WASHINGTON, D.C. — Most Republicans think the full Mueller report should be released to the public, a new poll has found. It’s a sharp departure from the position GOP lawmakers have established as they call for some parts of the report to be redacted.
Fifty-six percent of the 405 Republicans surveyed for an Economist/YouGov poll released Wednesday agreed that Attorney General William Barr should release the “full contents” of the Robert S. Mueller III report on 2016 Russian election interference and alleged collusion with President Donald Trump’s campaign.
Just 22 percent of Republicans in the survey said Barr should not release the full report. Another 22 percent said they weren’t sure.
Most Democrats — 84 percent — that pollsters surveyed said Barr should release Mueller’s full report. Three out of every five independents agreed.
Economist/YouGov pollsters surveyed 1,500 respondents between March 24 and March 26 via web-based interviews. The poll has an error margin of plus or minus 2.8 percent for the full sample. The margin of error is greater for subsets of Democrats, Republicans and independents.
Trump, whom Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided not to charge for obstructing the special counsel’s investigation, said he “wouldn’t mind” if the full report were released. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned that releasing the Mueller report, without scrubbing it of some information, could “throw innocent people who’ve not been charged under the bus.”
The attorney general should be left to decide what components of the report he wants to release, and what components he wants to keep under wraps, the Kentucky Republican said.
In most cases, the Justice Department adheres to a policy of redacting sections of court files, reports and other public documents that contain information about people who have not been charged with a crime as part of the relevant investigation. Trump and his adult children —two of whom serve in his administration and the other two on his campaign staff — are among the dozens of people who were not indicted but may be mentioned in the report.
Federal Rule 6(e) for the criminal procedure, which deals with recording and disclosing grand jury proceedings, could prohibit Barr from unsealing some documents and transcripts obtained by the grand jury presiding over Mueller’s work and releasing them to Congress. Barr would need a court’s permission to release those grand jury documents.
The DOJ has made exceptions to both policies at least twice before for reports on similar investigations to Mueller’s.
The first, in the 1970s, occurred when the department released grand jury information from the Watergate investigation into President Richard Nixon. The second happened in 1998 when the entire report from independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s was released. His probe was into Bill Clinton’s involvement in the failed Whitewater land deal four years earlier.
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have highlighted those two instances as precedent for Barr releasing Mueller’s report.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and five other House committee chairs have set an April 2 deadline for Barr to produce the Mueller report “in complete and unredacted form,” making exceptions only for the attorney general to black out names and lines that would protect DOJ sources and methods.
Mueller submitted his final report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia last week, but he has referred some offshoot investigative threads to other federal offices, including to prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.
While only four of every 10 Republicans disapproved of the job Mueller did over the course of the Russia investigation, nearly 70 percent of Republicans polled felt that the investigation was a witch hunt.
Just 7 percent of Democrats said the investigation was a witch hunt, whereas 82 percent said the probe was legitimate.
Mueller wrote in his report that he could not “establish” that anyone on Trump’s 2016 campaign team colluded with Russians to affect the outcome of the election, according to a four-page letter the attorney general sent Congress over the weekend.
But the special counsel also noted, per the letter, that his decision not to file obstruction of justice charges against the president did not “exonerate” him.