Special counsel Robert Mueller was reportedly planning to deliver his report in the Russia counterintelligence investigation as soon as next week and then just as quickly, he wasn't. But as pundits pondered the notion that this might really be it, they were befuddled, perplexed, and even anxious at the prospect of the special counsel delivering anything so definitive with so many strands related to Donald Trump's inner circle still in a tangle of mystery. Those strands include everything from the very central indictment of Trump confidant Roger Stone for lying about his interactions with Russians to Don Jr.'s unforgettable Trump Tower confab with a Russian delegation to the more distant indictment of Paul Erickson, a conservative political operative and boyfriend of the also-indicted Russian spy Maria Butina.
This week's rigorous speculation centered both on what findings would be included in Mueller's report and how much of that report would ultimately be relayed to Congress and made public by Trump's newly installed attorney general, William Barr. If I were a betting woman, I'd guess that Mueller's final determination will certainly lay out impeachable offenses, including an airtight case for obstruction of justice, while perhaps leaving some of the criminal conspiracy threads for another day under another prosecutor. But exactly how much of Mueller's report will ultimately reach lawmakers and the public will be a test of the man now charged with wide discretion over disseminating Mueller's revelations.
Whatever Barr may have done or said to obtain the position he now holds doesn't exactly indicate what he's likely to do. As Lyndon Johnson biographer Robert Caro has observed, the notion that absolute power corrupts absolutely is actually an overhyped axiom. "Power doesn't always corrupt," he offered, after years of studying Johnson. "What I believe is always true about power is that power always reveals. When you have enough power to do what you always wanted to do, then you see what the guy always wanted to do." President Johnson, of course, managed to enact some of the most pivotal civil rights laws of the 20th century after having a pretty abysmal voting record on civil rights legislation as a U.S. Senator.
What Attorney General Barr really wants to do with the position he auditioned for with Trump remains to be seen. But Democrats are already girding for battle if necessary.