Amer­i­cans de­serve to know the whole truth about the Rus­sia re­port

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - | OPINION -

Dark­ness is poi­son for democ­racy, which is the un­der­ly­ing rea­son why Nevada’s con­gres­sional del­e­gates should sup­port a bi­par­ti­san bill to re­quire dis­clo­sure of in­for­ma­tion in the Trump Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The bill, in­tro­duced late last month by Repub­li­can Sen. Chuck Grass­ley and his Demo­cratic col­league Richard Blu­men­thal, calls for spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller to is­sue a re­port to Congress and to the pub­lic when the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­plete.

Cov­er­ing their bases, Grass­ley and Blu­men­thal also wrote in a re­quire­ment for a re­port to be made pub­lic within two weeks if a spe­cial coun­sel is ousted or re­signs. The bill spec­i­fies that the re­port would in­clude all fac­tual find­ings and un­der­ly­ing ev­i­dence.

It’s an im­por­tant mea­sure given the up­com­ing con­fir­ma­tion vote for at­tor­ney gen­eral nom­i­nee Wil­liam Barr, who would over­see the in­ves­ti­ga­tion should he be ap­proved. Barr hasn’t com­mit­ted to re­leas­ing the full re­port, merely say­ing that a sum­mary should be made pub­lic.

With Barr widely ex­pected to be con­firmed, Congress should take the guess­work out of it by ap­prov­ing the Grass­ley-blu­men­thal mea­sure.

“A spe­cial coun­sel is ap­pointed only in very rare, se­ri­ous cir­cum­stances in­volv­ing grave vi­o­la­tions of pub­lic trust,” Blu­men­thal said in ex­plain­ing the rea­son­ing be­hind the bill. “The pub­lic has a right and need to know the facts of such be­tray­als of pub­lic trust.”

That’s ab­so­lutely cor­rect. Grass­ley added that Amer­i­cans had a right to know how the govern­ment was do­ing its busi­ness and spend­ing tax­pay­ers’ money, which is also cor­rect.

Given the se­ri­ous­ness of the ev­i­dence that Mueller’s team has un­cov­ered, and the fact that in­ves­ti­ga­tors had in­dicted or drawn guilty pleas from more than 30 peo­ple, it’s crit­i­cal for a full re­port to be re­leased.

A short le­gal sum­mary sim­ply will not do. Amer­i­cans de­serve to know ex­actly what Trump and his as­so­ciates were up to, and how Mueller and his in­ves­ti­ga­tors went about their busi­ness.

Trump, for his part, has given mixed mes­sages on dis­clo­sure of the re­port. In his re­cent ap­pear­ance on CBS’S “Face the Na­tion,” Trump first in­di­cated that it was “to­tally” up to the at­tor­ney gen­eral to de­cide how much to re­lease. But when asked in a fol­low-up ques­tion whether he would have a prob­lem with the full re­port be­ing re­leased, he said: “I don’t know. It de­pends. I have no idea what it’s go­ing to say.”

Wher­ever Trump may stand on the mat­ter, though, it’s telling that he’s not among those shout­ing the loud­est for the re­lease of a full re­port. If the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion truly has been a 20-month-long witch hunt, as Trump in­ces­santly in­sists it has been, there would be no bet­ter way to prove it than to re­lease full de­tails to the pub­lic.

In not ad­vo­cat­ing for full dis­clo­sure, Trump is yet again act­ing like a man with some­thing to hide. That’s an­other key rea­son the Grass­ley-blu­men­thal bill deserves sup­port. Given the grav­ity of Mueller’s find­ings thus far — ties be­tween close Trump aides and Rus­sian op­er­a­tives, il­licit use of cam­paign funds, etc. — Amer­i­cans need to know ev­ery­thing that Trump and all the pres­i­dent’s men have been up to.

ERIN SCHAFF / THE NEW YORK TIMES

Sen. Chuck Grass­ley, R-iowa, left, meets with Wil­liam Barr, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s nom­i­nee for at­tor­ney gen­eral, on Jan. 9 in Grass­ley’s of­fice.

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