Tag Archives: Trump

Muller to Barr RE: “Public Confusion”

I didn’t. I really did not want to write about this again. I’ve got several much more interesting things half written that I’d like to finish. But I keep coming back to what is alleged by many to be the most popular quotation in the English language, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke, John Stuart Mill? For a discussion on the source see quoteinvestigator.

The night before Attorney General William Barr was to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Washington Post first reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had, on March 27th, 2019, sent a letter to Barr characterizing Barr’s four page memo to Congress, dated March 24,

The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions. We communicated that concern to the Department on the morning of March 25. There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.

That is a stunning rebuke of Barr and it comes in the face of Barr’s testimony on April 9, before the House Appropriations Committee in dialog with Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla.,.

Crist: “Reports have emerged recently, general, that members of the special counsel’s team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24 letter, that it does not adequately or accurately, necessarily, portray the report’s findings. Do you know what they’re referencing with that?”

Barr: “No, I don’t. I think, I suspect that they probably wanted more put out. But in my view, I was not interested in putting out summaries or trying to summarize because I think any summary — regardless of who prepares it — not only runs the risk of being under inclusive or over inclusive but also would trigger a lot of discussion and analysis that really should await everything coming out at once.”

You be the judge. Was Barr lying? Or just misleading? Barr explained that the question asked about the special counsel’s “team” and Barr’s contacts were with the special counsel himself, not his team. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Ver. told Barr, “I feel your answer was purposefully misleading….” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. called Barr’s answer, “masterful hairsplitting.” House Speak Nancy Pelosi, D-Ca. said, “He lied to Congress — If anybody else did that it would be considered a crime.”

Barr himself dismissed Mueller’s March 27 memo, calling it, “a bit snitty.” Kerri Kupec, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, called Pelosi’s comments a, “baseless attack” that was “reckless, irresponsible and false.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. said, “I applaud Attorney General Barr for his commitment to transparency and keeping the American people informed, consistent with the law and our national security interests.” Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. sounded the same note, “The nation is fortunate to have an experienced leader like Bill Barr in place to ensure maximum possible transparency.”

We’ll turn once more to our old friend, Chris Wallace of the Fox cable network,

I know there are some people who don’t think this March 27 letter is a big deal. Some opinion people, some opinion people who appear on this network, who may be pushing a political agenda. But, you know, we have to deal in facts.

It appears unlikely that Democrats will escalate this battle into a full blown impeachment investigation, undoubtedly doomed to defeat in the Republican controlled Senate. So it seems to this reporter that the bickering will continue through the election, November 3, 2020. Then we will know if any of this matters to the people who should have the final word, the voters.

 

 

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Trump and the Employment Report, fact and fiction, Pt. 2

Numbers are funny things. Even though they appear to be absolute, a clever manipulator can twist them to make pretty much any point he wants to make. Take President Trump’s statement from February: “Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.” It might seem preposterous but it is correct, as the great sage Obi-Wan-Kenobi once said, “from a certain point of view.”

It is the number you get if you take the total U.S. population 16-years of age and older and subtract the people the BLS says are in the labor force. That number includes everyone who is retired, and most high-school, college, graduate or vocational school student. It also includes the disabled, homemakers, some self-employed and those living off their investments.

My guide to reporting the employment report continues at businessjournalism.org….

Trump and the Employment Report, fact and fiction, Pt. 1

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Employment Situation Report for February on March 10, showing a healthy 235,000 gain in payroll employment. Asked what President Trump thought about the numbers, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, “I talked to the president prior to this, and he said to quote him very clearly,” Spicer said. “They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.”

Many of the reporters present laughed. I cringed.

Over the years on public television’s Nightly Business Report, I filed countless “numbers” pieces. The monthly employment reports were most closely watched. For better or worse these reports often had an immediate financial market moving impact, making them lead stories for a market driven broadcast.

I cringed because I believe attempts to undermine the credibility of these reports do a great disservice.

Continues at businessjournalism.org….