We noted the other day that we don’t know squat about what is in the report, and I joked that we’ve gone from the pan into the pot (and had to break the standup comic’s golden rule and explain a joke); but maybe now we know something more and have gone from the pan into the fire.
Over at Vanity Fair (metered paywall), Abigail Tracy reminds us about some of the DOJ’s arcane rules that might bite us in this moment (emphasis mine):
“Appointed under a different statute than Ken Starr, Mueller is merely required to provide to Barr a “confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions” reached under the current special-counsel guidelines. Barr is required to inform Congress of the conclusion of the special-counsel investigation, and detail any instances in which the Justice Department blocked a Mueller decision or denied a request, but what happens to the report itself falls under his purview…
“During his Senate confirmation hearing, Barr left a few clues as to what he might do with the report. He said under oath that his “objective and goal is to get as much as I can of the information to Congress and the public.” And in a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, Barr reportedlywrote to lawmakers that he may brief them on the special counsel’s “principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.” However, he has also emphasized his recognition that the special-counsel guidelines say Mueller’s report “shall be confidential.” When asked during his confirmation hearing if he would allow the Trump White House to put its “spin” on the Mueller report ahead of its release, Barr responded defiantly, “That will not happen.”
“But there are other Justice Department restrictions to take into account. Specifically, D.O.J. guidelines stipulate that a sitting president cannot be indicted, and that the department must refrain from publicly disparaging any unindicted individuals. In other words, if Mueller and Barr follow both of these regulations, Trump might come out unblemished—or, at least, unidentified—and Trump critics thirsty for a presidential takedown will be left disappointed.”
It’s kind of a trap, innit? A sort of Kobayashi Maru?
Anyway, not that I want to turn up the flame, but it could explain why Barr—who thought he could get a summary out to Congress this weekend—has not released anything yet.