It's time for Katyal to go: From the cable news pseudo-liberal perspective, the Mueller report was a deeply disastrous dud.
We'd been promised so many indictments that we'd get tired of all the indictments! But Mueller announced no further indictments. Most disastrously, the Mueller report said this, early on:
MUELLER REPORT (Volume I, page 9): Among other things, the evidence was not sufficient to charge any Campaign official as an unregistered agent of the Russian government or other Russian principal. And our evidence about the June 9, 2016 meeting and WikiLeaks’s releases of hacked materials was not sufficient to charge a criminal campaign-finance violation. Further, the evidence was not sufficient to charge that any member of the Trump Campaign conspired with representatives of the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election.Oof. The corporate clowns who con us each night had promised us something much better. When it finally appeared, the Mueller report was a ginormous dud.
From that time to this, those same corporate clowns have been conning us liberals all over again. No one is more ridiculous than MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, who emits a selective account of the contents of the Mueller report on a daily basis.
Last Friday, Wallace was at it again. Below, you see her slithery, slick account of what "the normal person" can "take from" the Mueller report.
She spoke with Neal Katyal, a former high official, but one who has also decided to function as a propagandist:
WALLACE (7/19/19): You're the rule of law guy. I spent more of my time of the political side...Just from your perspective on the rule of law side of the ledger, is it clear to you that when Robert Mueller stood up before God and country, which actually means something to Robert Mueller—we're so conditioned to someone who doesn't mean what they say or say what they mean—Wallace has been running that version of three-card monte for weeks. It was ironic to see her run this con after praising Mueller for his honesty, but people like Wallace have behaved this way all through the annals of time.
KATYAL: I have no idea what you're talking about—
WALLACE (Laughing, as always): Donald J. Trump, for one.
When Robert Mueller says, "If I could have found that the president didn't commit crimes, I would have said so," what the normal person can take from that is that Donald Trump did commit crimes?
Needless to say, "a normal person" can "take from" the Mueller report whatever he or chooses. But the Mueller report doesn't say that Trump committed the crime of obstruction of justice. It says that Mueller and his team made no attempt to settle the matter one way or the other.
Mueller did say, in his report, that he can't exonerate Trump. He also said that he hasn't judged that Trump did commit obstruction. Wallace keeps reporting one part of that multi-part statement, then urging her viewers to draw the pleasing conclusion she persistently describes.
This is who and what Wallace is. It's what she was when she pimped the war in Iraq. It's what she was in 2004 when she pimped all those same-sex marriage ballot measures, trying to drive up turnout to keep George Bush in office.
Wallace is a partisan propagandist; that's who and what she is. In a more rational world, it would fall to a former public official like Katyal to correct the misleading statements these impulses cause her to issue.
That said, Katyal has taken the tribal dive too. This is the remarkable way he responded to Wallace:
KATYAL (continuing directly): Absolutely. And I mean it was remarkable, because the president, right after the Barr summary of the Mueller report came out, said the report found no obstruction, no collusion, totally exonerates the president. And Barr's summary suggested that was all right.To watch the full hustle, click here. Regarding Katyal's response:
But now that we actually have the report, it says the reverse. On just the first couple of pages, Mueller says, "Look, if I could have cleared the president of obstruction of justice, I would have." That is devastating, the implication lies in the air, and that's what we should be talking about Wednesday.
The Mueller report says no such thing "on just the first couple of pages." More significantly, the Barr letter didn't suggest that the Mueller report "totally exonerates the president."
Also, the Mueller report doesn't "say the reverse" of that. That's just plainly inaccurate.
Should the normal person take away the idea that Mueller did find that Trump committed the crime of obstruction? Below, you see what the report actually says, early in Volume II:
MUELLER REPORT (Volume 2, page 2): Fourth, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.Partisans can describe the hidden meanings of that full passage in whatever way they choose. They can then convey their selective, novelized pictures to "normal people" who don't know that they're being conned.
But Katyal follows Wallace down the drain, citing one part of what was said while completely omitting the other. The conduct is especially egregious coming from a person who has worked "on "the rule of law side," not as a partisan hack.
One other point should be made. There was at least one obvious problem with the Barr letter's summary of the Mueller report.
But in his letter, Barr quoted the very sentence in which Mueller says that he didn't exonerate Trump. By now, people like Katyal have made it sound like Barr disappeared that part of what Mueller said. This false impression is routinely conveyed on MSNBC programs.
Rereading the Barr letter today, it's hard to say that Barr was more disingenuous then than Katyal is today. But then, we humans weren't wired for Enlightenment values, top high-ranking anthropologists have quite frequently said.
We were and are wired for tribal war—for constructing, then repeating, our preferred tribal narratives. Wallace has always behaved in such ways. Katyal now follows suit.
Wallace has been sent to us live and direct from service to President Bush and his wars. Of Katyal, we'll repeat what glum future experts have said:
Because he's human, all too human, it's time to get him off the air!