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Home Business US House Democrats authorize subpoenas for Mueller report

US House Democrats authorize subpoenas for Mueller report

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APRIL 3, 2019

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler speaks with ranking Republican member Rep. Doug Collins as the committee debates before voting to subpoena Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s full unredacted report on April 3, 2019. – Alex Wroblewski

The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines on Wednesday to authorize the chairman to issue subpoenas for the full Mueller report, setting the stage for a potential legal battle between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration.

Twenty-four committee Democrats voted to authorize the subpoenas for the full Mueller report and release of the underlying evidence to Congress, and 17 Republicans voted no.

Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., hasn’t said when he might subpoena the Justice Department after the committee vote to give him the authority, but he has said he plans to work with Attorney General William Barr to “minimize redactions” to the Mueller report.

The top Democrat on the committee said Congress needs the full report “because it is our job, not the attorney general’s, to determine whether or not President Trump has abused his office.”

Nadler said he wouldn’t immediately issue the subpoenas for the Mueller report and the underlying materials, and would also be willing to go to court if necessary.

“I will give him time to change his mind. But if we cannot reach an accommodation, then we will have no choice but to issue subpoenas for these materials.”

Nadler pointed to historical precedent — the Justice Department’s transmission of hundreds of thousands of documents related to the Clinton investigation to the GOP-led House in 2016 — to justify the request for classified materials.

He also referenced several instances when federal judges authorized the transmission of grand jury information to Congress — most notably in 1974, when Judge John Sirica released the Watergate roadmap to the committee at the request of special prosecutor Leon Jaworski.

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the top Republican on the committee, criticized Democrats for “desperately searching for dirt” on Trump, instead of addressing the “crisis” on the US-Mexico border.

He also slammed Democrats for moving forward with subpoenas when Barr is “doing exactly what he said he would be doing” in working to release as much of the report as possible.

Democrats also authorized subpoenas to compel five former Trump administration officials — Hope Hicks, Don McGahn, Reince Priebus, Ann Donaldson and Steve Bannon — to cooperate with Democrats’ investigation into alleged obstruction of justice and corruption in the Trump administration.

Collins claimed that several of the former officials had already signaled willingness to cooperate with the committee, calling the subpoenas unnecessary.

Democrats have demanded the full Mueller report since Barr informed lawmakers that the special counsel did not find that the Trump campaign coordinated or conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election and that Mueller did not make a conclusion on whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice in the investigation.

Attorney General William Barr at the “2019 Prison Reform Summit” in the East Room of the White House, April 1, 2019. – Yuri Gripas/Reuters

In a letter to Barr on Tuesday, six top House Democratic chairs asked Barr to appear before Congress “as soon as possible” after he said he’d be available to testify about the report and his letter summarizing its conclusions in early May.

Last week, Barr — in a letter to lawmakers — said he hopes to release a redacted version of the nearly 400-page report by “mid-April” if not sooner. He is working with Mueller’s office to redact grand jury information, classified material, and anything that would compromise ongoing investigations and the privacy of “peripheral third parties.”

“Full release of the report to Congress is consistent with both congressional intent and the interests of the American public,” the House Democratic chairs wrote in their letter to Barr. “The American people have also consistently and overwhelmingly supported release of the full report.”

While the White House has deferred to the attorney general on how much of the Mueller report to release, and the president has previously called for the release of the full report, Trump and senior White House officials have increasingly criticized Democrats’ demands for more information.

President Donald Trump speaks as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg looks on at the White House, April 2, 2019. – Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called Democrats “sore losers” who are upset with the 2016 presidential election and will “never be satisfied” with the information they receive from the Justice Department.

“We could give them 800 pages and it wouldn’t be enough, they’ll always come back and say, it’s not enough, it’s not enough,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “You could give them more documents than they’ve ever seen and it would never be good enough. I think it’s somewhat of a waste of time.”

Nadler has also asked the Justice Department to jointly go to court with Democrats to request the release of all Mueller grand jury material to the House Judiciary Committee.

Democrats, as part of their argument for the full report and underlying materials, point to hundreds of thousands of pages of materials that the Justice Department turned over to the GOP-led House in the last Congress, related to the Hillary Clinton email investigation and elements of the Trump-Russia probe, while Mueller’s work continued.

Justice Department officials have privately disputed Democrats’ characterization of the potential refusal to share Mueller materials as a “double standard.”