At his attorney general confirmation hearing, William Barr sought to reassure senators on the Judiciary Committee that Robert Mueller’s probe would be allowed to continue, saying, “I believe it is vitally important that the Special Counsel be allowed to complete his investigation.”
But Barr, who champions a disturbing radical right-wing theory of all-encompassing presidential power called the “unitary executive,” refused to say whether Congress would see Mueller’s report when his investigation is complete, instead pledging only to provide a summary of it.
Federal regulations do not prohibit the release of the special counsel’s report to Congress or the public. They simply state that, “At the conclusion of the Special Counsel’s work, he or she shall provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel.”
What the attorney general does with the report is up to him.
Professor Neil J. Kinkopf, who testified at Barr’s confirmation hearing, predicts that, “Barr will take the position that any discussion or release of the Mueller report — relating to the president, who again cannot be indicted — would be improper and prohibited by [Department of Justice] policy and regulations.”
Kinkopf noted that in 1989, Barr opposed legislation requiring executive officials to submit concurrent reports to Congress. Barr claimed they “prevented the President from exercising his constitutionally guaranteed right of supervision and control over executive branch officials,” infringing “on the President’s authority as head of a unitary executive to control the presentation of the executive branch’s views to Congress.”
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has twice determined that a sitting president can’t be indicted. Although Barr admitted he hadn’t read those opinions in a long time, he…