A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
Remember when The New York Times broke this story on April 3? “Some on Mueller’s Team Say Report Was More Damaging Than Barr Revealed.”
Turns out we didn’t know the half of it. Robert Mueller himself was concerned about the way A.G. Bill Barr’s four-page letter had framed his report. And Mueller said so in a March 27 letter to Barr. We just didn’t know it until now.
On Tuesday both the NYT and the Washington Post were working on stories about Mueller’s previously undisclosed private letter. The Post’s story hit first, just after 7 p.m., and the NYT followed just a few minutes later. When the stories hit, I felt a flashback to the days of 2017 and 2018 when the Times and the Post published dueling scoops the way fighters trade blows…
Mueller was watching…
The Post also reported that Mueller and Barr spoke by phone on March 28. “In that call, Mueller said he was concerned that media coverage of the obstruction investigation was misguided and creating public misunderstandings about the office’s work.”
Many analysts believe that was the whole point. “Barr put out a misleading summary, designed to spin it in a much more pro-Trump direction – to shape the perception of the Mueller report forever,” Jeffrey Toobin said on “AC360.” “What we didn’t know until today was that Mueller was pissed.”
Wall-to-wall coverage on Wednesday
Wednesday “is now a really big day,” CNN’s Chris Cuomo said Tuesday night. Democratic senators said on CNN and MSNBC that they are rewriting their Q’s for A.G. Bill Barr’s Wednesday morning hearing.
As is typical on nights like this, Fox gave the breaking news a lot less attention… But Fox and the other cablers will begin special coverage of the Barr hearing at 9 a.m. ET…
When will Mueller speak?
This is one of the biggest Q’s on the minds of beat reporters. As Don Lemon said Tuesday night, “the person we really need to hear from, as soon as possible, is Bob Mueller.”
Perhaps he should have spoken out back in March? Elise Jordan said on MSNBC that “so much time passed” between the time Barr “set the narrative” and the time the redacted report came out. “You have an institutionalist playing by the rules,” she said, referring to Mueller, “when no one else that he’s up against is following those rules.”
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE
– “Democrats say congressional obstruction is pushing some to think about impeachment…” (CNN)
– Sylvie McNamara profiles CNN analyst Asha Rangappa and her “vigorous defense of democracy…” (ELLE)
– MSNBC analyst Chuck Rosenberg is launching a new weekly podcast with the network: “The Oath” will feature conversations with former law enforcement officials… (Twitter)
KFILE’s newest reporting about Stephen Moore
As reporting keeps coming out about Fed pick Stephen Moore’s controversial comments, multiple Republican senators are openly expressing doubts about supporting him. CNN’s KFILE has been leading the way on this reporting…Here’s the latest…
NYT’s editorial: “A Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism”
The NYT editorial board is out with a new editorial about last week’s anti-Semitic cartoon in international editions of the paper. The board says the cartoon is “evidence of a profound danger — not only of anti-Semitism but of numbness to its creep, to the insidious way this ancient, enduring prejudice is once again working itself into public view and common conversation.” Here’s the editorial… I’ll have more about this on Wednesday…
FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO
– ICYMI: Jeffrey Toobin’s close-up look at Michael Cohen’s last days of freedom… (The New Yorker)
– CNN’s new poll – showing Joe Biden breaking away from the 2020 pack – drove the day in politics. Chris Cillizza says “Biden’s past 24 hours could not have gone more perfectly…” (CNN)
– Robin Givhan’s latest on the “dashing young politician” archetype: “Vogue can make anyone look glamorous, including Pete Buttigieg…” (WaPo)