February 24, 2019
On February 22, the chairs of six House committees wrote to newly confirmed U.S. Attorney General William Barr to inform him of their expectation that he will make Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report public “without delay and to the maximum extent permitted by law.” The letter follows news reports that suggest the Special Counsel investigation is nearing an end.
The letter was signed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, Committee on Financial Services Chairperson Maxine Waters, Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, and Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel.
“As you know,” they said, “Department of Justice regulations require that, ‘[a]t the conclusion of the Special Counsel’s work, he or she shall provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel.’”
The American people, they said, have a right to see the findings—noting, “After nearly two years of investigation—accompanied by two years of direct attacks on the integrity of the investigation by the President—the public is entitled to know what the Special Counsel has found. We write to you to express, in the strongest possible terms, our expectation that the Department of Justice will release to the public the report Special Counsel Mueller submits to you—without delay and to the maximum extent permitted by law.”
In addition, they said, there is “significant public interest” in the full disclosure of information learned by the Special Counsel about the nature and scope of the Russian government’s efforts to undermine our democracy.
Therefore, “…[if] the Department believes that certain aspects of the report are not suitable for immediate public release, we ask that you provide that information to Congress, along with your reasoning for withholding the information from the public, in order for us to judge the appropriateness of any redactions for ourselves.”
Specifically addressing comments by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concerning the agency’s reluctance to release materials on individuals who are not under indictment, the committee chairpersons wrote, “Finally, although we recognize the policy of the Department to remain sensitive to the privacy and reputation interests of individuals who will not face criminal charges, we feel that it is necessary to address the particular danger of withholding evidence of misconduct by President Trump from the relevant committees.”
They concluded with a strong demand—stating that, “If the Special Counsel has reason to believe that the President has engaged in criminal or other serious misconduct, then the President must be subject to accountability either in a court or to the Congress.
“But because the Department has taken the position that a sitting President is immune from indictment and prosecution,” the chairpersons said, “Congress could be the only institution currently situated to act on evidence of the President’s misconduct. To maintain that a sitting president cannot be indicted, and then to withhold evidence of wrongdoing from Congress because the President will not be charged, is to convert Department policy into the means for a cover-up. The President is not above the law.”
Research contact: @HouseIntel