Congress committee pushes for Robert Mueller’s unredacted Russia report
Subpoenas have been issued for the report which cleared President Donald Trump of collusion.
The US House Judiciary Committee has approved subpoenas for special counsel Robert Mueller’s full Russia report as Democrats pressure the Justice Department to release the document without redactions.
The committee voted 24-17 to give judiciary chairman Jerrold Nadler permission to issue subpoenas to the Justice Department for the final report, its exhibits and any underlying evidence or materials prepared for Mr Mueller’s investigation.
Mr Nadler has not yet said if he will send the subpoenas.
House Democrats had given US attorney general William Barr until Tuesday to provide the full report to Congress.
Robert Mueller was a God-like figure to the Democrats, until he ruled No Collusion in the long awaited $30,000,000 Mueller Report. Now the Dems don’t even acknowledge his name, have become totally unhinged, and would like to go through the whole process again. It won’t happen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2019
The Justice Department ignored that deadline, with Mr Barr telling committee chairmen in a letter last week that a redacted version of the almost 400-page report would be released by mid-April, “if not sooner”.
The vote further escalates the Democrats’ battle with the Justice Department over how much of the report they will be able to see, a fight that could eventually end up in court if the two sides cannot settle their differences through negotiation.
There is no amount of testimony or document production that can satisfy Jerry Nadler or Shifty Adam Schiff. It is now time to focus exclusively on properly running our great Country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2019
Democrats have said they will not accept redactions and want to see the evidence unfiltered by Mr Barr.
In the letter last week, Mr Barr said he is scrubbing the report to avoid disclosing any grand jury information or classified material, in addition to portions of the report that pertain to ongoing investigations or that “would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties”.
Democrats say they want access to all of that information, even if some of it cannot be disclosed to the public.
Mr Nadler said he will give Mr Barr time to change his mind on redactions, but if they cannot reach an agreement they will issue the subpoenas “in very short order”.
He also said he is prepared to go to court to get the grand jury information.
“This committee requires the full report and the underlying materials because it is our job, not the attorney general’s, to determine whether or not President Trump has abused his office,” Mr Nadler said.
The judiciary panel also voted Wednesday to authorise subpoenas related to five of President Donald Trump’s former top advisers, including strategist Steve Bannon, communications director Hope Hicks, chief of staff Reince Priebus, White House counsel Donald McGahn and counsel Ann Donaldson.
Ms Donaldson served as Mr McGahn’s chief of staff before both left the administration.
The five were key witnesses in Mr Mueller’s probe of possible obstruction of justice and were sent document requests by the judiciary panel last month, along with dozens of other people connected to Trump.
Mr Nadler said he is concerned about reports that documents relevant to Mr Mueller’s investigation “were sent outside the White House”, meaning the committee should have access to them because they may not be covered by executive privilege.
Mr Trump himself has largely deferred to Barr on the report’s release while also saying he would not mind if the full version was made public.
Still, he has criticised Democrats for seeking the unredacted information.
He tweeted on Tuesday that “there is no amount of testimony or document production that can satisfy” Mr Nadler or House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, who has also called for the full release.
In a four-page summary of Mr Mueller’s report on March 24, Mr Barr wrote that the special counsel did not find that Mr Trump’s campaign “conspired or coordinated” with the Russian government to influence the 2016 presidential election.
He also said Mr Mueller reached no conclusion on whether Mr Trump obstructed the federal investigation, instead setting out “evidence on both sides” of the question.
Mr Barr himself went further than Mr Mueller in his summary letter, declaring that Mr Mueller’s evidence was insufficient to prove in court that Mr Trump had committed obstruction of justice to hamper the probe.