So we have a date: Thursday, April 18th. This is probably obvious to many of you. But it’s important enough to restate. We shouldn’t see this as the actual release of the report or anything that will give us a full picture of what the investigation found.
As we’ve seen over the last month, with Bill Barr we are dealing with a bad actor and unreliable narrator. His aim is to protect the President. We should assume this is one step in prying loose the results of the inquiry, one that may take quite a long time. A lot will be held back, almost certainly the information judged my damaging to the President. But just how much we don’t know. All that said, we’ll likely learn a lot. And to the extent things are hidden, the scope of what Barr chose to redact will at least become clear. If we get a report that’s half text and half black lines, that will tell its own story.
One basic question I have is whether the redactions will focus on nitty gritty factual details or conclusions and discussions of the evidence. There’s very little justification in the latter category, more in the former. If we see a lot of redactions in discussions and conclusions we’ll know Barr chose to max out his ability to cover for the President.
Another big question is how big a difference there is between the redactions for Congress and those for the public. To be clear, there is zero justification for any redactions in the version given to Congress. But Barr has already told us he will not give Congress an un-redacted version of the report.
Two other questions deeper in the weeds. There’s an allied counter-intelligence investigation that is, apparently, separate from the report and entirely secret. The FBI has offered to brief the “gang of eight” on the results of that part of the inquiry. I don’t think we know whether that’s happened yet.
Finally, the report apparently included tables and charts and other information collections. Are those included? Are they separate from the 400+ page “report” we’re talking about? I haven’t seen a clear explanation of this. Chairman Nadler has also demanded a look at the underlying evidence. Barr seems to have ruled that out entirely.