Deep, heavy sigh
Roughly a hundred years ago, or possibly Friday, we learned that Robert Mueller had wrapped up the Special Counsel investigation and delivered his report to the Attorney General. And then, just like that, “Wait. Robert Mueller spends 2 years on this investigation, and all the public gets is a FOUR-page summary? This is not transparency,” tweets Jim Roberts. On Sunday, AG William Barr released his four-page principal conclusions of the Mueller report, and as Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, Rachael Bade and Robert Costa report at The Washington Post, Barr says that Mueller did not find the Trump campaign conspired with Russia (58,000+ shares). On Twitter, Cathleen Decker gives us a helpful “Box score as of now: Russians interfered in the 2016 election; Mueller finds no knowing conspiracy w/Trump campaign; Mueller neither charges nor exonerates Trump on obstruction; AG Barr/Rosenstein say not enough evidence to establish Trump obstructed.”
The headline from Mark Mazzetti and Katie Benner’s reporting at The New York Times, Mueller Finds No Trump-Russia Conspiracy, but Stops Short of Exonerating President on Obstruction (86,000+ shares). Highlighting the part of the Barr letter that says, “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,” Dieter Bohn offers a “Deep, heavy sigh.” He adds, “I do wish Mueller had felt confident enough to not punt on obstruction. But I am happy there are people who stridently stand by the rule of law. I just wish there was a better answer for dealing with an administration that doesn’t. Best answer is the same as it ever was: Vote.”
Also at The New York Times, Peter Baker writes that the end of the investigation without findings of collusion with Russia fortified the president for the battles to come, including his campaign for re-election. Daniel Froomkin’s take on Baker’s take: “No no no wrong wrong wrong bad bad bad: ‘The darkest, most ominous cloud hanging over his presidency was all but lifted on Sunday.’” But Baker concludes that, “[f]or Mr. Trump, that is as good a day as they come.”
And he knows it. Trumpworld Gloats About Mueller: The ‘Fat Lady Has Sung,’ report Asawin Suebsaeng, Sam Brodey and Erin Banco of The Daily Beast, who write, “There was a collective sigh of relief among Trump loyalists—and a very public victory lap” after the summary was released.
Of course, Trump being Trump, the victory lap included a few whoppers. As an AP Fact Check points out, The president called it “a complete and total exoneration.” The special counsel explicitly did not.
Reading between the lines
Meanwhile, in an op-ed for The New York Times, Neal Katyal, who drafted the special counsel regulations under which Robert Mueller was appointed, writes, “there are any number of reasons the president should not be taking a victory lap.” Virginia Heffernan advises, “Skip A1. @neal_katyal instead.”
At The Atlantic, Ken White says, Barr’s Summary of Mueller's Report Raises These Questions. Blake Hounshell describes this one as “Some pointed criticism of Barr here from a former federal prosecutor. Won’t be the last, either.”
And Jonathan Chait links to a “Valuable close read of the weasel words in Barr’s letter by @saletan, who has been quite skeptical of collusion.” That’s William Saletan at Slate, who looks at all the ways the attorney general is spinning the Mueller report to protect Trump.
For one more take, Paul Farhi tweets, “A debacle for the news media and its many talking heads? Critics are blasting away. Something I wrote.” You can read what he wrote at The Washington Post, Conclusion of Mueller probe raises anew criticisms of coverage.
Beyond the Mueller news obsession
We’re moving on, and as Gabriel Debenedetti says, “Now this’ll get people talking.” In a new Emerson poll of Iowa 2020, Biden and Sanders are neck and neck in Democratic field, Mayor Pete jumps to double digits. That poll has Biden at 25%, Sanders at 24%, Buttigieg at 11%, Harris at 10% and Warren at 9%. “He may be the darling of the blue check mark set, but @PeteButtigieg is connecting with voters, too,” notes Jim Kuhnhenn.
Elsewhere, Julie Bloom says there’s “Lots of attention on Washington, but don’t miss this important story by @MitchKSmith on the ground in South Dakota.” She links to ‘A State of Emergency’: Native Americans Stranded for Days by Flooding (41,000+ shares), by Mitch Smith at The New York Times. Tweets John Eligon, “I know we are obsessed with Mueller news, but there is a humanitarian crisis going on right now on the Pine Ridge Native American reservation.” Emergency rations are being delivered by horse, boat and helicopter.
And in heartbreaking news, police confirm that a second Parkland shooting survivor has died by suicide (352,000+ shares). Monique O. Madan has the story at the Miami Herald, writing, “After a second Parkland shooting survivor died by suicide in a week’s span, Florida’s emergency chief is calling for the state Legislature to dispatch more mental health resources for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School community.” As Doug Heye says, “This is awful and sad. Anyone who decided to attack Parkland students is part of the problem, not the solution.”
It’s all getting real
Well, it’s “another one of those Brexit weeks: ‘As it is increasingly likely that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union without a deal on 12 April, the European Commission has today completed its ‘no-deal’ preparations.’” Frank Langfitt links to the press release from the European Commission, which explains that the EU has finished its “no deal” planning, and that, among other things, “the UK will become a third country without any transitionary arrangements...This will obviously cause significant disruption for citizens and businesses.”
As Harry Wilson says, “It’s all getting real. JP Morgan is asking staff to sign contracts requiring them to leave the UK in the event of no-deal Brexit.” In a new piece for Bloomberg, Wilson, Stefania Spezzati and Will Hadfield report that JPMorgan has activated its no-deal Brexit preparation plans.
RIP, a true original
More sad news today, unfortunately, as “Heaven gains another musical genius. RIP,” tweets Chris Merriman. Ben Beaumont-Thomas has the Guardian’s obituary for Scott Walker, one of the most innovative and enduring songwriters of the 20th century. Walker has died at 76. Or as John Gushue puts it, “Scott Walker, who belted our Sixties pop classics like The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore & then took one unusual career detour after another, has died. Amazing voice. An American who oddly became part of the British Invasion, to boot.” Adds Caroline Christie, “I rarely wail at my desk about pop stars dying but this is incredibly sad.”
Truly refreshing/big-thinky literary
“This @JessMKnoll interview is the most inspiring thing I’ve ever read in my life.” To find out what made such an impact on Taylor Lorenz, head over to The Cut, where Maggie Bullock spoke with Jessica Knoll and found out How to Be a Writer and Still Get Really, Really Rich. Emma Gray highlights, “‘Money helps a lot of people. To pretend that it doesn’t is just woo-woo bullshit. We live in a capitalist society. Money improves people’s circumstances. It just does.’ God, I fucking adore this interview, @JessMKnoll. Truly refreshing.”
Of course, your mileage may vary. Brandy Jensen tweets, “this is a perfect hate read in a way that feels so quaint,” while Daniel D'Addario thinks, “This piece pairs really well with the Harper’s essay about how critical thought and discourse about books has fallen out of favor.”
We’re pretty sure he’s talking about the Harper’s piece Like This or Die, where Christian Lorentzen writes about “the fate of the book review in the age of the algorithm.” John Lingan shares, “I read this because I’m a sucker for big-thinky literary essays, and as with most of them, I’m not sure what it’s actually about.” Kyle Schnitzer has an answer: “this is a crazy good essay on modern book reviews (and algorithms, too).” Emily Gould tweets, “brb, instagramming myself with a latte and the new issue of Harpers.”
Let’s close out today with a happy 100th to Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Read Robert Pinsky at The New York Times on Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who’s celebrating his 100th birthday with a novel.