W The special advocate Robert Mueller concludes his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections, it will be up to Attorney General William Barr to determine how much of the report to disclose to Congress and the public. He should release the full report.
Though CNN is reporting that as soon as next week Barr is going to announce that Mueller has concluded his report, we should take all such claims with a grain of salt, as predictions of the investigation's end have proven premature many previous times.
That being said, regardless of actual timing, the rules governing the release will be the same.
Mueller will send a confidential report to the attorney general, who will then be required to send a summary to the Congress. Such reports are described by the governing law as "brief notifications, with a summary of the actions and the reasons for them."
But Barr could go further and release the full Mueller report, along with all the transcripts of testimony and evidence supporting the various findings.
The reticence to release a full report in such cases like this is from an understandable place. Generally speaking, prosecutors should focus on providing evidence that backs up specific legal fees in court, whereas a full report may contain confusing information that is legal or refers to potentially illegal behavior that can not be proven.
While this is a fairly understandable concern, the reality is that if the full report and supporting materials are not released, we will get portions of it leaked in dribs and drabs by anonymous sources with a program to push.
This is the problem plaguing Russia reporting all along. The media has no direct knowledge of what's going on, so they're relying on leaked information, even though some people have an interest in taking Trump while others are interested in vindicating him.
Once the report hits, we'll get anonymously sourced stories suggesting that Trump has committed impeachable offenses and others claiming the report offers full vindication.
If the actual report is released, people who choose to read all the materials can judge for themselves whether the collected evidence supports a given conclusion. And even if the average news consumer is not actually digging through potentially thousands of pages of Mueller's documents, the fact that they are publicly available will act as a check for fake news through anonymous reports.
The demon of Trump collusion with Russia has cast a shadow over the administration since day one. For over 2 years, the American people have been subjected to news stories suggesting that their president worked with a foreign adversary to win the election. If true, it removes from office a democratically elected president. If false, a lot of elected officials and members of the media have a lot to explain.
Regardless of where anybody falls down on the Russian story or Trump in general, all parties should have an interest in full transparency in this case.