Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C, center, Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., right, and other conservative Republicans discuss their goal of obstructing the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, as part of a strategy to pass legislation to fund the government, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Leading Trump ally tries to spin latest Mueller court filing

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The Rachel Maddow Show, 12/4/18, 9:28 PM ET

Mueller memo: Flynn cooperation led to other witness testimonies

Chuck Rosenberg, former U.S. attorney, talks with Rachel Maddow about highlights in Robert Mueller’s memorandum on the sentencing of disgraced former Donald Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The latest court filing from Special Counsel Robert Mueller advances our understanding of the ongoing investigation, but only to a point. We now know, for example, that former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn lied to investigators about his foreign communications, and in the process, was compromised by Russia before his resignation last year. We also know that Mueller and his team are satisfied with the extent to which Flynn has cooperated with their probe.

We don’t, however, know the areas in which Flynn has been cooperative. The court filing explained that the former national security adviser has provided information about three investigations, two of which remain undisclosed.

Those other two investigations raise tantalizing possibilities – one of which was explicitly identified as a “criminal” probe – but for now, they remain something of a mystery.

I was curious how the right would respond to revelations like these, and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), one of Donald Trump’s most ardent congressional allies, didn’t disappoint during his Fox News interview last night. Here was the far-right lawmaker’s pitch:

“I’ve looked at this report and, yes, everybody is going to focus on what has been redacted. But let’s look at what’s not in there. There is no suggestion that Michael Flynn had anything to do with collusion. He was with the transition team. He was part of the campaign. And, yet, there is no mention of collusion.

“I think it’s good news for President Trump tonight that this is what has come down to, even though they said he ‘substantially cooperated,’ I think he substantially cooperated to say that there was no collusion and we can look at it with that in mind.”

This almost certainly wasn’t intended to be funny, but it was hard not to be entertained by the attempted spin.

For one thing, neither I nor Mark Meadows knows what’s lurking behind the black bars in this document. Maybe the redactions point to suspected cooperation between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, maybe not, but when the GOP congressman boasted about “what’s not in there,” he simply assumed that the parts of the documents he can’t see tell Meadows what he wants to see.

For another, let’s also not forget that Flynn met with federal investigators 19 times. To hear the North Carolinian tell it, Flynn cooperated “to say that there was no collusion.”

I can appreciate why the president’s far-right allies are searching for some kind of reason to be optimistic about the direction of the scandal, but does anyone seriously believe it took 19 interviews for Flynn to say there was no collusion?

Donald Trump and Scandals

Leading Trump ally tries to spin latest Mueller court filing

Updated