Washington: After nearly two years of waiting, special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russia’s attack on the 2016 presidential election is finally done. And there’s growing bipartisan pressure on Attorney General William Barr to make it public.
Barr, who received Mueller’s findings on Friday evening, told congressional leaders in a letter that he was “reviewing the report and anticipate that I may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.”
But to Democrats, that step isn’t enough. They have long been pushing Barr, who was confirmed to lead the Justice Department last month, to make Mueller’s report public as a further glimpse into what the Trump 2016 campaign’s Russian ties and contacts were. Last week in a sweeping bipartisan vote, the House of Representatives also said the report should be released; however, that vote is not legally binding.
The Democratic chairmen of six major House committees issued a statement Friday demanding that Barr release the report to the public “without delay given the profound public interest in the full disclosure of information learned by the Special Counsel.”
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said Congress should get full access to the report. He also wants all documents related to Mueller’s investigation to be preserved and made available to the appropriate committees on Capitol Hill. Finally, Warner said, the public should also have some access to Mueller’s final work product after nearly two years of investigating.
“Congress and the American people deserve to judge the facts for themselves,” Warner said. “The special counsel’s report must be provided to Congress immediately, and the attorney general should swiftly prepare a declassified version of the report for the public. Nothing short of that will suffice.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the full report, not simply Mueller’s conclusions, should be made public.
“No one should be satisfied with what we see unless it is full disclosure of the facts and evidence, not just the conclusions but all of the findings that went into those conclusions,” Blumenthal said. “No scrubbing for executive privilege, no involvement by the White House in censoring or reviewing and no claims of executive privilege.”
House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told All Things Considered that he “will subpoena people as necessary” based on information in the report. “We are determined that we protect the public and that we make this as transparent as possible.”
And on Friday, as the long-anticipated investigation was finally done, some top Republicans echoed their Democratic colleagues.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican who is up for re-election in 2020, tweeted that “Barr should release the report to the public as soon as possible, while accommodating national security considerations.”
I have always had confidence in Special Counsel Mueller and welcome the completion of his report.
Attorney General Barr should release the report to the public as soon as possible, while accommodating national security considerations. — Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) March 23, 2019
Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, who is the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, also said that Mueller’s report should be given to the public to the “maximum extent permitted by law.”
After 2 years, the special counsel has concluded his investigation, & I look forward to reviewing AG Barr’s report carefully, when it becomes available. I expect DOJ to release the special counsel’s report to this committee & public w/o delay & to maximum extent permitted by law. pic.twitter.com/PG6WT0G9ZA— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) March 22, 2019
After 2 years, the special counsel has concluded his investigation, & I look forward to reviewing AG Barr’s report carefully, when it becomes available. I expect DOJ to release the special counsel’s report to this committee & public w/o delay & to maximum extent permitted by law. pic.twitter.com/PG6WT0G9ZA
— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) March 22, 2019
A Justice Department official said that Mueller’s report does not recommend any future indictments, although criminal charges against more than 30 individuals and entities, including onetime top aides and associates to President Trump, have already been filed. But some Republicans were quick to interpret the news that no further charges were apparently forthcoming as full vindication of the president, who has long called the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt.”
“We’ve seen no additional evidence whatsoever that the investigation is going to move forward. In fact, the opposite is 100 percent true,” former Trump 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told All Things Considered. “And this marks the final conclusion of the special counsel’s investigation into the Russia investigation — uh, potential collusion narrative between the Trump campaign and the Russians. This is the end of it after 675 days.”
Even some top Republicans, though, backed making the report public to finally and fully quash any doubts about Trump and his 2016 campaign.
“Now that he’s wrapped up his investigation, Attorney General Barr must provide Congress and the American people with the findings to finally put an end to the speculation and innuendo that has loomed over this administration since its earliest days,” said Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, a past Senate Judiciary Committee chairman. “Attempts to keep the collusion narrative alive, especially for political reasons, will only serve to further harm our political discourse and play into the hands of our foreign adversaries.”
Earlier this week, Trump seemed to be amenable to that as well.
“Let it come out. Let people see it — that’s up to the attorney general,” the president told reporters as he was departing for a trip to Ohio.
Image: Attorney General William Barr (left) and special counsel Robert Mueller