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Democrats want the full, unredacted Mueller report — and they want it now

They're not accepting the attorney general's promise of a mid-April redacted release

by Greg Walters
Apr 1 2019, 2:10pm

The fight over the full, unredacted Mueller report is kicking into high gear.

House Democrats have scheduled a vote for Wednesday to authorize subpoenas for the nearly 400-page report by the special counsel and the underlying evidence.

The House Judiciary Committee set the vote for 9 a.m. on April 3, but left the decision about when to ultimately send the subpoenas up to committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the committee said in a statement Monday morning.

Nadler and other House Democrats have demanded to see all of special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings and evidence by this Tuesday, April 2. But Attorney General William Barr, who received a still-secret copy of Mueller’s report on March 22, said Friday that his office is preparing a redacted version that may be released closer to the middle of April.

Barr identified four areas of the report for redaction:

  • Material subject to grand jury secrecy laws
  • Sensitive intelligence material
  • Information related to ongoing investigations
  • Info that could “unduly infringe” on the privacy of “peripheral third parties”

Monday’s subpoena threat brings the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and Trump’s Department of Justice a step closer to an outright legal conflict over the right to read Mueller’s full report and interview transcripts and documents. Legal experts have said such a dispute could take months to be resolved, and might escalate all the way to the Supreme Court.

READ: How Bill Barr turned the Mueller report into a legal defense of Trump

“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.”

The resolution scheduled for committee markup on Wednesday would also authorize subpoenas for five former White House officials who have already been sent requests for information from the House Judiciary Committee. The requests are part of a wide-ranging investigation into potential abuse of power by the administration.

Those five former officials are:

  • Donald McGahn, former White House Counsel
  • Steven Bannon, former White House chief strategist
  • Hope Hicks, former White House communications director
  • Reince Priebus, former chief of staff
  • Ann Donaldson, McGahn’s former chief of staff

On Friday, Barr said Mueller’s final report is almost 400 pages long, not counting additional tables and appendices.

Barr wrote in a brief letter to Congress that Mueller didn’t find that President Trump or his campaign conspired with Russian agents to try to tilt the 2016 election in Trump’s favor, and that Mueller didn’t reach a conclusion on the question of whether Trump obstructed justice. Barr wrote that he himself, along with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, determined that the obstruction evidence amassed by Mueller didn’t rise to the level of proving that Trump committed a crime.

Rep. Doug Collins, the highest-ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, criticized Democrats’ request for an unredacted report as “desperate,” and praised Barr for saying he’d provide a redacted version.

“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,” Collins said in a statement Monday.

Cover: U.S. Representative Jerry Nadler (D - NY 10th District) is seen a press conference at New York City's City Hall regarding the $68 million reimbursement by the federal government of the City's expenses in protecting Trump Tower and the Presidential First Family., in New York, NY, USA on May 5, 2017. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones) *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***(Sipa via AP Images)