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House panel votes to authorize subpoena for unredacted Mueller report

Key Points
  • The House Judiciary Committee votes to authorize a subpoena for an unredacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report, along with all of the evidence from the two-year investigation.
  • The vote on the resolution passed the Democrat-led panel on a 24-17 party line vote following an occasionally heated markup hearing Wednesday morning.
  • It sets up a fight between congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump, whose attorney general, William Barr, has already committed to redacting some parts of the nearly 400-page report.
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on June 21, 2017.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to authorize a subpoena for an unredacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report, along with all of the evidence from the two-year investigation.

The vote on the resolution passed the Democrat-led panel on a 24-17 party line vote following an occasionally heated markup hearing Wednesday morning.

It marked the strongest push yet on Capitol Hill to obtain the long-awaited report on the special counsel's probe of Russian election interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as possible Trump-campaign collusion and obstruction of justice.

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It also sets up a fight between congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump, whose attorney general, William Barr, has committed to redacting some parts of the nearly 400-page report.

"We are dealing now, not with the president's private affairs, but with a sustained attack on the integrity of the republic by the president and his closest advisors," Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said in an opening statement at the hearing.

"This committee requires the full report and the underlying materials because it is our job, not the attorney general's, to determine whether or not President Trump has abused his office," Nadler said.

After the hearing, Nadler said he plans to work with Barr "for a short period of time" in hopes that he will comply with request to provide the full report and underlying materials to Congress.

"If that doesn't work out, we'll issue the subpoenas," Nadler added.

The resolution also authorized Nadler to issue subpoenas for documents and testimony from five former Trump associates: White House counsel Don McGahn, top strategist Steve Bannon, communications director Hope Hicks, chief of staff Reince Priebus and White House counsel Ann Donaldson.

Some Republicans have accused Democrats of attempting to compel Barr to act in violation of federal rules.

"The subpoena for the Mueller report and its underlying evidence commands the attorney general to do the unthinkable — break the law," ranking member Doug Collins, R-Ga., said at the hearing.

House committee leaders, including Nadler, Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., had demanded that Barr hand over the "full and complete" report by Tuesday. Barr had told lawmakers that he expects a version of the report — with redactions — could be delivered by mid-April.

Those potentially blacked-out sections of the report include grand jury-related information, as well as information that could reveal U.S. sources and methods or confidential details about ongoing investigations, Barr wrote, citing the federal rules of procedure.

Democrats have pointed to past federal probes involving special investigators, such as those surrounding the Watergate and Monica Lewinsky scandals, in which grand jury information was released to Congress to bolster their request for the uncensored report.

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"There is ample precedent and precedent for releasing all this information of all these categories to Congress, and that's what we're asking," Nadler said in an interview Tuesday.

Collins pushed back at the hearing, accusing Democrats of "desperately searching for something on the president."

"The attorney general's entire mandate is to enforce the law, and he's expressly forbidden from providing grand jury material outside of the department, with very limited and narrow exceptions," the ranking Republican said.

"Congress is not one of those exceptions, and the chairman knows it."

Barr, in a letter to members of Congress on Friday, sought to assure lawmakers that the White House had no plans to exert executive privilege to review the report before it was shared with other parties or the public.

Members of both parties have called for the report to be publicly released since it was delivered under wraps by the special counsel on March 22.

Democrats have signaled their growing dissatisfaction with Barr's decision to provide a four-page summary of the lengthy report's principal conclusions less than two days after receiving it.

Trump and his supporters, however, cheered that summary, in which Barr said that Mueller did not find sufficient evidence to merit a charge of obstruction of justice against the president. Barr also said that the special counsel did not establish collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.