Members of the House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to authorize a subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report on foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election and underlying investigative evidence.
The panel voted 24-17, along party lines, to allow its chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) to issue the demand to Attorney General William Barr, who is deciding how much of the 300-plus-page report to share with lawmakers.
The House committee had pledged to authorize the subpoena after Barr said he would not meet Tuesday’s deadline for handing over the report. Barr said last week he intended to give Congress a redacted version of the report by mid-April, but Democrats are demanding immediate access to the full report. The Judiciary Committee vote does not require Nadler to issue a subpoena, but the authorization serves as ammunition for Democrats eager to review Mueller’s complete findings.
Nadler said Wednesday he would give Barr time to “change his mind” and turn over the report to the committee without redactions.
“The committee must see everything,” Nadler told reporters. “Obviously some material will have to be redacted before it’s released to the public ... but the committee is entitled to and must see all the material.”
“We handle confidential material all the time,” he added.
The Justice Department declined to comment on the vote.
Nadler’s comments echoed his recent New York Times op-ed, in which he stated “we will do everything in our power to secure” the report if the Department of Justice does not release it voluntarily.
The attorney general issued a four-page letter outlining what he said were Mueller’s “principal conclusions” late last month. Barr said the probe did not conclude President Donald Trump or anyone in his campaign colluded with Russia to sway the election, but did not exonerate the president on obstructing justice.
Democrats said Barr’s letter is inadequate, citing the fact that Barr is a recent Trump political appointee.
“We require the full report — the special counsel’s words, not the attorney general’s summary or a redacted version,” Nadler wrote in the op-ed.
Members of the House unanimously approved a nonbinding resolution on March 14 demanding the Justice Department release the full report. How much of it will be deemed too sensitive for public consumption and redacted, however, remains to be seen.
If Nadler does issue a subpoena for the Mueller report and Barr still refuses to release it, lawmakers would be faced with deciding whether to begin contempt of Congress proceedings against the attorney general or attempting to enforce the subpoena in court.