House Republicans united with their Democratic counterparts to pass a resolution demanding that the Department of Justice release to Congress, and then to the public the full report of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
Mueller is reportedly close to completing a nearly two-year probe into Russian interference during the 2016 election, and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
The non-binding resolution, offered by House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and several other Democratic chairs, passed 420-0 on Thursday.
Multiple Republican ranking members on various committees said Thursday’s resolution was a waste of time, but they voted for it anyway on substance.
Four Republicans voted present, including Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, one of President Donald Trump’s closest allies in the House.
The overwhelming bipartisan support for the bill signals that the House GOP is willing to help make available to the public a report that many Democrats believe could contain damaging information about Trump, his administration and how he ran his 2016 presidential campaign.
But House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern warned his colleagues earlier this week at a hearing for the resolution not to jump to any conclusions about what is in Mueller’s report.
“Let me be clear: Moving this forward is not prejudging the investigation’s outcome. We do not know if it will be critical of any individual — including the president — or not,” the Massachusetts Democrat said.
The measure passed Thursday is largely symbolic and preemptive in case Attorney General William Barr decides to withhold the report and only submit a summary of it, which is his prerogative.
Nadler and other House Democrats vowed to subpoena the full report if Barr only provides them with minimal details.
Per special counsel regulations, Barr must present Congress with a summary of the special counsel’s work. The AG has great authority to decide how much detail he shares in that summary.
Barr was noncommittal in his confirmation hearing about whether he would allow Mueller to testify before Congress, and whether he would resist a subpoena for the report.
“If necessary, our committee will subpoena the report. If necessary, we’ll get Mueller to testify,” Nadler told CNN in January. “The American people need the information here.”
If Barr both denies lawmakers’ request to publicize the report and resists any subsequent subpoenas, that could set up a drawn-out court fight between Congress and the executive branch over the document’s disclosure.