Will Congress Honor Mueller Redactions? 'We Have an Obligation to Share the Truth,' Rep. Himes Says

By Susan Jones | April 18, 2019 | 7:25am EDT
Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) appears on CNN the night before the Mueller report's release. (Photo: Screen capture)

(CNSNews.com) - The Mueller report will be "lightly redacted," the Washington Post reported Wednesday before the report's release.

"That would be a good thing," Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) told CNN's Andrew Cuomo Wednesday night. "I was afraid we were going to spend the next two months arguing over redactions, not even knowing why they were redacted. You know, there need to be some redactions in there, of course, to protect national security, classified information, sources and methods and all that stuff."

Himes said members of Congress on the Intelligence and Judiciary committees can "look and validate" if the redactions are for national security purposes, and if they're not -- "What can you do?" Cuomo asked him. "How do you win in this situation?"

Himes responded:

I think it puts a burden on Congress's shoulders because if the redactions are what I hope the redactions are, which are there to protect our intelligence sources and methods, that's one thing. We will respect that.

But if they are clearly there and somebody like me on the intelligence committee sees it, and they are clearly there to prevent embarrassment of this president, we're going to be in quite a fix.

And look, we're a co-equal branch of government. I can only speak for myself, but if I look at a redaction and see there is absolutely nothing at stake with respect to national security and that is there to dupe the American people, you know, you'll see other members of Congress will feel the way that I do, which is that we have an obligation to share the truth with the American people.

The report sent to Congress will be less redacted than the one released to the public.

Himes said he expects Thursday to be "an ugly day for the president and for the White House," as the 400-page Mueller report is finally released at or shortly before noon.

"The White House has already claimed unconditional and total exoneration and victory," Himes said. "If that were true, one page would suffice. There's going to be 399 other pages that have some pretty grim stuff for the White House."

Himes, like other Democrats, complained about Attorney General William Barr holding a news conference to "spin things" before the report is released.

But Himes also said the question about whether the president obstructed justice -- either technically or legally -- "doesn't matter." The only thing that matters is what Congress thinks, he said.

"All that matters, if the DOJ won't indict a sitting president, which they will not under current procedures, all that matters is whether Congress decides in the House and in the Senate that it's an impeachable offense. And again, I hate to say this about my country, but we are in a place in particular where the Republican Party, I don't think there is anything that this president could do that would cause the Republicans to turn on him. So the fine points about whether this was obstruction or not I think are really sort of beside the point."

According to the Washington Post, the Mueller report "will reveal that Mueller decided he could not come to a conclusion on the question of obstruction because it was difficult to determine Trump’s intent and because some of his actions could be interpreted innocently," people familiar with the matter said. "But it will offer a detailed blow-by-blow of the president’s alleged conduct — analyzing tweets, private threats and other episodes at the center of Mueller’s inquiry, they added."

Himes said it will be "interesting" to hear Special Counsel Bob Mueller explain why he didn't insist on speaking to the president in person. "Why did he choose not to push it?" he asked.

Mueller is expected to be called before various congressional committees when Congress returns from its spring break.

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