The House voted overwhelmingly and in bipartisan fashion to urge the Justice Department to publicly release the entirety of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 election, once completed.
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.).
The final vote count was 420 in favor, with no one voting no. Four lawmakers voted “present.”
But the resolution by itself cannot force attorney general William P. Barr to publish more of the report than he intends to — and that is why even some of the Republicans supporting it complained that the measure was a waste of time.
“Attorney General Barr said he wants to be transparent with Congress and the public consistent with the rules and the law,” Rep. Douglas A. Collins (Ga.), the Judiciary Committee’s ranking Republican, said on the House floor Thursday, adding that the resolution was “simply a restatement of the regulation.”
As such, it is not clear if the Republican leader of the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), will put the resolution on the Senate floor for a vote.
For Democrats, however, passing the resolution was an important gesture, as during his confirmation hearing, Barr refused to pledge to release the full report to the public.
Democrats are worried that Barr’s strict defense of his own prerogative, combined with his stated respect for Justice Department rules advising against both the indictment of a sitting president or impugning an unindicted individual in an investigative report, means potential information implicating Trump in alleged wrongdoing could be buried.
“To maintain that a sitting president cannot be indicted no matter how much evidence there is because he’s a sitting president, and then to withhold evidence of wrongdoing from Congress because the president cannot be charged, is to convert the DOJ policy into a the means for a cover up,” Nadler said on the House floor just before the vote.