Editor’s Blog


The simple takeaway from the Mueller Report is the President betrayed his country and spent two years lying and breaking the law to try to hide that fact. He should resign and be tried for his crimes.

Trump’s Mirror

Unsurprisingly, President Trump is stewing and angry about the Mueller Report. This report from CNN notes that Trump is angry about the picture of a lying President and chaotic White House. But what really gets to him apparently is the image of a President whose staff routinely ignores his orders.

Here’s one noteworthy paragraph … Read More

Join Us in DC on May 9th!

If you care about Congressional oversight of President Trump and you’re going to be in the DC area on the evening of May 9th, join us for a special TPM Event on congressional oversight in the Trump Era. Details after the jump. Read More


If you’re an Inside member and you missed yesterday’s briefing and Q&A on the Mueller Report with me and Allegra Kirkland, the recording is now online in your account portal on the upper right.

What Barr Did Prime Badge
during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the first State of the Union address given by U.S. President Donald Trump and his second joint-session address to Congress.
What Mueller Really Said On Obstruction

This is not to call out longtime TPM Reader EB, with whom I just had a good exchange about this. But I reprint a portion of EB’s note because many other readers seem to be under the same misimpression. And it is a very important one. I’m happy to say our team got this right. But it’s eluded most other news outlets, at least inasmuch as the story gets reduced to headlines and glosses about Mueller’s judgment on obstruction of justice. To be clear, by the end of the day, a lot of the big outlets had this right. But it’s not how it played in headlines or the quick cable news summaries. From EB

I think it’s safe to assume that from the get go Mueller had no intention of indicting Trump because of the DOJ policy. Then he comes out and says, from what I can tell without reading the full report on my own, that there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him with a crime. What’s up with that? He never saw his job as indicting and prosecuting Trump, so why come a conclusion regarding criminality?

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Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
at Old Post Office on July 23, 2014 in Washington, DC.

I’ve seen a number of headlines today saying the Mueller Report puts Democrats on the spot. What are they going to do about? Are they duty bound to impeach? I remain in the same place on impeachment – more an indulgence than a step forward as long as there’s so much that needs investigating and Republicans remain in lockstep support of the President’s criminal behavior. I stress what should be obvious: impeachment is no more than inviting the Republican Senate to remove Trump from office. Claiming that the Report puts Democrats on the spot is akin to those miserable homes where no one has the power to take on the abusive raging father so they start abusing the dog because they need someone to lash out at. The simple fact is that the only reason we’re seeing even one word of Mueller’s Report is because Democrats won a House majority in November. Read More

Good Point!

“Complete and total exoneration” is now “total bullshit.”

Witness Against The President
on February 22, 2018 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Amazing exchange between President Trump and White Counsel Donald McGahn:

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The Barr Edit

Many have already noted this. But I wanted to just flag that we can now see the clause of the sentence Barr quoted in his exoneration letter along with the rest of the sentence. It’s not a good look for Bill Barr. Read More

More On Obstruction

The Mueller report dramatically reconfigures the general understanding – based largely on Attorney General William Barr’s public comments to date – of the obstruction of justice question. We fully explain that here.

The Scope and Barr’s Misdirection

It’s a given at this point that Bill Barr has been willfully deceptive about the contents of this report. But even taking that as a given this passage is critical in understanding the standards Mueller applied to the “collusion” part of the investigation. Indeed, he says explicitly, contra Barr, that he didn’t use that standard. Read More

Key Part of the Report on Obstruction

So one big finding so far, following up on David’s note below. It’s in the “Introduction to Volume II”, the obstruction part. It’s very specific and detailed. But it’s only two pages. You can read it yourself. It’s pages 213-14 in the PDF, pages 1 and 2 of that volume of the report. The gist though is that the Special Counsel decided not only that they couldn’t indict a sitting President but that it would not be fair even to accuse him of a crime without indicting him. They also say that if they decided he shouldn’t face prosecution (under the normal standards that would apply to a non-President) that they would say so. They did not. The gist is that the whole non-finding of obstruction seems to rest on the DOJ/OLC belief that a sitting President cannot be indicted – quite contrary to Barr’s claim.

We’ve broken out both introductions here.

Hold Everything

The Mueller analysis of the obstruction of justice question is far more complex, nuanced, and unfavorable to the president that Attorney General William Barr has portrayed publicly.

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Muddy That Water Good Prime Badge
The ‘I Was Frustrated’ Defense

From an ex-prosecutor reader …

The bizarre Barr defense of Trump on obstruction (he was frustrated) echoes the defense used (unsuccessfully) in the obstruction case against former LA Sheriff Lee Baca. Worth checking out. Interesting parallels. Unfortunately for Baca, he didn’t get to choose his prosecutor.

Another Critical Portion

As in his earlier letter, Bill Barr made very specific and technical claims as part of trying to exonerate the President. His argument tied to Wikileaks and the hacked emails is one you need to listen very closely to. He gives a blanket exoneration because he argues – plausible in legal terms – that the only way a Trump associate could have committed a crime is if they had already participated in the hacking of the DNC computers. Read More

Count ’em: 4 Times

In Attorney General William Barr’s prepared remarks, he emphasized that there was “no collusion” four separate times:

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Critical Portion

Rush transcript of key part of Barr’s remarks, essentially justifying Trump’s behavior because he thought the investigation wasn’t fair. Read More

About As We Figured

We’re maybe 6 or 7 minutes into Bill Barr’s extended summary of the Mueller Report. And it’s basically an extended version of the Barr Letter, Barr making maximal ‘no collusion’ claims. Same highly technical language.

Will That Branch Snap?

So many side stories and rivulets to watch over the course of the day. But I note that The Washington Post already seems to be downplaying its scoop that the Report would only be “lightly redacted”. It’s still included in the current versions of their main story. But it appears to have been demoted from the headline and nowhere on the digital front page. Curious to see how that get from Barr’s aides will age over the course of the day. The Post especially seems to have leaned quite far out on the basis of news that almost certainly comes from Barr and his top aides.


All of our coverage of the redacted Mueller report and the accompanying theatrics right here.

The History of ‘Redaction’

As we wait for tomorrow’s follies, I thought it would be interesting to take a detour into the history of the words ‘redaction’ and ‘redact’. Today we know these words refer to those heavy-handed black bars which obscure portions of text in indictments, various court documents, government records and more. But this wasn’t always what these words meant. In fact, the meaning we’re now all buzzing about right now is quite new. Read More

Maxing It Out for Trump

We’ve now gotten more details about about what we’ve basically already known or should have known: the fix is in. The goal here is to max out every avenue to protect the President from the contents of the Report. Bill Barr and his friends at the White House clearly do not care what anyone outside of Trump world thinks at this point. They are not even bothering to keep up appearances at the margins. A good and increasingly relevant question for Bill Barr at this point would be at what point the statutory powers of the Attorney General can amount to obstruction of justice if exercised with corrupt intent.

Let’s go through what we’ve learned this afternoon. Read More

Not Looking Good

A few early reveals on the dubious handling of the Mueller report:

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