We have, it seems, reached the grim point in American partisan political history where a nearly two-year investigation that cost more than $30 million and yielded a 448-page report muddies rather than clarifies the situation.

Of course only the most naive observer would have expected that Thursday’s release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Trump-Russia investigation would immediately quell debate on the topic.

Yet even before Americans had a chance to read Mueller’s report, some elected representatives made statements implying that we ought not waste our time having a look for ourselves.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told The Associated Press that “the process is poisoned before the report is even released.”

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker: “The American people deserve the truth. Not a spin from a Trump appointee.”

Booker was referring to Attorney General William Barr, who spoke at a news conference Thursday morning prior to his release of the report. Booker’s description of Barr’s “spin” is not without foundation. The attorney general emphasized the absence of definitive evidence of criminal acts by President Trump, his boss.

But it’s insulting to Americans to suggest that they’re incapable of reading the actual report and reaching their own conclusions, regardless of what Barr said. Comments by Schumer, Booker and others “poisoned” the process, by calling into question the report’s validity and thus its value, at least as much as Barr did.

Moreover, it’s silly to argue, as Barr’s critics seem to be doing, that his press conference comments would in any way deflect attention from parts of Mueller’s report that reflect badly on Trump.

Indeed, within an hour of the report’s release, newspaper websites, and multiple other sources, were quoting passages showing Trump’s desire to fire Mueller, among other questionable actions by the president.

As Trump’s detractors have said since Mueller finished his investigation last month, the president’s claims of “total exoneration” are at best an oversimplification. But here’s the thing — we could figure that out despite being “poisoned” by Barr’s propaganda.

We just had to read the report. Which, after all, is why it was written.

— Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald editor

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