House panel to re­ceive Mueller-probe ma­te­rial

Jus­tice De­part­ment agrees to a deal

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - Front Page - COM­PILED BY DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE STAFF FROM WIRE RE­PORTS

WASH­ING­TON — After weeks of ne­go­ti­a­tions, the Jus­tice De­part­ment has agreed to pro­vide Congress with key ev­i­dence col­lected by spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller that House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee mem­bers said could shed light on whether Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ob­structed jus­tice or abused his power.

The ex­act scope of the ma­te­rial the Jus­tice De­part­ment has agreed to pro­vide was not im­me­di­ately clear, but the com­mit­tee sig­naled Mon­day that it was a break­through after weeks of wran­gling over de­mands made by the ju­di­ciary panel, which had is­sued a sub­poena.

The an­nounce­ment ap­peared to pro­vide a ra­tio­nale for House Democrats’ de­ci­sion, an­nounced last week, to back away from threats to hold At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr in con­tempt of Congress. The House still plans to pro­ceed to­day with a vote on whether to empower the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee to take Barr to court to fully en­force its sub­poena, but even that may no longer be nec­es­sary, the panel’s leader said.

The House has sched­uled to­day’s vote to de­cide

whether to au­tho­rize law­suits against Barr and for­mer White House coun­sel Don McGahn for fail­ing to com­ply with sub­poe­nas from the Demo­cratic-con­trolled House. The vote could put the full House on record as ap­prov­ing the law­suits, if lead­ers and com­mit­tees de­cide they want to move for­ward with them.

“We have agreed to al­low the de­part­ment time to demon­strate com­pli­ance with this agree­ment. 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,” Rep. Jer­rold Nadler, D-N.Y., the com­mit­tee chair­man, said in a state­ment. “If im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion is held back, then we will have no choice but to en­force our sub­poena in court and con­sider other reme­dies.”

Nadler said he ex­pected the de­part­ment to be­gin shar­ing some of the ma­te­rial Mon­day af­ter­noon and that all mem­bers of the com­mit­tee would be able to view it pri­vately.

The agree­ment ap­pears to have been fore­shad­owed in an ex­change of let­ters in recent weeks be­tween the com­mit­tee and the de­part­ment. In a May 24 let­ter out­lin­ing a pro­posed com­pro­mise, Nadler wrote that he was “pre­pared to pri­or­i­tize pro­duc­tion of ma­te­ri­als that would pro­vide the com­mit­tee with the most in­sight into cer­tain incidents when the spe­cial coun­sel found ‘sub­stan­tial ev­i­dence’ of ob­struc­tion of jus­tice.”

Those in­clude al­le­ga­tions that Trump at­tempted to fire Mueller; re­quested that McGahn cre­ate “a fraud­u­lent record deny­ing that in­ci­dent”; and tried to get for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions to undo his re­cusal and cur­tail the scope of the spe­cial coun­sel in­quiry.

“We are pleased the com­mit­tee has agreed to set aside its con­tempt res­o­lu­tion and is re­turn­ing to the tra­di­tional ac­com­mo­da­tion process,” Jus­tice De­part­ment spokesman Kerri Ku­pec said. “The De­part­ment of Jus­tice re­mains com­mit­ted to ap­pro­pri­ately ac­com­mo­dat­ing Congress’ le­git­i­mate in­ter­ests

re­lated to the spe­cial coun­sel’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion and will con­tinue to do so pro­vided the pre­vi­ously voted-upon res­o­lu­tion does not ad­vance.”

Repub­li­cans cheered the agree­ment. Rep. Doug Collins of Ge­or­gia, the top Repub­li­can on the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, said that “to­day’s good faith pro­vi­sion from the ad­min­is­tra­tion fur­ther de­bunks claims that the White House is stonewalli­ng Congress.”

News of the deal came just hours be­fore the com­mit­tee con­vened the first in a se­ries of hear­ings fo­cused on the find­ings of Mueller’s ob­struc­tion of jus­tice in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Mon­day’s ses­sion fea­tured John Dean, a for­mer White House coun­sel who turned against Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon dur­ing the Water­gate af­fair, and for­mer fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors who as­sessed the im­pli­ca­tions of the spe­cial coun­sel’s find­ings. The tes­ti­mony was lim­ited to the con­tents of Mueller’s 448-page re­port that were vol­un­tar­ily made pub­lic by Barr.

Dean tes­ti­fied that Mueller has pro­vided Congress with a “road map” for in­ves­ti­gat­ing Trump, and he said he saw par­al­lels be­tween Mueller’s find­ings and those of con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tors look­ing into Nixon’s ad­min­is­tra­tion decades ago. He al­leged there were sim­i­lar­i­ties in the way the pres­i­dents used their par­don power in an at­tempt to in­flu­ence wit­ness tes­ti­mony, as well as in their ef­forts to seize con­trol of in­ves­ti­ga­tions and di­rect the ef­forts of pros­e­cu­tors.

“I’m clearly not a fact wit­ness, but I hope I can give them some con­text and show them how strik­ingly like Water­gate what we’re see­ing now … is,” Dean said.

Trump later re­sponded, tweet­ing: “Can’t be­lieve they are bring­ing in John Dean, the dis­graced Nixon White House Coun­sel who is a paid CNN con­trib­u­tor. No Col­lu­sion — No Ob­struc­tion! Democrats just want a do-over which they’ll never get!”

AP/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE

House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jer­rold Nadler (left), D-N.Y., con­fers with Rep. Doug Collins of Ge­or­gia, the top Repub­li­can on the panel, as Democrats con­vene a hear­ing on spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s ob­struc­tion of jus­tice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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