Attorney General William Barr has promised to submit a redacted version to Congress by mid-April. Democrats have made clear that redactions are unacceptable.
A House panel voted Wednesday to authorize subpoenas to obtain special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s full report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, laying down a marker in a constitutional power struggle that could end up in the courts.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 24 to 17 along party lines to authorize its chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), to subpoena the report and underlying documents of Mueller’s probe from Attorney General William P. Barr.
The panel, which has jurisdiction over impeachment, also voted to subpoena five former White House officials it believes may have received documents relevant to the special counsel’s probe.
“This committee has a job to do,” Nadler said. “The Constitution charges Congress with holding the president accountable for alleged official misconduct. That job requires us to evaluate the evidence for ourselves — not the attorney general’s summary, not a substantially redacted synopsis, but the full report and the underlying evidence.”
The much-anticipated move to compel the Justice Department to release the report comes one day after Barr missed a House-imposed deadline to turn over the nearly 400-page document. Barr told lawmakers last week that although he could not meet their Tuesday deadline, he promised to deliver a redacted version of Mueller’s findings by mid-April, if not sooner.
But Democrats, who are leaving for a two-week congressional recess next week, have made clear that redactions are unacceptable and have sought to give Nadler the tools needed to respond at any moment.
Nadler told reporters after Wednesday’s vote that he will hold off on serving Barr with a subpoena, seeking to first negotiate with him for the full range of Mueller’s documents. The Democrat would not specify, however, how long he would wait.
“We’re going to work with the attorney general for a short period of time in a hope that he will reveal to us the entire Mueller report and will go to court to get permission to get the [grand jury] material,” Nadler said, referring to interviews and documents presented during the proceedings throughout the investigation. “But if that doesn’t work out, in a very short order we will issue subpoenas.”
After reviewing the report, Barr sent a four-page letter to Congress on March 24, saying Mueller “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
Mueller also made no determination about whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice during the inquiry, arguing that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” according to Barr’s summary.
That has not stopped Trump and his GOP allies from claiming it does — even as Democrats counter that Barr, a Trump appointee, is hardly a neutral observer and is protecting the president.
On Monday, Trump asserted on Twitter that “no matter what information is given to the crazed Democrats from the No Collusion Mueller Report, it will never be good enough.” Republicans argued during Wednesday’s hearing that Democrats simply want to embarrass or impeach Trump.
“My friends across the dais are eager for headlines, so they’re issuing subpoenas . . . despite the fact the special counsel spent nearly two years examining exactly what House Democrats are fishing for here,” said Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the committee.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), an outspoken Trump ally, asked: “Why are we here? Seems to me we’re here because the Mueller report isn’t what the Democrats wanted it to be . . . just the opposite.” Continue Reading: House panel votes to authorize subpoenas to obtain full Mueller report