White House officials, both those still serving the Trump administration and those who have ended their tenures, are awaiting the expected release of the partially redacted Mueller report on Thursday with bated breath. The dozen-plus people in question cooperated with the Mueller probe at the time, but now worry about fallout from Trump and his cronies if it is revealed that they gave the investigation harmful information about the president. Some officials are also nervous because they said negative things about Trump (hey, join the club, buddy).
A former White House official told NBC News, “They got asked questions and told the truth and now they’re worried the wrath will follow.”
One of the key questions floating around at the moment is whether Attorney General William Barr will be redacting the names of officials who cooperated with the investigation. Barr has been fairly opaque about what he plans to include in the public version of the report, saying that he wants to share as much material as possible but not release any classified information. He has also noted that he doesn’t want to reveal any information which could damage the reputation of “peripheral third parties” or possibly “infringe” on “personal privacy.”
Whether these terms include redacting people’s names isn’t obvious at the moment. Concealing their names wouldn’t necessarily ensure that staffers past and present are in the clear, a former White House official explained to NBC News:
Even if names are redacted or names aren’t in the report to begin with, it could be situations people were asked about and they answered truthfully that at least for some people—specifically the president—would be identifiable because the situation applies to just one person. Nobody has any idea what this is going to look like on Thursday.
While it’s difficult to harbor sympathy for someone who would voluntarily work for the Trump administration, no one should have to fear cooperating with an investigation. We’ve seen time and time again that those who sell their souls for Trump are in no way rewarded with reciprocal loyalty, so what’s the point of standing by him at all, especially when you would potentially be standing in the way of justice?
An individual described as being “close to the White House” told NBC News that “breakdown-level anxiety” is plaguing staffers both new and old who cooperated with Mueller. Two people privy to these conversations also said there are concerns that the new version of the report contains information shedding unfavorable light on the president. Considering that Trump is willing to shout treason when criticized and embodies the mob boss mentality while serving in this country’s highest office, it is understandable why they are concerned.