Top Democrats in the United States House of Representatives and Senate on Friday rejected Attorney General William Barr’s proposal to allow them access to a less-redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russia investigation report.
In an April 19 letter to the attorney general, six Democratic politicians led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer instead reiterated their demand for Barr to release the unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence to Congress. But they also said they were open to discussing a “reasonable accommodation” with the Justice Department.
The letter was also signed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, top Senate Judiciary Committee Democrat Dianne Feinstein and top Senate Intelligence Committee Democrat Mark Warner.
“Your proposed accommodation – which among other things would prohibit discussion of the full report, even with other committee members – is not acceptable,” the Democrats wrote.
The politicians said access to the full Mueller report and underlying evidence is necessary for Congress to fulfill its “constitutional responsibilities”.
“This includes considering whether legislation is needed in light of the findings contained in Special Counsel Mueller’s report and the attorney general’s determination that no prosecution is warranted despite those facts,” the letter said.
Also on Friday, Nadler issued a subpoena to obtain the full report, giving the Justice Department until May 1 to comply.
“Even the redacted version of the report outlines serious instances of wrongdoing by President [Donald] Trump and some of his closest associates,” Nadler said in a statement. “It now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct and to decide what steps we must take going forward.”
The Justice Department dismissed the subpoena, calling it “premature and unnecessary” in a statement on Friday.
“The Department will continue to work with Congress to accommodate its legitimate requests consistent with the law and long-recognised executive branch interests,” DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement
In the report, Mueller did not conclude that Trump had committed obstruction of justice, but did not exonerate him either.
|Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as released [Jon Elswick/AP Photo]|
Mueller examined what he called 10 separate “episodes” involving Trump related to obstruction of justice. His report details legal theories behind each incident.
“The report recounts 10 episodes involving the president and discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offence,” Barr said in a press conference on Thursday ahead of the report’s release.
Mueller reported that Trump had been agitated at the special counsel probe from its earliest days, reacting to Mueller’s appointment by saying it was the “end of his presidency”.
Barr concluded based on Mueller’s report that Trump did not obstruct justice.
As for the question of whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, Mueller wrote, “While the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges.”
Trump has repeatedly called the Mueller probe a “witch-hunt” and “hoax”. His legal team on Thursday called the results of the report a “total victory”, saying, “the report underscores what we have argued from the very beginning – there was no collusion – there was no obstruction.”
In early morning tweets on Friday, Trump called it “the Crazy Mueller Report” written by “Haters” and filled with statements that “are fabricated & totally untrue.”
Meanwhile on Friday, Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is vying to become the Democratic candidate against Trump in 2020, tweeted that the Democrat-led House “should initiate impeachment proceedings”.
With Republicans controlling the Senate, Democrats would have little chance of removing Trump through impeachment. For now, Warren is an outlier, with other senior Democrats shying away from the discussing impeachment.
Al Jazeera and news agencies