The Senate blocked a measure that demanded special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election be made public — hours after the House unanimously voted in support of the measure.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for a vote on the measure but was blocked by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who asked that the resolution also include calling for the appointment of a new special counsel to investigate how the Justice Department conducted its investigation.
Earlier, the House passed a nonbinding resolution, with a vote of 420-0, urging for the public release of “any report” Mueller provides to Attorney General William Barr, except the portions “expressly prohibited by law.” And they insisted that Congress should receive the whole thing.
Graham pointed to controversies surrounding a surveillance warrant on Trump aide Carter Page and text messages by two FBI employees that were critical of President Donald Trump.
“We let Mueller look at all things Trump, related to collusion and otherwise,” Graham argued on the Senate floor. “Somebody needs to look at what happened on the other side and find out if the FBI and the DOJ had two systems.”
Schumer declined to include Graham’s proposed amendment and said he was “deeply disappointed” in Graham for “blocking this very simple, non-controversial resolution.”
He said he would bring the measure back before the Senate at a later time.
The votes came amid signs that Mueller’s inquiry could be drawing closer to its conclusion. Mueller’s office confirmed on Thursday that one of its top prosecutors, Andrew Weissmann, plans to leave for another job soon, the latest in a series of departures from the office.
Justice Department rules require Mueller to submit a final, confidential report to Barr outlining why he charged some people and not others. Barr has said he wants to release as much detail as possible about the results of the special counsel investigation, but has not committed to releasing all of the findings of an investigation that has been based in part on classified intelligence and secret grand jury information.
The nearly two-year investigation dug deeply into President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, his administration and their Russian ties.
The president has repeatedly derided the probe as a “witch hunt” and often claims there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia.
Mueller has indicted 34 people, including Russian intelligence operatives and some of Trump’s closest aides and advisers. In doing so, he revealed a wealth of details about a sophisticated Russian effort to influence the 2016 election and about a campaign eager to reap the benefits of that activity. What he might add in a final report remains uncertain.
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, said the end of Mueller’s investigation is “long overdue” and that he must be transparent with the public.
“After taking nearly two years, costing tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, and providing limited public information about its scope, I am especially concerned about what would happen if the report was not made available to Congress,” Scalise said in a statement.
Contributing: Bart Jansen
Read more at usatoday.com.