New York Times: Trump and Barr Remind Reporters of Nixon, Impeachment

April 19th, 2019 3:12 PM

The New York Times Friday edition was chock-full of post-Mueller report coverage emphasizing President Trump’s attempts to hinder an investigation into what amounted to no underlying crime, while glossing over his vindication from criminal charges and the discrediting of the media's “collusion” narrative of the last two years. 

Still, the paper reliably emphasized the negative spin in its banner headline, "Mueller Report Lays Out Russian Contacts And Trump’s Frantic Efforts To Foil Inquiry.”

Mark Mazzetti story in Friday’s lead slot was titled: “No Charges of Criminal Conspiracy and No ‘Judgment’ on Obstruction.” Not a bad summary -- but what happened to the word “collusion”? The Times was throwing it around with the rest of the media; now the goal posts are shifting.

Mazzetti assumed that the Russian influence (mostly ridiculous Facebook posts) somehow was the undeniable deciding factor that swung Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania into Trump’s camp.

The report laid bare that Mr. Trump was elected with the help of a foreign power, and cataloged numerous meetings between Mr. Trump’s advisers and Russians seeking to influence the campaign and the presidential transition team -- encounters set up in pursuit of business deals, policy initiatives and political dirt about Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate for president.


Then, after federal investigators opened an inquiry into the extraordinary Russian campaign, the president repeatedly tried to undermine it.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” Mr. Mueller’s investigators wrote. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

Fevered speculation, now put to rest, arose in some circles that Mr. Trump and his immediate family might be in legal peril from Mr. Mueller’s investigation. At the same time, the report offered reams of evidence of a climate of deceit -- and a base impulse for self-preservation -- among a president and his top aides not seen since the days of Richard M. Nixon.

Former Washington bureau chief David Leonhardt made the same Nixonian comparison in his Friday newsletter, headlined “A Nixonian Attorney General -- William Barr vs. the Justice Department as we knew it.”

The headline to reporter Nicholas Fandos said it all: “A Looming Decision for Democrats: Whether to Initiate Impeachment.”

The online headline to Friday’s front page story by Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman was bluntly hostile: “A Portrait of the White House and Its Culture of Dishonesty.”

Trump’s not the only administration figure in danger of impeachment, apparently. Astead Herndon and Matt Stevens surveyed the Democratic presidential contenders in “2020 Democratic Hopefuls Blast ‘Publicist’ for Trump.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York had just finished a speech at a coffee shop in southwest Iowa on Thursday, one that focused on rural issues like expanding broadband and developing the local economy.

But the first question from her audience, posed by a man named Matt Brummett, focused on what he saw as a more urgent matter: “Should Democrats impeach Attorney General William Barr?”