WASHINGTON — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., on Friday subpoenaed the Justice Department for the full, unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report as well as the underlying evidence.
In a statement, Nadler said that the Justice Department must 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," he said Friday.
The subpoena comes a day after Attorney General William Barr released a redacted version of the report to Congress and to the public, which details Trump's attempts to muddy the special counsel's probe, including efforts to tamper with witnesses, and the decision not to charge him with obstruction of justice in part because there was no underlying crime and many of the attempts were carried out in plain view.
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The report also laid out numerous contacts between members of Trump’s presidential campaign and Russians, but said investigators found Trump’s team had not “conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
The report contained nearly 1,000 redactions, with seven entire pages blacked out. Nadler's committee voted in early April to authorize the subpoena for the report ahead of its release after Barr laid out the areas he intended to black out.
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, called Nadler's subpoena "wildly overbroad" and said the date Nadler required the Justice Department to respond was "politically convenient" given that Barr had offered to appear before the committee on May 2.
"The chairman's process flies in the face of normal and proper congressional oversight. I urge Chairman Nadler to narrowly tailor his subpoena and give the department a meaningful chance to respond," Collins said in a statement Friday.
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Nadler confirmed Friday that Barr would testify on May 2, telling WNYC in an interview on "The Brian Lehrer Show" that he hoped to have Mueller before the panel by May 23.
"We will have other witnesses obviously, but we have to hear from the two of them," Nadler said.
In a letter Thursday to Nadler and his Senate counterpart, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Barr said that he would offer them and other top lawmakers the chance to review a less redacted version of the report next week in a “secure reading room.”
Department of Justice Spokesperson Kerri Kupec called the subpoena "premature and unnecessary" in a statement Friday, given Barr's offer.
“In the interest of transparency, the Attorney General released the Special Counsel’s 'confidential report' with only minimal redactions. The Department of Justice has also made arrangements for Chairman Nadler and other Congressional leaders to review the report with even fewer redactions. In light of this, Congressman Nadler’s subpoena is premature and unnecessary. The Department will continue to work with Congress to accommodate its legitimate requests consistent with the law and long-recognized executive branch interests," Kupec said.
But top House and Senate Democrats — Nadler, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein and Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner — on Friday said the proposal for a restricted review was unsatisfactory.
"Unfortunately, your proposed accommodation—which among other things would prohibit discussion of the full report, even with other Committee Members—is not acceptable," the members wrote in a letter to Barr rejecting his offer.
They added that they 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."
Following the release of the 448-page report Thursday, Nadler said that it outlines “disturbing evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice and other misconduct” and that Congress now has the responsibility to hold the president accountable.
Nadler also sent a letter to Mueller on Thursday requesting that he testify about the report before Congress “as soon as possible” or “in any event, no later than May 23, 2019,” tweeting that lawmakers "need to hear directly from special counsel Mueller and receive the full, unredacted report with the underlying evidence.”
Nadler, who in March said he had a “high bar” for impeachment, on Thursday did not rule out that scenario. His committee has the power to initiate an impeachment inquiry and proceedings.
Asked if holding Trump accountable means impeachment, Nadler said, "That's one possibility — there are others."
Several rank and file House Democrats, including several freshmen members, began to voice support for pursuing impeachment or at least raised the possibility of going in that direction. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., tweeted Thursday that she plans to sign onto an impeachment resolution that has been introduced by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. She said Mueller's report "squarely puts this on our doorstep."
Another freshman Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., tweeted Thursday night, “In times of great consequences, let’s be clear. #TimetoImpeach #MuellerReport.”
"Now we need the unredacted report, we need the evidence. The American people deserve the truth. And Congress will come to its determination about obstruction of justice and the possibility of impeachment,” tweeted freshman Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa.
Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., was asked by reporters if the instances of possible obstruction laid out in the report could lead to a case of impeachment in the House.
“Yeah, I think that they absolutely could,” he said. “There's one, pretty devastating quote by Mueller himself who said if the FBI had, was willing to dig deep on it all, it would certainly lead to obstruction charges.”
Congress currently remains on recess for the Passover and Easter holidays through next week, and Pelosi wrote in a letter to members of her caucus Thursday evening that she has scheduled a conference call for Monday “to discuss this grave matter, which is as soon as our analysis and this Holy Season’s religious traditions allow.”