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House committee demands Mueller documents

Updated April 19, 2019 - 7:14 pm

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump lashed out Friday at people in his inner circle who cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller and detailed his attempts to obstruct the investigation.

Meanwhile, a House committee issued subpoenas for the full, unredacted report and grand jury testimony.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., subpoenaed the documents, setting up a showdown with the Trump administration over the report and the ability of Congress to conduct oversight.

“My committee needs and is entitled to the full version of the report and the underlying evidence consistent with past practice,” Nadler said in a statement.

The subpoenas require the Justice Department to comply by May 1.

“I am open to working with the department to reach a reasonable accommodation for access to these materials, however I cannot accept any proposal which leaves most of Congress in the dark, as they grapple with their duties of legislation, oversight and constitutional accountability,” Nadler said.

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., a House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee chairwoman with an ongoing review of Trump’s business dealings involving a Washington hotel, has joined other House Democratic leaders seeking full access to the report and documents.

A redacted version of the report was released Thursday by Attorney General William Barr, who said the investigation found no evidence that Trump colluded with Russians, who actively tried to manipulate the outcome of the 2016 election.

Reading room rejected

Barr said he redacted portions of the document to protect intelligence sources, privacy of third parties, grand jury secrets and information pertinent to ongoing investigations in other jurisdictions.

The attorney general said he would make available the unredacted version to key lawmakers, in a secured reading room, a concession that Nadler and congressional Democratic leaders ruled out as insufficient.

In a letter to Barr, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and 11 other congressional Democratic leaders declined his offer.

“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,” Pelosi wrote.

In addition to finding that Russians interfered in the election to help Trump’s campaign and harm that of Hillary Clinton, the report also detailed numerous instances where the president ordered White House staff and aides to interfere with the subsequent special counsel investigation.

Mueller pointedly said in his report that although there was not sufficient evidence to issue criminal charges for obstruction of justice, he could not exonerate Trump.

Nadler pointed to that finding as the justification for Congress to pick up the investigation where the special counsel left off and come to a conclusion on whether Trump crossed legal bounds to interfere with the investigation.

Titus said the redacted report “contains disturbing evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice.”

Trump slams witnesses

In a string of early morning tweets from his home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, Trump said those former aides and staffers who spoke to the special counsel sought to make him look bad.

“Statements are made about me by certain people in the Crazy Mueller Report, in itself written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters, which are fabricated & totally untrue,” Trump tweeted.

“Watch out for people that take so-called ‘notes,’ when the notes never existed until needed,” Trump continued.

The Mueller report noted Trump had urged then-White House counsel Donald McGahn to oust Mueller to stop the investigation. McGahn told the special counsel did not comply with the order.

Other aides, including former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, also told the special counsel they did not carry out orders by the president that they felt were legally questionable.

The report findings show the president on multiple occasions sought to obstruct the investigation, but Mueller ultimately found it was not up to the special counsel to determine if he broke the law.

Trump declined to be interviewed by the special counsel team of lawyers, but chose instead to answer questions about alleged Russian collusion in writing.

In his series of tweets, Trump said he was never able to defend against the statements made by aides because of his decision not to interview in person.

Trump, in a tweet, said of the statements by aides are “total b––––––– & only given to make the other person look good (or me to look bad).”

The outburst comes as the president plans to spend the Easter weekend in Florida, where he played golf Friday with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.

Barr, Mueller to testify

Nadler said the Judiciary Committee would hold a hearing May 2 where Barr is scheduled to testify.

The chairman has asked Mueller to testify before the committee before May 23.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has asked Barr to appear before his panel to testify about the report, but has not said whether he would seek testimony from Mueller.

Barr is expected to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1.

Republicans have been critical of the cost of the Mueller investigation, which is expected to reach $35 million, and the lack of any criminal finding against the president, who repeatedly called it a “witch hunt.”

The Mueller investigation resulted in charges against 34 people, including Russian military officials, as well as convictions and sentencing of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and the president’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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