House Republicans and Democrats vote for public release of Mueller report, pressuring Justice Department

PHOTO: FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies during the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee hearing, Jan. 31, 2012.PlayCQ-Roll Call via Getty Images, FILE
WATCH House Republicans and Democrats vote for public release of Mueller report

The House voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to pass a measure calling for the Justice Department to release special counsel Robert Mueller's report to the public, an effort to increase pressure on the agency ahead of the expected conclusion of the probe into Russian meddling into the 2016 election.

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All told, 420 members – 230 Democrats and 190 Republicans – voted for the resolution, with no members voting against it. Four Republicans voted present, including Trump allies Reps. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, and Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, and Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan and Thomas Massie of Kentucky, two libertarian members.

The nonbinding resolution puts House Republicans and Democrats on the record in support of disclosing Mueller's findings as Democrats continue to spar with the Justice Department over whether they'll receive the special counsel's full report and materials from his investigation.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, tried to bring the measure up for a vote in the Senate Thursday, but was blocked by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who called for the addition of a provision appointing a second special counsel to review the Clinton email investigation, and government surveillance of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.

Under the statute governing the special counsel's work, Mueller is only required to provide Attorney General Bill Barr with a "confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions."

Barr is required to notify the top Republicans and Democrats of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees at the conclusion of Mueller's investigation but can determine how much of the report is released publicly. He has promised members of Congress to send his own "report" on Mueller's investigation to lawmakers, but it's unclear what that will contain.

Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and leaders of several House committees, have vowed to sue the Trump administration for Mueller's report and evidence if the Justice Department refuses to turn it over to Congress.

They have argued that the department is obligated to turn information over to Congress, citing document productions related to the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state, and the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Justice Department officials have privately dismissed that argument and that not turning over relevant records to Congress would be a double standard.