Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Opinion

Batavick: Questions about the Mueller Report

I am not a conspiracy nut. I believe that the U.S. moon landing was real; that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone assassin; and that it was al-Qaeda and not the federal government under a false flag that was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

And so, I am willing to accept the conclusions of the Robert Mueller investigation, as interpreted by the Cliffs Notes version prepared by Attorney General William Barr. His four-page letter said that the Trump campaign didn’t collude with Russia. And though Barr acknowledged that Mueller's report did not implicate nor exonerate the president of obstruction of justice, he later announced that he found there was insufficient evidence to do so.


In the interest of transparency, it should be noted that Barr passed the president’s entrance exam for the AG slot in June 2018 by writing an unsolicited, 19-page memo to senior Justice officials in which he called Mueller’s probe into obstruction of justice “fatally misconceived.” This was, of course, before seeing any of the facts unearthed by the investigation.

Still, I am not charging that there was a conspiracy — just that there are too many loose ends to l’ affaire Russia to accept things at face value. If given the impossible chance, I would like to ask some cogent questions of Mr. Mueller. And please kindly note that none of these is a partisan question. Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike all should all be asking them because of the unprecedented assault on our electoral system that was devised and executed by the Russian military, specifically the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff — known by the acronym GRU.


If there was no collusion, then how do you explain that 16 members of the Trump campaign had 102 contacts with Russian-linked operatives leading up to and after the election? What exactly where they doing? Trading borscht recipes? These meetings weren’t with our traditional allies the Brits, the French, or the Canadians, but with a hostile enemy power that was simultaneously interfering with our democratic processes and creating doubt and suspicion among voters.

Why was the first response of those who met with the Russians to lie about it to the FBI and the media? This includes Jeff Sessions who met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak three times during the campaign. He lied about these meetings both during and after his confirmation proceedings to become Attorney General.

After the notorious meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower, why did Donald Trump Jr. lie that the parties innocently discussed adoptions and not getting dirt on Clinton, and why did he lie that he had written the summary memo of the meeting when the president had actually done so?

Why did Jared Kushner, presidential advisor and the president’s son-in-law, cover up his many contacts with the Russians when he initially submitted his SF-86 security clearance background form to the FBI? And why has he had to amend the form dozens of times because he omitted key meetings with Russian officials like Kislyak. Too, why has he had to amend his financial disclosure form 39 times?

Why were only some key staffers, like Trump’s campaign chairman, national security advisor, and personal lawyer, indicted and convicted for lying?

Given the reams of evidence from our intelligence agencies that the Russians violated the integrity of our electoral system with email hacking, strategic leaks, and an onslaught of social media attacks on Hillary Clinton, why has the president rarely acknowledged this? Why did he accept Russian President Putin’s word that the Russians were innocent when the evidence so clearly proved otherwise?

Why wasn’t Trump subpoenaed and made to testify under oath for the investigation? Given his penchant for lying, why should we believe his written responses to the probe’s questions?

There may be logical answers to all of these queries. Perhaps there was no secret agreement between Trump and the Russians to put a finger on the electoral scale. Or maybe Trump knew full-well what was going on, but was content to remain silent because he was the one who benefited. Or perhaps Trump is such a poor manager of personnel that he was completely left in the dark about what his staff was doing. Maybe he did know, but was wily enough to avoid any smoking gun in the form of an incriminating email or telephone call recording. Or perhaps he was, and remains, just an unwitting dupe of Vladimir Putin who feared Clinton’s election.


I will admit to having shared some of these questions with my right-leaning friends. The not- very-assuring responses I received are: “No collusion. Get over it.” “It is not illegal to meet with officials from other countries.” “All politicians lie.” And ludicrously, “Obama, Clinton and the FBI were the real colluders.”

Regardless, I insist that we desperately need to get to the bottom of all of this, if only for the sake of our democratic processes and my piece of mind. The full Mueller Report has to have answers or should be just the beginning.