Democrats in Congress demanded Friday that full details of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-running Russia probe must be provided to Congress and the public by Attorney General William Barr.
While the special counsel is close to completing his 21-month probe, he won’t submit his final report to Barr until sometime after next week, according to a Justice Department official. Barr has signaled he may provide only a summary to Congress and the public.
Withholding evidence from Congress about possible wrongdoing by President Donald Trump could amount to a cover-up if the president isn’t charged with criminal acts, the leaders of six House committees told Barr in a letter. A sitting president can’t be indicted under Justice Department policy, which also frowns on releasing evidence of wrongdoing by people who haven’t been charged.
“To maintain that a sitting president cannot be indicted, and then to withhold evidence of wrongdoing from Congress because the president will not be charged, is to convert department policy into the means for a cover-up,” the House members wrote.
The six House committee leaders signing the letter are Jerrold Nadler of the Judiciary panel, Elijah Cummings of Oversight and Reform, Adam Schiff of Intelligence, Maxine Waters of Financial Services, Richard Neal of Ways and Means, and Eliot Engel of Foreign Affairs.
Separately, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement, “Regulations governing Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation do not prohibit Attorney General Barr from disclosing Mueller’s final report and investigative materials to Congress, and I repeat my call for the attorney general to provide the report unedited once it has been provided to him.”
“Congress has a clear interest in obtaining the special counsel’s full report, supporting materials and all the facts and evidence surrounding the numerous investigations into President Trump, his associates and his campaign,” Feinstein said.
Barr has suggested his summary report to Congress might not include references to Trump.
At his confirmation hearing, Barr cited the Justice Department policies that a president can’t be indicted while in office—and that prosecutors shouldn’t comment on people who aren’t indicted.
“If you’re not going to indict someone, then you don’t stand up there and unload negative information about the person,” Barr told the Senate Judiciary panel.
But Feinstein noted the Justice Department provided investigative materials to Congress in the Hillary Clinton email investigation. “The attorney general cannot take the position that it will only produce material to Congress when requested by Republicans,” she wrote.
Other Democrats have threatened to subpoena Mueller to testify unless his full report is made public.
The six House Democratic chairmen wrote that once Mueller submits his report to Barr, the attorney general must release it “without delay and to the maximum extent permitted by law.” They said there’s a significant public interest in the full disclosure of information learned by the special counsel about the nature and scope of the Russian government’s efforts to undermine our democracy.
“To the extent that the department believes that certain aspects of the report are not suitable for immediate public release, we ask that you provide that information to Congress, along with your reasoning for withholding the information from the public, in order for us to judge the appropriateness of any redactions for ourselves,” the House Democrats wrote.