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The Mueller Report Isn’t the End—Because the Democrats Won’t Give Up | Opinion

A cautionary note to my friends in the White House: It’s not over.

The world came to a stop Sunday when Attorney General Bill Barr’s four-page summary of the Mueller Report became public. Among the key findings: there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence operatives and others seeking to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election

That should be the end of it, but it won’t. Attorney General Barr says there’s no justification for a charge of obstruction of justice against the president as some Democrats called for. Most of those calls related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey—which Trump opponents interpret as an effort to obstruct the investigation into collusion. There however may be other things in the report equally useful for manufacturing a call and second-guessing Barr. 

The Democrats certainly hope this is the case, as evidenced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Monday tweet:

“AG Barr’s letter raises as many questions as it answers. The fact that Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report & documentation be made public without any further delay.”

Pelosi and company want to go on a fishing expedition, not just through the report but through the raw materials behind it. Senate Democrats tried to get a bite at that apple Monday but were blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. 

McConnell was right. As illuminating as it might be to let the American people see everything that crossed Mueller’s desk, the potential for damage to the political life of the nation and the rights and reputations of individuals unfairly or disingenuously named in Grand Jury testimony and in depositions and interviews tainted by ulterior motives of those who named them has to take precedence. Let the public see the full report, yes, but in a redacted form without appendices, testimony, and depositions attached. 

The folks leading Trump’s defense will do well to remember they did not just win the war. They may not even have won the battle. Every victory they achieved raises the stakes. The people who said Trump couldn’t win the 2016 GOP presidential nomination didn’t apologize when he proved them wrong. Instead, they argued more forcefully he couldn’t win the election. They counted him out twice at least before he again proved them wrong. Still, rather than admit they’d been wrong, they ratcheted up what senior White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway refers to as the “snark and bark” to explain how he’d never get his agenda through and, after the special prosecutor was appointed, how Mueller would find evidence of collusion that would see him removed from office. 

On this scale, they’ve lost at just about every turn. Attorney General Barr is a man of solid judgment and impeccable integrity who goes where the law takes him. If his summary of Mueller’s report differed from what Mueller believed it said, we would have heard about it by now. We know this because of the speed with which his office acted to quash a bogus story regarding Trump, Michael Cohen, and the timing of discussion over a proposed real estate venture in Moscow. He wouldn’t letter a distorted summary get this far without saying something about it.

There’s no reason to doubt the accuracy of the Barr summary but the Democrats won’t give up. The nattering nabobs of negativism, to borrow a phrase, who populate the 24-hour news channels and want to see Trump’s head on a pike aren’t going to give up either. There’s too much time and money and ratings and political capital invested in the effort to bring him down. 

The Democrats and their allies are stuck. If they can’t get the report legitimately, they’ll find a way to leak it. Or phony leaks will appear – and before discounting that idea, think about the influence the now-discredited Steele Dossier had. The Steele dossier was never verified or substantiated, but was still used to justify the electronic eavesdropping we now know went on inside Trump’s campaign headquarters, and later leaked to besmirch the president in lurid, ludicrous detail.

Meanwhile, none of the liars who went on cable news will be sanctioned. There’s no mechanism in our system to do that, which is probably a good thing. Being wrong in good faith shouldn’t carry a penalty. But those who were wrong but not in good faith, still won’t quit. The months ahead might be even rockier for the White House than what they’ve just been through. 

Newsweek contributing editor Peter Roff has written extensively about politics and the American experience for U.S. News and World Report, United Press International, and other publications. He can be reached by email at RoffColumns@GMAIL.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​​​​

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