WASHINGTON — In a rare moment of compromise in President Trump’s Washington, House Democrats reached a deal with the Department of Justice to view key intelligence files related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report.
The last-minute agreement announced Wednesday comes just as Democrats were gearing up to enforce their subpoena for the documents, and offers a brief respite in Trump’s never-ending feud with Congress.
Trump and his administration are stonewalling virtually all subpoenas from House Democrats for witnesses and information, including for access to the full, unredacted Mueller report.
The deal, brokered between Attorney General William Barr and the House Intelligence Committee, will allow congressional investigators to start digging through a dozen categories of files related to intelligence findings that undergird Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia.
“The Department of Justice has accepted our offer of a first step towards compliance with our subpoena, and this week will begin turning over to the Committee twelve categories of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence materials as part of an initial rolling production,” House intel chairman Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, said in a statement. “That initial production should be completed by the end of next week.”
Democrats have clamored for the underlying evidence from Mueller’s report, saying they need to see the details to understand the full import of his findings and to grasp Russia’s role in attempting to interfere in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf.
The compromise doesn’t necessarily portend greater cooperation between branches of government, however. Not long after the deal was announced, Trump staged an impromptu press conference in which he vowed not to work with Democrats until their inquiries ended.
The White House’s relationship with Congress couldn’t be described as warm. House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt earlier this month after he failed to respond to a subpoena to hand over the full Mueller report.
The same panel has threatened to hold former White House Counsel Don McGahn in contempt after he skipped a Congressional hearing this week. McGahn was a key figure in the section of the Mueller report that deals with whether or not Trump obstructed of justice. On Tuesday, Democrats subpoenaed McGahn’s former chief of staff, Annie Donaldson, whose notes are cited repeatedly in the Mueller report.
But on Wednesday, Schiff struck a more conciliatory tone.
“The department has repeatedly acknowledged the committee’s legitimate oversight interest in these materials,” Schiff said. “I look forward to, and expect, continued compliance by the department so we can do our vital oversight work.”
Cover: In this May 1, 2019, file photo, Attorney General William Barr testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)