People have long been anticipating Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation, and expect that it will include important details regarding Mr. Trump and his criminal actions.
‘Attorney General William P. Barr will decide how much of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s findings and conclusions to share with Congress and the American people. Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee he would try to be as transparent as possible while abiding by the Justice Department’s long-standing tradition of protecting the privacy rights of the innocent. That makes sense, but past departmental practices suggest he can release far more details than many people may now realize.’
Comey explained that providing detailed information about a completed investigation of intense public interest has long been a part of Justice Department practice. He went on to say that “that transparency is especially important where polarized politics and baseless attacks challenge law enforcement’s credibility.”
The former FBI director provided examples of where the Justice Department has exercised transparency with the public including he FBI’s investigation of the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
In March of 2015, an 86-page report was released detailing the entire investigation including what was done, what was found, and how the evidence compared to governing legal standards. An evaluation of the conduct and statements of individual was provided.
In events where this intense public interest, Comey seems to be explaining that the Justice Department has a duty to be as transparent as possible.
Comey shared that in October 2015, the Justice Department provided a report on their investigation of the IRS illegally targeting tea party groups, which was originally alleged by Republicans.
The case ended with no charges being brought and an eight-page report was filed that laid out the investigation, the evidence found, and a legal assessment. Because the case involved a challenge to the public confidence in the institution, the department did their due diligence to investigate and provided needed information to the public.
Most recently, Comey points out that the Hillary Clinton case was one that required that the Justice Department speak due to the public interest. It was important that an explanation of why they the decision to decline prosecution was made because a criminal investigation of a candidate for president was being ended. He said that Democrats were wrong about transparency then.
However, Comey wrote:
‘But Republicans are wrong now, when they claim Justice Department rules forbid transparency about the completed work of the special counsel. It is difficult to imagine a case of greater public interest than one focused on the efforts of a foreign adversary to damage our democracy, and in which the president of the United States is a subject.’
He warned the Justice Department not to listen to those who say that transparency is impossible.
Comey concluded by saying:
‘Every American should want a Justice Department guided first and always by the public interest. Sometimes transparency is not a hard call.’
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