The attorney general of the United States, who serves at the pleasure of the president of the United States, should not have the final word on what the American people see with regard to the Mueller report.
Attorney General William Barr has already demonstrated in a brief summary of the 400-page document that he cannot be objective.
Indeed, there are news articles claiming that members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team are unhappy with Barr’s handling of the situation.
At issue is the four-page letter completed in just two days that said Mueller did not find a conspiracy between Russia and Trump associates to undermine Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Barr also said that based on his reading of the report, there was no evidence candidate Trump had any dealings with the Russians regarding the election.
It is noteworthy that Mueller did not exonerate the president on the issue of obstruction of justice – but Barr did.
Trump, a real-estate developer from New York City, had never run for office when he sought the Republican Party nomination for president in a crowded field of well-known politicians.
His win came as a surprise to many national political analysts, just as his victory over the Democratic nominee, Clinton, sent shockwaves through the establishment.
After all, Clinton was a party insider, former U.S. secretary of state in the administration of President Barack Obama, former U.S. senator and wife of former President Bill Clinton.
In the two years and three months he has been in office, Trump has shown a willingness to force members of his administration to do his bidding – even if such acts are legally questionable.
The president has also let it be known through his actions that transparency in the executive branch is not a priority for him.
His continued refusal to make public his tax returns – many other presidents willingly did so – serves to confirm our belief that neither Trump nor members of his administration are deserving of the public’s trust.
That’s why the entire report stemming from Special Counsel Mueller’s 22-month investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election should be sent to Congress.
U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, D-New York, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, told the attorney general, who appeared before the panel Tuesday, that his summary of the Mueller report lacked credibility.
“Even for someone who has done this job before, I would argue it’s more suspicious than impressive.”
Barr told members of Congress that a redacted version would be ready in about a week.
But Democrats rightly believe anything short of what Special Counsel Mueller presented will add to the public’s skepticism about government.
We aren’t suggesting that grand jury testimony, names of confidential informants, details of ongoing investigations or the identities of those ultimately cleared should be publicized.
However, we believe a panel of Democrats and Republicans in Congress would be ideally suited to not only review all the documents related to the Mueller probe, but would have access to experts in constitutional law and the criminal-justice system for guidance.
As we said in an editorial last month shortly after Barr issued his summary, there are too many unanswered questions to let the Trump administration spin the findings.
The political and national security aspects of the investigation cannot be summarily dismissed.
Just because Mueller concluded that neither Trump nor anyone in his campaign colluded with the Russians to ensure Clinton’s defeat does not mean that Russia is innocent. There have been a slew of indictments against Russians, including those tied to the government.
The American people have a right to know how extensively Russia was involved in the 2016 presidential election, and why high-ranking officials of the communist government were so intent on helping Trump defeat Clinton.
Even before he was elected president, Trump expressed positive views about Russia and its strongman leader, Vladimir Putin, that were at odds with many U.S. intelligence analyses of the communist government’s behavior domestically and globally.
As for the political aspect, Mueller’s refusal to exonerate Trump on the obstruction-of-justice issue demands further investigation – Barr’s conclusions notwithstanding.
It should be recalled that Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in the midst of the probe.