Just so we're all clear, the heavily redacted Barr version of the Mueller report will drop on Thursday, and Trumplandia is totally not packing at all because of course the report totally exonerates Trump and nobody is worried about being exposed as the source of any detrimental information about Trump who is completely innocent of wrongdoing and everything is great.
Some of the more than one dozen current and former White House officials who cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller are worried that the version of his report expected to be made public on Thursday will expose them as the source of damaging information about President Donald Trump, according to multiple witnesses in the investigation.
Some of the officials and their lawyers have sought clarity from the Justice Department on whether the names of those who cooperated with Mueller’s team will be redacted or if the public report will be written in a way that makes it obvious who shared certain details of Trump’s actions that were part of the obstruction of justice probe, people familiar with the discussions said. But, they said, the Justice Department has refused to elaborate.
Of particular concern is how Trump — and his allies — will react if it appears to be clear precisely who shared information with Mueller, these people said.
“They got asked questions and told the truth, and now they’re worried the wrath will follow,” one former White House official said.
Some of those who spoke with Mueller's team, such as former White House counsel Don McGahn, witnessed Trump’s actions up close and were privy to key moments in the obstruction investigation and spent many hours with investigators.
One person close to the White House said there is “breakdown-level anxiety” among some current and former staffers who cooperated with the investigation at the direction of Trump’s legal team at the time.
There is also concern that new facts in the report could be disclosed that do not reflect favorably on the president, two people familiar with the discussions said.
“You have a whole bunch of former White House officials and current White House officials, but especially former White House officials, who were told to cooperate,” the former White House official said. “So people went and did that, and now the uncertainty is just how much of that information is going to be in that report and how identifiable to individuals is it going to be. And nobody knows.”
Steve M has a theory on the panic mode.
I don't know how much of the Mueller report we'll actually get to read. I've been assuming that there'll be more redacted than unredacted words in the document released by Attorney General Bill Barr. But I think Barr will leave in just enough mildly negative information about the president and his circle to make it seem, to credulous observers, that he's done an honest job and hasn't engaged in a cover-up.
So if very little much damaging information is made public, the press will need to cover some other aspect of the story -- and what could be more tempting than backstairs gossip? We may reach the point where the press is talking less about the crimes of Russiagate than about boldface names and their proximity to Trump's doghouse.
I hope this doesn't happen, but I won't be at all surprised if it does.
I would suspect that the more likely point of Barr's redactions will be that they are just clear enough that Trump can point to departed staffers and cabinet members and say "See, it was all them. I'm clean".
Barr is going to throw people under the bus by, well, the busload. His job right now, as Steve M has pointed out, is to collect heads for Trump's wall. It'll start with the redactions pointing to WH staffers to crucify, and the next step will be going after Obama, Clinton, and DNC staff.
If you thought Trump's scorched earth tactics at State in 2017 or DHS in the last few weeks was bad, stay tuned.