Graham Says He May Back Bill Forcing Release of Mueller Report

(Bloomberg) -- Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said he would sign on to bipartisan legislation requiring Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report to be made public if President Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general seeks to keep it private and Graham disagrees with the rationale.

Republican Graham, a Trump ally, said Thursday he trusts nominee William Barr’s judgment but would back the measure by Democrat Richard Blumenthal and Republican Chuck Grassley, if need be.

Graham of South Carolina made the comments on the same day Barr won backing from the Senate Judiciary Committee on a split party-line vote as Democrats said they were concerned he could cover up the final Mueller report.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Barr is a "tried and true public servant and a proven professional" and said he anticipates he will be confirmed on the Senate floor next week.

Graham said he begged Barr to take the job. And Graham said he told Trump that Barr’s "got nobody to please and he’s not going to ruin his reputation late in life" and told Trump he would be "fair to you.”

Graham said his "main goal right now is to make sure Mueller finishes” his report “without interference.”

Barr, a former attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, has said he would resign rather than follow an order to fire Mueller without cause, and Graham said Barr told him he would not allow executive privilege to be used to cover up wrongdoing.

But that didn’t go far enough for Democrats, who wanted a public commitment from Barr that he would release the Mueller report, which Barr has declined to give, citing existing laws and regulations.

"This report must be made public," said the panel’s top Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.