Yesterday Americans throughout the countrey gathered to call for release of the Mueller report. On an overcast afternoon with the skies threatening rain I contributed to the body count at the Waterfront Park rally in Portland. My photos from the event are posted on Facebook and Instagram. This morning I share my thoughts. This is what I can do by way of taking a stand demanded by conscience, principle, integrity, and maybe a lingering flicker of the idealism that animated me almost fifty years ago as I stood in front of the student union building on the University of South Carolina campus passing out antiwar rally flyers in the cold.
Many at the rally and around the country call for the full, unredacted report to be made public. On that point I respectfully dissent. As much of the report as possible, in accordance with established policy regarding redaction of confidential material related to grand jury testimony, ongoing investigations, national security, &c., should be released to the public as quickly as possible. Redactions should always be the minimum necessary to protect genuinely sensitive information. As for what should be released to Congress, I stand with Senator Ron Wyden:
There is no reason why the full Mueller report and all underlying documentation can’t be delivered to Congress right now. If Barr could reach a determination about obstruction of justice in a weekend, he can move a whole lot faster on getting this to the American people.
Given this delay I am increasingly concerned that redactions are being made to deceive the American people and protect Donald Trump. I plan to scrutinize every redaction and will not accept any that appear to be politically motivated.
There are legitimate questions about the impartiality of the attorney general (Eli Watkins, Barr authored memo last year ruling out obstruction of justice, CNN, March 26, 2019). The waters grew murkier with yesterday's reports of "frustration or maybe distress on the part of some members of the special counsel's team that the Barr summary letter...didn't...adequately convey all the nuance and complexity of the 400-page report that they wrote." (Judy Woodruff, Lisa Desjardins, and Washington Post reporter Rosalind Helderman, Some of Mueller team reportedly unhappy with Barr conclusions on their work, PBS NewsHour, April 4, 2019). It should be noted that these reports are secondhand. To the best of my knowledge, members of the Mueller team have not spoken publicly, nor have they commented to the media on or off the record. This in itself speaks to the professionalism and integrity of the special counsel's investigation.
It's a mess. Trump and his loyalists trumpet, so to speak, Barr's summary as complete exoneration. More than a few of the comrades harbor faith that the Mueller report will deliver us from Trump. Release of the report may not change many hearts and minds. Maybe though it will allow some of us to better focus on other issues that cry out for attention.
In meantime Trump threatens to nominate two manifestly unqualified, partisan hacks to the Federal Reserve Board (Aaron Rupar, Trump plans to nominate a second loyalist to the Fed: Herman Cain, Vox, April 4, 2019; Burgess Everett, Romney dings Herman Cain for Trump’s Fed, Vox, April 4, 2019). The crisis at the border is building in part because the threat of a wall and draconian restrictions on immigration and asylum provide a perverse incentive for desperate refugees to try to enter the US now while they still have a chance. The courts are packed with right-wing zealots whose decisions will be with us for decades. Stability in the Middle East is further undermined by declaration of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. &c.
All we can do is keep at it. Raise our voices. Take our stands. Vote even when the candidates for whom we feel compelled to cast our ballots are not everything we would like them to be. There is a difference between the two major parties. It does matter.
Keep the faith.