Bob Woodward sounded more eager to show he’s a pal to Republicans than to the facts laid bare in the Mueller report that points very strongly to collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
During the FNS panel discussion, Fox News contributor Jason Riley announced the “good news for everyone” in the Mueller report, which he immediately weaponized against Democrats (transcript excerpts via Fox News):
RILEY: Well, I think this report ought to be good news for this country, good news for everyone, Democrats and Republicans alike. The Mueller report found that no one in the Trump campaign, from the president on down, conspired with a foreign entity to win the election despite the efforts of Russia to interfere. This ought to be good news for everyone. We ought to be celebrating this, yet we have some Democrats and some members of the media who are deeply disappointed in this outcome because they had pushed a certain narrative that turned out to be untrue.
In fact, it’s Riley’s narrative that is untrue. Although the Mueller report found that there was insufficient evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy or coordination with Russian interference in the election, the report did include plenty of examples of what Vox called, “The strong evidence of (something like) collusion.”
First, Russia repeatedly reached out to the Trump campaign to establish a connection to the Kremlin. “The Russian contacts consisted of business connections, offers of assistance to the Campaign, invitations for candidate Trump and Putin to meet in person, invitations for Campaign officials and representatives of the Russian government to meet, and policy positions seeking improved U.S.-Russian relations,” Mueller writes.
Second, the Trump campaign was receptive — sometimes going beyond what was on offer from the Kremlin. Some of the examples of this are egregious.
The report is littered with evidence Trump and his staff were open to Russian interference in the election. Mueller explicitly concludes that “the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian effort.”
And there may very well be more evidence in the sections that are redacted.
Furthermore, as legal correspondent Dahlia Lithwick noted in Slate’s podcast, “What Next” noted, Attorney General Bill Barr distorted the findings when he announced, before the release of the report that “there was in fact no collusion.”
We know why conservative Fox Newser Riley would come up with such misleading spin. But what’s Woodward’s excuse for validating it? He acknowledged that the Mueller report painted a very damning picture of Trump overall but for some reason, Woodward seemed eager to find some “both-sidesism.” Never mind that not even Rudy Giuliani could find a credible defense for Trump earlier in the hour.
WOODWARD: I think there's a pattern of lying and corruption here that can't be dodged.
But Jason's right, the big conclusion on no -- I mean collusion is a bad word. No coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians. That is a big deal. And it's got to be faced.
And there is -- there -- there are elements in the report that are very disturbing. Basically -- and I'm sure President Trump would not acknowledge this -- it confirms what was reported in "The New York Times," my newspaper, and "The Wall Street Journal," in a very significant way.
The question bubbling here is, is this Watergate? Is this Nixon? And the big missing element in all of this is money. Nixon used campaign money for the Watergate aperation (ph), espionage and sabotage. He used campaign money to pay for the silence of the people involved in Watergate, clear obstruction.
In this case, you have no money paid by Trump or his associates. You know who paid for the Russian meddling in our election? Vladimir Putin. It was his money.
FACT CHECK: The Mueller report did not address Donald Trump’s finances. As Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Adam Schiff noted on MSNBC, that could be a part of the counter-intelligence investigation but questions of money laundering and whether Russia or any other person or entity has financial leverage over Trump is being investigated by Congress.
So while it feels very presumptuous to criticize a journalism icon like Woodward for sloppy and/or biased analysis, it’s hard to come to any other conclusion.
Watch it below, from the April 21, 2019 Fox News Sunday.
(Woodward image via screen grab)
I think a lot of guests on Fox, especially ones who want more hits, like Riley, say things designed to get them more hits. Frankly, it’s disgusting.
Secondly, I find Riley the most irritating. His attack on ‘liberals’ is so off-base from my experience (e.g., watching MSNBC, CNN) I wonder if he’s even watched anything but conservative smear media.
Next I find Woodward’s perspective interesting since he’s coming from a Watergate background. I hadn’t thought about a major difference being campaign money.
That said, I find his apparent implication campaign expenditures are required for an obstruction case to be as astonishing as it is wrong. Though, in fairness, it’s a little unclear if Woodward is merely addressing critics who say the Mueller Report’s obstruction case is the same as Watergate or is outright saying there is no obstruction because Wallace cuts him off.
A final observation is all the people on the panel who talk in the clip – unsurprisingly – seem to be hand-picked for their Trump-friendly views. The only liberal is a squishy liberal typical of Fox News who’s hesitant to speak much like a ‘real’ liberal.