How the Mueller Report Should Be Released

In his four-page summary, Attorney General William Barr suggested that he would release the Mueller report after identifying information that falls in two categories:

  1. Grand jury testimony that is restricted from public disclosure, and
  2. Any information that could impact other ongoing matters, including those that the special counsel has referred to other offices.

While there is precedent for releasing grand jury testimony in cases with a strong public interest, excluding information that could affect other investigations makes sense.

That is why it is important to have a two-tiered release of the report. Representative Adam Schiff has made it clear that the entire report, along with supporting documents, must be released to Congress. It is possible to narrow that down to members of the intelligence committees, and perhaps the judiciary committees as well.

If, after that has happened, Barr provides those committees with a version of the report that includes redactions of the above items, they can determine if it is sufficient and the process can move forward with a release to the general public. In other words, the only way to ensure that people trust the process is by gaining bipartisan agreement on what is released.

That is not what Barr is proposing to do. House Democrats demanded that the full report be released to lawmakers by Tuesday, April 2nd. Representative Jerrold Nadler, chair of the Judiciary Committee, reported that the attorney general said it would be “weeks, not months” before lawmakers can see the report. So his plan is to limit Congress to a redacted (or summarized) version. Here is Nadler’s response:

Though Nadler would not say whether lawmakers will issue a subpoena, he told reporters that April 2 was “a hard deadline that we set and we mean it.”

The more Barr refuses to work with House Democrats, the more he makes it look like he and Trump have something to hide. Unless something gives, this whole question could wind up on a court docket pretty quickly.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.