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By Allan Smith and Alex Moe
The House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to be made available to the public and Congress.
The measure passed 420 to zero, with four members voting present.
That resolution is non binding, meaning that Mueller and Attorney General William Barr would not be forced to make any materials public, other than what the special counsel regulations dictate.
The Republican-controlled Senate is not expected to take up the resolution.
It is anticipated that Mueller will soon finish his report and deliver it to Barr, who has not indicated whether he will make it public.
Six House committee chairs introduced the resolution on Friday. They were House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass, and House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.
“This transparency is a fundamental principle necessary to ensure that government remains accountable to the people,” the Democrats said in a statement.
“As the Department of Justice made clear over the last two years, DOJ policy permits disclosure of investigative materials when it serves the public interest, even as they pertain to ‘uncharged third parties,'” they continued. “The public is clearly served by transparency with respect to any investigation that could implicate or exonerate the President and his campaign. We urge our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join us in supporting this common sense resolution.”
House Democrats have already signaled they may subpoena the report and/or Mueller himself to appear before Congress should Barr decide to keep the report private.
“I think that if the Justice Department either attempts to conceal the Mueller report or the underlying evidence, then requiring Mueller to testify may very well be necessary,” Schiff told reporters earlier this week, adding the option of subpoenaing the special counsel to appear before Congress “certainly would not” be taken off the table.
As NBC News’ Ken Dilanian wrote last month, Mueller operates under rules that severely constrain just how much of such a report can be made public. Unless the special counsel were to file a detailed indictment charging members of Trump’s campaign of conspiring with Russians, it is likely that much of what Mueller and his team of prosecutors have uncovered may not be fully revealed to the public.
“Expectations that we will see a comprehensive report from the special counsel are high. But the written regulations that govern the special counsel’s reporting requirements should arguably dampen those expectations,” said Chuck Rosenberg, a former federal prosecutor and NBC News analyst.
While Barr is required to notify Congress upon receiving Mueller’s findings, the rules governing the special counsel say those reports must amount to “brief notifications, with an outline of the actions and the reasons for them.”