With Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s much-anticipated report on possible collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign now in the hands of Attorney General William Barr, Democrats held a conference call Saturday to reaffirm their commitment to demanding full transparency.
About 120 members of the Democratic Caucus participated in the call, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, and the heads of six committees that have oversight of matters related to the probe, The Hill reported.
Pelosi said she would reject any effort by Barr and the Justice Department to present Mueller’s findings in a classified setting, which would block details from the general public.
“The takeaway from this call is that the American [people] deserve the truth. Transparency is the order of the day,” Pelosi said, according to a Hill source that participated in the call.
Barr is required to present a summary of Mueller’s findings, and he indicated in a letter to Congress on Friday that he would do so as early as this weekend. But it was not clear whether he would make Mueller’s full report public, as Democrats are demanding.
In an op-ed published Friday by The Washington Post, Neal Kumar Katyal, who drafted Justice Department special counsel regulations in the late 1990s, wrote that, “Absolutely nothing in the law or the regulations prevents the report from becoming public. Indeed, the relevant sources of law give Attorney General P. William Barr all the latitude in the world to make it public.”
Fears of a government coverup are at their apogee when we are talking about a criminal investigation of the president. Article II of our Constitution gives only the president the prosecution power — he alone can stop any prosecution or investigation he wishes. So any investigation into presidential wrongdoing by definition runs headlong into the who-guards-the-guards problem. And in those circumstances, more disclosure (with redactions for classified and deeply private information) is necessary, both to deal with that problem and to maintain public confidence in the rule of law.
According to Politico, Pelosi said she is concerned the Justice Department would turn to the Gang of Eight of both Republicans and Democrats to shield parts of the report from the public. Pelosi believes the findings, the product of a nearly two-year investigation by Mueller and his team, should be unclassified.
“Things kind of unfolded very, very quickly yesterday. The primary reason for the call was just to rally the troops,” Florida Rep. Val Demings, a member of the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, told Politico. “While the special counsel’s work appears to be done, our work is not.”
The latest reports speculate that Barr could present his findings on Sunday or Monday.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump on Saturday was uncharacteristically silent on Twitter about the probe, which he has repeatedly referred to as a “witch hunt,” “hoax,” and even a “witch hoax.” According to reports, Trump spent the day with Kid Rock at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, FL—his 174th day at a Trump golf club as president.