Attorney General William Barr steps to the lectern.
Hello, everyone. I am here to repeat the words “no collusion” as many times as I can without sounding suspicious, but first, I would like to thank Rod Rosenstein. He is here standing behind me. He had plans to step back from public service before I came along and asked him to assist me. Then again, some would argue that by assisting me, he did not perform a public service. Anyway, he is here.
I would also like to thank Robert Mueller for making this report for me to redact. I feel like it is a joint creation between the two of us. He is not standing here with me today. Instead, there is a bearded man who, no doubt, is familiar to you all. I will certainly not introduce him at any point. I will leave his identity to your imagination! Worst-case scenario, this will just accustom you to seeing strange facts without context, something that will help you as you consume the report!
The good news is that, although the Russian government did interfere in the 2016 election with hacking and disinformation campaigns, it did not do so literally at the behest of the Trump campaign, in my opinion. Was that the opinion of the Mueller team? Who can say? But if it wasn’t, it should have been, I think. Make no mistake, Russia did interfere to help him, but this effort was just sort of a fun lagniappe. Nobody asked for it.
Really, it was like when you are just sitting on a couch trying to have a nice time and your cat unexpectedly brings you a dead bird. (In this scenario, the dead bird is the American people.) You did not expect it! You don’t even want it. But the cat seemed to think it was a nice gesture. Well, that is how Donald Trump feels about winning this election. In brief, this was not at all coordinated. Anyway, as I think anyone who has been watching the Trump presidency can see, this is not a man who expected to win.
Some more words about the president’s feelings: Speaking as the attorney general of the United States, whose function is to defend the law of the land and not the person of the president, I would like for just a minute to defend the person of the president. You see, he has a lot of feelings and is facing an unprecedented situation. His pain is real, and we should respect it. He has been very frustrated and angry, and, I think, sincerely so. As I have learned from my years in close communion with the law, being very frustrated is a great legal defense against wrongdoing.
Between you and me, he is so lonely. I wish I could convey to you the unspeakable loneliness of his position. The president is not a well man. His doctor, a real doctor, has said we are to keep him from shocks; shocks such as seeing his name in the same sentence as the word “collusion” unaccompanied by the word “no,” or really any sudden experience of extreme feeling. This is why we must not let him stare too long at art that is particularly moving, lest its beauty knock something loose in him and destroy his system entirely. So I ask: If we, if any of us, can just do our part to spare him from hearing the awful word “collusion” that distresses him so much, is there any price we would not pay? Is there any sacrifice we would not make?
I will now take questions.
Q: Where is Mueller?
A: My friend with the beard is here!
Q: What do you say to people who say that you are going out of your way to defend the presidented, talking about how he faces ‘an unprecedented situation’?
A: I would say, is there another precedent for it?
Q: … No.
A: Boom! QED! (runs a victory lap around the room, high-fiving anyone who will accept it, but no one will)
Q: Where’s Mueller? Isn’t this Mueller’s report?
A: NO! IT IS MY REPORT, MINE! HE DID IT FOR ME! I AM THE ATTORNEY GENERAL! No more questions, goodbye.
Follow Alexandra Petri on Twitter @petridishes.