While there may be some political and congressional pressure on Attorney General William Barr to publicly release the entire report from special counsel Robert Mueller, famed constitutional lawyer Alan Dershowitz says Barr is under no legal obligation to do so. In an interview with Sean Hannity on Monday, Dershowitz said it was up to Barr and the Justice Department to decide when to release the Mueller report to Congress, if ever.
“There’s nothing in the regulations that require to reveal anything,” Dershowitz said, “The best test is the shoe on the other foot test. When we go back to Comey’s statement, if Comey had said ‘We’re just not going to indict Hillary Clinton on the emails,’ and the Republicans said, ‘Wait a minute. We heard you have a report that said she was extremely careless. We want you to release that,’ the Democrats would have jumped up and down and said, ‘No, no, no. Prosecutors don’t say anything negative about people they haven’t indicted.’ All they’re supposed to do is announce ‘no indictment.’
“Well, suddenly everything has changed,” Dershowitz continued. “And it’s the Democrats who want to know why there wasn’t charges. They want to know what the split was between those who wanted to charge and not charge an obstruction of justice. The law does not authorize that to be released.”
Democrats have said they will subpoena a full, unredacted copy of the Mueller report if Barr does not comply with their demands. But Dershowitz said that even if Democrats take that step, no court in the country should give them what they want.
Numerous polls have shown that Americans want to see the full report, including a majority of Republicans, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Barr is under any obligation to hand the report to Democrats without careful vetting of its contents. The only way this gets politically tricky is if Democrats use redactions and delay to argue, conspiratorially, that the Trump administration is hiding something. Which, of course, is already what they’re doing.
This argument is rather flat on the face of it, though, seeing as how Mueller is under no obligation to stay silent. If he sees that his report is being mischaracterized by the president or the attorney general, he can call a press conference immediately and set the record straight. Barr would be a fool of Biblical proportions to try and pull a fast one, and there’s no reason on earth to think he has any interest in doing so.
Democrats have put far too much of their own political capital into this investigation, and now they don’t know what to do with the outcome. It’s not Barr’s responsibility to ease them through this difficult transition.