The GOP talks a good game when it comes to releasing the Special Counsel’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. But actions speak louder than words, and Senate Republicans seem to be making it clear that they stand against transparency. A couple of weeks ago, before Robert Mueller finished his report, the House voted 420-0 on a resolution demanding that the Department of Justice release the full report to Congress and the public. The resolution was non-binding, which means it was more about sending a strong message than forcing a particular outcome.
Given the resolution’s non-binding nature and its overwhelming bipartisan support in the House, you would think it would sail through the Senate. Now, it looks like we might never know. Under Senate rules, any senator may introduce a bill or resolution. But it requires unanimous consent, which means it takes just one other senator to block it. The number of times this resolution has been introduced and then blocked by Republicans in the Senate now stands at four.
Following the House vote a couple of weeks ago, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced the resolution. But Senator Lindsey Graham blocked it, complaining that it did not also demand that a special counsel study possible DOJ misconduct in the investigations into Hillary Clinton’s email use and Carter Page’s FISA application. On Monday, Schumer tried again, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell swatted it away, arguing that Mueller and Barr “ought to be allowed to finish their work in a professional manner.”
Schumer pointed out how ridiculous this argument is, given that the resolution does not demand the report’s immediate release. On Wednesday, Senator Dianne Feinstein tried her hand at this, but Mitch McConnell again shot it down, muttering something about how Attorney General William Barr and Mueller are figuring things out. Then today, Senator Rand Paul blocked Senator Amy Klobuchar’s introduction of the resolution because she would not amend it to include investigating alleged “malfeasance” against the Trump campaign by the Obama administration.
These new shenanigans come a few months after McConnell’s refusal to allow bipartisan legislation that would have required Mueller (and other special counsels in the future) to send his final report to Congress and the public. It is now obvious that Republican lawmakers are taking every opportunity to stand in the way of the truth. In so doing, however, they are also revealing something significant: their fear that the report that Trump calls a “total and complete exoneration” may actually lead to the end of his presidency.