WASHINGTON — House Republicans joined Democrats on Thursday to overwhelmingly demand the Department of Justice release to Congress and the public the full findings of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the possible involvement of President Trump’s campaign.
Though the resolution is nonbinding and cannot force the Justice Department to take an particular action, Democrats who put it on the House floor are trying to build public pressure on Attorney General William P. Barr in advance of the investigation’s anticipated conclusion to share what Robert S. Mueller III produces. Far from standing in the way, Republicans joined Democrats en masse. On the 420-0 vote, four Republicans voted present.
“This report must see the light of day, must be available to the American public for a catharsis that will allow us to start with the facts, understand what happened and begin to rebuild the faith of the American people,” said Representative Jim Himes, Democrat of Connecticut and a senior member of the Intelligence Committee, which has undertaken its own Russia investigation.
Republicans called the resolution a waste of time, but they were unwilling to stand in its way. The four “present” votes were two libertarians who routinely oppose such resolutions, Representatives Justin Amash of Michigan and Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and two ardent Trump loyalists, Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida and Paul Gosar of Arizona.
“It’s nothing but a restatement of the regulation. Attorney General Barr will follow the regulation,” said Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. “He has said so.”
The resolution — sponsored by Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the Judiciary Committee chairman, and a handful of other Democratic committee leaders — “calls for the public release of any report Special Counsel Mueller provides to the attorney general, except to the extent the public disclosure of any portion thereof is expressly prohibited by law.”
Under the regulation that governs special counsels, Mr. Mueller is expected to produce a confidential report on his prosecution decisions to Mr. Barr, who will then review it and produce his own report to Congress. A report by National Public Radio that one of the special counsel’s top prosecutors, Andrew Weissmann, is about to leave the office has raised expectations that a report to the Justice Department is imminent.
But Mr. Barr has demurred on just what he will release to Congress and the public, reserving the right to keep some matters secret.
House Democrats have previously said they are prepared to use subpoena power and other tools at their disposal to force the Justice Department to turn over anything Mr. Barr chooses to withhold.
The Senate, under Republican control, is unlikely to take up a similar measure. A bipartisan group of senators have introduced a binding legal change that would require the special counsel to write a report and share it and his evidence directly with Congress. That, too, will not get a Senate vote.