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EDITORIAL: Public needs to see the Mueller report

Updated February 27, 2019 - 11:09 am

Indications are that Robert Mueller is close to re-emerging from the Trump-Russian collusion rabbit hole. And if recent comments from members of the congressional resistance are any indication, it appears they’re preparing to be disappointed.

Over the weekend, Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat and Trumpaphobe who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, took to the Sunday talk shows to threaten the Department of Justice if it seeks to withhold any part of Mr. Mueller’s final report.

“Well, we would obviously subpoena the report,” he said, “we will bring Bob Mueller in to testify before Congress. We will take it to court, if necessary.”

This seems to be a transparent attempt to shift the debate and allow the Democrats to continue to flog the administration when the Mueller findings fail to provide Rep. Schiff and his colleagues with the ammunition they so crave to move forward on impeachment proceedings.

Mr. Mueller’s two-year investigation has so far resulted in about 30 indictments or guilty pleas. But as columnist Jonah Goldberg points out, Mr. “Mueller has yet to file a single charge on the core allegation that justified the launch of the probe in the first place — the allegation that Donald Trump ‘colluded’ with Russia.”

As for Rep. Schiff’s insistence that the entire report be made public, it’s worth noting that long-standing Justice Department policy has been not to release information in investigations that don’t end in a criminal charge. The intent is to avoid tarring the names of innocent individuals.

“There may be legitimate reasons for making exceptions,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said this week, “but as a general principle, in my view the Department of Justice is best served when people are confident that … when we’re investigating American citizens in particular, we’re going to do it with appropriate sensitivity to the rights of uncharged people.”

Fair enough. Pragmatically, however, withholding a significant portion of the Mueller report would only fan the flames of cover-up and conspiracy and needlessly prolong the matter. Yes, Democrats will no doubt look to pounce on any accusations in the report regardless of whether they merit charges, but secrecy only will make things worse for the administration.

USA Today reported that President Trump says the decision of what to make public will be “totally up” to Attorney General William Barr. But if the president has any chance of forcing Democrats off this issue, he’ll urge Mr. Barr to make public as much of Mr. Mueller’s report as possible without compromising national security.

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