Accurate information is the lifeblood of our democracy. As an eighty-year-old, I have seen sad periods throughout my lifetime when important information has been withheld from voters and I have witnessed the long-term negative impacts of such. A great example is taking a look at the “facts” of the number of deaths and the lack of progress in the Vietnam war were a major factor in the prolonging of the war and of the loss of confidence in the American government for a generation of voters. That’s why I’m speaking out now. I see something similar happening and it’s frightening to think that another generation of young people could become disillusioned with American democracy and the efficacy of their votes.
We currently see that with the Mueller report. The final findings revealed abuse of power and multiple instances of obstruction of justice, however, as I write this, the full report has not yet been released to the public and too few Arizona elected officials have spoken up forcefully to demand that full release.
A recent poll showed that Arizonans were overwhelmingly in favor of transparency about the Mueller probe’s findings with over 70 percent saying they felt the Department of Justice needed to release a full, public report upon the investigation’s conclusion.
Instead, as we all know, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who wrote a 19-page memo prior to his appointment justifying the fact that the President’s executive privilege was very broad, instead said that the Mueller report concluded that the President was innocent, which was not supported by even the heavily redacted report that he finally did release. Given Barr’s partial behavior, Congress must continue investigating the president and anyone implicated of wrongdoing in the version of the release we have seen.
As the overwhelming percent of Arizonans have said they wanted the full report released, I have been disappointed by U.S. Sen. Martha McSally’s statements praising Barr and not demanding the full release of the report. To me, that indicates that she is not listening to her constituents and thus cannot be counted on to reflect our priorities. Arizonans have yet to receive a response to the report from U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, though I remain hopeful that she will speak out on the side of Arizonans for the transparency we deserve.
Dire as this may sound, I believe that the very foundations of our democracy are at stake. We the people (the very language in our Declaration of Independence) demand the information that is our right as voters so that we can make intelligent decisions about our elected officials. Further, Arizonans were among the thousands of Americans who rallied last month as part of a national day of action opposing anything but total transparency. Grassroots groups in our state won’t accept the silence or the arguments that we need to “move on.” As the old saying goes, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. If we the voters cannot learn the truth about what happened before, during, and since the 2016 election, we will not know how to fully defend our democratic values in the future.
Arizona’s Sens. Sinema and McSally need to remember the release of the full Muller report is not a partisan issue. The U.S. House of Representatives already voted 420-0 in favor of a public disclosure of the report. Therefore I call on Sens. Sinema and McSally to fight to get the full, unredacted report because based on the discrepancy between what Attorney General Barr said and the limited information in the heavily redacted report, it is obvious that we cannot take his word nor trust his judgment.
Full access to the Mueller report – or lack of such – will impact a generation of young Americans. Therefore we need all of our elected officials to speak out in favor of the release of the Mueller report, so that we know they are listening to us, the voters, and we can trust them to advocate for us.
Rivko Knox is a member of the League of Women Voters of Arizona and also a precinct committeeperson for the Democratic Party.