Earlier this week the House voted 420-0 to make public the report by special counsel Robert Mueller whenever such a report is presented to the attorney general. This is one of the series of meaningless resolutions that you’ll see emanating from the House as Nancy Pelosi tries to placate the Jacobin wing of her party and their well-heeled supporters without terrifying normal people. There has been the usual weaseling from Justice about how it is improper to release information on anyone who hasn’t been accused of a crime. That’s true, but in this case, given the ridiculousness of the Mueller investigation and the bystanders he has brutalized, I suspect the real agenda is to protect the simulacrum of a reputation that Justice and the FBI have retained.
That resolution came up for consideration in the Senate yesterday, and if anyone thought it was going to be smooth sailing they were in for a shock.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked for unanimous consent for the nonbinding resolution, which cleared the House 420-0, to be passed by the Senate before they leave town for a weeklong recess.
“There is no good reason, no good reason that the special counsel’s report should not be made public. The American people are overwhelmingly for the report being made public. They have a right to see it. No one should stand in the way of that,” Schumer said from the Senate floor.
But Graham, a close ally of Trump’s who chairs the Judiciary Committee, objected after Schumer refused to amend the House-passed resolution to include a provision calling on the Justice Department (DOJ) to appoint a special counsel to investigate DOJ misconduct in the handling of the investigation into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s email use and the Carter Page Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications.
Graham stressed that he supported Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and predicted that it would wrap up shortly. But he added that he had been “trying to find balance” by also supporting an investigation into Clinton-related scandals.
“Was there two systems of justice in 2016? One for the Democratic candidate and one for the Republican candidate?” Graham asked.
The left, predictably, went nuts claiming that Graham “had something to hide.” This is how the reflexively Resistance cheerleader Aaron Blake of the Washington Post called it The House voted 420 to 0 to release the Mueller report. So why is Lindsey Graham blocking the bill?
Here’s why Graham may want to reconsider.
There is surely a moral case for voting for the bill, as the House’s near-unanimous passage suggests, but that’s for people to decide for themselves. There are reasons that Justice Department guidelines don’t require the full release of the Mueller report, including not releasing information obtained via grand jury and not publicizing allegations that don’t lead to actual indictments. Attorney General William Barr has cited these restrictions as constraining his ability to release details of the report, which is what led to the House’s vote.
But politically speaking, there are many reasons Graham should want to vote for this, and now. One is that it’s not binding, so it wouldn’t technically change much of anything. Why not just vote on something that merely expresses a pro-disclosure posture? Almost every House Republican was only so happy to do so on Thursday. They may have been more worried about what it would have looked like to vote against it, but this was about as close to a consensus bill as you can get.
Beyond that, it could help avoid potentially much more difficult votes down the line. Let’s say that we see only limited details of the Mueller report publicly, but there is a suggestion of potential wrongdoing by Trump or someone close to him like his son, Donald Trump Jr. At that point, congressional Republicans would be in a real pickle. Do they not push for the release of the full report, and look like they are trying to cover it up? Or do they vote for disclosure at that point, and make it look like they are truly concerned about what Trump et al. may have done?
This reasoning could, with a lot of work, rise to the level of juvenile.
If there was an iota of a hint of a suspicion that President Trump or anyone close to him had engaged in something illegal we would have heard about it. There isn’t. I’d bet that Graham knows that, that Schumer knows that, that McConnell knows that, that Barr knows that, and that Trump knows that. The only reason that nothing has leaked from Mueller’s investigation is that there is nothing to leak.
Graham has not blocked a vote on the resolution and he hasn’t said he won’t vote for it. He simply blocked unanimous consent. These are very different things.
Getting the Democrats on record opposing an investigation of how DOJ and Justice handled this case is a great move. Graham is going to lead an investigation into that matter (see Lindsey Graham Vows To Find Out If Rod Rosenstein Was Duplicitous Scum Or Merely A Liar). When he inevitably shows how the FISA process was abused and the role of Loretta Lynch in saving the rather ample, gravy-infused bacon of Hillary Clinton, this refusal by the Democrats to ask for a special counsel is not going to be a good look.
Graham is not hiding anything. He’s simply extracting a cost from the Democrats. That is good politics.
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