Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Opinion

Edelman: We need to see the entire Mueller Report

Much of the past two weeks’ news cycle has centered on the release of the Mueller report to Attorney General Barr, his letter to Congress summarizing the report’s findings, and responses to those two events.

The attorney general’s note addresses Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. The note said Mueller’s team found that the Putin government carried out a social media campaign designed to “sow social discord, eventually with the aim of disrupting the election.” It also stated that the Russian government “successfully hacked into computers … affiliated with the Clinton Campaign … and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including Wikileaks.” Barr made it clear and Mueller’s report states in no uncertain terms: Russia tried to help Trump get elected.


Barr wrote there was no evidence of intentional conspiracy or coordination with the Russians in those areas. It does not say how much Trump and his campaign knew about those attempts, and that led to the second issue: was there any attempt involving Trump to cover up or obstruct justice from discovering the extent of Russia’s adventures? On this issue, Barr’s summary says, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Barr concluded it was his opinion that the evidence in the Mueller report would make it hard to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Trump had obstructed justice. His memo said he would release as much as he could of the report to Congress, consistent with law, regulations, and Departmental policies (a week later, Barr stated that Mueller was working on the redactions).

The President’s reaction was to tweet, “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION.” He later said, “it wouldn’t bother me at all” for the report to come out, but he reversed himself as other reactions came out.


The first of those reactions was from Congressional Democrats. They want the entire report to go to Congress and demanded that Barr release it by April 2 (earlier in March, the House passed a resolution by a unanimous 420-0 vote, calling for Barr to release the report). When that deadline passed, the House Judiciary Committee voted to authorize issuing a subpoena to obtain it, presumably to apply pressure on the Attorney General to negotiate.

Last week, news came out that several members of Mueller’s team declared the Barr letter to Congress understated the severity of the report’s findings, which were described as “alarming and significant.” As the investigative team had no leaks of any kind for the nearly two years of activity, their actions were quite unusual. It’s believed the investigators want to make sure the full extent of their findings are made public; also, it was reported that part of the report consists of prepared summaries not including any materials subject to redaction. Barr’s response was that every page in the report was stamped “confidential,” so he could not release the prepared summaries.

Attorney General Barr’s opinion isn’t supported by case law, Supreme Court decision, or Constitutional prescription. His opinion is a sitting president may not be indicted for criminal activities while in office. The Watergate coverup could have provided a precedent: the evidence that Richard Nixon took part in the coverup was overwhelming. Watergate special prosecutors did not wish to create a constitutional crisis by indicting him. Instead, the Watergate Grand Jury declared him an unindicted co-conspirator, leading to Nixon’s resignation. What is known about Mueller’s report is his team found enough evidence to prevent the report from clearing the president of criminal wrongdoing. We do not know if the report has enough evidence to establish a coverup and make Trump an unindicted co-conspirator.

We have a need to know.

A century ago, Justice Louis Brandeis said, “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” That is still true today. As long as Trump and his appointee refuse to make public the Mueller report, there will remain justifiable doubt that the president’s hands are clean. Trump says he is innocent. Let him prove it by acting like an innocent man and ordering its release. If he fails to do so, then his actions will convict him in the court of public opinion.