Attorney General Barr should release the full Robert Mueller report when it’s finished – Washington Examiner

When special counsel Robert Mueller concludes his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, it will be up to Attorney General William Barr to determine how much of the report to disclose to Congress and the public. He should release the full report.

Though CNN is reporting that as soon as next week Barr is going to announce that Mueller has concluded his report, we should take all such claims with a grain of salt, as predictions of the investigation’s end have proven premature many previous times.

That having been said, regardless of the actual timing, the rules governing the release will be the same.

Mueller will send a confidential report to the attorney general, who will then be required to send a summary to Congress. Such reports are described by the governing law as “brief notifications, with an outline of the actions and the reasons for them.”

But Barr could go further and release the full Mueller report, along with all of the transcripts of testimony and evidence supporting the various findings.

The reticence to release a full report in cases such as this come from an understandable place. Generally speaking, prosecutors should focus on providing evidence that backs up specific legal charges in court, whereas a full report may contain embarrassing information that is legal or references to potentially illegal behavior that could not be proven.

While this is an understandable concern, the reality is that if the full report and supporting materials are not released, we’re going to get portions of it leaked in dribs and drabs by anonymous sources with an agenda to push.

This has been the problem plaguing Russia reporting all along. The media has no direct knowledge about what is going on, so they’re relying on leaked information, even though some people have an interest in taking down Trump while others are interested in vindicating him.

Once the report hits, we’ll get anonymously sourced stories suggesting that Trump committed impeachable offenses and others claiming the report offers full vindication.

If the actual report is released, people who choose to read all the materials can judge for themselves whether the gathered evidence supports a given conclusion. And even if the average news consumer won’t actually be digging through potentially thousands of pages of Mueller’s documents, the fact that they are publicly available will act as a check on the proliferation of fake news through anonymous reports.

The demon of Trump collusion with Russia has cast a shadow over the administration since Day One. For over 2 years, the American people have been subjected to news stories suggesting that their president worked with a foreign adversary to win the election. If true, it carries with it the potential of removing from office a democratically elected president. If false, a lot of elected officials and members of the media have a lot of explaining to do.

Regardless of where anybody falls down on the Russia story or Trump in general, all sides should have an interest in full transparency in this case.

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