Democratic 2020 Hopefuls Unite in Push to Release Mueller Report

Billy House
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Democratic 2020 Hopefuls Unite in Push to Release Mueller Report

(Bloomberg) -- The wide field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates mostly agree on one thing: Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s full report on President Donald Trump and Russia election interference should be made available to Congress and the public as soon as possible.

The Democrats took to Twitter, press releases and campaign stump speeches to press their case after Mueller on Friday submitted his final report, a still-secret document that closed his 22-month investigation into whether Trump or those around him conspired in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 campaign.

But how far they’ll go in seeking to appeal to the Democratic Party’s base by calling for full disclosure is uncertain. And if the report doesn’t include hoped-for damning details about Trump and his inner circle, their efforts could backfire. Mueller didn’t issue any further indictments before turning in his report, according to officials.

Senator Kamala Harris of California, a former federal prosecutor who sits on the Judiciary Committee, called for Attorney General William Barr to testify publicly and under oath about the investigation’s conclusions.

In a separate statement, Harris said the report should be “declassified” before release. That leaves open questions about whether some information, even if shared with congressional committees, will be kept off-limits from public release.

Harris, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts launched petition drives on Twitter to demand the Mueller report be released -- and to direct traffic to their fund-raising sites.

“The Trump Administration shouldn’t get to lock up Robert Mueller’s report and throw away the key. Taxpayers funded this investigation, and we deserve to know the outcome,” Booker tweeted, while Warren tweeted, “Attorney General Barr -- release the Mueller report to the American public. Now.”

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, at the first of a three-city California campaign swing on Friday night, joined the calls for the Mueller report to be made public.

“It is absolutely imperative that the Trump administration make that full report public as soon as possible,” Sanders, currently a front-runner for the Democratic nomination, said to applause. “Nobody, including the president of the United States, is above the law. The American people have a right to know.”

Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend, Indiana, mayor, campaigned Saturday in Greenville, South Carolina. “I do think the American people deserve to know, obviously,” he told reporters afterward, calling for prompt release of the findings. He pivoted, though, to say the Democratic Party “ought to be focused on the conditions that made this presidency possible in the first place.”

“If we are pinning all of our hopes on these procedural matters and not paying attention to the reasons why a lot of these people went and voted for somebody they disliked then we are kind of missing the point,” Buttigieg said.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York tweeted Friday that “the American people have a right to know” the Mueller report’s findings, while Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said a decision to release the report “is not about politics but about protecting our democracy. Now is the time to do the right thing. The American people deserve the truth.”

Former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas similarly tweeted, “Release the Mueller report to the American people.” And former Obama administration official and 2020 hopeful Julian Castro tweeted that “The American people deserve to know the full truth about Russia’s interference in our democracy.”

Other responses included praise for Mueller’s work from former Representative John Delaney, who said that the special counsel “conducted his work with dignity and without leaks.”

One Democrat who hasn’t yet opined on the Mueller report is former Vice President Joe Biden, who leads in some early polls ahead of the 2020 Democratic nomination race, but has yet to declare he’s a candidate.

Some Republicans, such as Representative Chris Stewart, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, have suggested that Democrats, for all their rhetoric, might privately prefer that the entire report never be made public.

“If there is any part that is redacted, someone is going to point to that and say, ‘See, there’s the collusion, there’s the conspiracy -- it’s there, and they just don’t want to tell it,’" he said.

(Updates with Buttigieg comments from 10th paragraph.)

--With assistance from Emma Kinery.

To contact the reporter on this story: Billy House in Washington at bhouse5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Ros Krasny, Larry Liebert

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