Congressional Democrats yesterday demanded to see all of US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s evidence from his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election, as they consider how to use the probe’s findings against President Donald Trump.
House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, issued a subpoena to the Justice Department to hand over the full Russia report by Mueller, saying he cannot accept a redacted version released on Thursday that “leaves most of Congress in the dark.”
“My committee needs and is entitled to the full version of the report and the underlying evidence consistent with past practice. The redactions appear to be significant. We have so far seen none of the actual evidence that the Special Counsel developed to make this case,” Nadler said in a statement.
The report provided extensive details on Trump’s efforts to thwart Mueller’s Russia investigation, giving Democrats plenty of political ammunition against the Republican president but no consensus on how to use it.
The 448-page report painted a clear picture of how Trump had tried to hinder the probe but did not conclude that he had committed the crime of obstruction of justice, although it did not exonerate him.
The report blacked out details about secret grand jury information, US intelligence gathering and active criminal cases as well as potentially damaging information about peripheral players who were not charged. Half a dozen former Trump aides were charged by Mueller’s office or convicted of crimes during the 22-month-long investigation.
The Democrats’ subpoena gives US Attorney General William Barr until May 1 to produce the materials requested, reports Reuters.
Democratic leaders are also calling on Mueller to publicly testify before Congress about the work he has done.
During a news conference on Thursday, Nadler said that impeachment is “one possibility” among others to hold the President accountable. “We obviously have to get to the bottom of what happened and take whatever action seems necessary at that time,” said Nadler.
When asked if the Mueller report would provide a “road map” should Democrats open impeachment proceedings, Nadler said it was “too early” to discuss that, but then said the special counsel “probably” wrote the report with that “intent.”
In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer similarly drew a distinction between the words of Attorney General William Barr and special counsel Robert Mueller on the question of whether the President obstructed justice.
“The differences are stark between what Attorney General Barr said on obstruction and what Special Counsel Mueller said on obstruction,” the Democratic leaders said in their statement, adding, “As we continue to review the report, one thing is clear: Attorney General Barr presented a conclusion that the president did not obstruct justice while Mueller’s report appears to undercut that finding.”
Pelosi and Schumer broadly criticised Barr earlier in the day on Thursday, accusing him of creating “a crisis of confidence in his independence and impartiality” and saying public testimony from Mueller himself in both the House and the Senate is “the only way to begin restoring public trust.”
Former FBI director Mueller also concluded there was not enough evidence to establish that Trump’s campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Moscow to sway the 2016 election, a finding that has been was known since late March when Barr released a summary of what he described as Mueller’s principle conclusions.
Meanwhile, Trump yesterday dismissed unfavourable testimony in the Mueller report as “fabricated” and labelled the document “crazy.”
“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,” the president tweeted.
Russia yesterday once more dismissed the Mueller report, saying it failed to present clear evidence of any meddling by Moscow in the 2016 US election and called its impact on relations regrettable, reports AFP.
“As a whole the report as before does not present any reasonable proof at all that Russia allegedly meddled in the electoral process in the US,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists, saying it contained “no new information.”
Russia has consistently rejected any suggestion that it interfered in the election won by Trump.