Congress and the people of America must press for maximum disclosure of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s findings.
Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election is critical to establish whether the election was compromised and to address vulnerabilities. The report is the CT scan the nation is eagerly awaiting to learn whether there’s a cancer attacking the heart of its democracy. Voters – and history – will look darkly on any who try to withhold or limit disclosure.
Findings, evidence and explanations must be fully disclosed, without creating doubt about whether the administration of President Donald Trump is manipulating or withholding information. This was always the case, but concerns about interference are amplified by Trump’s extraordinary efforts to discredit and undermine the investigation. Mueller’s work has already led to dozens of indictments and guilty pleas by Trump’s former campaign chairman and other advisers.
Even if Mueller’s report says he’s found nothing further, “we need to know what he knows and how he came to that conclusion, if it’s to be believed,” U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, told this editorial board on Wednesday.
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If Mueller finds “wrongdoing or Russian collusion or however you want to call it, we need to know how he drew those conclusions and why so that we can remedy that as a country” she said. “I adamantly believe public knowledge and transparency is how we’re going to be able to move forward, no matter what’s in that report.”
New Attorney General William Barr acknowledges the gravity of the Mueller investigation and pledged “as much transparency as I can consistent with the law.” But Barr’s word may not be enough to overcome skepticism of this Trump appointee chosen during the Mueller probe, especially one who favors strong executive privilege.
There may be material involved that can’t be disclosed without jeopardizing national security.
U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, introduced a bill last month that would provide transparency by requiring that the attorney general provide a written statement explaining whether any information was classified “or is otherwise not made available to the public” and explain the reasons.
Their Special Counsel Transparency Act also includes protections against White House interference as sought by House bills that didn’t advance last year. It would require disclosure of such reports, even if the special counsel is removed from office or resigns before the investigation is complete.
Mueller’s report should start an extraordinary and public examination of how vulnerable the world’s leading democracy is to foreign interference. Attempts to hide its findings from the American people, preventing them from learning the full truth and creating more uncertainty, would be tantamount to collusion.