Special Edition: The Mueller Report and the Barr Letter


I'm Benjamin witness, and this is the law fair podcasts special edition emergency addition, March twenty fifth two thousand nineteen you know, why we're here today. People started on Friday when Bob Muller declared himself finished and delivered his final report to attorney general Bill bar Bill bar on Sunday delivered himself of a four page summary of that report a summary as to its quote principal findings on quote. Excuse me. That summary raises a lot of questions it also answers a lot of questions, or at least some and it has provoked cries of vindication from the president and his defenders a lot of head scratching. So we are here to evaluate it. All I'm here in the new jungle studio with Susan Hennessy and carry Cordeiro and on the line from a remote location is David Chris everybody, welcome back. So carry get us started. How do you read what Bill Barr did and did not do? So I I think it's useful to stay from the outset that we have not yet seen the special counsel's report. And what the attorney general released on Sunday afternoon was a very brief summary of very high level conclusions. And it was only on two parts of the investigation significant parts. But if we look at the based on what we know of the special counsels work over two years, which included many different aspects of an investigation and prosecutions of multiple entities and people what the attorney general put in his letter only pertained to two of those and those two are the issues that would have most directly affected the president the issue of collusion. Or as the attorney general is excuse me, as the special counsels theory of it was conspiracy that was the legal theory and obstruction, and I think on the my initial take is that on the. Collusion or conspiracy piece? I always thought that it would be a high bar to reach to be able to establish that Americans were part of knowing participants in and reach a criminal prosecution. Standard that they were participants in the Russian intelligence activity. I think to retake prosecutive standard is a would have been required substantial evidence on obstruction. I don't think I'm alone in saying that the most surprising element of the attorney general's letter was that the special counsel did not make a recommendation as to whether the evidence on obstruction would have met a prosecution standard or would have satisfied criminal elements of obstruction. And instead, holy appears to have holy deferred to the attorney general in that. But. But we haven't seen the report. And so right now, we're only relying on what the attorney general put in his letter. All right. So let's let's deal with the collusion side of this first, and then come back to the obstruction side because I think the obstruction side is significantly more complicated, and actually is complicated. By the fact that there's more information, and so we we're we we have the benefit of relative ignorance with respect to collusion. So let's indulge in the ignorance for a minute. David when Bob when Bill Barr says that Bob Muller says that he could not find a pro a case of conspiracy of any American associated with the Trump campaign to assist the Russians in the electoral interference. Do you? You how close in your mind is that to the president's no collusion or conversely is it merely saying there is not adequate evidence to prove a criminal case here. How how much vindication does who get to claim from this? So the the president, of course, described that report in terms that are just plain vanilla faults. He said it was a totally Ghana ration- when the report itself even as described by bar, go that of its way to say something quite different from that that it is not an exoneration. And it is in a way a measure of how far we've come as the country that nobody even blinks at the president's very blatant mischaracterization, and that it is reported widely. But what the report did find with respect to the conspiracy prom as opposed to the obstruction prong is quote. The investigation did not establish a conspiracy or other agreement on election and appearance between members of the campaign and the Russian government. Well investigation did not establish. Could mean we looked at the evidence, and we found virtually no evidence of an agreement or conspiracy. But it also. Could mean we found substantial evidence, but not enough evidence to return an indictment and under the newly renamed Justice manual. Prosecutors. You know, do not return indictments unless they believe that the admissible evidence is able to allow them to obtain and sustain a conviction on proof beyond reasonable doubt. So, you know, just to give you a sense of the room that is left by bars description here, it could be anything from outright, and total innocence and a complete lack of evidence of any agreement or cooperation between the two sides Trump campaign and the Russian government or it could be as strong as proof by clear and convincing evidence enough to get you a verdict in a civil trial, but not quite by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. I don't see any way to know what that investigation did not establish phrase really means at this point. And we're going to have to wait and see. To see what you know in culpa, Tori, or derogatory evidence smaller sites, and and why he thinks it falls short of indict ability. Susan I on the one hand, I say. Bill bars. Very smart guy. He knows that much of this report is going to become public. He would be deranged to give raw to allow for a top line summary that is going to be dramatically contradicted as a narrative matter if not as a technical legal matter when the body of the report becomes public that is if to go back to David's description, if Bob Muller's actual finding were was while we found clear and convincing evidence of the worst forms of collusion, comma, we could not we did not establish that a conspiracy had taken place within the meaning of the law. He would be quite crazy to issue a letter that describes that report the way he did on the other hand, I am aware of. Enough highly disparaging material in the public record, for example, the Trump Tower meeting that I continue to scratch my head and say what kind of you know, what kind of reasonable. Vindication. Should we assume this may mean when you think of the range of possibility here, you know, lopping off the extreme ends of it? We find that the president was actually never engaged with Russians at all. He was delivering flowers to children and talking about the importance of the rule of law through the entire period on the one hand versus we came within a hair's breadth of proof beyond a reasonable doubt on all fronts, and we merely didn't bring a case because you know, the the evidence had been you know, was tainted by. Some difficulty where do you think the realistic range of possibilities here? Well to start I would say, I don't think Bill bar would be at all drain JD to write a summary letter. That was factually accurate and yet painted an altogether far rosier picture for the president. Then the underlying material of the report painted. I actually think that is a relatively shrewd move on his part both in terms of potentially sort of paving the way for for this report coming out and also in in terms of giving the president favorable headlines knowing that people were going to inevitably quibble over sort of the the underlying report. So as a as a threshold matter, I don't. The premise. I don't buy the premise. I'm not saying that to presume bad faith on bars part. I think that he probably is offering what he believes to be a reasonable summary. But I think that there are strong incentives for him to be as favourable as possible to the president. And so, you know, I like, David light. Carey said we have to see the underlying report before we can do sort of a meaningful analysis of what it means in part because the delta is so incredibly huge. So it's huge on the metric that David was referring to in the sense of is there no evidence than they looked everywhere. And they really couldn't find any indication of US persons participating in this at all. Or is it just barely squeaks below the threshold of sort of indictable behavior, or is it something in between or whenever Muller? Whenever bar is describing the the conspiracy that Muller did find which was a conspiracy that existed on the Russian side. He says that they found two major elements of that conspiracy. This sort of IRA propaganda trolling operation. And then the GRU hacking and distribution of emails they're quite specific in saying they didn't find any US person who assisted or conspired in those efforts. They don't say anything else about lots of other contexts that we've at least heard reported may have happened. And so what what are you thinking of when you for example, the entire all of the reporting relating to the Trump organization's ongoing negotiations with the Russian government regarding the construction of Trump Tower Moscow now that's not part of collusion. Right or or sort of the central inquiry. That's really really relevant to what the president and his campaign and associates were doing and communicating and participating in with respect to the Russian government does nothing to do or at least is not directly related to these two efforts. So again, I think that there's a possibility, and we have to allow for it with an open mind that this report is really good. For the president. That actually know the answer is they looked everywhere. There's they really didn't find evidence. Yeah. Maybe there was some, you know, imprudent conduct even things that people might sort of Wagga finger up, but just we didn't get within a country mile of anything. That's a moment consider criminal. I think that's a live possibility a genuine one. But I think just as live a possibility is the idea that either we're talking about conduct that just falls short of criminality. Or we're talking about a presentation of conduct that is not directly related to a criminal conspiracy. But is nevertheless, highly relevant to the basic fitness of the president of the United States and a highly relevant to one representations. He major the American public at the time into how we should view his efforts to interfere with influence. I I don't know how I don't know what word to use. Without sort of getting all the way up to obstruction. You know, the the investigation after the fact into that conduct. And so just that's all a long way of saying. I think the the delta here is so massive we have to see the report, and I really don't think we can conclude all that much from bars language other than that. It's quite vague. And it leaves open a wide range of possibilities. And also it is probably not factually false on its face. All right. So I want to bring in a guest who we don't actually have in in the room or remotely, which is a hybrid personality that I'm creating of the president's defender slash mixed with Glenn Greenwald mixed with maybe rich Lowry, the national review editor who was tweeting similar things the other day, all of whom are saying, basically that all the people like us have a lot to answer for right now. Because we've been you know, hyping fair Reuss for two years we've been insisting that there's a big deal here. And that we've kind of built up as a sort of hallmark of of you know, the. The president's supposed illegitimacy. This idea that he was in fact, colluding with Russia and we've insisted on the importance of the Muller investigation. And we've insisted in this, of course, in different ways applies to all of us. I suppose we've insisted that he was a threat to the integrity of the Mueller investigation. And now the Muller investigation has in fact played out to its full conclusion, and it has not substantiated the premise and so as as Glenn Greenwald. I noticed a particular tweet storm of his on this. You know, was sort of pounding the table that this is basically, you know, all of us were wildly spectacularly wrong. And so this is sort of a moment of accountability for us. So carrie. I I have my own view of this. But I'm I'm interested in in in yours. Are do you feel in any way that the findings of the Mahler investigation on collusion are a rebuke to you or anything that you believe? No because there was so much activity that took place in public for everyone to see that as a former national government national security lawyer as a former counter intelligence lawyer was so unbelievably bizarre to witness probably the primary example was the president's summer twenty sixteen statement Russia, are you listening and calling on a hostile foreign nation to release emails of a political opponent. That was so bizarre from a now. Security standpoint. And then all the ensuing lies that came out of the administration for nearly every contact with Russian government or Russian surrogates over a period of the campaign and into the presidency itself that could have been so easily explained if the the Trump campaign and Trump administration would've would've explained it. And so there was an remains an enormous amount of information that still hasn't been explained regarding the president and the campaign and his administration's interactions with Russian government and Russian surrogates. I wrote on law fair in December of twenty seventeen that the Muller investigation. The special counsel report was not going to be like a truth commission that it was. Not going to explain everything all the way. And so I don't think that the fact that the special counsel did not find evidence to support that the president and his team were engaged in a criminal conspiracy to negate all of the information that has been in our face for over two years. So let me push you on that a little bit. I actually agree with you completely. But I want to but I want to ventilate it a little bit. If the Muller finding substantively in that range of possibility that we were talking about is wildly on the sculpture, Tori side that I that there's nothing. There's no substantial information that isn't already public. It's just a series of random reckless comments by people a series of people who took meetings who shouldn't have taken meetings prof cut out professor who meets with an adviser to the campaign Carter page being Carter page if you take all of that. There's nothing more than any of that on Paul Manafort being a money launderer. You look at this fact pattern that presented publicly as a somebody who did national security investigations in the Justice department, and you say no way, this doesn't get investigated. It was worthy of investigation. And let's not forget that the special counsel was appointed to begin with because the president fired the chief investigator who was running that counter intelligence investigation. And then he said on television for everyone to see that at least part of the reason he fired that individual was because of the Russia investigation. So I understand the argument. And and I have friends in town who would probably argue that who are more sympathetic to the administration who would probably argue that they were just wildly incompetent as opposed to. To corrupt or malfeasance or or or criminal. But the lack of explanation and the continual lying is I think what certainly justified the investigation. Okay, david. I you know, you are also have a background in national security investigations. Do you agree with that? Is there any way? This fact pattern that presented to the F B I and eventually to the to what became the Mahler investigation. Is there any way in any conceivable universe that that does not get taken very seriously and investigated very seriously? No, I think it's important to second-guessed oneself frequently even if it's painful like reading your own transcripts of trials, and it's important to adjust to the fact that the facts come out and learn from them, and if people were hyping the results or front running the results of Muller investigation. Okay. But the investigation here was not just clearly justified. I said before a different podcast on luster. Given the fact that we're presented the bureau had no choice, but to pursue it. It would have been dereliction of duty to ignore it. And write it off as mere incompetence or assume that everything was in its upfront. I and the president's behavior during the course of the investigation was likewise completely outside the range of historical norms and practices for presidents who respect the independence. Of investigation and law enforcement. So I I'm with Kerry, you know, I think it is important, you know, not to just be completely result-oriented and start tweaking analysis to you know, she desired results, but I don't really have much out of any kind. Whether this investigation was justified or indeed unavoidable and whether the president's behavior both in advance and then while it was going on with out of bounds. So Susan, I want to this is a great segue to the question of the the aspect of this investigation that bars letter does not address it all which is the counterintelligence dimensions of the investigation, y you know. The collusion prong of this letter addresses whether there was a criminal conspiracy. But we know from the New York Times is reporting that when this investigation opened including open at the time of the firing against Jim Komi against the president. It was opened partly as a criminal matter on instruction, but partly as a counterintelligence matter. And so my question is is there any indication in the bar letter. What happened to those counterintelligence equities? I think the short answer to that is no right there are that is one of the pretty significant holes apparently NBC is now reporting that there's the FBI is going to brief the gang of eight as to the counter intelligence findings to quibble with the premise a little bit rubber Muller did find a criminal conspiracy. He indicted, many many individuals perfect to a criminal conspiracy. He didn't find US persons who participated, and that's that's relevant to the counterintelligence piece because it offered a really really rich accounting of the nature of the counterintelligence threat and those indictments themselves served as unimportant deterrent function moving forward. I also think it's worth keeping in mind. The amount of information that was made public either through sort of the the special counsel's office kind of speaking indictments and through media reports which is highly relevant to sort of core counterintelligence questions ordinarily whenever we're talking about a counterintelligence investigation. We're not necessarily talking about someone being the witting agent of a foreign power were talking about in appropriate illicit and potentially dangerous foreign influence, and so I do think that finding out the full nature of the Russian conspiracy is is important as a defensive counterintelligence matter. I do think finding out the nature of the president's engagements and business business associations. The degree of context. His advisors were having. Undisclosed contact with Russian individuals. I do think it was. An urgent national security threat that the sitting national security adviser had had a conversation prior to coming into the White House in which he offered to or made representations of the incoming administration was gonna lift sanctions. And then lied about it. So the FBI that is a counterintelligence threat, and by exposing that information, and we've had many discussions about the the sort of the the effects of leaking and the consequences of that the way it which was exposed that itself is one way to respond to really serious threats. And so on that metric alone lots and lots of continued unanswered questions. But also, I think lots of basics success stories and an a pretty compelling example of why counterintelligence investigations are important in the first ones, I want to close this part of the discussion with one piece of evidence in the Bar Lev. Letter that there is actually evidence of some degree of collusion. If not evidence that constitutes a indictable case of conspiracy. And that is the following sentence. The special counsel issued more than twenty eight hundred subpoenas executed nearly five hundred search warrants obtained more than two hundred thirty orders for communications records issued almost fifty orders for authorising of pen, registers, etc. Etc. I want to focus particularly on the phrase executed nearly five hundred search warrants, and I wanna assert that first of all the standard for doing a search warrant most of those are presumably for emails, and there that is orders to companies to produce e mails the standard is still probable cause. And therefore unless we assume that. All five hundred of these search warrants are issued to in connection with the obstruction component of the investigation. We have to assume that these reflect that the government had probable cause against a lot of people in matters related to this conspiracy in indictment this conspiracy prong, so David my my mischievous question for you is is Bill bar here acknowledging that actually there may have been probable cause about a lot of people's behavior that didn't amount at the end of the day to proof beyond a reasonable doubt of conspiracy. Are put those two ticks about Muller's investigation in the front of this letter not for that purpose, but to establish the thoroughness of it, and therefore bolster confidence in the conclusion of the investigation did not establish a conspiracy. But I do think it's worth pointing out is you've just done five hundred search warrants means five hundred findings of probable cause. Of course, you can have multiple search warrants, and you often do for any one user in sometimes even for anyone account. And of course, also not every subject of a search warrant that is not every account holder is necessarily a US prison. They may have been gathering information on another person's. So there's you know, I wanna sound to note of caution. But there is obviously a number a lot of judicial finding behind this of probable cause. And. Even if in the end, it doesn't get you over the line in a criminal matter. It is still relevant to the counterintelligence investigation. We've been discussing presumably and gives you a sense of you know, what may be part of the outcome of that investigation. Let me also add on Ben I want to tweak a little bit. Perhaps the way that you're suggesting we we read that which which I framed intentionally provocative -ly, by the way, part part of the difficulty with extrapolating from the attorney general's summary letter is I read that section of the letter that describes all of the legal process that was issued including the five hundred warrants I read that to pertain to the special counsels entire investigative activities. That means the Flynn case the Manafort case, the gates case all the other individuals who were prosecuted for lying to federal government officials. I read those numbers those statistics as encompassing all of that investigative activity all of the IRA prosecution. The everything that the special counsel did not merely not merely the two. Limited points that the attorney general's letter includes findings about which is only collusion as a pertains to the president or the president's campaign and obstruction. That's interesting because the paragraph in question is only about those two issues but the sentence in but the the relevant sentence is in arguably encompasses the entire investigation. And I don't know. I mean, we that's one thing that I'm just suggesting perhaps an alternative reading. But I we don't know until we have more information perfectly possible. And this would be consistent with the aggregate findings right that there's thirty seven defendants altogether. And you can generate a whole lot of search warrants out of thirty seven in my mind, the numbers make more sense when you put it in that context that's perfectly fair. I I do think it goes to the idea though, that even the most basic factual representation in a summary is just not enough information. You. You cannot conclude anything essentially until you have the underlying report except one thing which is that the special prosecutor concluded that there was not a criminal case here on conspiracy. Right. And that the investigation is concluded both pieces which are unequivocally. Great news for the president. But anything beyond that in terms of sort of assessing, the political consequences, or even sort of the the legal consequences in the sense. We're talking about things like impeachment. I don't see how this letter even begins to touch on that stuff. All right. Let's turn to obstruction says, we here's the we dealt with a simple stuff the collusion side. Let's deal with the obstruction side. So here. We have a really peculiar statement by the attorney general about the special counsel's view. And then additional layer that reflects the attorney general's view the special counsel all we really know is that the special counsel for some reason made a decision not to make a decision about whether the president had obstructed Justice. But instead laid out all the evidence detailed in his report the arguments for and against considering it as an obstruction or at each incident as a set of obstructions, I suppose and then. Declined to go further than that, the attorney general notes this and then layers on top of it his own view, which apparently the deputy attorney general shares that the president's conduct does not amount to obstruction of you that is broadly consistent with the one that he articulated, although not exactly the same. But broadly, consistent with view that he articulated in his memo that became controversial during his confirmation. And so my first question David, should we look at this as a situation in which Bob Muller punted this decision to Bill bar or should we look at it as a situation in which Bob Muller? Declined to address this question for some other reason and bar jumped in to fill a gap. Right. So I don't know who Bob mother was trying to whether it's bar, and or the congress, but I did find this to be the most surprising aspect of or description of Muller's report that is I think I would've expected Muller to make a finding on criminality even in the face of the bar on that is the prohibition on indictment of a sitting president. And I I did find it surprising. I I have to believe that he would have known that leaving that space open would 'cause they'll Bart still. And I would be surprised if he was the prized that or did so, but he may be thinking that you know, because the president can't be indicted. There was no need to address these very difficult legal questions and in a way that may be. Eight mother saying look, this is just not the kind of issue that criminal Justice system, or I can really resolve for you. And so I'm going to have to pass it to the political, folks. I don't know. I'm puzzled by this is the thing again that I found the strangest I think it would have been far more conventional for him to make the finding of criminality one way or the other. I knowledge it may be a hard case. But prosecutors make our judgments of that sort, and I don't know what he was thinking. And it's the one thing I really want to understand most of all probably when and if we see the full report. Yeah. I think if you look at the language of the bar letter, it would suggest it would it would not. So just that Muller had intended for bar to fill that space. Even if you might have suspected that bar was going to the letter says that that the special counsel's office was declining to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. That's not saying they couldn't reach a decision or they felt that the decision the that the attorney general was in a better position to make the decision that language to me suggests this is not an area, presumably because of the difficult article two questions, and because of the fact that the DOJ guidance says you cannot indict a sitting president that they were essentially saying there is no traditional prosecutorial decision to be made. I do think that it's worth noting as we've discussed that bar inserting his judgment as to obstruction. And the fact that there was not that this. The didn't meet the legal standard for obstruction has no operative affect other than providing the president. Cover in sort of headlines. Right. His spell that out. Because I I know what you mean there. But I think a lot of listeners won't why doesn't it have operative effect? So when Muller delivers his report to the attorney general he is not delay. He is he is not making a recommendation as to charging the president on obstruction. That doesn't mean that the question remains open right Muller has exclusive jurisdiction here. It means that the matter is closed for the purposes of the department of Justice. And so it's not as though there was then this void that the attorney general needed to step in to declare. And I say this does not rise to obstruction. It was always going to go to congress to the extent. Congress gets this full report. And so Barr could have said nothing, and that wouldn't have changed anything in terms of the the legal position of the department. And so. I he might have felt a duty or obligation to offer his view of things, but it didn't have any effect other than the early narrative framing because certainly on a matter in which Robert Muller after this this this very thorough investigation. Basically says, you know, there is lots of evidence on either side, surely that is going to be an issue that congress is going to have to render an independent judgement on Kerry. What do you think is is this a situation in which Bob Muller punted something or is it a situation in which Bill bar arrogated something to himself or is it just not clear yet? I think I just think it's impossible to know right now without knowing first of all what the evidence is. That's in the report on the points of obstruc. Action without knowing what the substance and level of consultation. There was between the special counsel's office and rod Rosenstein, when he was the acting attorney general for purposes of this investigation, and then between the special counsel's office in attorney general bar once he came on board. It's just really hard to know whether or not the special counsel independently came to this decision not to make a prosecutorial recommendation or whether he decided not to do it because there was a difference of legal opinion between the special counsel's office and the attorney general's office and the deputy attorney general's office or whether he decided not to do it because making a prosecutorial recommendation would have been irrelevant because the remedy for a president who obstructed Justice is political. I just don't think that we have enough information to understand that dynamic. And I think the only way to understand it will probably be number one to see this portion of the report and number two to hear from the attorney general, perhaps the deputy attorney general and perhaps the special counsel in a congressional hearing. All right. I wanna make up a bunch of facts and use them to make a case for what? Bob Muller appears to have done here. And then have you guys any of you who want bat me back, David you seem to be the most concerned about the way Muller appears to have handled this, so maybe maybe you'll attack this. But here's my my gut instinct when I read this part of the letter, which is Muller made a judgment that this is ultimately an impeachment question. It is not you know. Yes, you can make an argument that this violates the crew. Final law. It raises novel issues of first impression as to the interaction of the of the obstruction statutes with article to those questions are freaking hard. And since you're barred from indicting, the attorney of the sitting president, anyway, they're entirely hypothetical questions. So really what we're staring at here as some of us have been arguing on law. Fair for a long time is a constellation of facts that relate to the accent, the normative acceptability of the president's conduct vis-a-vis the law enforcement apparatus that serves him. And so what do you do in this situation? Which is and the answer is gasp you behave like Ken Starr, which is to say, you you use the criminal Justice apparatus to gather a whole. A lot of facts, and you report them in a somewhat truth commission like fashion, and you don't way in on the legality or illegality of them. Because frankly, that's a side point the relevant point is does congress think they are or are not impeachable offenses. And so what Muller may have been doing? Here is saying the fundamental role of the special counsel is to create a record of the substantive behavior of the president in interaction with law enforcement for purposes of of evaluation along non-criminal axes by other actors, I congress, and therefore I don't really need to decide whether it does or does not violate the obstruction statutes as limited by article two. Well, I think that subject to the going to carry and I made about how there's no way to know. I think that that explanation of the desire to pass the issue to congress, and therefore not have to make any judgments that aren't essential to that resolution, and that course of action probably the most likely explanation. But again, I really like to see the report, I think, you know, on the other side of it number one he had to know that or would take up the issue. Seems to me if you're thinking about this you have to know that maybe he doesn't care. But I think he had to know that I do think the ultimate finding of criminality by the special prosecutor or by special counsel could be relevant to the political debate. I agree. It's a different standard, of course, under diekmann during the other political remedy, but still I think it would be a helpful in relative relevant finding to make. And I suppose thinking ahead, you know, the bar is against indicting sitting president, but one way or another it's possible two years or so from now we may not have Donald Trump's sitting in the White House. And I guess it would be an open issue for prosecution at that point. So I guess I think it may very well be that when I read the report, I will say I now understand, and I can really support and think mother's choice was justified. I suspect though, I. I will also think that it would have been permissible and justified for him to make that finding and if he were able to make that finding I think it would be helpful one to make. Carried you have thoughts. I think I agree with everything that that David said there in I'm just thinking while we're while he was talking what I was thinking about was what of the special counsel had not made a recommendation on other parts. So in other words, the the attorney general's letter appears to say that the special counsel did make a recommendation into determination based on the facts of the collusion and the conspiracy issue. So what I'm curious about is why a decision on one aspect that affected the president and not on another that affected the president. I, and I think the answer to that may well be that the obstruction issue is centrally and only about the conduct of Donald Trump as president. Whereas the conspiracy issue is about his the conduct of all the people around his campaign. It's about you know, it's about every Griffin who slipped into Trump Tower. At various times. It's about Felix Seder rate. It's about all these other people who whatever they do have in common with one. Another don't happen to be the president of the United States exercising article two powers. All right. Let's wrap up. Susan. I'm where what happens now, do you have any, you know, Bill Barr says at the end of this at the end of this letter that he's working expeditiously to resolve sixty issues and get out as much material as possible he is still committed. He says to doing that there have been no substantial leaks so far. What do you think are we working toward a process in which the body of the Muller report with exceptions becomes public over the next few days weeks or months, or are we working toward a process in which there is a huge confrontation over the future of this report or both? I think both it is. It remains inconceivable to me that this could conclude without the American people and not just congress. But the public actually seeing almost all of this report with very narrow exceptions. I would imagine there will be fights. Even over six immaterial to the extent there's on a classified material and to the extent that there's any exertion of executive privilege. And so I don't think that we've seen indications from the Justice department that there. Acting untoward here and are going to try to withhold things. They don't think are properly withheld, but we're we're clearly saying the Justice department anticipates withholding something and if they would try try and withhold anything whatsoever. There is going to be a serious legal confrontation over that. Because I don't think congress would or should walk away from. This this episode in American history without having obtained as much information as the legal process will allow them to an I don't just think that that's going to be limited to the Muller report. I think we are going to see a substantial fight over the underlying investigative materials as well. Kerry. What do you think is this a situation where okay Muller bar is going to redact a bunch of sixty protected material? They're going to quietly tell congress. Hey, these twenty pages relate to an ongoing matter that you really don't wanna screw up by us making this public, and this is the classified annex that we absolutely cannot make public, but we will brief the intelligence committees. Of course, like we would on any counterintelligence matter and congress says, okay, we put up a pro forma fight on the following. Issues. So that we can. But basically, the there will be a process that will make enough of this public. So that congress can go about its business, and we can all go about evaluating what we think of low-fare Rusen and Donald Trump's role in it. Or is this a situation in which, you know, the bulls have put their head down, and they're charging toward one another, and we are going to have a huge the fight that we thought we were going to have over, you know, might have over the impeachment of Donald Trump is as an initial matter all going to be about the disclosure of the substance of this report. I think the first part of what you described would be totally consistent with what the attorney general committed to doing and his confirmation hearing in terms of his commitment to transparency and and making as much of the report public as he possibly could. I do think that if he asserts too much. It makes too many assertions regarding or or if they're substantively is so much grand jury information on the obstruction piece in particular. I think congress is going to fight most strongly on the obstruction of the information supporting the obstruction factual findings. And so to the extent that he tries to withhold information on that piece, I think that they will fight fairly substantially in. And we might see litigation on that point. I do want to say one thing before we close on the national security side of things, and this comes to something that Susan mentioned at the very beginning on the reporting that the gang of eight is being briefed on something. And it just that that report indicates that there is still there is a reason many of us are not finding all of this to make a lot of sense. And I think that gang of eight report kind of highlights it because if there is some aspect of this ongoing investigate. Nation that is so sensitive that it can't be briefed to the full house intelligence committee, and the full Senate intelligence committee that it can only be briefed to the gang of eight that indicates to me that there is some part of this that still perhaps a fax of the involvement of US persons or something that is beyond just the activities of four of a foreign intelligence service because I'm just having a hard time coming up with what would it be that that the full intelligence committees could not receive and but the Devin Nunes could receive will because he is still part of the gang of eight. So so just pointing out the irony not make the argument that well, they're trying to keep it from the most partisan partisans because because he is still the ranking member on the house intelligence committee, and so he will receive that information. And so I just think that there is there is a reason why. Based on the information. That's just in the attorney general's letter in based on what we've heard so far publicly that is still not all adding up to this being completed investigation and everything sort of being resolved as it relates to twenty sixteen and and the counterintelligence issues that are related, David. What are you see you look forward? Do you think this is a this letter is a good faith initial effort by Bill bar that promises. Additional major disclosures that will begin to answer all the questions, we've all been discussing or is this a sufficiently measly effort on the part of the attorney general that it simply sets up a a a a confrontation that is going to be vicious or conversely, as it a good faith effort that is that, you know, the Democrats are so. Deranged by Trump derangement syndrome that they will not take. Yes. For an answer in terms of the disclosures. That bar is promising. I think possible that I say yes to everything you just said, I have no I have no basis to question the fundamental good faith of Bill VAR, I know him a little bit. And I and I may not share the same view of what the law is. But I do think he's committed to rule of law. And so I start with the presumption that you know, he he may have written this from a certain perspective. But the factually accurate in. It's not intentionally misleading in any way. And I would take considerable evidence to get me off of that view. Just because that's what I think he's about he's smart and he's committed to following the law as he sees it. I think we probably will end up seeing most of this report one way or the other the pressure in the system to have it disclosed. And so great that if the, you know, an accommodation can't be reached, then I. Think you know, stuck we'll come out, even even by leaks. I just I'm not condoning, but I'm simply describing state of affairs. I do think they'll probably be some confrontation around the edges of what can be disclosed. It seems to me the incentive at least in part may encourage that. I think a couple of interesting aspects that we haven't touched on that may go to the question of what gets disclosed are for what did Muller get for all of his two thousand eight hundred subpoenas and five hundred search warrants and so forth. Did he run into any evidentiary roadblock in his investigation that leave gaps that need filling and might be subject to being filled later with additional investigative efforts over time and second what's the relationship between the core work that he kept for himself and all the work that he's fun out that may be ongoing because we've discussed ironically, I think, you know. Bar could say to the congress that you don't want to disclose all that stuff real compromise all these ongoing investigations that. I'm sure you all in congress at least in the democratic side of Rabi to see done. So we better not talk about that. And I think he will you know, end up putting the congress possibly in a little bit of a hot seat on that. But I'm curious on both of those aspects and how they will bear on the question of disclosure going forward. David Carey, Susan. Thank you all for joining us today. The law fair podcast is produced in cooperation with the Brookings Institution. 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