Due to the release of the Mueller Report to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, I am re-posting this commentary which originally appeared on March 6.
After almost two years of investigative work examining “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation,” Americans should be permitted to see most of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s findings.
Maybe the report will find Trump and his campaign guilty of conspiracy and/or obstruction of justice. Maybe it will clear him. And maybe it will only provide more questions.
Here’s what we know so far about the individuals surrounding then-candidate Trump, as reported by NPR (Dec. 9, 2018):
Roger Stone, Trump campaign associate known for his “dirty tricks,” “charged with seven counts, including obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements in relation to Russian interference in the 2016 election.”
Paul Manafort, “President Trump’s former campaign chairman pleaded guilty…” to two felony counts and witness tampering.
Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal attorney, admitted lying to Congress about a potential Trump Tower project in Moscow.
Samuel Patten “…pleaded guilty… to failing to register as a foreign agent for lobbying work he performed for a political party in Ukraine…” Patten worked with Konstantin Kilimnik who was connected to Manafort.
Konstantin Kilimnik, indicted. “…the special counsel’s office charged Kilimnik with obstruction of justice for allegedly trying to persuade witnesses to lie to the jury in the government’s then-pending case against Manafort.”
Rick Gates, Manafort’s deputy, “[pleaded] guilty… to financial fraud and lying to federal investigators.”
Alex van der Zwaan, “…acknowledged…that he misled investigators about a conversation he had with Rick Gates…”
Richard Pinedo pleaded guilty to identity fraud in connection to the 2016 campaign.
Michael Flynn, Trump’s first National Security Advisor, “pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the transition.”
George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators about conversations with a London professor with “substantial connections to Russian government officials.”
Russian Intelligence, indicted. “…on a litany of alleged crimes related to Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Clinton presidential campaign.”
Russian Internet Trolls, indicted [for creating] “hundreds of social media accounts… intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton… and to support … then-candidate Donald Trump.”
Before I offer my reasoning on why Americans should be entitled to read the special counsel report, I begin with the following backstory.
In 2012, I initiated a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request to obtain a copy of a long-hidden report by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) investigating allegations of misconduct by Ken Starr’s Office of Independent Counsel (OIC) prosecutors regarding their Ritz-Carlton interrogation of Monica Lewinsky.
I interviewed lead counsel Jo Ann Harris regarding her Report; a report she and others believed to be sealed, but in fact, was not.
During many conversations with Harris before her death in 2014, one question I had concerned the reasoning behind the public release of Monica Lewinsky’s Grand Jury testimony which included salacious details of her liaisons with Clinton. Typically, Grand Jury testimony is sealed under rule 6(e).
Harris explained that the three-judge panel, which oversaw the independent counsel investigation, decided what would be released to the public. OIC had argued and prevailed in convincing lead judge, David B. Sentelle, that Lewinsky’s testimony was in fact, in the public’s interest and her Grand Jury testimony was released. Harris believed this was done to further embarrass Clinton.
“On January 31, 2001, Harris submitted a 24-page Summary of her Report to Robert Ray who took over after Ken Starr left. She reminds OIC staff that it is DOJ policy to issue summaries of OPR findings in notorious cases. The Lewinsky matter is such a case.”
In the same manner that the Harris Report was released, where the names of FBI agents were redacted, the Mueller Report should be released under similar protocol including any investigative methods that should remain hidden.
The Lewinsky phase of the Starr investigation was about a presidential affair and its consequences.
The Mueller investigation is about the prospect of a presidential candidate working with a known foreign enemy to tilt the election in his favor utilizing several means, and with the knowledge and cooperation of many individuals surrounding that candidate.
If Monica Lewinsky’s graphic Grand Jury testimony was deemed important for the public to know, the Mueller Report easily surpasses that threshold of public interest.
I hope that U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr as well as Congressional Republicans recognize this and release Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.