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House Judiciary Committee plans to vote to subpoena the 'complete' Mueller report

Key Points
  • The House Judiciary Committee plans to vote to issue subpoenas for special counsel Robert Mueller's "full and complete" report.
  • Chairman Jerrold Nadler's resolution would also issue subpoenas to five former associates of President Donald Trump.
  • Democrats' preparations to try to force the release of Mueller's report follow their growing complaints about Attorney General William Barr's handling of the findings.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) on March 13, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson | Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee on Monday laid out plans to issue subpoenas for special counsel Robert Mueller's "full and complete" report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as well as the raw evidence that supports it.

The committee, led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., set a Wednesday morning date to mark up a resolution to authorize the subpoenas. Members will be able to vote on the resolution at the hearing.

"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.

Nadler's resolution would also issue subpoenas to five former associates of President Donald Trump, including former White House counsel Don McGahn, former top strategist Steve Bannon and former communications director Hope Hicks.

Democrats' preparations to try to force the release of Mueller's report follow their growing complaints about Attorney General William Barr's handling of the findings, which was delivered to him by the special counsel on March 22. Two days later, Barr sent a four-page summary of the "principal conclusions" to House and Senate Judiciary committee leaders, claiming, "The special counsel's investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election."

Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein also concluded, based on the report, that there wasn't enough evidence to establish that Trump obstructed justice. Barr quotes Mueller as saying that "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

Trump and his supporters claimed "total and complete exoneration" from the summary, while Democrats demanded that Barr immediately release the entire report without redactions.

Barr, in a letter sent to Congress on Friday, said he expects to deliver a version of the nearly 400-page report to lawmakers by mid-April, "if not sooner." He said the material being redacted includes grand jury-related information, as well as information that could reveal U.S. sources and methods or confidential details about ongoing investigations.

Nadler other Democratic leaders had set a Tuesday deadline for Barr to hand over the long-awaited report. The Judiciary Committee's top Republican, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, called that deadline "arbitrary."

Much of the contention about the report concerns what, if anything, is required by law to be redacted.

Barr's most recent letter states that any material in the report subject to the federal rules on grand juries "by law cannot be made public." But Democrats have pointed to past examples, such as the Watergate scandal, when federal Judge John Sirica in March 1974 granted special prosecutor Leon Jaworski's request to give grand jury materials to the House Judiciary Committee.

"This is political theater," a senior administration official told NBC News on Monday. "Chairman Nadler is demanding the release of secret grand jury information and classified material – which is against the law. He should allow the Attorney General to complete his work and stop playing politics."

Collins, responding to Nadler's announcement Monday morning, took Barr's stance. "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.

"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."

In addition to McGahn, Hicks and Bannon, the Judiciary Committee will also vote on whether to issue subpoenas for Trump's former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and ex-White House counsel Ann Donaldson, who had also served as McGahn's chief of staff.

"These individuals may have received documents from the White House relevant to the special counsel investigation and the Committee's investigation, or their outside counsel may have," Nadler's press release said.

In early March, Nadler's committee launched a sweeping corruption probe into Trump and dozens of his associates and his family members.

That probe is intended to look into alleged obstruction of justice by Trump and others and the "alleged cover-up of violations of the law"; alleged corruption in areas including violations of the Constitution's emoluments clause "and other criminal misuses of official positions for personal gain"; and alleged abuses of power, such as attacking the press and misusing the presidential pardon power.

Some of the 81 people and entities asked to provide documents have yet to respond, or have publicly refused to comply with the probe, 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," he added. "To this end, I have asked the Committee to authorize me to issue subpoenas, if necessary, to compel the production of documents and testimony."