House Votes Overwhelmingly to Demand Public Release of Mueller Report
WASHINGTON — House Republicans joined Democrats on Thursday to demand that the Justice Department publicly release the full findings of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the possible involvement of President Trump’s campaign.
Though the resolution is nonbinding, Democrats who put it on the House floor are trying to build public pressure on Attorney General William P. Barr before the investigation’s anticipated conclusion.
Far from standing in the way, Republicans joined Democrats en masse. On the 420-0 vote, four Republicans voted present.
“This report must see the light of day, must be available to the American public for a catharsis that will allow us to start with the facts, understand what happened, and begin to rebuild the faith of the American people,” said Representative Jim Himes, a Connecticut Democrat and a senior member of the Intelligence Committee, which has undertaken its own Russia investigation.
Republicans debating it on the House floor called the resolution a waste of time and said they trusted Barr. But they were unwilling to stand in its way.
“I am especially concerned about what would happen if the report was not made available to Congress,” Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-ranking Republican, said in a statement. “Since the investigation began, Democrats have used it as an excuse to fund-raise, fear-monger, and peddle conspiracy theories about collusion with the Russian government. Let’s bring this chapter to a close.”
The four “present” votes came from two libertarians who routinely oppose such resolutions, Representatives Justin Amash of Michigan and Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and two ardent Trump loyalists, Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida and Paul Gosar of Arizona.
Gaetz said afterward that while he supported making the report public, he objected to other language in the resolution praising the special counsel, Robert Mueller, whose team he has repeatedly attacked as partisan.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, tried to move the resolution through the Senate later Thursday by unanimous consent, but he was blocked by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.
Though Graham, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, said he supported transparency, he asked to amend the resolution to include the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail case and its surveillance of a former Trump adviser. Schumer would not agree, and the resolution failed.
The Justice Department has given signals in recent weeks that after 22 months, Mueller is nearing completion of his work. Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, offered what many viewed as fresh evidence of an imminent conclusion Thursday when he confirmed that one of the special counsel’s top prosecutors, Andrew Weissmann, will be departing the special counsel’s office “in the near future.”
Under the regulation that governs special counsels, Mueller is expected to produce a confidential report on his prosecution decisions to Barr, who will review it and produce his own report to Congress. Thus far, Barr has demurred on just what he will release to Congress and the public, reserving the right to keep some matters secret.