Demands grow for a public Mueller report

Demands are growing for special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s final report to be made public, with lawmakers and legal experts raising concerns about how and when that could happen.

On Sunday, Democrats including one 2020 presidential candidate framed the conclusion of Mueller's nearly two-year investigation as a crucial moment for transparency. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee pledged to subpoena the report on Russia's election interference if necessary in order to make it public, while at least one legal expert suggested the path to making the report available to the public might be "circuitous." 

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"This is an extraordinary moment in terms of the need that the special counsel has to investigate the conduct of the president of the United States's campaign and issues surrounding it,” Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHere are the potential candidates still eyeing 2020 bids Warren policy ideas show signs of paying off Hillicon Valley: Florida county that backed Trump was one of two hacked by Russians | Sandberg pushes back on calls to break up Facebook | Conservative groups ask WH to end Amazon talks over Pentagon contract MORE (D-Calif.) said on CNN’s "Inside Politics."

"I believe that given in particular all the misinformation that we can, I think, rightly believe we've heard, that it is important that the American public receive as much information and that we be as transparent as possible,” the 2020 presidential candidate added. "So I am an advocate for transparency. I am an advocate for a public report. And certainly that we in the United States Congress would receive all of the supporting information, be it in a classified hearing or not."

Speculation over when Mueller might wrap up his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election seemed to reach a tipping point in recent days as multiple news outlets reported the special counsel could deliver his final report to the attorney general as early as this week.  

A Justice Department official later told The Hill that the report won’t come this week, but former prosecutors, Democrats and some Republicans have seized on the headlines to push for Mueller’s findings to go public.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett Schiff5 things to watch as Trump, Dems clash over investigations Mueller mystery: Will he ever testify to Congress? Overnight Defense: Congressional leaders receive classified briefing on Iran | Trump on war: 'I hope not' | Key Republican calls threats credible | Warren plan targets corporate influence at Pentagon MORE (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, vowed to take legal action if necessary to ensure Mueller’s findings were available to the American people.

"We will obviously subpoena the report, we will bring Bob Mueller in to testify before Congress, we will take it to court if necessary,” Schiff said on “This Week” on ABC. "And in the end, I think the department understands they’re going to have to make this public."

Schiff, who has said he believes there's evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia "in plain sight," said he's "absolutely" willing to take the administration to court.

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Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntHillicon Valley: Trump takes flak for not joining anti-extremism pact | Phone carriers largely end sharing of location data | Huawei pushes back on ban | Florida lawmakers demand to learn counties hacked by Russians | Feds bust 0M cybercrime group Top Republican says Senate unlikely to vote on any election security bills San Francisco becomes first city to ban facial recognition technology MORE (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, cautioned on Sunday against forcing the report into the public via subpoena regardless of its contents.

"The weight of the government here is very strong," Blunt said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "And people need to think about that when they begin to demand we need to know what you found out, whether it led anywhere or not." 

Justice Department regulations state that an appointed special counsel will provide the attorney general with a confidential report explaining decisions to prosecute or not prosecute specific incidents under their mandate. As a result, Mueller will submit a private report on his findings to Attorney General William Barr, who was confirmed earlier this month by the Senate.

During his confirmation hearing, Barr, who was appointed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls for Republicans to be 'united' on abortion Tlaib calls on Amash to join impeachment resolution Facebook temporarily suspended conservative commentator Candace Owens MORE, called it "vitally important" for Mueller to be allowed to complete his investigation.

But Democrats took issue with Barr refusing to fully commit to releasing any final report in its entirety. Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the attorney general “has some flexibility” in terms of the report, but that he would try “to get as much as I can of the information to Congress and the public.”

Trump, who has decried the investigation as a "witch hunt," has said he will leave the decision up to Barr.

Former law enforcement officials on Sunday expressed confidence that a final report will ultimately be made available to Congress and the broader public.

Former U.S. Attorney Preet BhararaPreetinder (Preet) Singh BhararaPreet Bharara: Barr's excuse for not testifying to House 'rhymes with snitty' Bharara: 'Donald Trump is not out of legal jeopardy' Bharara: 'Doesn't seem' Mueller's investigation 'ending any time soon' MORE said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that "ultimately" he thinks the report will be released to the public. 

"How circuitous a route it will be until we get to that point, it's unclear," he added. 

He noted that any report given to Congress is likely to be scrubbed of certain classified information or materials relevant to a grand jury investigation.

"The reason why I have some optimism that we will ultimately see it is that there's so much public interest,” he said. "There's been this long investigation over a period of time, that it would seem odd and unusual if, at the end of the day, we didn't get the gist of what was going on."

Former deputy independent counsel Solomon Wisenberg said on "Meet the Press" that Mueller could craft his final report in such a way that makes it easier for Barr to release it to the public.

Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general during the Obama administration, added that Barr has a "discretion" to turn Mueller's report over to Congress because it deals with potential wrongdoing that involves the president.

A handful of Republican lawmakers, including Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), have said Mueller's findings should be made public so that Americans can determine for themselves what to make of the investigation.