The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena on Wednesday to Attorney General William Barr over documents related to the special counsel investigation into the 2016 presidential election, the latest effort by congressional lawmakers to force the Justice Department to turn over special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said lawmakers had made a “good faith effort” to obtain the documents as part of their own investigation following the conclusion of Mueller’s probe last month. But the congressman said the Justice Department had been repeatedly refusing and ignoring those requests, effectively blocking “our legitimate and duly authorized oversight.”
“Congress has a vital constitutional role in evaluating misconduct by the Executive Branch, including the President, and to assess and refine laws that address the ‘sweeping and systematic’ invasion of our democracy by Russia,” Schiff said in a statement. “We therefore need these materials in order to do our job. The Department’s stonewalling is simply unacceptable.”
The lawmaker said he was prepared to enforce the request using Congress’ legislative muscle, but pledged to take the issue to the courts, should the DOJ deny the request. Such an effort could take years.
The Justice Department did not immediately reply to HuffPost’s request for comment.
The development marks the latest fight between congressional lawmakers and Barr, who has so far remained steadfast in his refusal to hand over anything other than the redacted copy of Mueller’s report. The House Judiciary Committee had issued its own demands for the full document and told Barr to testify about his first public comments on the special counsel’s findings, but Barr refused, saying he didn’t agree with the format.
On Wednesday, that conflict escalated dramatically after President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege to shield Mueller’s unredacted report from lawmakers. The Judiciary Committee voted later that day to move ahead with holding Barr in contempt for his actions.
“We are now in a constitutional crisis,” Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the committee’s chairman, said after the vote.
Schiff and the Intelligence Committee’s top Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), had warned earlier this week that they would issue their own subpoenas if Barr continued stonewalling lawmakers’ efforts to get the full Mueller report. Schiff has specifically requested counterintelligence information gathered by the special counsel’s investigators, arguing that such information is imperative “to find out whether the President or people in his campaign had been compromised in any way by a foreign power,” per CNN.