America deserves the whole story

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 5, 2019

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By Rep. Bradley Byrne

It is fitting that last week, now-former Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced his resignation and return to private life and his shuttering the office of the special counsel.

Just the day before his announcement, I filed a bill to get some real transparency from those who undertook this costly, wasteful and pointless investigation and to ensure that something this unnecessary never happens again.

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I have read the entire Mueller Report cover to cover, and it’s clear to me there was no collusion and no obstruction. Even with access to the full resources of the Department of Justice, Mueller was unable to find evidence to bring criminal charges on these matters.

With no legal requirement to release the report, President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr did so anyway. They should be commended for their unprecedented transparency, but then again, why wouldn’t they choose to release the report? Most fair-minded folks would come to the same conclusion after reading it: no collusion; no obstruction; time to move on. Unfortunately, partisan grandstanding over imagined Russian collusion continues, although most of the public has accepted the report’s results.

Every American was given access to see the special counsel’s report upon its release. This was important to give American citizens the information they need to come to their own informed conclusions about the investigation. Unfortunately, many troubling questions surrounding the creation of this investigation remain unanswered.

We must determine what led in 2016 to the authorization of this partisan witch hunt against Trump and find out why, at the same time, Secretary Hillary Clinton was given a pass after clearly violating multiple federal laws. And, we need to make sure something like this never happens again.

My bill, the Investigate the Investigators Act, would set in motion a formal Department of Justice investigation into all the actions taken during the 2016 presidential election relating to the federal investigations of Trump and Clinton.

Like many of you, I have questions I want answered. Were warrants obtained against Trump’s campaign staff legal? Were they obtained with partisan, fabricated evidence paid for by Clinton? What was the role of politics in taking a pass on prosecuting Clinton after she clearly violated federal law and State Department regulations? How did the anti-Trump bias of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page effect the Department of Justice? Most importantly, what did President Barack Obama and his team know about this and when did they know it? My bill would require Barr to get the answers to all these questions and release them in a public report within six months.

My bill would also help prevent us from ever again suffering through politically-motivated investigations to influence elections. If the Department of Justice ever opens an investigation into a president or a presidential candidate or an elected federal official, an independent oversight investigation would automatically be launched. Don’t get me wrong, the vast majority of the people at the Department of Justice are honest, hardworking and good folks. But, having safeguards in place is critical to making sure a few bad apples don’t cause a repeat of 2016.

We must know what happened in 2016 and also ensure no high-placed government officials ever abuse their position again. The Investigate the Investigators Act will enable the Department of Justice to determine what Obama and his Administration knew and when they knew it and why numerous questionable decisions were made in 2016 and beyond.

The American people deserve the truth, and we as elected officials in Washington should hold ourselves to higher standards than political gamesmanship.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne represents the 1st Congressional District of Alabama, which includes Escambia County.