Given the petty, craven, and retaliatory nature of the current presidential administration, along with the frothing groupies of the MAGA set, I get why some people in Washington may be feeling a bit of unease, with news that Congress will have special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report in their hands on Thursday.
Just so this is properly understood, the public may not know what’s in the report on Thursday, depending on what Congress decides to do with what they’re given. As it is, Democrats in Congress want to see the full report, along with all relevant materials that went towards determining Mueller’s findings.
We don’t know that Attorney General William Barr, who got to where he is because he sent an unsolicited letter to the Department of Justice in June 2018, slamming the probe as “overreach,” can be a fair arbiter of truth, if it means falling out of favor with the president.
His parsing of the Mueller report back in March, giving his slanted summary of the findings, even while he was forced to admit that Trump was not exonerated by the information given, will long cloud the public’s perception of him.
He is not the Attorney General of the United States. He’s Donald Trump’s new “fixer” – petty, plastic, conniving, and driven by a desire for what may be his final brush with power.
A new report from NBC News suggests that there are officials within the White House who are counting the moments until the release of the report, concerned that if their cooperation with the probe and any damaging information given gets back to the president, there will be retaliation.
“They got asked questions and told the truth and now they’re worried the wrath will follow,” one former White House official said.
Some of those who spoke with Mueller’s team, such as former White House counsel Don McGahn, witnessed Trump’s actions up close and were privy to key moments in the obstruction investigation and spent many hours with investigators.
One person close to the White House said there is “breakdown-level anxiety” among some current and former staffers who cooperated with the investigation at the direction of Trump’s legal team at the time.
That’s something you see in despotic regimes.
“You have a whole bunch of former White House officials and current White House officials, but especially former White House officials, who were told to cooperate,” the former White House official said. “So people went and did that, and now the uncertainty is just how much of that information is going to be in that report and how identifiable to individuals is it going to be. And nobody knows.”
Those feeling the pressure now are those who had the most troublesome information to provide to Mueller’s team.
That’s absolutely preposterous. If you see something very wrong, you should have the freedom to say so. This is about the protection of our republic, not defending one man’s reputation.
But we know how thin-skinned Donald Trump is.
What we know about the coming report is that much of it will be redacted. Barr has said that there will be redacted parts for sensitive material, or grand jury testimony. He has also suggested there could be redactions to protect “personal privacy,” or third parties. We still can’t say what that means to him.
Will it be enough to satisfy Congress?
“Even if names are redacted or names aren’t in the report to begin with, it could be situations people were asked about and they answered truthfully that at least for some people — specifically the president — would be identifiable because the situation applies to just one person,” the former White House official said. “Nobody has any idea what this is going to look like on Thursday.”
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.