The US House Judiciary Committee said on Monday it will work this week on a resolution authorising subpoenas to obtain Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s full report on his investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
US Attorney General William Barr has said he planned to make public a redacted copy of the nearly 400-page investigative report by mid-April or sooner.
But House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and other top Democrats have called for the release of the full report, without redactions, to members of Congress. They have given Barr until Tuesday, April 2, to produce it.
Barr issued a summary of Mueller’s findings to Congress on March 24, saying the special counsel found no evidence of collusion between US President Donald Trump‘s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.
Barr said Mueller left unresolved the issue of whether Trump obstructed justice by undermining the investigation. Barr said Mueller’s team had not found enough proof to warrant bringing charges against the president.
Although Trump and the White House have hailed the conclusions as a victory for the president, the chairs of six committees in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives are pressing Barr to release the full Mueller report as well as the underlying evidence.
The judiciary committee said it would meet on Wednesday, a day after the deadline, to write a resolution authorising subpoenas for Mueller’s complete report as well as the underlying evidence and related matters.
The planned committee vote, announced on Monday morning, would not automatically issue subpoenas but authorise Chairman Nadler to send them.
“As I have made clear, Congress requires the full and complete special counsel report, without redactions, as well as access to the underlying evidence,” Nadler said in a statement. “Attorney General Barr has thus far indicated he will not meet the April 2 deadline set by myself and five other committee chairs, and refused to work with us to provide the full report, without redactions, to Congress,” he added.
The panel will also vote to authorise subpoenas related to a number 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. Donaldson served as McGahn’s chief of staff before both left the administration.
The five were key witnesses in Mueller’s probe of possible obstruction of justice and were sent document requests by the Judiciary panel last month.
Nadler said he is concerned about reports that documents related relevant to Mueller’s investigation “were sent outside the White House”, waiving executive privilege rights that would block document production.
“To this end, I have asked the committee to authorise me to issue subpoenas, if necessary, to compel the production of documents and testimony,” Nadler said.
Last month, Nadler sent requests to 81 people connected to Trump’s political and personal dealings as he launched a wide-ranging investigation into possible obstruction of justice, public corruption and abuses of power.
Barr said in the letter on Friday that 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 want all of that information, even if some of it can’t be disclosed to the public. They are citing precedents from previous investigations involving presidents and also information disclosed about the Russia investigation to Republicans last year when they held the House majority.
Democrats say they want to know much more about both conclusions made by Mueller as laid out by Barr and they want to see the evidence unfiltered by the attorney general.
Republicans have said the Democratic demands are overreach.