WASHINGTON– House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler will authorize a subpoena this week to obtain the full, unredacted report from special counsel Robert Mueller, teeing up a showdown between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration over the nearly 400-page report.
Nadler said Monday that he had scheduled a markup on Wednesday to authorize a subpoena for the Mueller report, as well as the special counsel’s underlying evidence. The markup would give the New York Democrat the green light to subpoena the report, though Nadler has not said whether he would do so before Attorney General William Barr releases a redacted version publicly, which he is expected to do later this month.
The House Judiciary Committee will also vote to authorize subpoenas for five former White House staffers — Don McGahn, Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks, Reince Priebus and Ann Donaldson — whom Nadler says may have received documents from the White House relevant to the special counsel’s probe and the committee’s investigation that would waive executive privilege.
The subpoena markup is scheduled one day after the April 2 deadline Democrats set for Barr to provide the full Mueller report and its underlying evidence to Congress.
Barr sent Nadler and Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham a letter on Friday stating that he was working with Mueller to finish redactions of the report before making it public by “mid-April, if not sooner.” Barr said he was redacting four types of materials from the report: grand jury material, sensitive intelligence material, information from ongoing investigations and information that would “unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.”
Nadler responded to the letter by saying that Congress demanded the full report, without redactions, and he argued that Barr should work with Congress through the court system to allow the grand jury material to be made public. A Democratic aide said last week that grand jury material would be the “primary obstacle” to making the full report public.
“We have an obligation to read the full report, and the Department of Justice has an obligation to provide it, in its entirely, without delay. If the department is unwilling to produce the full report voluntarily, then we will do everything in our power to secure it for ourselves,” Nadler wrote in a New York Times op-ed published Monday. “We require the report, first, because Congress, not the attorney general, has a duty under the Constitution to determine whether wrongdoing has occurred. The special counsel declined to make a ‘traditional prosecutorial judgment’ on the question of obstruction, but it is not the attorney general’s job to step in and substitute his judgment for the special counsel’s.”
Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, accused Nadler of setting an arbitrary deadline for the report, as well as asking Barr to release material that would force him to “break the law by releasing the report without redactions.”
Democrats argue that there’s ample precedent for Barr to release the full report to Congress, including grand jury material, pointing to the investigations into Watergate and former President Bill Clinton. They’re also citing the Republican-led investigation in the last Congress into the FBI and Justice Department’s handling of the Clinton and Trump-Russia investigations, in which Republicans demanded sensitive law-enforcement documents from the department.
Barr released a summary of Mueller’s findings last month, which stated the special counsel’s 22-month investigation did not establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s team and the Russian government. Mueller did not make a conclusion on the question of whether Trump obstructed justice, Barr wrote. Instead, Mueller left that decision to Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who concluded Trump’s actions did not meet the standards for prosecuting such a case.
Barr told Congress his summary of Mueller’s conclusions was not intended to detail the full report and it wasn’t in the public interest for him to summarize the entire document. “Everyone will soon be able to read it on their own,” Barr wrote Friday.
This isn’t the first time that Nadler has authorized a subpoena for the Justice Department. In February, the committee voted to authorize a subpoena for then-acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, but Nadler ultimately did not issue it after Whitaker appeared voluntarily.
The five subpoenas to the former White House aides are tied to the committee’s investigation into possible corruption, obstruction of justice and abuses of power, which began last month with document requests to 81 individuals and entities. Nadler said those subpoenas would not need to be issued if the documents were turned over voluntarily.
“I am particularly concerned about reports that documents relevant to the Special Counsel investigation were sent outside the White House, waving applicable privileges,” Nadler said. “To this end, I have asked the Committee to authorize me to issue subpoenas, if necessary, to compel the production of documents and testimony.”