Top Democrats in the House and Senate have declined an offer from Attorney General William Barr to view some redacted portions of the Mueller report, saying the stipulation that they would not be able to discuss their findings with other members of Congress “is not acceptable.”
In a letter to Barr on Friday, the Democrats said Congress “must operate as a coequal and coordinate branch of government.”
“Given the comprehensive factual findings presented by the Special Counsel’s Report, some of which will only be fully understood with access to the redacted material, we cannot agree to the conditions you are placing on our access to the full report,” the lawmakers wrote.
The letter was signed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.).
The Justice Department on Thursday morning made public a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, completed in late March after a nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Barr initially held off on making the document public, instead drafting a four-page letter to Congress that he said summarized the special counsel’s principal findings. He released the 448-page report with redactions after holding a news conference Thursday morning.
The redacted document describes at least 10 instances in which President Donald Trump may have obstructed justice by using his authority to interfere with Mueller’s investigation. Even with the redactions, the report elicited outcry on both sides of the aisle. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called for the House to start impeachment proceedings against Trump in the wake of the report’s release.
In their letter on Friday, the Democratic leaders said they were open to discussing other options with Barr that didn’t leave the majority of Congress in the dark.
“While the current proposal is not workable, we are open to discussing a reasonable accommodation with the Department that would protect law enforcement sensitive information while allowing Congress to fulfill its constitutional duties,” they wrote.
House Democrats have issued a subpoena to Barr, demanding he produce an unredacted version of the report.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article indicated a subpoena threat led Barr to release the redacted report. It had not.