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Activists rally, demand that officials #ReleaseThe(full)Report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller

Many were carrying—or, in some cases, wearing—signs condemning Trump and demanding that officials "release the full report" and insisting that "no one is above the law."

Pittsfield — In the Berkshires, nothing gets the blood boiling more than skeletons in the closet of President Donald Trump.

Cars whizzed by Park Square in Pittsfield April 4 as protesters made their feelings known. Photo: Terry Cowgill

Almost 100 people turned up at Park Square in the middle of the day on Thursday, April 4, to demand that the full report assembled by special counsel Robert Mueller concerning Russian interference in 2016 elections be made public.

Many were carrying—or, in some cases, wearing—signs condemning Trump and demanding that officials “release the full report” and insisting that “no one is above the law.” Other signs simply contained the hashtag #ReleaseTheReport.

“I’m concerned about democracy and rule of law,” said John Seakwood of Hancock, “and I don’t think those are partisan issues. I think that every American should care about that.”

“We need to know the truth,” Seakwood said during a brief interview with this reporter. “Sunshine is a disinfectant. We need to find out what happened and we must know the truth, wherever the facts may lie.”

Joanne Ezinga of Canaan, N.Y., and Cathy Kogan of Great Barrington. at the April 4 #ReleaseTheReport rally in Pittsfield. Photo: Terry Cowgill

“I am here to add my voice in support that the Mueller Report should be made public,” said Joanne Ezinga of Canaan, New York. “And it should be made public unredacted.”

After Mueller concluded his investigation, his report was delivered to the Trump Justice Department March 26. Attorney General William Barr did not release it to the public but rather distributed to Congress only a summary of its findings.

Barr said Mueller “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” However, Barr indicated Mueller did not take a position on whether Trump had obstructed justice and, as such, Trump was not exonerated.

Since Barr is a recent political appointee of Trump’s, many are skeptical of whether he can be trusted to accurately summarize Mueller’s report. Indeed the New York Times has reported that members of Mueller’s staff have privately groused that Barr’s summary was not an accurate reflection of Mueller’s findings, which they insist are more damaging to Trump than Barr had depicted.

“I don’t think it’s up to a political appointee to summarize an investigation that took two years and was paid for by taxpayers,” Seakwood said. 

Seakwood said, in particular, Barr’s motives are suspect because, about a year ago and before he became attorney general, Barr wrote an unsolicited memorandum to senior Justice Department officials stating he thought the obstruction investigation was “fatally misconceived.” Click here to read the 19-page memo.

Vehicles honked in approval as protesters enjoyed themselves at the April 4 #ReleaseTheReport rally in Pittsfield. Photo: Terry Cowgill

“[Barr] basically auditioned for the job with a memo where he said he didn’t believe that a president could obstruct justice,” Seakwood said. 

“[Barr] said, ‘Pick me. I will protect you,’” added Cathy Kogan of Great Barrington.

Kogan works in Pittsfield as a psychologist and came to Park Square on her lunch break “to show support for our representatives to get the report in unredacted form ASAP.”

“It might look like a cover-up if its not able to be released,” added Kogan, whose sign read “No 1 is above the law.”

“I’m here because I want my voice to be heard and I don’t know how else to do it,” said Carolyn Brooks, who traveled to Pittsfield from Stamford, Vermont, just to the north of North Adams. Brooks’ friend Ann Matthews drove up from Amenia in Dutchess County, New York.

Ezinga noted that the release of the Mueller Report shouldn’t even be controversial since the House of Representatives voted last month 420-0 to support the public disclosure of the Mueller Report.

“I am here to add my voice in support that the Mueller Report should be made public,” Ezinga said.

A mystery woman who said she was trying to look like a ‘swampy creature’ at the April 4 #ReleaseTheReport rally in Pittsfield. Photo: Terry Cowgill

One woman, a masked Pittsfield resident who declined to identify herself, carried a sign that read, “Drain the Trump swamp #ReleaseTheReport.”

Of her mask, she said, “It’s supposed to be like a swampy creature but it’s actually a Mexican wrestling mask.”

“I’m concerned that the American people won’t know the truth—the truth that they paid for,” the woman said. “We waited patiently for two years.”

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield. Photo: Paul Schnaittacher

Yesterday, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, who represents almost all of western Massachusetts including Berkshire County, called on the Internal Revenue Service to turn over the last six years of Trump’s tax returns to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which Neal now chairs. The move will almost certainly prompt a legal battle. 

“It’s time to see what’s in [the returns] because he’s the only president since Nixon who hasn’t released his tax returns and he’s somebody we have concerns about,” Seakwood said. “Where did his money come from for all these years after all the banks wouldn’t lend him anything?”

Since the protest rally was held in the middle of the workday, it wasn’t quite as well attended as some other rallies since Trump took office, such as the #MarchForOurLives protest, which was held on a Saturday last March and called for an end to gun violence. 

Today’s rally was organized by the local chapter of the Four Freedoms Coalition, a nonpartisan coalition of more than 140 local organizations. The Berkshire County rally was one of more 300 so-called rapid-response events nationwide. The events were led by a coalition of progressive groups, including MoveOn, Public Citizen, People for the American Way, and Indivisible.

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