Pantalone: What are we to make of this fellow? Is he knave or fool?
Lombardi: I really don’t know. Probably a little of both.
— Carlo Goldoni, “Servant of Two Masters”
If I had a little more faith in the system, or a little less access to other voices, I’d simply post Michael de Adder‘s cartoon and then sit back and wait for the public release of the actual Mueller Report and see what other cartoonists had to say about it.
Steve Sack also reminds us that we don’t know what is in the report, only what Trump’s appointee — who was chosen after expressing not just doubt about but hostility to the charges being probed — has told us it says.
Kevin Siers suggests that perhaps Barr is oversimplifying things a bit in boiling down boxes and boxes of material into four pages.
As I noted yesterday, very, very few people read the Pentagon Papers in their entirety, and they based their opinions of what’s in there on what others told them.
But at least someone had read them. Almost nobody — and nobody outside the government — has seen the Mueller Report and deciding what’s in it based on William Barr’s report is at best jumping the gun and at worst a shameful level of naivete.
To which I would add that I’m skeptical that Barr was able to review the entire thing in the 48 hours between it being handed over and his issuing his interpretation, and it reminds me of the Woody Allen joke about speed-reading: “I was able to go through ‘War and Peace’ in 20 minutes. It’s about Russia.”
Some commentators on social media have suggested, in the name of accuracy, calling what we have so far the “Barr Report,” while Darrin Bell takes advantage of the one quote we’ve got from Mueller’s own work.
And Mike Marland, who I note does properly attribute what we know to who we know it from, draws a conclusion that had occurred to me as well.
However, it’s important to point out that Mueller decided there was no collusion, which apparently means the official Trump campaign did not directly coordinate with the Russian troll factory, Wikileaks or Putin himself. I still want to see what they found out about that Trump Tower meeting, and it doesn’t state that Trump’s people ever said, “No, please don’t.”
David Frum, who is no weak-kneed liberal, has an excellent analysis, in which, among other things, he notes:
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. Trump remains a president rejected by more Americans than those who voted for him, who holds his job because a foreign power violated American laws and sovereignty. It’s up to Congress to deal with this threat to American self-rule.
And Kal Kallaugher points out that, even if the issue of collusion is dismissed, there’s still plenty left to be discussed.
He’s not the only cartoonist to make this point, but I like that he includes Mueller in the drawing, because one thing we don’t quite know is what else is contained in the actual report.
Mueller appears to have stuck close to his actual assignment, as opposed to Ken Starr who wandered all over the place looking for scandal. Still, the long list of people who have been indicted or have pled guilty suggests that he didn’t wear blinders.
It would be nice to see what else is in that report, and, by the way, one would expect an innocent man to insist upon its release.
Jimmy Margulies points out that, while the investigation has ended, the President is not out of jeopardy yet.
And, while Kal appropriately notes all the other potentially criminal issues in the Trump administration, it’s also worth observing that, although Mueller does not come to a conclusion one way or the other on obstruction of justice, neither did Ken Starr or Leon Jaworski but, rather, referred that decision to Congress.
In both cases, Congress examined the evidence and brought articles of impeachment against first Nixon and then Clinton.
This time around, with Mitch running the legislative branch of government as his personal fiefdom, impeachment seems unlikely, but Chan Lowe points out that it ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and she doesn’t report to Mitch.
And Jeff Stahler further points out that it ain’t over until it’s over, particularly when you have a captain who thinks the way to let the water out of the boat is by drilling a few more holes in the bottom.
As for the question with which Pantalone opened today’s session, anyone who makes definitive statements based on what little we know at this stage could be a knave acting in service of one or the other far end of the spectrum, or could a fool who genuinely does not understand the matter.
But I agree with the good Dottore that he is likely a bit of both.
The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel.
— Horace Walpole