Jus­tice De­part­ment agrees to hand over ev­i­dence for Mueller re­port

Lodi News-Sentinel - - NATION - By Sarah D. Wire

WASH­ING­TON — House Democrats reached an agree­ment Mon­day with the Jus­tice De­part­ment to view un­der­ly­ing doc­u­ments be­hind the redacted re­port by spe­cial coun­sel Robert S. Mueller III into Rus­sian med­dling in the 2016 elec­tion, par­tially de­fus­ing an im­passe be­tween Congress and the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The Jus­tice De­part­ment will be­gin pro­vid­ing the Mueller doc­u­ments to the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee on Mon­day and they will be avail­able to all mem­bers of the panel, not just se­nior law­mak­ers, ac­cord­ing to the com­mit­tee chair­man, Rep. Jer­rold Nadler D-N.Y.).

In a state­ment, Nadler said Jus­tice would “be­gin com­ply­ing with our com­mit­tee’s sub­poena by open­ing Robert Mueller’s most im­por­tant files to us, pro­vid­ing us with key ev­i­dence that the Spe­cial Coun­sel used to as­sess whether the Pres­i­dent and oth­ers ob­structed jus­tice or were en­gaged in other mis­con­duct.”

The House is still ex­pected to move for­ward with a vote Tues­day to au­tho­rize com­mit­tee chair­men to pur­sue civil con­tempt through law­suits aimed at en­forc­ing sub­poe­nas.

The res­o­lu­tion names Atty. Gen. Wil­liam Barr, who has re­sisted un­til now pro­vid­ing law­mak­ers with an unredacted copy of Mueller’s fi­nal re­port or the un­der­ly­ing ev­i­dence Mueller used, and former White House Spe­cial Coun­sel Don McGahn, who has de­fied a sub­poena and re­fused to tes­tify be­fore the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee.

Tues­day’s vote, which is ex­pected to pass, means the com­mit­tee can pur­sue a law­suit to en­force its sub­poe­nas with­out the House hav­ing to hold an­other vote, and Nadler didn’t take that op­tion off the ta­ble.

“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.”

Re­pub­li­cans said the Jus­tice De­part­ment de­ci­sion shows it is co­op­er­at­ing with con­gres­sional over­sight.

“To­day’s good faith pro­vi­sion from the ad­min­is­tra­tion fur­ther de­bunks claims that the White House is stonewalli­ng Congress,” said Rep. Doug Collins, (R-Ga.), the top Re­pub­li­can on House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee.

The com­mit­tee has bat­tled Barr for weeks over what un­der­ly­ing in­for­ma­tion would be re­leased to Congress, and how many law­mak­ers would be able to see it. On May 8, the Com­mit­tee voted to rec­om­mend that the House hold Barr in con­tempt of Congress.

“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.”

Af­ter a 22-month in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Mueller’s 448page re­port was re­leased to the pub­lic in redacted form in mid-April. The Ju­di­ciary com­mit­tee quickly de­manded to see ma­te­ri­als that were blacked out be­cause they re­lied on clas­si­fied in­tel­li­gence, grand jury ev­i­dence or other pro­tected ma­te­rial.

In his re­port, Mueller con­cluded that he had in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to prove that of­fi­cials in the Trump pres­i­den­tial cam­paign co­op­er­ated with a Krem­lin-backed op­er­a­tion in­tended to sway the elec­tion, al­though he said they had wel­comed the ef­fort.

Mueller out­lined nu­mer­ous cases where it ap­peared Trump sought to de­rail the in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter he was elected.

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