Trump White House aides who fear the president's "wrath" after telling special counsel Robert Mueller the truth may have a friend in Attorney General Bill Barr, one Washington Post columnist mused Tuesday.
Post opinion writer Paul Waldman noted that the NBC News report revealing White House staffer's Mueller anxieties proved two things: that what they told Mueller could damage Donald Trump and that the president expected them to lie to or mislead the special counsel.
"There’s plenty of precedent" behind Trump aides lying about their contacts with Russia, Waldman wrote, citing the perjury accusations against the president's former "fixer" Michael Cohen, his son Donald Trump Jr., disgraced national security aide Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign staffer George Papadopoulos and his confidante Roger Stone.
The writer added that "a number of those people have been indicted or pleaded guilty for lying to one official body or another" — and that at least some of the White House aides NBC News interviewed on condition of anonymity told Mueller the truth to avoid their fate.
"At this point, [Trump aides] wait for Attorney General Barr to save them," Waldman wrote, "and he well might, because by now there’s almost no question that the redactions Barr makes will be designed to minimize the political damage to Trump."
Given that Barr got his job after writing an unsolicited 19-page memo for the White House trashing Mueller's investigation, released a four-page summary of the special counsel's report that was publicly rebuked by members of Mueller's tight-lipped team and told Congress that he believes the Obama DOJ may have been "spying" on the Trump campaign, the likelihood of him redacting damaging information is high, the writer mused.
"The Trump staffers worried that their unwillingness to perjure themselves might cost them their jobs don’t exactly have nothing at all to worry about; we won’t know for sure until the redacted report is released," Waldman concluded. "But they can at least take comfort in the knowledge that every attempt is being made to ensure that as little as possible of the damaging information in the Mueller report ever sees the light of day."