Earlier this week, Jerry Nadler made it clear that anything less than the full, unredacted Mueller report accompanied by all of the underlying evidence would be insufficient when it comes to what Bill Barr needs to do to pacify Democrats’ demands for transparency around the special counsel report.
Nadler has spent the last week making thinly-veiled (if largely vacuous) threats with regard to the House Judiciary Committee’s April 2 “hard deadline” for the Justice Department to produce the report, and Barr’s Friday letter to lawmakers (in which the Attorney General said he would release a redacted version by “mid-April” and would be “available” to testify on the Hill early next month) was summarily dismissed by Democrats as inadequate.
On Monday, Nadler indicated that the Committee would vote on Wednesday to authorize a subpoena. Well, today is Wednesday and vote they did – along party lines, of course.
You’ve got to love Nadler’s deadpan demeanor there – “This concludes our business for today, thank you very much.”
And so, Democrats have authorized Nadler to use a subpoena to compel Barr to hand over the report and all of the evidence.
But Jerry hopes it doesn’t come to that.
“I will give [Barr] time to change his mind,” Nadler said during his opening statement, which you can watch in full below. “But if we cannot reach an accommodation, then we will have no choice but to issue subpoenas for these materials.”
For his part, Trump no longer seems to be in an “accommodating” mood. Following Barr’s initial four-page summary to Congress, the White House variously indicated they would have no problem with the full report being made public. Over the past several days, though, Trump seemingly walked that back, opting instead to contend that “nothing will satisfy” Democrats, an implicit threat to withhold the report or to assert executive privilege over certain sections.
The committee also approved subpoenas for Don McGahn, Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks, Reince Priebus and one of McGahn’s deputies. All of those people, Democrats say, may have information the committee needs to investigate possible obstruction of justice, abuse of power and corruption. You’ll recall that Nadler issued sweeping document requests to some 81 individuals and entities last month as part of what looked like a long-shot impeachment bid.
Does any of this mean Congress is guaranteed to get the full report? Well, no. Barr could simply tell them to piss off – colloquially speaking. That would leave lawmakers with two options: they could sue or else they could go the contempt of Congress route.
Amusingly, committee Republicans swear that compelling Barr to turn over the full report would amount to demanding he break the law. In a truly absurd attempt to turn common sense on its head, Doug Collins actually said this (verbatim):
As much as the chairman or I may want to view this material, it is a fundamental underpinning of our justice system and law that we cannot.
Got that? It is “a fundamental” tenant of America’s “justice system” that the House Judiciary Committee not be allowed to read the full Mueller report which, at the very least, contains all manner of critical information about Russian efforts to subvert American democracy.
Collins continued, insisting that “in the face of laws and rules he finds inconvenient, [Mr. Nadler] demands our nation’s top law enforcement official break the law instead of supporting him in enforcing it. This is reckless. It’s irresponsible. It’s disingenuous.”
Forgive me, but I think even some Trump supporters would agree that what’s “disingenuous” is suggesting that the only way to save America’s justice system is to make sure Congress and the public don’t get their hands on a report about possible conspiracy and obstruction by a sitting US president. And it goes without saying that Collins’s contention is made all the more absurd by the fact that according to the Attorney General, the report clears the president of collusion. That is, if you’re a Republican, there’s a sense in which you should want this report even more than Democrats, given that the impeachment bid is now all but dead.
Also, as Bloomberg writes, “some House Republicans — who pushed successfully last year for Justice Department and FBI documents that they said showed anti-Trump bias in the Justice Department and FBI — have acknowledged that they set a precedent for full disclosure of Mueller’s findings now.” Oops.
In any case, the stage is now set for this to escalate to the Supreme Court if Barr and Nadler can’t come up with a compromise, and as you’ll see if you watch Jerry’s opening statement below, it’s not entirely clear that there’s any “compromise” to be had.
Finally, it now seems like a foregone conclusions that Robert Mueller will end up on Capitol Hill to explain exactly who he intended to make a determination about obstruction – Barr or Congress.