What the public will not see in the Mueller report

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Starr said it's unfortunate that the Mueller report has become so politicized, and he can not even understand the argument that President Trump somehow obstructed justice. No Trump supporters are going to read the full report, the state-run media will claim, since there is nothing new, that therefore Trump has been vindicated, and the rest of the public, even those who may see through the charade, already exhausted from this two-year saga, will quickly lose interest, especially with the focus now turning to the 2020 election. "The crime was committed by the other side, this crime was all made up, it was all a fabrication".

Press secretary Sarah Sanders repeatedly tried to make the same case on TV talk shows on Sunday. But the political battle is far from finished over the special counsel's investigation of Russian efforts to help Mr. Trump in 2016 and whether there was cooperation with his campaign.

It is certainly possible that, when all the smoke has finally cleared, Attorney General Bill Barr's controversial summary of the final report will vindicated, and Trump will be largely, if not totally exonerated of criminal behavior.

But if Democrats hope that Thursday's release of the redacted report will corroborate those allegations, they're nearly certainly in for another round of disillusion and reduced credibility.

President Trump's claim that Robert Mueller's report is a total exoneration is about to be put to the test as what is known about the special counsel's findings swells from four pages to almost 400, undermining the White House's ability to frame the narrative.

Mr. Mueller officially concluded his investigation late last month and submitted the confidential report to Mr. Barr.

Portions of the report being released by the Justice Department will be redacted to protect grand jury material, sensitive intelligence, matters that could affect ongoing investigations and damage to the privacy rights of third parties, the attorney general has said.

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It may surprise many, but the central issue with the impending release of the Mueller report has little to do with its contents.

The same goes for a 140-page response report the White House and Trump's personal lawyers are trying to trim to about 50 pages, experts said. Even if they find questionable actions and discussions within the Mueller report, their earlier hyperbole raised expectations so high that anything less will be dismissed as hardly worth the bother.

They have painted House Democrats' investigations as partisan overreach and have targeted news outlets and individual reporters they say have promoted the collusion story. Both "sides" will continue to "spin" the Mueller report in a way that benefits their positions and deflects the other side's argument.

According to the network news some are particularly concerned about how Trump - and his allies, will deal with them. The president himself seethed at a political rally that the whole thing was an attempt "to tear up the fabric of our great democracy".

The victory lap was deliberately premature, they said. "There was no anything", Trump told ABC News affiliate KSTP Monday in Minnesota. However, it now appears far more likely that Trump is going to win this battle not because the facts warrant it, but rather because Barr has done a highly contrived and seemingly masterful job of releasing the report in the least damaging fashion imaginable.

His long-asserted accusation - though not supported by evidence - that his campaign was spied upon was given new life last week when Barr, testifying before Congress, said he thinks "spying did occur" in 2016. That's objectively true, as Barr noted in congressional testimony last week, as the investigation started as a counter-intelligence operation fueled by a surveillance warrant approved by a FISA court on Carter Page.

Lemire reported from NY.

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