The House passed a resolution Thursday calling on Justice Department officials to release special counsel Robert Mueller’s highly anticipated report about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Lawmakers unanimously passed the non-binding resolution in a 420-0 vote.
“I’ve said to millions of Americans on television that I support releasing the Mueller report,” Gaetz told The Hill on his decision to vote present.
“I take specific exception to the elements of the resolution noting praise for Mueller, without also noting the criticism of his very biased staffing decisions,” he added. “It’s like he was fishing for talent in the Hillary Clinton fan club aquarium.”
The resolution calls for the Justice Department to release Mueller’s report to Congress and the public.
The measure — introduced by House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler(D-N.Y.) — argues there is “overwhelming public interest” to release the contents of the high-profile report. The resolution calls on the department to fully release the report to Congress and to release it to the public “except to the extent the public disclosure of any portion thereof is expressly prohibited by law.”
Should the Justice Department decide against releasing the report to the public, House Democrats could potentially subpoena the department for its contents. Thursday’s vote also provided the opportunity for Democrats to force Republicans into potentially taking a difficult vote.
The vote on the resolution comes after William Barr, who was confirmed as President Trump’s second attorney general in February, faced numerous questions about the Mueller investigation and the special counsel’s final report during his confirmation hearing earlier this year.
“It is important that Congress stand up for the principle of full transparency. At a time when the president has publicly attacked the Russian investigation more than 1,100 times and counting. Among other things, the president has repeatedly referred to the investigation as a witch-hunt and called it a hoax, rigged, and a scam,” Nadler said on the floor. “This resolution is also needed because high-ranking DOJ. officials have indicated that they may not release –– that they may not release information about individuals who are not indicted.”
Barr said he would release as much of Mueller’s findings as possible, but was careful not to commit to releasing the report in full –– something that rankled Democrats who argue that the high public interest surrounding the investigation demands its release to the public and Congress.
Under current regulations, Mueller is required to submit a final, confidential report explaining his prosecutorial decisions to the Justice Department. It will be up to Barr whether to release parts or any of Mueller’s findings.
Thursday’s vote comes amid intense speculation Mueller is close to wrapping up his investigation, which has gone on for nearly two years amid constant public attacks from Trump.
Mueller has indicted several Russians and Trump associates in the course of his probe, but none of those charges have alleged any conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russia to meddle in the election.