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House Democrats moving ahead on subpoena for full Mueller report this week

Posted at 1:22 AM, Apr 02, 2019

House Democrats said Monday they would move ahead to authorize a subpoena demanding the Justice Department and Attorney General William Barr release special counsel Robert Mueller's full report, despite Barr's intentions to deliver the nearly 400-page report in the coming weeks.

"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," House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a statement issued Monday morning ahead of his Tuesday deadline for the report to be turned over.

Democrats announced they would hold a vote on Wednesday authorizing Nadler to issue the subpoena to Barr as well as subpoenas for five other individuals including former White House Counsel Don McGhan, former White House political strategist Steve Bannon, former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and former White House Deputy Counsel Ann Donaldson.

“Several weeks ago, I sent document requests to 81 individuals and entities as part of the House Judiciary Committee investigation into abuse of power, corruption and obstruction of justice by the President. I am grateful to the many individuals who have cooperated with our initial request for documents. Regrettably, not everyone has chosen to voluntarily cooperate with the Committee at this time," Nadler said. "I am particularly concerned about reports that documents relevant to the Special Counsel investigation were sent outside the White House, waving applicable privileges."

It's not clear when and whether Nadler will actually issue supboenas for the Mueller report and the underlying evidence.

The committee's top Republican, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, said Democrats were misrepresenting what the law requires.

“Judiciary Democrats have escalated from setting arbitrary deadlines to demanding unredacted material that Congress does not, in truth, require and that the law does not allow to be shared outside the Justice Department. It’s unfortunate that a body meant to uphold the law has grown so desperate that it’s patently misrepresenting the law, even as the attorney general has already demonstrated transparency above and beyond what is required," Collins said in a statement Monday.

In a letter to Nadler and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham on Friday, Barr said the report would be made available by mid-April, "if not sooner," after redactions were made.

Specifically, Barr said details from grand jury testimony, classified information and details that could compromise ongoing investigations or "unduly infringe on the personal privacy … of peripheral third parties" would be removed.

"We have a new species of political dinosaur. It's called the 'Barr-Redactyl,'" Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday. "William Barr believes that he can take his time and redact the 300- or 400-page report from Bob Mueller. I think it's long overdue for him to apply to Court to get a waiver when it comes to grand jury information and then to produce this report in its entirety for the Congress."

In his letter responding to Barr on Friday, Nadler called on the attorney general to work with Congress to obtain a court order to release grand jury information to the House Judiciary Committee. Democrats could seek such an order on their own, if Barr declines to join them in a request.

In an interview with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl on "This Week," acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney deferred to Barr on the report's release.

Barr, in his letter to lawmakers Friday, said he had "no plans" to submit the report to the White House for any type of review that would allow the president to claim executive privilege over elements within.

"If Mr. Barr wants to show it to Congress first, he's going to do that. If he's going to redact part of it, he is going to do that. If he's not, he's going to do that. This is how the system is supposed to work," Mulvaney told ABC News. "And we're very happy to let the system play out the way the law intended."

Senior House Democratic staffers expressed frustration with Barr's handling of the process last week.

"If he does not include grand jury information in the summary or report or redacted report or whatever he gives to Congress -- that amounts to a cover-up," one Democratic staffer said.

They said the underlying materials, including anything from the counterintelligence side of the investigation, are necessary for congressional committees to continue oversight work and identify potential legislative "gaps" Congress should fill.

There's also the possibility that Mueller may have uncovered information relevant to ongoing congressional investigations that fall outside the special counsel's mandate.

If Barr doesn't turn over the report by next week "we'll have more to say on April 3rd," another staffer said.