Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his written report on the results of his investigation into the Trump administration’s association with Russian meddling in America’s electoral process to Attorney General William Barr, the struggle over the full disclosure of its contents has begun.
While the House of Representatives has already passed a resolution calling for the public release of the entire report with an overwhelming majority, the legislation that enabled and governed the Special Counsel’s work only requires that Attorney General Barr provide Congress with a summary of the findings and allows him the discretion to decide what to include and what to omit from his congressional summary.
As the world awaits Barr’s decision on the extent of what he will publicly impart, senior members of Congress, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), have spoken up about their plans to ensure that all of the non-classified information from the inquiry be available for public consumption.
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A consumer watchdog group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), decided not to take any chances and decided as soon as the report was delivered to Barr yesterday to file a lawsuit to obtain a copy of it.
According to an article at The Hill, EPIC filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit with the Justice Department immediately on Friday to get access to the report’s nonclassified material, citing the information as being “of overwhelming public interest.”
“The public also has a right to know whether the President unlawfully obstructed any investigation into Russian election interference or related matters,” the group said in its suit. “The requested records are vital to the public’s understanding of these issues and to the integrity of the political system of the United States.”
EPIC’s suit seeks not only Mueller’s final report to Attorney General Barr but also any relevant materials related to the report.
As of Saturday morning, the Attorney General has yet to release any information about the contents of the report he received late yesterday.
While Barr told the senior members of both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees that he may be releasing a summary of the finding to Congress as soon as this weekend — and a White House insider told Fox News that we may get a first peek as soon as this afternoon — A justice department official has just announced that the department would not be releasing any information about the conclusions contained in the Mueller report on Saturday after all, according to a report in USA Today.
The longer the delay between the delivery of the report to Barr and his release of information about its contents, the more worries about potential presidential interference in exactly what does get disclosed to the public have a chance to fester, a possibility warned against by Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer yesterday.
Hopefully, EPIC’s suit will be successful if Barr decides against providing the full details of Mueller’s report, and the public will get to see all of the findings of the Special Counsel’s probe. However, given the relatively glacial pace of our court system, it would be advisable not to hold your breath while waiting for a ruling.
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Original reporting by Tal Axelrod at The Hill and by Bart Jansen, Kevin Johnson, and Kristine Phillips at USA Today.