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House Democrats Prepare a Vote to Subpoena the Mueller Report

Category: Political News,Politics

WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote on Wednesday to authorize a subpoena that Democrats can use to try to force the Justice Department to hand over an unredacted copy of the special counsel’s report and underlying evidence.

The move on Monday by Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the committee’s chairman, made clear that Democrats are not satisfied with Attorney General William P. Barr’s assurances on Friday that he will produce a full, albeit redacted, copy of the nearly 400-page report to Congress by mid-April.

“As I have made clear, Congress requires the full and complete special counsel report, without redactions, as well as access to the underlying evidence,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement. “The attorney general should reconsider so that we can work together to ensure the maximum transparency of this important report to both Congress and the American people.”

The committee’s announcement came a day ahead of a deadline set by Mr. Nadler and five other House committee leaders for Mr. Barr to voluntarily hand over the material collected by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

Mr. Barr appeared all but certain to miss it.

The urgency among Democrats came, in part, because they mistrust Mr. Barr’s assessment of the report in a four-page letter he sent to Congress late last month. The letter said that Mr. Mueller had not found that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to subvert the 2016 election, and that although Mr. Mueller did not offer a prosecutorial judgment on whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice, Mr. Barr had determined the president’s actions were not illegal.

Democrats control the Judiciary Committee by a sizable margin and most likely will not need Republican support to approve the subpoena. If approved, it would be up to Mr. Nadler to determine when and if to issue it — effectively increasing pressure on Mr. Barr to meet Democrats’ demands.

The committee’s top Republican, Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, appeared to oppose a subpoena on Monday, saying Democrats had grown “desperate” despite Mr. Barr providing “transparency above and beyond what is required.”

“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,” Mr. Collins said in a statement.

Indeed, in his Friday letter to Mr. Nadler and other congressional leaders, Mr. Barr wrote that the Justice Department and special counsel’s team were scrubbing the report to redact secret grand jury testimony, classified material and information about other continuing federal investigations. He also agreed to testify publicly in early May about his handling of the case.

In addition to authorizing a subpoena for the Mueller report, the Judiciary Committee will vote on Wednesday on subpoenas for five key witnesses in its investigation into possible obstruction of justice, abuse of power and corruption within the Trump administration.

The individuals are Donald F. McGahn II, a former White House counsel who spoke extensively with Mr. Mueller’s investigators; Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist; Hope Hicks, a former White House communications director; Reince Priebus, the president’s first chief of staff; and Annie Donaldson, a deputy of Mr. McGahn who took detailed notes on the president’s behavior during key episodes in his administration.

The five were among 81 individuals, companies and government entities from which the committee requested documents last month to kick-start its investigation. Mr. Nadler said he would not have to use the subpoenas if the witnesses changed course and complied voluntarily.

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