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The case for making the Mueller report public

Three things to know about Robert Mueller. (May 18, 2017) (Sign up for our free video newsletter here http://bit.ly/2n6VKPR)

We are told that Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation will be sent to the attorney general any day now. We are also told that the report does not have to be made public or could be extensively redacted to provide only information the attorney general deems legally required. As a taxpaying citizen who helped fund this investigation, I most strenuously object.

Having been an investigator on two independent counsel investigations in the 1990s, I would suggest that transparency should be the primary factor in determining the extent of disclosure provided. When millions of taxpayer dollars are spent investigating possible violations of law by elected officials, a full and complete report of the findings seems clearly to be warranted. In the Mueller investigation of Russian involvement in our elections, that disclosure seems even more relevant and necessary. Anything less than full and complete disclosure of all investigative efforts to the public is unacceptable. We need to know all the findings in this investigation, and, more importantly, we have a right to know.

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This investigation was not just about a violation of law by one or more administration officials; it was about an attack on our democracy by our most dangerous adversary. The actions and statements, some under oath, by candidate Donald Trump, his campaign staff and administration officials in large part caused the expansion of the investigation. The American public should have access to all matters investigated by Mr. Mueller to determine if all avenues of inquiry were followed, if all matters were resolved, if all violators were pursued; to determine if justice has been done and the threat properly addressed.

Without full disclosure there will always be unresolved questions. Why were the president, his administration and the Republican Party so intent on trying to limit and close the Russian investigation before it was completed? Why was President Trump so adamant in denying Russian interference in our elections? Why were there so many Trump campaign and administration officials with connections to Russia, and why did they try to hide those connections if they were in fact legal and aboveboard? What were President Trump’s financial connections with various Russian players? Did President Trump violate U.S. tax law? Was he involved in money-laundering operations? Did his financial situation with other countries, foreign banks or investment partners determine policies or influence decisions he was making as president? We have received answers to some of these questions, but there are many more that to date are going unanswered.

It’s clear that admitting Russia seriously interfered in our elections tarnishes the legitimacy of those elections and of the president, but is there more that we don’t know? It’s also clear that Republicans want to defend the president because he has been able to implement many policies they like (tax cuts, deregulation, unwinding environmental laws, defunding education, etc.).

Closing this investigation without total transparency will leave most if not all of these questions unanswered and will continue to divide the country. Congress has a responsibility, as our representatives, to pursue full disclosure if the Justice Department and the Trump administration do not provide transparency.

The firing of the FBI director, the acting FBI director, and the attorney general all clearly related to the Russian investigation should be causing serious concerns throughout this country. Closing the Mueller investigation without full disclosure would only raise those concerns to a higher level.

If, in fact, as the president and many Republicans have stated on numerous occasions, there is nothing there, then the president and Republicans in Congress should be aggressively advocating for full disclosure. We the people must hold our government to a high standard, and keeping us informed is part of the government’s obligation. No person, no party, no institution is above the law.

Kenneth Buck is a retired federal law enforcement officer; his email is kpbuck@verizon.net.

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