House votes to release Mueller report publicly

Frederick Owens
March 15, 2019

On Thursday afternoon, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY 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.

A Justice Department official described as special counsel Robert Mueller's "pit bull" is leaving the Russian Federation investigation, signaling that the probe is nearing its end. The vote was 420-0, with four conservative Republican lawmakers allied with Trump voting "present".

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. Barr would then get to decide how much of the report he will issue to the American public, and what wording he'd like to include with it. It also calls for the entire report to be given to Congress.

The move is an attempt to "send a clear signal both to the American people and the Department of Justice" that lawmakers expect to see the full account of Mueller's work, according to the House Judiciary Committee's chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.

Four Republicans voted present: MI congressman Justin Amash, Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, Arizona congressman Paul Gosar and Kentucky congressman Thomas Massie.

"It is important that Congress stand up for the principle of full transparency at a time when the president has publicly attacked the Russian investigation more than 1,100 times and counting", the New York Democrat said on the House floor before the vote. Those regulations require only that the report explain the decisions to pursue or to decline prosecutions, which could be as simple as a bullet point list or as fulsome as a report running hundreds of pages.

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The top Republican on the Judiciary panel, Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, said the vote on the resolution was unnecessary but that he would support it anyway.

When the investigation concludes, Mueller is required by regulation to submit a confidential report to Attorney General William Barr. Bringing a vote on the resolution also served as a way for Democrats to put Republicans on record on the issue.

But Democrats have said they are unsatisfied with Barr's answers and want a stronger commitment to releasing the full report, along with interview transcripts and other underlying evidence.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been less eager to push Barr on the release of the report, despite some in his caucus who have said they want to ensure transparency.

There have been numerous reports that Mueller's investigation is winding down. Mueller has not indicated when he will complete the report, though an announcement on Thursday about the coming departure of a senior prosecutor on his team stoked speculation that it could be soon.

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