Although exhaustion if nothing else indicates that it is time to address one of the many matters facing us in addition to the contents of the Mueller Report – at least until we Americans get a chance to see what is actually in the report – I feel a postscript is in order to last week’s note suggesting that House of Representatives’ Speaker Nancy Pelosi was the only major political figure that seemed to recognize the Report’s potential political dangers. I think there could be another major political figure that might at least intuitively recognize, and is working to soften the snares of, the Report’s potential political trap: the President of the United States.
Attorney General William Barr has indicated that among the Mueller Report’s passages to be redacted before the Report is publicly released are those containing “… information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties [My emphasis].” Democrats and the media have raised concerns that Mr. Barr was signaling that redactions could cover Report sections describing interactions that Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, and other Trump Campaign principals had with Russian operatives during and following the campaign. (Whether there is any basis to these concerns remains to be seen; it seems unlikely to me that Mr. Barr believes that he can with a straight face maintain that Messrs. Trump, Jr., and Kushner were peripheral to the campaign.)
That said, President Trump – while loudly, repeatedly, and incorrectly claiming that the Report completely exonerates him – has indicated that he has confidence in Mr. Barr, and that the full Report should be released. Although I am no fan of Mr. Trump, his position seems to me to be pretty savvy.
The Trump Cake is baked. I am confident that the President recognizes that perceptions of him, pro or con, are seared into the psyches of the vast majority of Americans. Since he knows that Mr. Mueller’s team did not find sufficient evidence of Russia-related criminality to convict him or his family members, and since he knows – we all know — that since that threshold wasn’t crossed, there aren’t 20 Senate Republicans brave enough to risk their careers by voting to impeach him no matter how unethical and unsavory the nature of his and his cohort’s behavior described in the Report … why not publish the whole thing? Is there anything of a noncriminal nature that Mr. Mueller could have found that will change any voter’s opinion of Trump Campaign principals? Trump supporters won’t care what’s reported. Trump adversaries can’t be any more adamantly opposed to him than they are (additional revelations might even entice wildly-wet-behind-the-ears young Democrats to force impeachment proceedings Mr. Trump will win). The centrists that will decide the 2020 election already understand that the President is unprincipled, but if they are still open to voting for him, their votes will be determined not by their knowledge of his character but by their assessment of the Democratic nominee and his/her positions.
If I was Mr. Trump, I’d be all for getting the full Report out as soon as possible; the longer disputes about redactions go on, the more that those few doubtful but persuadable centrists that he needs to win a second term might conclude that he does have something more to hide …
I hope Mr. Barr and the Special Counsel do take a couple of weeks to get the Report out. I’m ready to reflect on something else ;).