In a rare show of bipartisan consensus, the House voted that Robert Mueller's report should go public after the special counsel finishes its investigation. The resolution passed nearly unanimously on Thursday, but it notably doesn't have the power to force the Justice Department to release the results of the probe.
"Whereas the allegations at the center of Special Counsel Mueller's investigation strike at the core of our democracy," the resolution reads, the House "calls for the public release of any report Special Counsel Mueller provides to the Attorney General, except to the extent the public disclosure of any portion thereof is expressly prohibited by law."
No member voted against the resolution. But four Republicans did opt to vote "present," which is a common tactic to avoid taking sides on a measure. Voting "present" lets legislators abstain while still going on record as having participated (the House needs a certain number of members present to conduct its business).
Thursday's resolution was introduced by Democrats who hope it will pressure Attorney General William P. Barr to release the report, according to The New York Times. During his January nomination process, Barr refused to definitively say whether or not he would share Mueller's results with either Congress or the public, instead saying that he would "provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law." According to special counsel regulations, Mueller cannot give the report directly to Congress; he must go through the attorney general.
President Donald Trump seems to want to keep the report private. He and his legal team are mounting an executive privilege defense to prevent some discussions he's had with senior advisers from being made public within the report, according to The Washington Post. Rudy Giuliani explicitly told the publication that he may argue for "executive privilege exceptions" to what can be released.
John Dowd, a former Trump lawyer, has said that he doesn't believe Mueller's results will be published. "I don't think there'll be a report," he told ABC News last month. "I will be shocked if anything regarding the president is made public, other than, 'We're done.'"
But the House apparently wants to go on record in support of sharing the entire report with the public. "The American people deserve to know the truth about what, if anything, special counsel Mueller has uncovered, and now we should finally see this investigation come to a close," Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) said in a Thursday statement. However, the Senate is unlikely to vote on a similar resolution, according to The New York Times.
Of course, the resolution is largely a symbolic vote. If Barr does decline to release part or all of Mueller's report, a measure simply "expressing the sense of Congress" — as this resolution begins — will not be enough to force his hand. However, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, has said that his caucus would vote to subpoena the report under those circumstances. Schiff has also said he would be willing to bring Mueller to testify before Congress.