House passes resolution calling for public release of Mueller report
The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a resolution calling for special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to be released to the public once it is completed.
The vote was overwhelmingly bipartisan, with 420 members voting in favor of the resolution and zero voting against it. Four Republicans voted present.
The resolution is not legally binding, but passing it gives Democrats an opportunity to keep a spotlight on the issue as they work to put pressure on the Justice Department to disclose as much of Mueller’s findings in the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election as possible.
The resolution calls for whatever report Mueller gives the attorney general to be publicly released in full, with the exception of classified or grand jury information. It also calls for the entire report to be given to Congress.
On Thursday afternoon, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York attempted to bring the Mueller report resolution to the Senate floor by asking for unanimous consent and calling for the Senate to pass the measure.
But the effort did not move forward after Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina interjected and asked that the resolution be modified to call for Attorney General William Barr to appoint a special counsel to investigate the Department of Justice’s handling of the Clinton email investigation and other matters.
Schumer accused Graham of blocking the resolution as a result of his request, saying, “Let the American people know that the Republican majority in the Senate, at least for now, is blocking a resolution that the Mueller report should be made public.”
Graham later defended his request, telling CNN, “I want everything looked at, not just Mueller. Mueller is going to be able to do his job, he’s just about finished, I think. But nobody has lifted a finger to call for an investigation into the other side of the story. Was there two systems of justice, one for the Democratic candidate, one for the Republican candidate?”
The push for the report to be publicly released is an effort by Democrats to draw clear battle lines over what they plan to fight for when Mueller’s investigation ends. It’s not clear yet when that will be, but it is expected to happen in the coming days or weeks. Bringing a vote on the resolution also served as a way for Democrats to put Republicans on record on the issue.
The President has repeatedly railed against the investigation, denouncing it as a witch hunt and insisting there was no collusion between associates of his presidential campaign and Russia.
At the same time, an overwhelming majority of Americans believe there should be a public report on what Mueller finds. A CNN poll released last month found that support for a public release stands at 80% among Republicans and those who approve of the way the President is handling his job, and at 92% among Democrats and those who disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job.
But it’s not yet clear how much of the special counsel’s findings the public will get to see.
When the investigation concludes, Mueller is required by regulation to submit a confidential report to Attorney General William Barr. That report must explain why the special counsel chose to either pursue or decline prosecutions.
Barr is then required to provide the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees with some kind of notice and explanation that the investigation has concluded.
During his confirmation hearings, Barr promised to be as transparent as possible but did not commit to a public release of the full report.
“My goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law,” he said in his opening statement, saying he believes “it is very important that the public and Congress be informed of the results of the special counsel’s work.”
That answer has not satisfied Democrats, however, who have continued to press for assurances that the report will be released publicly.
In February, six House Democratic committee chairs, led by Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York, made a similar request in a letter to Barr. The letter asked for a public release of the Mueller report and that the attorney general provide to Congress any information in the report that cannot be publicly released by law.
Democrats have also made clear they plan to use all the tools at their disposal, including subpoena power, in an effort to make the report available to the public.
“We will obviously subpoena the report. We will bring Bob Mueller in to testify before Congress. We will take it to court if necessary,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff of California told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview last month. “And in the end, I think the department understands they’re going to have to make this public.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Thursday.