The House just lobbed a warning shot up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House and the Department of Justice about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the puppet show known as the 2016 election. In a rare unanimous, bipartisan vote, the House passed a resolution calling for the Attorney General’s release of the Mueller report to the public.
The Special Counsel regulations require Mueller to submit his report to the AG, with further disclosure coming at the AG’s discretion. But the current AG, William Barr, has not said exactly what he would do, and he refused to commit to making the report public when pressed about it at his recent Senate confirmation hearings.
Today’s resolution is non-binding, which means it does not have the power of law that can force the public release of the report. It is also not likely that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will allow the GOP-controlled Senate to consider a similar resolution anytime soon, and in fact Trump sycophant Lindsey Graham is already trying to sabotage it. But the unanimous vote is nothing short of a primal scream for transparency in the Mueller probe. Jerrold Nadler, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who introduced the resolution, aptly called the results “a clear signal to both the American people and to the Department of Justice that Congress believes transparency is a fundamental principle necessary to ensure that government remains accountable to the public.”
This House resolution did not pass because a handful of Republican moderates decided to break with their party. On the contrary, House Republicans put up weak resistance on the debate floor, mostly just grumbling about how the resolution appears to be a waste of time. In the end, the resolution passed by a whopping 420-0, with four Republicans voting “present.” No one knows when Mueller will wrap up his investigation and submit his report to Barr. But when that day arrives, Barr now knows what kind of furious bipartisan backlash he will face, starting with subpoenas, if he even thinks about trying to bury it.