John Dean, the former White House counsel for Richard Nixon, suspected Attorney General Bill Barr was trying to polish Robert Mueller’s report so it wouldn’t sound so dire for the president.
In a CNN panel discussion Sunday, Dean explained why he thinks the Mueller report is far worse than folks might think based on the Barr summary.
“I think something with Barr put a little bit of lipstick on here — something that may have been fairly ugly,” Dean told CNN’s Don Lemon. “I have suspicions he boiled this down the way he did because it’s not very attractive, Don. His words are very different from Barrs, I suspect. I think he had a heads-up on this.”
Dean also anticipated that Barr likely “backed off” on the obstruction issue because there is likely a disagreement with the Department of Justice about it.
“There was a fundamental disagreement with the department as to whether a sitting president was capable of obstructing justice,” Dean said, citing Barr’s 19-page memo. “If you read Barr’s memo, June 2018, he said, in essence, a president, unless he is named in a statute, is not subject to that statute. The president isn’t named in any of the obstruction statutes. If you push that out you can see how he reached the conclusion he did. I think Mueller was of a very different school of thinking and he just withdrew. Those issues will be sorted out as this report slowly, hopefully, surfaces.”
Lemon noted that Barr has already set the narrative, so if Mueller’s report is released and proves to be something entirely different from Barr, it’s possible people won’t believe it.
“It will be tough for Democrats and others investigating in the Congress to change that narrative, even if it’s something different than what Barr says in this letter,” Lemon said.
Watch his full comments below: