Senator Schumer made a second plea today to have Mueller’s report made public. Senator McConnell blocked it.
You can find a detailed description of the exchange in CNN’s article.
I’m glad Senator McConnell blocked it. That’s as it should be. His comments, however, indicate the special counsel and the Justice Department will be releasing significant portions of it, soon.
I believe that would be a very bad thing to do.
As Trey Gowdy puts it, trials are public. They lead to convictions. Only upon conviction is a person considered guilty. Investigations, however, lead to indictments, which are not convictions. The person is still considered innocent until proven guilty. Investigations are not releasable to the public.
For example, Mr. Cohen’s trial was made public. The investigation that lead to his his being charged and tried, however, was not made public.
I find it troubling that Senator Schumer and other Democrats have made comments indicating they want the entirety of the investigation made public, ostensibly so they can then cherry pick information for the next decade to block their political opponents. Since the investigation focused on President Trump and his staff, the information is very one-sided. There’s no bad information on any Democrats.
I think this begs the question: Was this the Democrats’ desired end state all along? To dig up as much dirt on Republicans as possible in order to use it against them in future elections, both Executive and Congressional? That, too, would be immensely unethical, yet many Democrats are now saying these investigations will continue, in House and Senate committees.
Senator McConnell did mention, “we’re likely dealing here with potential other prosecutions, classified information, damaging people’s reputation. There’s no evidence that the attorney general is not going to produce as much information as possible for all of us, and that’s why I objected. I think it’s a reasonable thing to do.”
I concur with his objections against an early release of any information, but I think he needs to take it a step further, mirroring Trey Gowdy’s distinction between investigations and trials.
Trials are public in part because the evidence presented in a trial must meet strict requirements. Hearsay, for example, is rarely allowed. People must either be present to give testimony or be deposed by attorneys for both sides. Due process in trial provides controlled access to information, with relevance being a singularly critical requirement. Judicial procedure provides a measure of privacy, maintaining that people are “innocent until proven guilty.”
In stark contrast, Senator Schumer wants the whole enchilada. He will never be satisfied with a summary report of Mr. Mueller’s investigation. He wants access to the investigations files themselves, so he can cherry-pick dirt to be used against Republicans without fear of return fire because this investigation contains no information on Democrats. They want all the information to be made public, because they know the news will convict many Republicans in the court of public opinion.
Investigations conducted by reporters and those conducted by the Department of Justice are two very different entities.
First, the DoJ has the authority to compel answers. News reporters do not.
Second, the DoJ has the authority to promise confidentiality. That’s directly opposite of a news reporter’s goal. The promise of confidentiality aids the investigation by allowing people to speak freely. Many people would not, and probably should not speak freely to reporters.
Third, releasing the results of ANY investigation, much less one as public as Mueller’s, will greatly hamper the ability of agencies to conduct investigations in the future. People will be far less forthcoming if they know that promises of confidentiality don’t men squat, that an “act of Congress” will just release the information, anyway.
The Mueller Report is a confidential investigation, and absolutely should not be made public. I think a short summary report would be appropriate, one that outlines the methodologies and procedures while providing a summary accounting of the investigation’s costs.
I think the release of any details of the investigation, however, would be very wrong, set a horrible precedent for the future, and violate the confidentiality of everyone who cooperated with the investigation.