House to Likely Pass Bill Forcing Public Release of Mueller Report Today

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The House voted overwhelmingly and in bipartisan fashion Thursday (March 14) to urge the Justice Department to publicly release the entirety of special counsel Robert Mueller's report into Russian interference in the 2016 election, once completed.

With Democrats in control of the House, it is a near-certainty that the bill will pass, forcing Republicans to go on record on whether they support the transparency of the report or not, before it moves to the Senate for another likely vote.

Justice Department regulations governing special counsels give Barr latitude in deciding how much of the report to make public.

Mueller, who is investigating any collusion with the Russians on the part of President Trump and his campaign associates, reportedly may be close to wrapping up the almost two-year probe. The rules require him to notify the top Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate judiciary committees after Mueller completes his probe.

The House resolution passed Thursday calls "for the public release of any report Special Counsel Mueller provides to the Attorney General, except to the extent the public disclosure of any portion thereof is expressly prohibited by law".

Texas Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican member on the House Intelligence Committee who represents a swing district along the southern border, called on his colleagues to support "full transparency".

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Trump has labeled Mueller's investigation a "witch hunt", maintaining that no collusion occurred between his 2016 presidential campaign and Russian Federation. Four members of Congress voted present - Republicans Justin Amash of Michigan, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Paul Gosar of Arizona and Thomas Massie of Kentucky.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced the measure, saying there is "overwhelming public interest" for the report to be widely distributed.

Democrats - and several Republicans - want Barr to release more than just Mueller's full report. "We have no reason to think Attorney General Barr would back away from those statements", Collins said.

"During his confirmation, Attorney General Barr said he wants to be transparent with Congress and the public, consistent with the rules and the law". Barr would then get to decide how much of the report he will issue to the American public, and what wording he'd like to include with it.

Some Democrats have voiced concern that Barr could withhold evidence of possible misconduct by Trump, under Justice Department policies that oppose bringing criminal charges against a sitting president and discourage releasing explanations when a person has not been charged with a crime.

There have been numerous reports that Mueller's investigation is winding down.

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