Politics

Rosenstein says Barr will “do the right thing” with Mueller report

Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein believes special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report on the investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential election will be handled appropriately by the new attorney general, William Barr. 

Asked Monday about the report’s highly-anticipated release and deliberations at the Department of Justice on whether to make it public or not, Rosenstein said the American public can have confidence in Barr’s ability to oversee the process. 

“I think Attorney General Barr is going to make the right decision. We can trust him to do that. He has a lot of experience with this. I think we can count on him to do the right thing,” he told reporters during a question-and-answer session following a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington. 

Democrats have been raising concerns that Barr may heavily redact or not release Mueller’s final report of his investigation. During his confirmation hearing in January, Barr assured senators of his independence and said he would not be bullied by anyone into doing something he believes is wrong. But he did suggest he might not release Mueller’s report to the public, saying the some findings may not be made public if no one is prosecuted. 

Once Mueller submits the report on the outcome of his investigation, it will be up to Barr to decide how much information should be made public. Speaking broadly on the subject of transparency, Rosenstein said there are “a lot of reasons” for the U.S. government not to be transparent about its work.

“One of the challenging issues we face in the department — and this is an issue that, you know, we’ll be discussing nationally — is the question of whether transparency is a good thing,” he said. “You know, there’s a knee-jerk reaction to suggest that we should be transparent about what we do in government.”

“There are a lot of reasons not to be transparent about what we do in government,” he added.

Rosenstein’s remarks on the Justice Department’s practices concerning transparency come as the special counsel’s investigation is expected to be drawing to a close. It was Rosenstein who appointed Mueller special counsel, just over a week after President Trump fired FBI director James Comey, who had been leading the Russia investigation.

Before stressing that he was not commenting on any particular Justice Department case, Rosenstein, who is expected to leave his post in mid-March, said the government needs to be “really cautious” about releasing findings it has gathered. 

“It can be really misleading if you’re overly transparent about the information that the government collects,” he said. 

CBS News’ Rob Legare contributed to this report.


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