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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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If Donald Trump and his Republican allies thought Attorney General William “Bill” Barr’s brief summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report would curb public demand to see the full Mueller document, they seriously miscalculated.
Mueller produced a report numbering in the hundreds of pages last month, when he finished his two-year investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to tilt the 2016 presidential election to Trump–as well as any subsequent obstruction of justice.
Trump touted the Barr summary as “total exoneration,” even though that’s not what either the summary, or underlying Mueller Report, said.
There’s very likely much more to the Mueller Report than either Trump or Barr has represented so far because “it’s never taken me 400 pages to say nothing happened,” said former US attorney Chuck Rosenberg.
“So I imagine something happened, and that something, particularly with respect to obstruction, was quite serious,” Rosenberg added.
Rosenberg said he had a theory as to why Mueller didn’t recommend prosecution or declination on obstruction.
“The Department of Justice has in place policies, one dates to the ‘70s … that say to charge a sitting president would be overly burdensome, it would stigmatize the presidency, so we just don’t charge sitting presidents,” he said.
“With that in mind, even if the obstruction constituted a crime, and it may well have–we don’t know that yet–I can imagine Mueller not making a recommendation because a recommendation to prosecute someone you can’t prosecute is equally burdensome and equally stigmatizing,” Rosenberg concluded.
There is a parade of recent public opinion polls which clearly say that the public is clamoring to see the full Mueller Report.
For instance, by a two-to-one margin, a Washington Post-Schar School Poll found Americans believe Barr has not yet released enough information with his summary. The same poll found a full 83 percent want the Mueller Report released “in its entirety.”
Barr has said that he would heavily redact any release of the Mueller Report that he would make, either to Congress or the public at large.
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which on Wednesday, voted along party lines to authorize a subpoena for an unredacted copy of the Mueller Report as well as all of the underlying evidence.
“I don’t think there’s any question the law is on our side. There’s clearly a compelling public interest,” Cicilline said prior to Wednesday’s subpoena authorization.
“We have oversight responsibility. There’s precedence for this. We should remember this investigation began because our democracy was attacked by a foreign adversary,” Cicilline added.”This investigation belongs to the American people. They have a right to know the results of this investigation. They have a right to know the truth and the Judiciary Committee has tremendous responsibilities in this area, both to do oversight, to focus on obstruction of justice, corruption, self-dealing. We have tremendous oversight responsibilities.
“And we must see the contents of this report, as a 22-month investigation we fought hard to protect Mr. Mueller so he could complete his work. We didn’t do that so Mr. Barr could keep it a secret from the Judiciary Committee or cherry pick what he thinks we ought to see.”