UNITED STATES - JUNE 19: FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on oversight of the FBI. ...
Tom Williams

House unanimously passes measure calling for Mueller report’s release

There’s no shortage of questions surrounding a possible report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Will it exist? If so, will it be shared with Congress? Can it be subpoenaed? Will the public ever have access to it?

Evidently, the Democratic-led House has an opinion on the matter.

The House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to be made available to the public and Congress.

The measure passed 420 to zero, with four members voting present.

The full roll call is online here. Note, seven members did not vote, there are a few vacancies, and four members - Michigan’s Justin Amash, Florida’s Matt Gaetz, Arizona’s Paul Gosar, and Kentucky’s Thomas Massie – voted “present.”

As a practical matter, measures like these have a limited impact: at issue is a non-binding resolution, which the Republican-led Senate is very likely to ignore. If we assume Mueller completes a report, it will go to Attorney General William Barr, Donald Trump’s newest cabinet member, who may try to keep the document under wraps.

Indeed, that’s a very real possibility. As NBC News’ report this morning noted, while Barr is required to notify Congress after learning of Mueller’s findings, “the rules governing the special counsel say those reports must amount to ‘brief notifications, with an outline of the actions and the reasons for them.’”

What’s more, Bloomberg News reported last week that Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said he’d met with the attorney general and it’s the congressman’s expectation that Congress and the public may only get “a short summary” of Mueller’s findings, not a detailed report.

That’s exactly the outcome congressional Democrats hope to avoid, and the newly passed resolution is intended to keep the pressure on Barr to err on the side of disclosure.

For his part, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters earlier this week, “I think that if the Justice Department either attempts to conceal the Mueller report or the underlying evidence, then requiring Mueller to testify may very well be necessary.”

The California Democrat also said last month that he’s prepared to subpoena the report and “take it to court if necessary.” Schiff added, “In the end, I think the [Justice] Department understands they’re going to have to make this public. I think Barr will ultimately understand that, as well.”

Watch this space.