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Vermont Congressional Delegation Calls For Prompt Release Of Full Mueller Report

Sen. Patrick Leahy talks to reporters at Burlington International Airport Sunday. Leahy says he wants Robert Mueller's report into alleged Russiona interference in the 2016 election to be released in its entirety to Congress and the public.
Peter Hirschfeld
Sen. Patrick Leahy talks to reporters at Burlington International Airport Sunday. Leahy says he wants Robert Mueller's report into alleged Russiona interference in the 2016 election to be released in its entirety to Congress and the public.

Attorney General William Barr may have unveiled top-level findings from Robert Mueller’s report into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, but Sen. Patrick Leahy says he won’t be satisfied until the special counsel’s full report is released to the public.

Leahy was among the U.S. senators and house members to receive a copy Sunday of Barr’s “principal conclusions” from the Mueller report. Leahy said Sunday there’s a possibility he’ll receive another briefing Monday morning, in the event Barr has classified material to disclose to Congress.

Leahy, however, said Barr’s distillation of the report falls well short of the full transparency needed for the Mueller investigation. And he reiterated Sunday that he wants the document released in its entirety to the public.

"I expect a lot more than the conclusions. The conclusions they can put on a postcard." — Sen. Patrick Leahy

“I expect a lot more than the conclusions. The conclusions they can put on a postcard,” Leahy said. “I want to see a lot more than that. I know that Robert Mueller spent a long time on this. Millions of dollars have been spent. I want to see the report.”

Using his presidential campaign’s Twitter account Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders voiced a similar sentiment.

“I don’t want a summary of the Mueller report,” Sanders tweeted. “I want the whole damn report.”

And Congressman Peter Welch said in a tweet Friday that now that the Muller report is complete, “the American people have a right to know what’s in his report.”

“If the Attorney General refuses to make it public, Congress should demand its immediate release and subpoena it if he refuses,” Welch wrote.

Barr, however, has left open the possibility that elements of Muller’s report may never make it into the public domain.

In a letter to members of the House and Senate judiciary committees Friday, Barr described Mueller’s report as a “confidential” document. And while he vowed to “advise” Congress on Mueller’s “principal conclusions” as early as this weekend, he said he was still working to determine “what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public.”

Barr said determinations about which portions of the report would be made public will rest on “the law,” “Special Counsel regulations,” and the Department of Justice’s “long-standing practices and policies.”

And in his letter to members of Congress Sunday, Barr said there’s no timeline for the release of additional material from the report.

Asked Sunday whether he worried Barr’s conditions for release set the stage of the withholding of the report to Congress and the American people, Leahy said, “It gives me pause because they could be used as a reason.”

Jay Shepard, national committeeman for the Vermont Republican Party, said there are plenty of legitimate reasons for Barr to withhold the contents of the Mueller report.

Shepard said if the report contains compelling evidence of a crime, then the public should get to see it. Anything short of that standard, however, and Shepard says the document should remain under seal.

In his letter to Congress, Barr wrote that his office “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russian in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

Shepard said that revelation undermines the case for the report’s release.

“Let’s say were investigating you for murder, and we don’t find anything about you related to the murder and found you innocent, but, you know, we happened to find that you had an affair five years ago. Should we now release that to the public?” Shepard said Sunday.

Shepard said Leahy and other Democrats are less interested in transparency than they are in mining the report for political ammunition against President Donald Trump.

“They’re trying to find any dirt or anything to discredit anybody involved with the presidential campaign, and the administration, that’s totally non-related to a crime,” Shepard said. “And Pat Leahy knows better than that.”

Many high-profile national Republicans, however, have joined the call to release the Muller report. And while Barr said the Mueller report doesn’t implicate Trump in a crime, he said, “It also does not exonerate him.”

Leahy said he’s confident the report will eventually see the light of day.

“I think that you’re going to find that that Congress will eventually have all the material that’s in there,” Leahy said.

Leahy said his confidence stems in part from Congress’ power to subpoena documents and witnesses.

“I have a feeling there is going to be very, very little of that (report) will be classified,” Leahy said. “And I think you’re going to find Republicans and Democrats are going to screen that very carefully, and if it doesn’t reach a point of credibility, they’ll have it de-classified.”

Leahy also said he’d like to have Mueller testify before Congress about his investigation.

“You know, he’s a very serious person. I know him very, very well. I’d like to have him come up and just ask him very specific questions,” Leahy said. “There’s been quite a few indictments of people within the president’s inner circle, including his national security advisors and the chair of his political committee. I’d like to ask him what led to that.”

Update 3/25/2019 9:31 a.m. This post was updated Monday to include comments from Rep. Peter Welch and Sen. Bernie Sanders. The headline also was changed.

The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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