Savannah Guthrie (Rightly) Challenged Sarah Huckabee Sanders on the Contents of the Mueller Report

Michelle Ruiz
Behold the journalistic obstruction.

Following the release of the Mueller report on Friday night, President Trump’s trusty White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, spun its findings as “a total and complete exoneration of the President.” But on the Today show on Monday, NBC’s Savannah Guthrie (rightly) pressed Sanders on the finer points of Mueller’s conclusion—namely, the part about whether or not Trump obstructed justice that reads: “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

In a characteristic, though still maddening, exchange, Guthrie asked: “Would you acknowledge it is incorrect for the president to call [the report] a total exoneration?” To which Sanders replied: “Not at all. It is. It is a complete and total exoneration.”

In the face of this journalistic obstruction, Guthrie went on to point out that it wasn’t actually the Mueller report that cleared Trump of obstruction of justice. Rather, it was Trump’s own Attorney General William Barr, appointed by Trump a mere month ago, after Jeff Sessions’s resignation, raising flags from critics that Barr’s conclusion is politically motivated. (Just, cough, look at how Trump treated Sessions for daring to recuse himself from the Russia investigation in a stab at impartiality.)

After investigating whether the president potentially obstructed justice—perhaps through a number of actions, including allegedly asking former FBI director James Comey to drop the bureau’s probe into Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and later firing Comey—Mueller declined to make a judgment on the matter of obstruction and referred the evidence to Barr to decide. But Guthrie pointed out that Barr decided the monumental issue in a swift 48 hours and just months ago “wrote a 19-page memo stating there’s no obstruction case against the president before he saw one piece of evidence.” At this, even Sanders had to smirk.

Another highlight (lowlight?) as the interview wrapped up: Sanders erroneously telling Guthrie that “in the legal community, when you can’t convict somebody on something, you’re exonerating them.” Guthrie, a former attorney who graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown Law Center(!), simply said: “You’re not.”

Is it any wonder #ReleaseTheFullMuellerReport is trending today?