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 , which he immediately weaponized against Democrats (transcript excerpts via ):
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 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 , “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 s 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, “” noted, Attorney General Bill Barr distorted the findings when , 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 .
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 Donald Trump’s finances. As Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Adam Schiff noted , 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.