Although President Donald Trump would like to assert otherwise, the Russia scandal still clouds his presidency. This week, the House Judiciary Committee will be authorizing a subpoena for the final report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation as an early, tangible indication of just how intent House Democrats are on getting the document and its accompanying underlying evidence. All that’s been made available so far is a four-page recap of the report from Attorney General William Barr, who many do not trust because of his closeness to Trump and long-expressed opposition to the idea of prosecuting him for obstruction of justice, which he continued into that recap letter.
Barr has said that he will be releasing the report in mid-April, and the subpoena the Democratic majority on the Judiciary Committee is set to authorize this week would be hanging as a possible further course of action if too much is redacted for House Democrats’ liking rather than being dropped right away. They’re seeking to understand the full picture of what Mueller uncovered about the president’s ties to Russia and other foreign powers, even though the special counsel did not determine that any connections rose to the level of criminally prosecutable conspiracy. Even Barr admitted that his aforementioned letter should not be viewed as a summary of the report and there’s more to be seen.
His team is reviewing the document for material that’s either protected by federal laws covering grand jury proceedings, part of ongoing investigations, classified, or unnecessarily derogatory towards “peripheral third parties.” There was talk at one point of the White House also getting a chance to review the document for any portions it wanted to redact under executive privilege, but Barr told Congress last week that they’d declined that opportunity.
Nadler has suggested going before a judge to get at least some of the otherwise protected material into the public sphere and asked Barr to join him in that effort, but there’s no apparent indication of movement on that front. Still, the Judiciary Committee chairman has asserted he’s willing to take the fight for the Mueller report all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The struggle fits into a broader portrait of House Democrats continuing efforts to investigate the Trump team, which many on the right have derided as a waste of time and overly political considering Mueller’s conclusions. Still, they’re pressing on — Wednesday, besides covering the Mueller report, Judiciary Democrats are set to authorize subpoenas for records from former Trump administration officials including chief of staff Reince Priebus, adviser Steven Bannon, communications director Hope Hicks, White House counsel Don McGahn, and McGahn’s deputy Ann Donaldson.
Nadler’s committee is hardly alone in their investigative aims. The Financial Services, Oversight, and Intelligence Committees are among those pursuing related aims targeting the president’s finances, ties to foreign powers, and conduct while in office, which has included questionable at best moves like demanding his compromised son-in-law turned adviser Jared Kushner be granted a security clearance. Fellow committee chairs have also joined him in pushing for the Mueller report, which a half dozen set a deadline of April 2 for.
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