How long will we be debating the Mueller Report? Howzabout ‘Forever?’ | Monday Morning Coffee

March 25, 2019 7:09 am

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
After 22 months, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election finally wound up on Sunday, as U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr delivered a summary of the special counsel’s findings to Congress.

It’ll be a while before Mueller’s report becomes public in any meaningful way, but we know at least two things for certain.

1. That President Donald Trump’s supporters are going to seize on this part of Barr’s letter as evidence that the president, as he claimed on Twitter Sunday, was “completely exonerated:”

“The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election” Barr’s four page summary reads.

And critics of president are going to seize on this passage:

“The Special Counsel . . . did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other — as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction,” Barr’s letter to lawmakers also reads. “The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him’.”

Barr went on to add that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had “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. Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president,” Barr wrote.

And, right on schedule, came this statement from freshman U.S. Rep. John Joyce, R-13th District:

“The Special Counsel’s findings make clear that President Trump nor any members of his campaign engaged in collusion with the Russians during the 2016 election,” Joyce said in a statement released by his office. “It is now our responsibility as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to put this combative time in our country’s history behind us, and get back to work for the American people on the issues that matter the most. The Special Counsel’s conclusions have provided much needed closure and I look forward to returning my focus to growing the economy, making healthcare more affordable and accessible, fighting the opioid epidemic, protecting life and securing the border.”

And this from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.who tweeted: “In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President, we will be calling Attorney General Barr in to testify before @HouseJudiciary in the near future.”

Yes, Bob Mueller finished his homework. We’re still going to be arguing about what it means for a while.

Our Stuff:
On Wednesday, a natural gas industry consultant and climate denier will appear before the House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee. Because, Daryl Metcalfe. Stephen Caruso has the story.
Pennsylvania will be part of a $50 million advertising push by a progressive super-PAC looking to undermine President Trump’s support among Rust Belt voters.
If you missed it, you can read every story and column in our in-depth look at Pennsylvania’s brain-drain.

On the Opinion side of the house, a Penn State scholar looks at the winners and losers in sports betting (Yeah, we got that) during the Final Four. And Shira Goodman of CeaseFirePa looks at last week’s vote in New Zealand banning assault weapons and the lessons it holds for American policymakers.

Staff at the Philadelphia Free Library have complained of bias and harassment, The Inquirer reports.
There are encouraging signs in Harrisburg that lawmakers finally understand that voters are looking for some accountabilityThe Daily News’ John Baer opines.
Students in Pittsburgh are planning a walkout Monday in response to the Rosfeld verdict, The Post-Gazette reports.
And The Tribune-Review has the words of Antwon Rose’s mother after the Rosfeld verdict.
PennLive has a package of stories on the 40th anniversary of the Three Mile Island accident.
Pennsylvania’s 2020 primary could actually be competitiveThe Associated Press reports (via The Morning Call).

What Happens on Twitter:

BillyPenn goes deep on the battle to preserve Philly’s black burial grounds.
Activists in Philly are calling on the University of Pennsylvania to pay its ‘fair share’ of the cost of the city’s schools, WHYY-FM reports.
Pa. Dems have endorsed their Superior Court candidates, PoliticsPA reports.
Now it’s rural America’s turn to face rising housing reports.

Here’s a very dramatic #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

President Trump went on the attack (shockah) after the Mueller report was releasedPolitico reports.
The Mueller Report doesn’t say what Republicans say it doesRoll Call reports.

What Goes On.
The House and Senate both come in at 1 p.m. this Monday.
In the Senate: The Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee meets at 10 a.m. in 8E-A East Wing. The Appropriations Committee will meet off the floor.
In the House: The Democratic Policy Committee meets at 10 a.m. in 418 Main Capitol; the Labor & Industry Committee meets at 10:30 am. in Room B31 Main Capitol; Gaming Oversight meets at 12 p.m. in G50 Irvis. The Appropriations and Health committees meet at the call of the chair in 140 Main Capitol and G50 Irvis, respectively.

Gov. Tom Wolf
 heads to North East Borough for a 2 p.m. newser on flood mitigation. As an added bonus, we now know that North East, Pa., is more than a mere geographical descriptor.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
11 a.m.: 
Reception for Rep. Karen Boback
11:30 a.m.: Reception for Auditor General Eugene DePasquale
5:30 p.m.: Reception for the Senate Republican Campaign Committee
6 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Ryan Bizzarro
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’ll part with a mere $15,300 today.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a new one from The Cranberries – from the final sessions before singer Dolores O’Riordan’s untimely death last year. It’s ‘Wake Me When It’s Over.’

Monday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Carolina beat Montreal 2-1 in overtime on Sunday, hanging onto their wild card slot.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.