U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal has long been a favorite target of the president. The Connecticut Democrat’s past statements wrongly indicating he had served in the Vietnam War — he in fact served stateside — make him something of an easy target, but that’s not his main offense.
In fact, President Donald Trump seems to dislike the former state attorney general because Blumenthal has been among the president’s most vocal critics on cable television, which Trump has been known to watch.
Now the president — or at least his re-election campaign — is hoping to see a lot less of Blumenthal on the airwaves, along with other current and former officials. Their sin, as a letter to network executives claims, is “lying to the American people by vigorously and repeatedly claiming there was evidence of collusion” with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
The letter, from Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for the president’s 2020 campaign, is one of countless exhortations from the president and his supporters in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 race, which they say resulted in a “total and complete vindication of President Trump.” They want people like Blumenthal to pay the price for suggesting otherwise.
Of course, free speech doesn’t work that way. The government doesn’t get to dictate what people say or don’t say about the president, and a suggestion that people should be punished for their speech is akin to authoritarianism. Blumenthal is on perfectly safe ground.
But the bigger issue is this — virtually no one has seen the Mueller report. There is no way to judge what is or isn’t in the report based on what has been released — a four-page summary by U.S. Attorney General William Barr. If the president and his team want to claim vindication, they must release the report, and they must do it now.
Trump’s defenders are hanging their claims on a sentence fragment in Barr’s summary taken from the Mueller report that states: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Anyone who finds that statement to be sufficient to know what happened in 2016 likely made their minds up months ago. The rest of us need more.
We in fact know almost nothing about what Mueller found other than that he is not pursuing further indictments. And on the issue of obstruction of justice, the Barr letter quotes Mueller in stating that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
We need to know everything. A summary prepared by a president’s appointee is not remotely enough. Release the report and let the people know the truth of what was found.
The people must demand nothing less, and let the nation finally start to put this damaging episode in the past.