This letter is the third of an occasional series that follows up on Mr. Walden’s recent calls for bipartisanship . The first and second letters of the series have also been posted in this blog. Read Disclaimer.
Dear Congressman Walden:
As a non-affiliated voter in the District, I want to thank you for voting for the House Concurrent Resolution 24. HCR 24 expresses “the sense of Congress that the report of Special Counsel Mueller should be made available to the public and to Congress.” It passed with nearly unanimous bipartisan support in the House, but was not taken up for a vote in the Senate, due to the obstruction of the Republican leadership.
Transparency regarding the Mueller report was the right approach when you voted for HCR 24, and remains the right approach after Mr. Barr summarized (on March 24) and eventually committed to release a redacted version of the report (on March 29).
Your Facebook statement of March 24 is thus disappointing: “[Mr. Mueller’s] exhaustive work makes clear that President Trump and his campaign did not collude with the Russians. Period. […] Now, those who promoted this conspiratorial theory should accept the facts of Mr. Mueller’s findings.”
I hope you publicly retract that statement, Congressman. In it, you fail to differentiate the Mueller report from the Barr summary. You ignore that Congress has oversight responsibilities requiring thoughtful consideration of a report you do not yet have available. You fail to acknowledge that the Mueller investigation did not exonerate the president from obstruction of justice. And you ignore other key facts.
Notably, the investigation led to criminal charges to Mr. Trump’s former national security advisor, former personal lawyer, three former campaign staff (chairman, deputy chairman, and foreign policy advisor), and a close friend (Roger Stone). Furthermore, according to Barr’s summary, the report provides evidence of Russia’s interference on the 2016 US elections—consistently with multiple Russian citizens having already been indicted in US courts. No objective observer would, based on outcomes alone, share your implication that the investigation resulted from “conspirational theories.”
This is no time for politics, Congressman. It is time for transparency and thoughtful reflection. I thus ask you—and all members of Congress, regardless of party affiliation—to respect the Special Counsel and the citizens you represent, by:
- Advocating for the timely release of the full Mueller report to Congress, and of a minimally redacted version to the public.
- Jointly conducting—in and across chambers of Congress—an objective, transparent, thoughtful, bipartisan analysis of the lessons learned and implications of the report.
The reason, Congressman, is that the Special Counsel’s investigation offers far more than binary answers on collusion, obstruction of justice, or even indictment or impeachment.
Because of its independence and integrity, the investigation potentiates a unique opportunity for an exceedingly difficult but ultimately healing national dialogue on fundamental principles and practices of our Democracy. An opportunity that can only bear fruit if Congress musters the will to take the increasingly seldom travelled paths of separation of powers, objectivity and moral high ground.
The lack of fitness for Office of the president has long been apparent, based on moral and ethical grounds alone. Americans won’t need the Mueller report to vote for a better White House in 2020. Hence, rather than for the president, this is a defining moment for Congress, and each of its members. Please rise to the occasion, Congressman.
— Antonio Baptista
cc: Oregon congressional delegation (House and Senate). Speaker of the House. Senate Leader.