In a surprising show of unity, Republicans and Democrats have come together to ensure that the long-awaited Special Counsel’s report on the alleged collusion between President Trump and agents of the Russian Federation is released to the public.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-VA) and Senate Finance Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have co-sponsored and introduced a bill that would require the Department of Justice to hand over the Mueller report to Congress once it is completed or if the Special Counsel is fired.
Grassley’s move represents a betrayal of the leader of his own party and sets him up for a host of trouble, including potential impeachment if the contents of the Mueller report are as damning as the public expects them to be.
Dem Sen. Blumenthal and GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley have introduced The Special Counsel Transparency Act, which "requires that a Special Counsel submit a report directly to Congress and the public at the conclusion of an investigation," or if he/she is fired or resigns. pic.twitter.com/2x1WbC72DL
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) January 28, 2019
As the president’s palpable terror at the release of the report becomes more and more obvious, so has grown the fear that the White House will find a way to keep the report from being released to the public.
Under the rules that govern the Special Counsel, his report is only required to be submitted to the Justice Department leaders, not Congress or the American people — meaning control over the report will rest with Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker or replacement nominee William Barr, both of whom are Trump appointees who are on the record criticizing the Mueller probe.
“A Special Counsel is appointed only in very rare serious circumstances involving grave violations of public trust. The public has a right and need to know the facts of such betrayals of public trust” said Sen. Blumenthal.
Sen. Grassley added that “I was encouraged to hear attorney general nominee William Barr place a high priority on transparency when asked at his confirmation hearing about Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, and there’s no reason to think that Mueller won’t be allowed to finish his work.”
While William Barr has promised to release the Mueller report to the public, what he says during his confirmation hearing might very well be a case of telling the Senate what he wants to hear.
On top of that, officials familiar with the matter have told Bloomberg News that the White House is considering exercising executive privilege in order to withhold parts of or possibly all of the reports from reaching House Democrats, who have already sworn to demand the Justice Department hand over the highly anticipated document upon its completion.
While its reassuring to see senior Republicans crossing the aisle to protect the Special Counsel and ensure that we get to the bottom of what exactly happened during the 2016 election, the bill still has to pass the Senate — and there are a great many Trump loyalists who will stop at nothing to keep their champion from seeing any consequences for his crimes.
Original reporting by Jordain Carney at the Hill.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this article said that Senator Grassley was the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman. He held that position from 2015 to January 3rd, 2019 and is now Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.