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House Democrats Reach Deal to Review Mueller’s “Key Evidence”

As a result, they’ve backed off plans to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress.

by Greg Walters
Jun 10 2019, 4:47pm

Updated at 2:45 pm ET

WASHINGTON — House Democrats reached a deal with the Department of Justice to review some of the “key evidence” behind special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

As a result, they’ve backed off plans to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, the Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee said in an emailed statement on Monday.

"Given our conversations with the Department, I will hold the criminal contempt process in abeyance for now,” said House Judiciary chairman Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat from New York. “We have agreed to allow the Department time to demonstrate compliance with this agreement.”

The deal struck Monday relates to evidence used by Mueller to determine whether Trump obstructed justice. But Nadler said House Democrats would revive plans for a legal confrontation over Mueller’s files if the DOJ balks at sharing information.

“If the Department proceeds in good faith and we are able to obtain everything that we need, then there will be no need to take further steps,” Nadler said. “If important information is held back, then we will have no choice but to enforce our subpoena in court and consider other remedies.”

In comments after the deal was announced, Nadler signaled a legal confrontation over different categories of Mueller’s materials, including the redacted portions of his final report, might still be coming.

“Our arrangement with the department does not extend to the full scope of our request for the full Mueller report and its underlying materials, including grand jury information,” Nadler said.

House Democrats still plan to press forward with a scheduled vote Tuesday on a measure that will allow the Judiciary Committee to attempt to enforce its subpoena through a civil lawsuit, Nadler said.

Mueller’s 448-page final report, delivered in March, didn’t reach a conclusion on whether Trump himself obstructed justice. Mueller cited a DOJ policy stating that the president can’t be charged with a crime, and reasoned it therefore wouldn’t be fair to accuse him of one.

But the report recounts detailed episodes in which Trump tried to fire Mueller and get his former White House Counsel Don McGahn to lie about it afterwards. A letter signed by hundreds of former prosecutors said that the report provides enough evidence to charge Trump with a crime if he weren’t the sitting president.

House Democrats have accused Barr of misleading the public about Mueller’s findings, and issued a subpoena for the full, unredacted Mueller report and also his underlying materials.

The House is still expected to hold that vote, the Judiciary Committee said Monday. Further legal action may still be necessary to obtain documents and testimony beyond the scope of the deal with the DOJ, including for an appearance from McGahn, the House Judiciary Committee said Monday.

Cover: Special counsel Robert Mueller speaks at the Department of Justice Wednesday, May 29, 2019, in Washington, about the Russia investigation. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)