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House Votes Almost Unanimously For Public Release Of Mueller Report

Updated at 5:16 p.m. ET

In an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, the House of Representatives called Thursday for special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to be made public when it is completed.

The vote is not legally binding, but it represents the growing pressure from both sides of the aisle on the Justice Department to disclose as much of the report as possible.

Federal law requires Mueller to present Attorney General William Barr with a confidential report upon the completion of his work, but it's ultimately Barr's call on how much of that report is made public.

The House resolution passed Thursday 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."

It also calls for the full report to be released to Congress.

The Mueller investigation has resulted in criminal charges against more than 30 individuals and entities, including multiple aides and associates of President Trump. Trump has repeatedly described the investigation as a "witch hunt" and has repeatedly denied that he or his 2016 campaign conspired or colluded with the Russian election interference.

During his confirmation process, Barr told Congress that he would permit Mueller to complete his work and that his goal would be to provide "as much transparency" as he could within the limits of the law. But he stopped short of giving a full-throated guarantee that the report would be made public.

"I rise in support of this resolution because I want the whole truth and nothing but the truth to come to light in this matter," said Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, on the House floor before the vote. "Full transparency is the only way to prevent future speculation."

The final vote tally was 420 members voting in favor, no members voting against and four Republican members (Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona) voting "present."

The vote comes amid more signs that Mueller's team is winding down its investigation. One of the team's most prominent attorneys, Andrew Weissmann, will soon leave the Justice Department to teach and pursue public service projects, as first reported by NPR.

After the vote, the bill was then sent to the Senate, where Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., attempted to unanimously pass it on the floor.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he objected to that unless the resolution also included a provision to call for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate the Justice Department's handling of the Clinton email investigation during the 2016 presidential race.

"We let Mueller look at all things Trump related to collusion and otherwise," Graham said. "Somebody needs to look at what happened on the other side."

Graham's amendment effectively blocked the resolution's passage in the Senate, at least in the near term, because Schumer refused to add the amendment to the resolution.

Schumer added that he was "deeply disappointed" in Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"I have absolutely no idea why a member of this body would object to this basic level of transparency, whatever their concern on other issues," Schumer said.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Miles Parks
Miles Parks is a reporter on NPR's Washington Desk. He covers voting and elections, and also reports on breaking news.