report never arrived at the clear legal conclusions expected from an internal Justice Department document. At the same time, it lacked the explanatory power of last month’s bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report on the 2016 election. “Even with 1,000 pages, it was better,” Weissmann said of the Senate report. “It made judgments and calls, instead of saying, ‘You could say this and you could say that.’”

The point about how the (Republican-led!) Senate Intelligence Committee report was much clearer and better is incredibly damning. The latter’s conclusions have been largely buried, while Mueller had the full attention of the media. But Mueller’s Report was itself buried in chickenshit, and their decision to stand by while Barr set the early narrative by lying about it made it worse.

Mueller’s actions were not as reckless and nowhere near as consequential as his fellow Respected Republican Daddy James Comey. But both were so preemptively concerned with what Republicans might do that they preemptively capitulated to them, giving them the best of all worlds. And Comey’s decision to inform Congress about the re-opening of an already massively overblown investigation based on a future warrant that the FBI had nothing remotely resembling probable cause to seek may well have dealt American democracy a blow from which it will never recover.

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